Career of John Geddes (V)

"Services of Major John Geddes" comes from a family document. The document starts off with a family tree, and goes on to describe the careers of Andrew David Geddes, John Geddes (IV) and John Geddes (V). The whole document was probably written by Emily Geddes, the wife of Andrew Geddes, but the part of Andrew Geddes career sometimes talks of Andrew Geddes in the third person, and sometimes says "I" instead, which suggests that Andrew Geddes contributed as well. The transcript below is a copy of a copy (if not more!) so the copyists may have made mistakes. Apologies for any of mine.

Services of Major John Geddes

Ensign 76th Regiment25th August1848
Lieutenant 76th Regiment6th June1854
Captain 76th Regiment7th September1858
Major (purchase)29th December1865
Exchanged to 44th Regiment1866
On half-pay6th July1870
(Lieutenant Colonel by B't)
(Hon'y Colonel)


In the British Army at this time, commissions were purchased. The concept became discredited after the Crimea War (18531856) and the Indian Mutiny (1857). They were abolished by the Cardwell Reforms. If John Geddes did purchase his commission of Major in 1865, he must have been among the last people to do so. The following information is from Wikipedia:

In 1837 for example:

RankLife GuardsCavalryFoot GuardsInfantryHalf pay difference
Lieutenant Colonel7,2506,1759,0004,5001,314

These prices were not incremental. To purchase a promotion, an officer only had to pay the difference in price between his existing rank and the desired rank.

The Cardwell Reforms refer to a series of reforms of the British Army undertaken by Secretary of State for War Edward Cardwell between 1868 and 1874... In addition to his two major pieces of legislation, Cardwell also introduced a number of reforms through Orders in Council or other Statutory Instruments... The sale of commissions was abolished.

From National Archives:

Reference: WO 76/336/92

Description:   Name:John Geddes.
Rank:Ensign to Major.
Regiments:76th Foot; 2nd Battalion 23rd; 76th; 44th.
Dates of Service:1848-1866.

Note: Descriptions relating to individuals have been created using information from a nominal card index relating to Army Officers' service compiled in the 1980s, which is not comprehensive and may contain some errors.

Date: 1848 - 1887

Held by: The National Archives, Kew

Legal status: Public Record

From the London Gazette

John Geddes (V) to Lt Colonel

From History of Dr. Boyd's Fouth High School Class by James Colston.

This book is in memory of a particular teacher in the High School of Edinburgh, who taught for four sessions. John Geddes was a member of the class, second session (1842-43), third session (1843-44) and fourth session (1844-45).

The Register: Names of Gentlemen who were members of the class during the whole or any part of the four sessions, alphabetically arranged, with their present vocations, address, and other interesting memoranda...

42. Geddes, John.
Captain John Geddes, eldest son of the late Adam Gordon Geddes, Paymaster 22d Regiment. Attended Sessions 2, 3, 4.
After leaving the High School, he attended the Naval and Military Academy in Edinburgh.
On August 25, 1848, he received his commission as Ensign of the 76th Regiment;
on June 6, 1858, he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant;
and on September 7, 1858, to that of Captain.
He was thereafter promoted to the rank of Major, and has retir'ed upon half-pay.
He was married, on September 17, 1862, at St Peter's Episcopal Chapel, Lutton Place, Newington, Edinburgh, to Madeline Mary, eldest daughter of the late J. A. Hessine.