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History Of The
Edinburgh Caithness Association

New Sections to 1922

At the social events; soirees, concerts and annual gatherings, songs were sung, addresses on Caithness topics delivered and tea partaken of, and then the tables were removed for dancing which was continued with great spirit until six and sometimes seven in the morning. Order reigned at the finish as at the beginning. The last item, the good old Scottish dance, “The White Cockade” precluded the singing of “Auld Lang Syne”. After which the company plodded their way home through the dark streets in time doubtless for breakfast.

Old-time picnics were also held at Roslin

In 1890 a Literary and Debating Section was formed. It made headway for some years, debates with other societies such as the Glasgow Caithness Association, the Orkney and Shetland Society and the Sutherland Association being among the annual contributions. In 1897 however, a decline in interest set in and the Literary section died.

In 1896 an interesting innovation was introduced into the Association by the advent of the fair sex.  Until that year ladies were excluded from membership of all such societies. Women had been clamouring for a share of public-work for many years before the right was conceded them by the framers of The Local Government (Scotland) Act 1894. That measure affected among other institutions the Edinburgh John O’ Groat Benevolent Association whose Rules were altered in December 1895, to provide for the admission of ladies, and at the following meeting in March 1896 the assembled members gallantly cheered the ten ladies who had graciously come forward as candidates for admission. There is little room for doubt that to the ladies much credit is due for the fresh features and attractions introduced into the programmes, and for the increase in the membership roll.

Mention of the roll recalls the fact that only since 1891 have members been provided with a printed copy of the list of their fellow-members. At its introduction at a meeting in 1890 opposition was actually made to its publication, although it afterwards gained in favour.

Much more to the mind of the members the Whist Drives, which, starting with one by way of an experiment in the winter of 1910, afterwards became a part of the winter and spring programme of the Association.

The general routine of the Edinburgh John O’ Groat Benevolent Association in the 20th century preserved its uniformity until the outbreak of the first Great War. Then in place of the bright orderly procedure of normal times one catches in the Minutes a sense of the stir and bustle caused by members going off to war. The members at home were particularly active in lending a hand in behalf of all schemes tending to the alleviation of their countrymen who were sick or wounded, or in enemy prisons. The Association could not, by its constitution, give from its exchequer. That obstacle was removed however, in 1915 by the holding of special functions and effective assistance rendered to the principal War Charities. Entertainments were also organised with the object of finding funds for all members of the Forces. Of the seventy-three members of the Association who had joined the Army or Navy only nine had fallen or died in service. The fortunate survivors were in 1919 entertained to dinner by the Association.

“The Angel of Death had been abroad throughout the land”, at home as well as at the front. Of the many Caithness people who passed away during these times mention may be made of two, Sheriff John Ferguson McLennan, K.C., and the Rev. W.S. Swanson, the Vice-President of and principal delegate from the Glasgow Caithness Association , who became ill and died at the Annual Gathering in the Central Halls, Tollcross, Edinburgh, in January 1919.

The association while honouring those at the war did not forget any who had given of their best to the Association. Mr William Angus, who had been president for seven years, the members decided, was not to demit that office in 1917, without accepting a tangible token of the members’ esteem and affection. From that kindly ordeal Mr Angus shrank; the fifty pounds which the members had collected towards his portraiture in oils being at the earnest wish of the Ex-President put aside to meet the needs of such natives in the city as desired to revisit their home county. The “Angus Holiday Fund” is thus another of Mr Angus’ and the Associations benefactions.

Another departure from the old conservative habits of the Association witnessed in 1920, in the special afternoon set apart for the children of members. The Children’s Party is a much appreciated feature of the winter’s work, and is one that will some day probably bear fruit in attracting to membership the little guests of these days.

Two noteworthy post-war projects made by the younger members deserve a passing note - the Literary Section put in action in 1922, and the Golf Club of the same year - both revivals of clubs of an earlier day. Each had re-started well, the literary with 112 members, the golfers with about 40.

Index Page   Benevolent Activities  Annual Gathering 1923