EAB News 2011-12-23: Aberdeen Esperantists

Pioneers of Esperanto in Aberdeen

As we begin to celebrate the 125th anniversary of Esperanto, it is useful to take a look at the early years of the language in Britain. Esperanto was first published in 1887, of course. Its first adepts lived in the then Russian Empire, but it began to gain adherents in Great Britain from about 1900 onwards.

The names and addresses of early speakers of Esperanto in Aberdeen, with their registration numbers are as follows in the Adresaro de Esperantistoj (collection of addresses of Esperantists) of January 1904 to January 1905 (Series XXV). With the exception of the first named, all of the following are listed in Aberdeen, Anglujo, i.e. England! (Addresses elsewhere in Scotland are correctly assigned to "Skotlando"). The number given is a unique one for each individual. Indeed, early users of the language frequently signed articles with that number alone, knowing that anyone wanting to contact them could easily find their address in the Adresaro.

Here are the names of those Aberdeen pioneers of over a century ago:

9930 Hugh G. Ross (M.A.), 8 Thomson Street
10406 Joseph Bisset, Engineer, 14 Roslin Terrace
10407 A. Christen, Bel Air, King's Gate
10408 David A. Duff, Clerk, 23 Thistle Street
10409 John Durward, Rookseller (sic), 5 Upperkirksgate
10410 Mrs C. Farquharson Kennedy
10411 Walter Laing, Clerk, 30 Union Street
10412 John Macdonald, 216 Union Street
10413 George A. Miller, 18 Mile End Avenue
10414 Won (?) G. Robertson, 27 Wallfield Crescent
10415 S. Rose Donaldson, Advocate, 259 Union Street
10461 George Michie, Craigton Cottage, Peterculter
10462 James Robertson, Craigton Cottage, Culter
10463 George Skinner, 40 Devonshire Road
10464 W.G. Smith, 72 Whitehall Road
10465 George Wallace, 98 Bonnymuir Place
10466 Alexander A. Watt, 84 Leslie Terrace
10475 René de Blanchaud, 160 Midstocket Road
10476 Alda de Blanchaud, Viewbank, Midstocket Road
10477 W. Edmund Bell, 24 St Swithin Street
10478 Mrs W. Bell, 24 St Swithin Street
10479 William Kemp, (? c/o) A. Booth, 48 Elmbank Terrace
10480 Robert Brown, 31 Rubislaw Den South
10481 W. Copeland, 49 Garden Place
10482 Miss R.F. Craigmile, 5 Strawberry Bank
10483 Miss B. Craigmile, 5 Strawberry Bank
10484 E.L. Duncan, 33 Hamilton Place
10485 Miss A.H. Grant, Rowan Cottage, Powis Terrace
10486 S.C. Howard, 67 Beaconsfield Place
10487 Dr A. Dalziel Keith, 53 Desswood Place
10488 George Laing, Cults
10489 A. H. Macandrew, Vinery Lodge, Cults
10490 John Milne, 109 Union Grove
10491 James Milne, 9 North Silver Street
10492 W. Todd Moffatt, 68 Forest Road
10493 J.M. Morrison, Grammar School
10494 Alexander Rodger, 165 Forest Avenue
10495 Mary I. Sheret, 78 Powis Place
10535 G.A. Simpson, 14 Belvidere Street
10536 John Smith, 211 Union Street
10537 Alfred J. Tongh, 33 Street (sic)
11278 F-ino Forrest, Ludgreharn, Longside, Skoptlando
12472 G.M. Mackenzie, 28 Albyn Place
13417 Andew Craig, (apotekisto kaj drogsto=apothecary and druggist), 210 Gallowgate

According to the inside cover (p.ii) of The British Esperantist magazine for January 1905, an Esperanto Society in Aberdeen had been founded in October 1904. Its Secretary is given as Mr Donaldson S. Rose of 259 Union Street, Aberdeen, and the President is listed as A. Christen Esq.

In the list of affiliated groups in 1907 (see The British Esperantist, vol. III, title page) Aberdeen is not listed, either because it had ceased to meet or because it had chosen not to affiliate to the British Esperanto Association. Only in January 1919 does an affiliated Esperanto group appear again in the The British Esperantist for that month. The secretary in that year was Miss Annie, L. Burgess, c/o Mrs Christopher, 30 Mid-Stocket Road. The meeting venue is given as Training Centre, Charlotte Street. The group met on a Friday fortnightly at 8 pm. In 1921 the secretary is given as Miss M. Campbell, 34a Skene Square. In 1923 the Secretary is given as Miss M.D. Thomson, 6 Orchard Lane.

The number of Esperanto speakers registered in Aberdeen is disproportionately large compared to Edinburgh and Glasgow. Can anyone account for this sudden outbreak of internationalism in Aberdeen?

One wonders what happened to Esperanto in Aberdeen after 1923. Did the group continue to meet? Are there minute books in existence? Did any of these enthusiasts have an opportunity to speak Esperanto with people of other nations?

Hilary Chapman
patbillchapmanatgmail.com


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