Search just our sites by using our customised search engine

Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

The Scottish Nation

CADELL, anciently Cadella, a surname which has acquired a high standing in the literary history of our country, from its connexion with the publication of some of the most valuable and standard works of modern times, and particularly the principal family of this name in Scotland is Cadell of Cockenzie, now Tranent, in East Lothian. The name is supposed to be originally Welsh, but is more likely to have been of French origin, and is the same as Calder (See CALDER, surname of.]

CADELL, ROBERT, an eminent publisher, whose connexion with Sir Walter Scott’s works will perpetuate his name, was born at Cockenzie on the 16th December 1788. He was the son of Mr. Cadell of Cockenzie in East Lothian, and about 1807 entered into the employment of the late Mr. Archibald Constable, the eminent publisher. About the end of 1811, he was admitted into partnership with him, on the retirement of Mr. A.G. Hunter of Blackness from the firm. The business was for a long period extensively carried on under the well-known firm of Constable and Company. He married in 1817 the daughter of Mr. Constable, who died in a year afterwards; and in January 1821, he married Miss Mylne, daughter of Mr. George Mylne, accountant in Edinburgh. By this lady, who survived him, he had eight daughters.

      In 1826, after the failure of Constable and Co., Mr. Cadell became the sole publisher of Scott’s works, In Lockhart’s life of his father-in-law there are some very interesting notices relative to Cadell’s connexion with the great novelist, who has recorded in his Diary that “Constable without Cadell is like getting the clock without the pendulum; the one having the ingenuity, the other the caution of the business.” Sir Walter’s opinion of him is thus favourably expressed in his Diary, at the time his publishers were about to fail: – “Cadell came at eight to communicate a letter from Hurst and Robinson, intimating they had stood the storm. I shall always think the better of Cadell for this – not merely because ‘his feet are beautiful upon the mountains who brings good tidings,’ but because he showed feeling – deep feeling, poor fellow. He, who I thought had no more than his numeration-table, and who, if he had his whole counting-house full of sensibility, had yet his wife and children to bestow it upon. I will not forget this, if all keeps right. I love the virtues of rough-and-round men – the others are apt to escape in salt rheum, salvolatile, and a white pocket-handkerchief.”

      A large stock of Sir Walter’s works in the hands of his bankrupt publishers was sold off for half its cost, a circumstance which created an impression among the London booksellers that the value of the copyrights had been wrought out. Mr. Cadell, however, had a different opinion, and having secure among the members of his own family sufficient money to carry out a scheme which he had quietly matured, he first communicated it to Mr. Ballantyne the printer, and finding that he coincided with him in the calculations he had made, they went together to Abbotsford to propound it to Sir Walter Scott. In December 1827, Mr. Cadell became joint-proprietor of the copyright of all Sir Walter’s works then published. Mr. Lockhart, in his ‘Life of Scott,’ thus details the circumstances: – “The question as to the property of the ‘Life of Napoleon,’ and ‘Woodstock’ having now been settled by the arbiter, (Lord Newton) in favour of the author, the relative affairs of Sir Walter and the creditors of Constable were so simplified that the trustee on that sequestrated estate resolved to bring into the market, with the concurrence of Ballantyne’s trustees, and, without further delay, a variety of very valuable copyrights. This important sale comprised Scott’s novels from “Waverley’ to “Quentin Durward’ inclusive, besides a majority of the shares of the poetical works. Mr. Cadell’s family and private friends were extremely desirous that he should purchase part at least of these copyrights, and Sir Walter’s were not less so that he should seize this last opportunity of recovering a share in the prime fruits of his genius. The relations by this time established between him and Cadell were those of strict confidence and kindness, and both saw well that the property would be comparatively lost were it not secured; that henceforth the whole should be managed as one unbroken concern. It was in the success of an uniform edition of the Waverley novels, with prefaces and notes by the author, that both anticipated the means of finally extinguishing the debt of Ballantyne and Company; and, after some demur, the trustees of that house’s creditors were wise enough to adopt their views. The result was that the copyrights, exposed to sale for behoof of Constable’s creditors, were purchased, one half for Sir Walter, the other half for Cadell, at the price of eight thousand five hundred pounds, a sum which was considered large at the time.

      Sir Walter’s Diary, of date December 20, 1827, has the following allusion to this event: – “Anent the copyrights, the ‘pock puds’ were not frightened by our high price. They came on briskly, four or five bidders abreast, and went on till the lot was knocked down to Cadell at £8,500; a very large sum certainly, yet he has been offered a profit on it already. The activity of the contest serves to show the value of the property. On the whole, I am greatly pleased with the acquisition.” “Well might the ‘pock puddings’ (the English booksellers),” continued Mr. Lockhart, “rue their timidity on this day; but it was the most lucky one that ever came for Sir Walter Scott’s creditors. A dividend of six shillings in the pound was paid at this Christmas on their whole claims. The result of their high-hearted debtor’s exertions between January 1826, and January 1828, was in all very nearly £40,000. No literary biographer, in all likelihood, will ever have such another fact to record. The creditors unanimously passed a vote of thanks for the indefatigable industry which had achieved so much for their behoof.”

      Into this new enterprise, which was a scheme of Mr. Cadell’s, he threw all the energy of his character, his business skill, and the zeal springing from his enthusiastic confidence in Sir Walter’s popularity, and his own unbounded love and veneration for the Great Magician. The whole series of novels were republished in small octavo five-shilling volumes, neatly got up, with plates and embellished title-pages, and explanatory notes by the author.

      After the death of Sir Walter, a fresh arrangement was come to with regard to the copyright, of which Mr. Lockhart, in his ‘Life of Scott,’ gives the following account: – “Shortly after Sir Walter’s death, his sons and myself, as his executors, endeavoured to make such arrangements as were within our power for completing the great object of his own wishes and fatal exertions. We found the remaining principal sum of the Ballantyne debt to be about  £54,000. £22,000 had been insured upon his life; there were some moneys in the hands of the trustees, and Mr. Cadell very handsomely offered to advance to us the balance, about £30,000, that we might, without further delay, settle with the body of creditors. This was effected accordingly on the 2d of February, 1833, Mr. Cadell accepting, as his only security, the right to the profits accruing from Sir Walter’s copyright property and literary remains, until such times as this new and consolidated obligation should be discharged.”

      In May, 1847, Mr. Cadell took upon himself all the remaining debts upon the estate, on the transfer to him by the family of their remaining claim over Sir Walter’s writings. This debt included an heritable bond over the lands of Abbotsford for  £10,000. This transaction Mr. Lockhart says “crowned a long series of kind ser ices to the cause and memory of Sir Walter Scott.”

      Mr. Cadell died 20th January 1849. His health had been in a declining state for nearly a year. During the last few months of his life he was in treaty for the sale of the entire copyrights, which were valued at the enormous sum of £60,000. In 1851, they were purchased by Adam and Charles Black, publishers in Edinburgh. Mr. Cadell issued Scott’s works in every form and shape. There was an edition suited to every class of society, from the splendid Abbotsford, on which he spent about £40,000, down to the cheap people’s edition in parts, of which he used to boast that he sold about 70,000 copies. Sir Walter’s manuscripts were preserved by him with great care, and it was with pride that he used to exhibit these literary treasures to his friends. His taste was sound and discriminating, his plans comprehensive and liberal, and his application unwearied. His punctuality was almost proverbial. Exactly at nine o’clock every morning, except Sunday, he entered his carriage at Ratho; and, along the road to Edinburgh, the country people knew the time to a minute, by the appearance of what they called “the Ratho coach.” The same order and regularity were conspicuous at his place of business in St. Andrew’s square, Edinburgh. In the beginning of 1845, Mr. Cadell had bought the estate of Ratho, where he resided in his latter years.

The name Cadell from the Dictionary of National Biography

Ian & All:

Strange that Ian should mention about the Doune Pistol-Makers. I had been planning to put the following data out to the list but had not put everything together, extracted from an article in The Scots Magazine, May 1975, by A. C. McKerracher.

The small Perthshire village of Doune between Stirling and Callander was know throughout the world as the home of the famous pistols which possessed such mystery, such superb artistry, and such deadly accuracy that they brought incredible sums in the 1600s and 1700s. Today they are literally worth their weight in gold to collectors. Many are so valuable they are kept only in bank vaults.

In the early 1600s Doune became a center for trade, civil and criminal law, and for the sale of livestock. Being strategically located between Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness, it was a magnet for Higlanders who were anxious to purchase goods and especially firearms, for the North was still turbulent with war.

In 1646 Thomas CADDELL settled in Doune, setting up business as a gunsmith. He had come to Doune from the village of Muthill, 15 miles to the north, where he had been a country blacksmith. His artistry and rare skill is still a mystery. The Old Statistical Account state "This famous tradesman possessed a most profound genius, and an inquisitive mind; and though a man of no education, and remote from every means of instruction in the mechanical arts, his study and perseverance brought his work to such high degree of perfection that no pistol made in Britain excelled or perhaps equalled those of his making either for sureness or beauty." What confounded experts was his ignoring traditional and imprecise forging of his own material. He apparently experimented and found the surest metal which was easy to work yet in constant supply - horseshoe nails. He took handfuls of nails, heating and hammering them into a flat slab of metal and finally drew this out into a long steel ribbon. This was again heated and beaten around an iron rod in a close, spiral twist. After the rod was removed the roughly-shaped barrel was bored out to the correct diameter and the outer surface filed down. It was designed to fire a round lead shot about three-quarters of an inch in size. The breech was attached with a breech plug screwed into the barrel. The stock was one piece and was joined to the barrel, before the decoration was applied. The end product was an all- steel pistol about 14 inches long which ended with a ram's head butt and a subtle flared muzzle. The entire pistol was covered with intricate Oriental and Celtic designs of scrolls and spirals. The pistols were made in pairs for both left and right-handed use. They were soon bought by Higland clansmen costing between four and twenty quineas, a lifetime's savings to many. In later years more expensive pistols inlaid with silver and gold were ordered by noble families. A plaque was also inlaid into the stock for the maker's name and coat-of-arms of its owner. The 9th Earl of Argyll, Sir Archibald Campbell, was in possession of one of CADDELL's pistols when he was captured crossing the River Cart in 1685, before he was executed at Edinburgh. Doune pistol-making reached its peak during the 1700s. It appears that the last gunsmith carried on his trade there until 1798.

Thomas CADDELL passed on his skill to his son Thomas, his grandson John and apprentices John and Alexander Campbell, Thomas Murdock, Christie, Bissett and Sutherland, who went on to a higher level of expertise. His son Thomas continued to work in Doune. However, his grandson John established a shop in Edinburgh and worked from 1730 to 1764. Thomas Caddell's original workshop still exists, the derelict building behind Taylor's Dairy in Doune Main Street has been restored and is a business office. Today, pistols from Doune are displayed in almost every main museum on the European continent. The oldest such weapon is of 1678 and signed by Thomas Caddell, in the Neuchatel Museum, Switzerland.

All that now remains in Doune is the reminents of Thomas CADDELL's workshop and the graves of generations of pistol makers in the old overgrown graveyard of Kilmadock, Kilmadock parish, about a mile to the west.

The early parish records between 1600 and 1800 showed births, christenings, marriages and deaths for some 135 members of the CADDELL family.

The artist, Foster Caddell of Voluntown, CT, owns one of the CADDELL pistols. I have been communicating with Foster for several years. His ancestors were from Scotland migrating to Nova Scotia in the 1700s prior to coming to the USA.

Bill Caddell

Return to The Scottish Nation Index Page


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus