James Geddes

Son of John Geddes (III)
Brother of Adam Gordon Geddes

James Geddes is not a direct ancestor of mine.

Born: 1797      Died: 1816

Father: John Geddes (III)
John Geddes (IV)
Adam Gordon Geddes
David Geddes
Alexander Geddes (brother)
James Geddes was unmarried and had no children.

I do not have any pictures or photos of him.

James Geddes was born in 1797. He was the youngest son of John Geddes (III). James Geddes was Lieutenant in the 59th Regiment. On 30th January 1816, he drowned when H.M.Transport 'Sea Horse' was wrecked in Tramore Bay, Waterford, Ireland.

Click here for "Narrative of the loss of the Sea-Horse Transport, Captain Gibbs, in the Bay of Tramore" by John James MacGregor (the Elder).

Click here for another account.

The letters on this webpage is at least a copy of a copy (possibly more), so inevitably errors will have crept in. Apologies for any of mine.

From the London Gazette

James Geddes Gazette

James Geddes Gazette

In this letter, James is writing to his brother John Geddes IV. It was written the year before James died.

11 June 1815 from James Geddes, Deal Barracks, addressed to Captain Geddes, 27th Regiment, care of John Geddes Esq, Adjuctant General's Office, Edinburgh (Rubber stamped Deal 12 Jun 1815)

My Dear John,

I am again disappointed, the draft left this, morning, only 2 officers went, & every man that was fit for service was sent. Should I be destined to remain at the Depot until the next draft goes, I must remain some months, as it will be a long time before they can collect a sufficient number of men to send out. I wish you would write me & mention which is the most likely way for me to manage to go out to the Battalion, but if I cannot manage to go out soon, I should like to get leave of absence for some time, as it is almost double the expence living at the Depot that when the Battn. was here. I mentioned to you in a former letter the reason why I wished to leave the Depot, which I wished would not go further than yourself.

I had a letter from Sandy yesterday, from Brussels, he was very comfortable. He was obliged to draw on Mr. McKay in London for some money to purchase a horse, as he can get no pay yet, he mentions that horses are very dear & advises if I should go out to take one with me; I hope my Mother is now well, & that you are better, & will be able to go to Caithness, should you go remember me to Miss Innes, my love to my Mother, Father, Adam & David.

I am, Dear John, Yours affectionately James Geddes

'Sandy' is Alexander Geddes, brother to them both, and Adam and David are more brothers.

James Geddes was Lieutenant in the 59th Regiment. On 30th January 1816, he drowned when H.M.Transport 'Sea Horse' was wrecked in Tramore Bay, Waterford, Ireland. This letter was written by Lt J.J.Cowper, 59th Regiment, one of the few survivors, to John Geddes, Edinburgh.

From the Calendonian Mercury, Thursday February 15 1816:

James Geddes Calendonian Mercury

7th Feby. 1816

Dear Sir,

I am scarcely able to hold my pen, but I cannot longer delay a promise I made to the late Mr.Geddess, whilst we were hanging together in the most perilous situation by the same rope; it was a mutual promise that the survivor should communicate with the other's friends - he was not able to tell me more than the Adjt.Genl's Office, Edinbr. I am therefore ignorant into whose hands this may fall, but I beg they will make it known to the friends of Mr Geddes. I understand he informed his friends of our Embarkation at Ramsgate on board the Seahorse for Ireland.Our voyage was very favourable until we came within a few miles of Cork when a violent gale came on, we were not able to make the harbour but were obliged to keep to sea all night in the most dreadful weather; in the morning we were near a lee shore & about eleven o'clock were drove into the Bay of Tramore from whence we were never destined to return. The sea running so dreadfully & the wind so high that it was a vain effort to anchor, when we did it, she dragged & about twelve o'clock got aground; the scene then became truly distressing; men, women & children embracing & taking their leave. Oh God! it was horrible to think of it: in half an hour she entirely went to pieces , & melancholy to relate, out of 334 Men, 33 Women, 34 Children and 16 Officers, only 4 Officers & 23 Men were saved, & their escape was most miraculous as the place where the vessel went to pieces was full a mile from the shore, & the sea going out: God only knows how I escaped. I clung to the wreck to the last; Mr Geddes & I were for a long time hanging by the same rope, but he was washed from me by one of the tremendous waves, & I believe never heard of. Poor Fellow, he is regretted by all who knew him. He met his fate with the greatest resignation & composure which showed he possessed a pure mind.

Should you be a connexion of his, I trust I shall be excused with you for the manner in which this letter is written as I have been confined with bruises & fever ever since the melancholy accident, & am still scarecely able to sit up.

His body has not yet been washed ashore, but if it should, every attention & respect shall be Paid to it - not an article of the Baggage has been saved.

I shall be happy to pay every attention to any communications of his friends, & believe me to be

Yours trulyJ.COWPERLt. 59th Regt.

P.S. I have heard this moment that Mr Geddes's Body has come on shore. I shall take care that evert attention is paid to his remains.


According to Rev John Cooke's Parish register, Lieutenants Ross, Gillespie and Geddes were buried on 12 February 1816. See below for the memorial.

This letter is from John Geddes III, the father of James Geddes to his son (and James' brother) John Geddes IV. It was written just after James died.

18 Feb 1816 from John Geddes III in Edinburgh, addressed to Capt. John Geddes, 27th Foot, 1st Division of the British Army at Cambray, France. By order DAG, John Geddes. Received 27th.

My Dear John,

On the 9th Instant I wrote to you of the melancholy loss of the Seahorse Transport, & of my Dear James on Board. At that time I expected you were in the neighbourhood of Paris, & addressed you accordingly, & enclosed a letter from Sandy. Since I wrote to you I have received a letter from Lieut. Cowper one of the survivors of the 59th on that melancholy occasion, of which I enclose a copy, as it will show you poor James's fortitude & resignation in his last moments, & his anxiety to inform his relatives of his fate. I am overcome & will not write any more on this affecting subject, which renders me stupid. My principal reason for writing to you at present is, to relieve your uneasiness so far with regard to your Mother, & I am happy to acquaint you, that she has stood the shock with wonderful fortitude & resignation, perfectly recollected and firm, which, as I mentioned in my last, I think was owing to the uncommon good health she was in when the fatal accounts were received. I find Sandy is still at Paris, I wrote him some days ago, with a copy of the inclosed; he appears to be in good spirits, Poor fellow, little does he know what melancholy letters next Post may bring him, or next Newspaper.

Davie received this morning your letter of the 11th instant from Cambray to which place I will address all your future letters. I think the communication equally as expeditious as pais. You seem to prefer rations to money. Sandy prefers money, & his allowances are, in my opinion, very ample. If Joseph is still in your service, you must send him once a week to the Meat market, & I presume you will procure everything else at home. Adam is now at Chatham, & expects to be disbanded soon, to which I have no objection, as I think he will be better on 1/2 pay. Every article of provisions here is moderate at present, Good Meat @ 6d, Bread 8d & Meal 10d. Several great Houses at Liverpool & Glasgow stopped last week; & the Gazette is full of Farmers & Grasiers every day, & no demand for Farms.

Your Mother & Davie joins me in love to you my Dear John

Your Affectionate Father John Geddes

P.S. I received a letter this morning from Lieut. P. Robertson of the 59th saying that James's Body was decently interred by his Brother Officers, who regreted very much his untimely fate, as he was much esteemed by them all.

Sandy is Alexander Geddes, brother of John Geddes IV and James Geddes. Davie is David Geddes - another brother. Adam is Adam David Geddes, yet another brother. 'Grasiers' are graziers. I presume they are in the Gazette as going bankrupt. 1816 was described as 'the year without a summer' but this letter was in February, so I don't know why there are financial problems for 'Great houses' and farmers.

This letter is from David Geddes to John Geddes IV, both brothers of James Geddes. It was written just after James died.

1 Mar 1816 from David Geddes, Edinburgh, addressed to Captain John Geddes, 1st Bn. 27 Regiment, 1st Division British Army, near Cambray, France. By order of DAG John Geddes (good specimen black wax seal: bust of a man with long hair or wig)

My dear John,

Yours of the 18 of last month I received two days ago, my father had your's of the 19th this morning, he wrote you the day before yesterday, there have been no letters from Sandy since you wrote him about James, poor fellow. I tremble to think what a shock it will be to him. It will come upon him so unexpectedly, indeed it came very unexpectedly to all of us, we little thought when he left us about three months ago, that we were never to meet again in this worl, but it is the will of heaven, & we must submit to Heaven's decrees, being assured that everything is well ordered, if we look around us & compare our lot with the lot of others what reason have we not to be grateful to the Great Ruler of the Universe for the many Blessings & comforts we have always enjoyed to which ours are strangers. My Mother & Father are a great deal better, but still in very low spirits; My mother has been in better Health during last winter than she had been for some years before, to which in a great measure is to be attribyted the fortitude & Resignarion which she displayed on being informed of our loss. She indeed bore it with more fortitude & resignation than I had reason to fear she was capable of. My father wrote Sandy & you recently enclosing a copy of a letter from Lieut. Cowper. he had another yesterday from the same officer saying that Lt. Coln Hoysted & he attended James' funeral at Drumcannons Church, about two miles Tranmore & five from Waterford, of the 12 officers who were lost. Only 4 have come ashore. They were buryed side by side, & the Officers of the Battn left, propose to erect a Monument over them. None of his Baggage has been got only a Box containing some old Boots & some Books which are to be taken care of.

I must stop as it is 3 o'clock. I'll write you in a day or so. My Mother & Father etc. desire their love to you & believe me to remain My Dear John

Your ever Affectionate Brother David Geddes

Excuse any errors as I have not time to read this over & I scarcely know what I have written.

This letter is from Adam Gordan Geddes to John Geddes IV, both brothers of James Geddes. It was written just after James died.

19 Mar 1816 from Adam Gordan Geddes, Chatham Dept, addressed to Captain John Geddes, 1st Bn. 27 Regiment, 1st Division British Army, France (franked Chatham) - (good specimen black wax seal: AGG in an oval, encircled by a strap & buckle & surmounted by a stag's head crest. Inscription on belt)

(J.G. had written "Wrote to Sandy to inquire about the box 1st April recd. 1st April)

My dear John,

I have forwarded by coach your box of saddlery & paid the carriage to Dover - the Address is 'Captain Geddes 1st Bn. 27th Regiment, 1st Division, British Army France' - per Diligence a Paris - you will therefore cause Inquiry to be made immediately on receipt on this; This was the only mode I could find to send it. I have taken out by your desire the parcel of Waistcoats & Nckcloths.

I have a letter this morning from my father. My mother and he are in better spirits than could almost be expected. They remain another year in Panmure House at a reduced rent of 5. My father would mention to you of David having been recommended by Lieut. Ross for an Ensigncy in the 59th, the 2nd Bn, of which is on the point of being reduced. You will see the intention of it. He may receive his half pay in addition to the Office, on application to Comr in Chief.

I go to London this Evening or tomorrow morning, principally to make some Inquiry at the Board of Claims, to ascertain the probability of my father getting some Remuneration for the loss of poor James's Baggage; & what would be the probable success of an application for the Sale of a Lieutenancy. My father has mentioned them to me, but I am far from being sanguine of any success in either case.

The principal part of your letter of the 28th ulto, relating to a Memorial in our family burial ground, shall be attended to immediately on my Arrival at home. The idea had often struck me before the late melancholy fate of poor James rendered it so necessary. I must hear from you further on this subject.

Re reports relating to the reduction of the 3 Bn are so contradictory that it is difficult to form an idea of the probable period, I myself think about June. We had Capt. Pollock formerly 27th with us, a most gentlemanly excellent fellow. He desires to be remembered to you. Tell Sandy when you see him that Mr Devitt formerly Hos. Asst at Brussels & an acuaintance of sandy is now with us as Asst. Surg.

I must write home before I go to town & as I intend to Ride up I wish to set off soon so as to be in London before 6 o'clock; there being some danger in travelling in the dark over Shooters hill. I will write to you soon & I remain My dear John

Your affectionately Adam G. Geddes

These notes written by John Geddes (IV), older brother of James Geddes, at this time a Lieutenant of 27th regiment (later Lt. General), to Adam Geddes, another brother. These are suggested memorials to their dead brothers and sister. Grace was another name for Greiselda, who died in 1788 aged 3 months. Crawford died in 1796 aged 11 years old. The figures for the Seahorse disaster are slightly different to the letter of J.Cowper.

Suggested to Adam

In memory of GRACE GEDDES who died at ---- aged ----

of CRAWFORD GEDDES who died at ---- aged ----

of JAMES GEDDES, His Majesty's 59th Regt who perished in the wreck of the SEAHORSE transport in Tranmore Bay, Coast of Waterford, Ireland on the 30th Janr 1816 aged 17 years and 8 months. Of 16 Officers of the 59th regiment/ Officers R.N. & 376 Non-Comd Officers, Soldiers, Sailors, Women & Children on board, 12 Officers, 264 Non-Comd Officers & Soldiers, 1 Officer (Lt Allen) RN, 15 Sailors, 71 Women & Children were lost. Only 4 Officers & 26 Soldiers & Seamen saved.

On the same piece of paper, follows what is presumably the draft or copy of a letter from John Geddes (IV) to his brother Adam, 3 years after the event.

Today I performed the melancholy duty of visiting the place where this disastrous shipwreck occurred.

In the churchyard of Tramore Church a neat monument is erected by Lt. Col. Austen, Lt. Col. Hoysted & the the survivors of the 2nd Bn. 59th to the memory of their Brother Officers & Soldiers who were lost on this melancholy occassions; one one side is stated the purpose of the monument with the date of the shipwreck, on another a short extract of the services of the 59th Regt., on a 3rd side an account of the numbers lost & saved, on the 4th side the names of the Officers of the 59th regiment who perished viz.

Majr. Duglas
Capt. MacGregor
Lt.&Adjt. Dent
Lt. Veale
Lt. Scott
Lt. Ja.s Geddes
Lt. Gillespie
Exs. Ross
Exs. Hill
Surgn. Hagan
Asst.Durgn. Lamb
2nd. Mr. Baird

giving their Christian names. Under the names as follows: "Your heroic deeds brave warriors will never be erased from the page of history: and tho' cypress instead of laurels encircle your temples, your cenotaph is erected in the bosoms of your countrymen."

On the sides at the top are the dates of the principal actions in which the 59th Regt. were engraved.

The bodies of the Officers which were found & many of those of the men, are interred in the churchyard of Drumcannon church, formerly the parish church of Tranmore, but now in ruins, about a mile & distant from it. No funerals are yet in the new churchyard of Tranmore - some of the bodies which did not come on shore until some time after are buried in different places. Drumcannon church & a few farm cottages stand on a height about half a mile from the Bay. Mr. Cooke minister of Tranmore performed the funeral service.

A decent small farmer close to Drumcannon Church pointed out to me the spot where the officers are interred, viz on the left as entering the churchyard but no mark to point out by name the individuals, most of the men on the right hand as entering. My tears bedewed the monument at Tranmore & the churchyard at Drumcannon, where repose the remains of a brother I most dearly loved. I passed a melancholy hour at each.

Memorial of the wreck of the Sea Horse
Sea Horse Memorial (click for larger version)
(thanks to Ivan Fitzgerald who took the picture)

On the back of one page is:

Memorial of the wreck of the Sea Horse
Sea Horse Memorial (click for larger version)
(thanks to Ivan Fitzgerald who took the pictures)

Mr. Cooke Minister of Tranmore read the funeral service on this dreadful occasion, attending every day for that purpose as the bodies were found.

I should like to ascertain from him if he knows the exact spot where repose the remains of James in order to mark it by a stone with the name.

I regret that I was not aware of the mausoleum being at Druncannon until my visit that I might have directed it & seen it done.

Memorial of the wreck of the Sea Horse

On the back of the last page is:

Ad fratris tumulum
Thro' various reams, o'er various seas I come
     To see that each due sacrifice be paid,
To bring my last sad offering to the tomb
     And thy mute dust invoke, fraternal shade!
Yes, hapless brother! Since the hand of fate
     Has snatched thee ever from my longing sight,
As us'd our ancestors in solemn state
     I'll bring such mystic gift, each funeral rite.
With many a tear I will the ground bedew -
     Spirit of him I loved, those tears receive!
Spirit of him I valued most, adieu!
     Adieu to him who sleeps in yonder grave!
Translated from Catullus