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History Of The
Edinburgh Caithness Association

1841 - 1870

The Association’s School Prize Award Scheme was begun in 1841, a silver medal being given to the dux of the parochial school of Wick, and another to the dux of Thurso School, besides book prizes and books to the best pupils in each of the rural parochial schools in the county. These provisions were in due course enlarged.

According to the Census of 1861, there were at that time in Edinburgh and Leith 1596 residents who were natives of Caithness, not to mention the families of many of these emigrants, but the limited activities of the Association did not appeal to the majority of the settlers. A dinner with their fellows once a year was not much inducement for the usually socially minded Caithnessian. Added to which was the fact that by that time the Association was well established, and members were not particularly anxious to find recruits.

On August 1862 another Association the Edinburgh Caithness Mutual Improvement and Provident Association - which will be referred to later was founded.

In the following year (1863) several gentlemen belonging to Caithness met and discussed the possibility of forming yet another County Association in the city with objects similar to that of the Glasgow and London Caithness Associations, but differing to some extent from the aims of the Edinburgh Caithness Association. Before coming to a definite decision they deputed two of their number to acquaint the directors of the Edinburgh Caithness Association of the proposal, and to enquire whether the constitution of the latter society could not be modified and thereby obviate the necessity of establishing a new association in the city. The Edinburgh Caithness Association indicated its willingness to make the desiderated arrangements, but abandoned these on learning that the pioneers of the proposed society and the “Providents” would not amalgamate, and as a result, the Edinburgh John o’Groats Association - which will receive mention in due course - was instituted. That was quite in order, a union which did not include all parties was not fostering the right spirit of concord that should animate Caithness men in Edinburgh.

The three societies then went on the respective courses, the Edinburgh Caithness Association persevering in its narrow but useful furrow of stimulating the youth of Caithness to greater study by means of bursaries and prizes. These were to increase in number. The Original Bursary founded in 1847 (made possible by the Association laying aside a sum of £200) and the Rhind Bursary, established in 1864 through the generosity of a gifted and brilliant your archaeologist Alexander Henry Rhind of Sibster, Wick, son of Josiah Rhind, Provost of Wick, and a Vice-President of the Association were added to five years later by the Ladies Bursary which derived its name from the fact that the funds were raised by the ladies of Caithness a the instigation of Captain George Sinclair, son of Sir John Sinclair. The institution of the “Ladies Bursary”, had one curious result. For the first and only time in its career the Association admitted ladies to membership. In 1870 eight ladies were enrolled as a graceful acknowledgement of their successful efforts in establishing the bursary.

The ladies it is hoped appreciated the honour of membership of a society whose name was known and respected as far away as France. For it is a matter of history that the committee of the great Paris Exhibition of 1867 wrote to the Secretary of the Edinburgh Caithness Association asking for the privilege of a copy of the Association’s Rules , a favour that was, needless to add, at once most cordially granted, the Rules being specially bound in morocco leather and nicely tooled for the gratification of the admiring Frenchmen.

Index Page   1837 - 1840    1882 - 1897