Geddes, William Duguid (DNB01)

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GEDDES, Sir WILLIAM DUGUID (1828–1900), professor of Greek and principal of Aberdeen University, born on 21 Nov. 1828, was son of John Geddes, a farmer of Fenar, Huntly, and his wife, the daughter of Peter Maconochie, farmer, of Keithmore, Banffshire. He was educated at Elgin academy until 1842, when he entered University and King's College, Aberdeen, graduating M.A. in March 1846, when he was only seventeen. In the same year he was appointed parish schoolmaster of Gamrie, and in 1848 classical master at Aberdeen grammar school. He became rector of the grammar school in 1853, and in 1855 was elected professor of Greek at University and King's College. In the same year he published a 'Greek Grammar,' which reached a seventeenth edition in 1883 (new edit. 1888, second issue 1893). In 1860, when the unification of Aberdeen took place, Geddes became professor of Greek in the united university. He held this post until 1885, and was largely instrumental in reviving and reforming the study of Greek in Scottish universities. In 1885 he was elected principal and vice-chancellor of Aberdeen, in succession to Dr. Pirie. He was created LL.D. of Edinburgh in 1876, Litt.D. of Dublin in 1893, was knighted in 1892, and died at the Chanonry Lodge, Old Aberdeen, on 9 Feb. 1900. He married on 28 April 1859 Rachel Robertson, daughter of William White, merchant, of Aberdeen; she survived him, with an only daughter, Rachel Blanche, who married on 23 June 1887 Mr. John Harrower, professor of Greek at Aberdeen.

Besides the 'Greek Grammar' Geddes published in 1878 'The Problem of the Homeric Poems,' which developed a theory similar to that of George Grote [q. v.], and was commended by Gladstone and Freeman. His edition of Plato's 'Phædo' (1863, new edit. 1885) was a scholarly work. He also published 'Principles of Latinity' (1860), 'Flosculi Græci Boreales' (1882), and 'Historical Characteristics of the Celtic Race' (1885), and edited for the New Spalding Club 'Lacunar Basilicas Sancti Macarii Aberdonensis' (1888) and 'Musa Latina Aberdonensis' (1892).

[Geddes's Works in Brit. Mus. Libr.; Anderson's Officers and Graduates of University and King's Coll. Aberdeen, pp. 67, 298, 323; Who's Who, 1900; Burke's Peerage, 1900; Times, 10 Feb. 1900; Athenaeum, 1900, i. 208, 210.]

A. F. P.