a surname, evidently the plural of Ged, those of this name
bearing also three pikes in their arms. The estate of Geddes in
Nairnshire belonged at one period to the Roses, one of whom, Hugh rose
of Geddes, by his marriage with Mary de Bosco, heiress of Kilravock,
became the founder of that ancient family. It now belongs to a family of
the name of Mackintosh. There was at one time a family of Geddes of
Geddes, as the Geddeses of Rachan are said to have been descended from
them. In the parish of Nairn there is a hill called the hill of Geddes.
an eminent divine of the church of England, and ecclesiastical writer,
was born about 1650. He was educated at the university of Edinburgh,
which city is supposed to have been his native place, and having taken
the degree of M.A., he was, in July 1671, incorporated in the same at
Oxford, being one of the first four natives of Scotland who were
admitted to the benefits of the exhibitions founded by Bishop Warner in
Baliol college. In 1678 he went to Lisbon as chaplain to the English
factory there. In 1686 the Inquisition, taking offence at the exercise
of his functions, cited him to appear before them, and, in violation of
the privilege guaranteed by the commercial treaty between England and
Portugal, prohibited him from continuing his ecclesiastical duties. The
English merchants immediately wrote to the bishop of London,
representing the hardships of their case, and showing their right to a
chaplain; but before their letter reached that prelate, he was himself
suspended by the ecclesiastical commission appointed by James the Second
of England, who was then endeavouring to establish popery at home.
In May 1688,
Mr. Geddes returned to England, where he took the degree of LL.D., and
after the promotion of Dr. Burnet to the bishopric of Salisbury, he was
chosen by that prelate to be chancellor of his church. He died before
1714. Bishop Burnet speaks in very respectful terms of him in his
‘History of the Reformation.’ During his residence at Lisbon, Dr. Geddes
had collected a mass of historical materials from scarce books and
manuscripts in the Spanish and Portuguese languages; and in 1694 he
published the ‘History of the Church of Malabar,’ in one volume,
translated from the Portuguese; which was followed by other works, a
list of which is subjoined.
History of the
Church of Ethiopia. To which are added, An Epitome of the Dominican
History of that Church; an Account of the Practices and Conviction of
Maria of the Annunciation, the famous Nun of Lisbon. Lond. 1696, 8vo.
The Council of
Trent no free Assembly; with an Introduction concerning Councils, and a
Collection of Dr. Vorga’s Letters. Lond. 1697, 1714, 8vo.
Tracts. Vol. I. Lond. 1702, 8vo. Vol. Ii. Lond. 1705, 8vo. Vol. Iii.
Lond. 1706, 8vo. The same, reprinted. Lond. 1714, 1730, 3 vols, 8vo.
Containing, among other things, the History of the Expulsion of the
Moriscoes out of Spain; History of the Wars of the Commons of Castile;
View of the Spanish Cortes or Parliaments; Account of the Manuscripts
and Reliques found in the Ruins of the uninhabitable Turpian Tower, in
the city of Granada, in 1588, and in the mountain called Valparayso,
near to that city, in 1595; View of the Court of Inquisition in
Portugal; View of all the Orders of Monks and Friars in the Roman
Church, with an account of their Founders.
against Popery. Lond. 1715, 8vo.
an accomplished essayist, the eldest son of an old and respectable
family in Tweeddale, was born there about 1710. He was educated under
his father’s roof, and afterwards went to the university of Edinburgh,
where he particularly applied to mathematical learning, in wh8ch he made
remarkable proficiency under the celebrated Colin MacLaurin. Having
studied for the law, he was admitted advocate, and practised at the bar
for several years with increasing reputation, but was cut off b y a
lingering consumption in 1749, before he was forty years of age. He had
devoted much of his time to the perusal of the ancient poets,
philosophers, and historians, and in 1748 he published at Glasgow ‘An
Essay on the Composition and Manner of Writing of the Ancients,
particularly of Plato,’ in one volume 8vo. He is said to have left
manuscript sufficient to make another volume, but it was never
a Roman Catholic divine, critic, and miscellaneous writer, was born in
1737 at Pathheads, in the parish of Rathven, Banffshire. His father,
also named Alexander Geddes, the second of four brothers, was a small
crofter on the estate of Arradowl. His mother, whose name was Mitchell,
was a native of the neighbouring parish of Bellie. Both were Roman
Catholics. The rudiments of his education were acquired in the village
school, kept by a woman named Sellar. His parents being in possession of
an English Bible, he applied himself, as soon as he could read, to the
study of it, and is said to have known the historical parts by heart
before he was eleven years old. The laird of Arradowl having engaged a
tutor named Shearer, from Aberdeen, for his two sons, took young Geddes,
with his cousin John Geddes, who afterwards became Roman Catholic bishop
of Dunkeld, and another boy, into his house, to be educated gratuitously
along with them. At the age of fourteen he was sent to the free Roman
Catholic seminary of Sculan, in the Highlands, to be educated for the
service of his Church. This seminary stood at the bottom of a gloomy
glen, surrounded with mountains on all sides, and in allusion to their
seldom seeing the sun in this dismal spot, he said in a letter to one of
his fellow-students, who had obtained leave to visit his friends, “Pray,
be so kind as to make particular inquiries after the health of the sun.
Fail not to present my compliments to him, and tel him I still hope I
shall one day be able to renew the honour of personal acquaintance with
him.” At Sculan he remained till he was twenty-one, when he was removed
to the Scots college at Paris. In 1764 he returned to Scotland, and was
ordered to Dundee to officiate as priest among the Catholics of
Forfarshire. In 1765, he accepted of an invitation from the earl of
Traquair to reside in his family at Traquair House; where he regulated
his studies so as to be preparatory to the plan he had long conceived,
of making a new translation of the Bible for the use of his Catholic
an attachment to a female relative of the earl, which was returned by
the lady with equal warmth, and not wishing to violate his vow of
celibacy, he abruptly quitted the mansion of Lord Traquair, in less than
two years after his arrival there, leaving behind him a beautiful little
poem, entitled ‘The Confessional,’ addressed to the fair yet innocent
cause of his departure. He left Traquair in the autumn of 1768, and
proceeded to Paris, where he remained the following winter, engaged
mostly in the public libraries, making extracts on biblical criticism
from rare books, particularly Hebrew ones. In the spring of 1769 he
returned to Scotland, and was appointed to the charge of a Catholic
congregation at Auchinalrig in Banffshire; where in the summer of 1770
he erected a new chapel, on the spot where the old one, which was in
ruins, stood, and repaired and improved the priest’s dwelling-house at
Auchinalrig, making it one of the most pleasant and convenient abodes
belonging to the Roman Catholic clergy in that part of the country. The
liberality of his sentiments, and the friendships which he formed with
persons of the Protestant faith, and especially his occasional
appearance in the church of the Rev. Mr. Crawford, the minister of an
adjoining parish, exposed him to the angry expostulations of Bishop Hay,
his diocesan, who menaced him with suspension from his ecclesiastical
functions, unless he became more circumspect in his life and
conversation, and kept himself uncontaminated by heretical intercourse.
At this period he had contracted debts to a considerable amount, which
he was totally unable to pay, when the duke of Norfolk, to whose notice
he had been introduced by the earl of Traquair, stepped forward and
generously relived him of al his embarrassments. In the hope of
improving his circumstances, he now took a small farm at Enzie, in
Fochabers, in the immediate vicinity of Auchinalrig, to stock which he
was obliged to borrow money, and the failure of three successive crops,
with the building of a small chapel close to his farm, which added
considerably to his liabilities, in less tan three years plunged him
into deeper difficulties than ever. To free himself from his new
embarrassments he published, in 1779, at London, ‘Select Satires of
Horace, translated into English Verse, and, for the most part, adapted
to the present Times and Manners,’ which produced him a profit of about
one hundred pounds. This sum, with the proceeds of the sale of his
household goods, he applied to the liquidation of his debts. Having
carried his contumacy so far as occasionally to attend the church of the
Rev. Mr. Buchanan, minister of Cullen, Bishop Hay put his former threat
into execution, and suspended him from his clerical functions within his
diocese. This decided him upon going to London, and, accordingly, about
the end of 1779, he quitted Auchinalrig, after having discharged there,
for ten years, the various duties belonging to his pastoral office. From
the university of Aberdeen he received, at this time, the degree of
LL.D., being the first Roman Catholic to whom it had been granted since
arrived in the metropolis of England about the beginning of 1780, and
officiated for a few months as priest in the Imperial ambassador’s
chapel, till it was suppressed in the end of that year, by an order from
the emperor Joseph the Second. He afterwards preached occasionally at
the chapel in Duke Street, Lincoln’s-Inn-Fields, till Easter 1782, when
he relinquished altogether the exercise of clerical functions. He now
resumed his early project of completing a new version of the Bible; and
he had the good fortune to meet with a patron in Lord Petre, who allowed
him a salary of £200 per annum while employed upon the translation, and
to be at the expense of whatever private library the Doctor might think
requisite for his purpose. In a short time he published a sketch of his
plan, under the title of an ‘Idea of a New Version of the Holy bible,
for the use of the English Catholics,’ which excited considerable
attention to his undertaking.
In the summer
of 1781 Dr. Geddes paid a visit to Scotland, during which he wrote
‘Linton, a Tweeddale Pastoral,’ in honour of the birth of a son and heir
to the noble house of Traquair. He soon after accompanied the earl and
countess on a tour to the south of France, and on his return to London,
wrote an entirely new prospectus, detailing, fully and explicitly, the
plan which he proposed to follow in his translation of the Bible. This
he submitted in manuscript to Dr. Lowth, bishop of London, on whose
recommendation it was published in 1785. In November of the same year,
Dr. Geddes was elected by the society of antiquaries of Scotland, one of
their corresponding members, an honour which he acknowledged in a
poetical epistle to that body, written in “geud auld Scottis phrase.” He
afterwards contributed to the Society’s Transactions, ‘A Dissertation on
the Scoto-Saxon Dialect,’ with translations into Scottish Verse of the
first Eclogue of Virgil, and the first Idyllion of Theocritus.
commencement of the ‘Analytical Review,’ in May 1788, he became a
contributor to it, and during five years and a half that he wrote for
that periodical, he is known to have furnished to its pages forty-seven
articles, principally in the department of Biblical criticism and
after having been pioneered for years by many proposals and
prospectuses, the first volume of his long-expected translation of the
“Bible, containing the first six books of the Old Testament, made its
appearance in 1792, dedicated to his patron, Lord Petre. This volume was
keenly attacked by Christians of all denominations, and the
vicars-apostolic of the Western, Norther, and London districts, issued a
pastoral letter prohibiting its use and reception among the Catholics.
Against this prohibition the Doctor remonstrated in vain. He first
published an ‘Address to the Public,’ vindicating the impartiality of
his translation. He then wrote privately to the vicars-apostolic, and,
receiving no answer, he published a ‘Letter to Bishop Douglas,
Vicar-apostolic of London,’ complaining of their conduct as
uncharitable, illiberal, and arbitrary. The only notice that was taken
of his remonstrances was his suspension from all ecclesiastical
functions. In 1797 appeared the second volume of his Translation; and in
1800 ‘Critical Remarks on the Hebrew Scriptures, corresponding with a
New Translation, Vol. I., containing Remarks on the Pentateuch.’ In
these works Dr. Geddes denies the plenary inspiration of the Scriptures,
and assails the credit of Moses in every part of his character as an
historian, a legislator, and a moralist. He even doubts whether he was
the author of the Pentateuch. He styles the history of the creation a
fabulous cosmogony, and the story of the fall an allegory. Can it be
wondered at, then, that both Romanist and Protestant united in rejecting
and denouncing his New Translation of the Bible?
Owing to the
heavy expenses attending the works on which he was engaged, Dr. Geddes
became involved, for the third time, in pecuniary difficulties, and a
subscription was set on foot for his behalf, when the sum collected and
expended upon his account, from the commencement of 1788 to the middle
of 1800, amounted to about £900. He had commenced a new translation of
the Book of Psalms, and had already printed in octavo 104 of them, when
a painful and excruciating disorder terminated his life on February 26,
1802, and his remains were interred in Paddington churchyard. Besides
the more important works above mentioned, he was the author of numerous
other publications both in prose and verse, a list of which is
subjoined. He was also the author of the popular Jacobite song, ‘O send
Lewie Gordon Hame!’ The life of this learned but eccentric divine has
been written by Dr. John Mason Good.
of Horace, translated into English verse, Lond. 1779, 4to.
Tweeddale Pastoral. Edin. 4to.
Remarks on a late Fanatical publication, entitled, A full Detection of
Popery. Lond. 1783, 8vo.
Letter to the
Bishop of London; containing queries, doubts, and difficulties relative
to a vernacular Version of the Holy Scriptures. Lond. 1787, 4to.
Letter to the
Rev. Dr. Priestly, to prove that the Divinity of Jesus Christ was a
Primitive Tenet of Christianity. Lond. 1787, 8vo.
Letter to a
Member of Parliament on the Case of the Protestant Dissenters. Lond.
to Queries, Counsels, &c. Lond. 1790.
An Answer to
the Bishop of Comana’s Pastoral Letter, by a Protestant Catholic. 1790,
A Letter to
the Archbishops and Bishops of England, pointing out the only sure means
of preserving the Church from the evils which threaten her. 1790, 8vo.
Macaronica ad fratrem, de iis quae gesta sunt in nupero Dissentientium
Conventu. Lond. 1790. 4to. Allowed to be one of the happiest attempts
extant in the macaronic style. An English version for the use of the
ladies and country gentlemen, was published the same year by the author.
Seculare pro Gallica gente, tyrannidi aristocraticae, erepta. 1790, 4to.
The first book
of the Iliad of Homer, verbally rendered into English verse; with
Critical Annotations. 1792, 8vo.
Apology for Slavery. 1792, 8vo.\
Diable, The Devil’s Advocate, &c. 1792.
Bible; or the Books accounted sacred by Jews and Christians, otherwise
called the Books of the Old and New Covenants, faithfully translated frm
the corrected text of the original; with various Readings, Explanatory
Notes, and Critical Remarks. Lond. 1792-7, 2 vols, 4to. These two
volumes include the historical books from Genesis to Chronicles, and the
Book of Ruth.
Saecularia tria, pro tribus celeberrimis libertatis Gallicae epochis.
the French of Gresset. Lond. 1793, 4to.
Tale; or a Journal from London to Norwich. 1794, 4to.
Ode to the
Hon. Thomas Pelham, occasioned by his Speech in the Irish House of
Commons on the Catholic Bill. 1795.
The Battle of
B(a)ng(o)r; or the Church Triumphant; a Comic-heroic Poem. 1797, 8vo.
Gift to the good People of England; being a Sermon, or something like a
Sermon, in defence of the War, &c. 1798, 8vo.
Apology for the Catholics of Great Britain. 1800, 8vo.
Remarks on the Hebrew Scriptures, corresponding with a new Translation
of the bible; containing Remarks on the Pentateuch. Lond. 1800, vol. I.,
Poema Macaronico-Latinum. Lond. 1800, 4to. Bardomachia; or the Battle of
the Bards. Translated from the original Latin. Lond. 1800 4to.
reduci, Ode Sapphica. 1801, 4to.
Translation of the Books of Psalms, from the original Hebrew; with
various Readings and Notes. Lond. 1807, 8vo. A posthumous publication,
edited by Dr. Disney and Charles Butler, Esq.