National Records of Scotland

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Patrick Geddes (1854-1932)

Patrick Geddes (1854-1932)

Geddes was born Peter Geddes in Ballater, Aberdeenshire on 2 October 1854. He became known to his family as ‘Patrick’ or ‘Pat’ and this is the name he adopted for the rest of his life.

Geddes was a lecturer in zoology at University of Edinburgh (1880-1888), Professor of Botany at University College, Dundee (1888-1919) and Professor of Civics & Sociology at Bombay University (1920-1923). Geddes co-authored a pioneering book on ‘The Evolution of Sex’ in 1889 along with J. Arthur Thomson which was a valued text by academicians.

Geddes' interests in biology fell away to social activism and he is variously known as a sociologist, philanthropist and town planner. He became involved in more than 50 town planning schemes which spanned the world. In Edinburgh’s Old Town he took derelict properties and, by involving local people in programmes of ‘conservative surgery’, he began a process of regeneration which also drew middle class academics and free thinkers back to the area.

Birth in 1854

Patrick Geddes birth entry, 1854

Register of birth for Peter Geddes in Aberdeenshire, 1854. He later became known as Patrick.
National Records of Scotland, 201/20/123

1861 Census

Geddes family enumerated in he 1861 census

The Geddes family are enumerated at Mount Tabor, Kinnoull, Perth in the 1861 census. His father, Alexander Geddes, was in the Black Watch for more than 20 years. He is enumerated as a Quarter Master and Chelsea Pensioner in this census record.
National Records of Scotland, 387/1 40/13 and 14 [merged]

1881 Census

Patrick Geddes is enumerated in the 1881 census at Princes Street, Edinburgh. He is enumerated as a lecturer in Zoology and lodging at 81a Princes Street along with English zoologist Frank Evers Beddard – Wikipedia.

Patrick Geddes enumerated in the 1881 census

Patrick Geddes is enumerated in the 1881 census at 81a Princes Street as a lodger of Anna Campbell, widow. 
National Records of Scotland, 685/2 102/1/2 

Geddes married Anna Morton in 1886. Born in Liverpool, she was the daughter of a Scottish merchant, Frazer Morton. Their daughter, Norah Geddes, became a landscape designer and was an early advocate of green spaces in the urban environment for the local community, and one of the first women to work in this discipline. 

Death in 1932

Geddes died in Montpellier, France at Scots College, an international teaching establishment which he founded in 1924 shortly after a trip to London to accept his knighthood. 

Death entry for Patrick Geddes, 1932

Patrick Geddes death recorded by the French Consulate in 1932.
National Records of Scotland, 173/CL/306

Geddes is commemorated in the Archivists’ Garden by Male Fern. Ferns featured in the garden of his parents’ house which he helped establish in Perth.