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Pioneers of Esperanto in Aberdeen

    A large number of people in the city of Aberdeen in northeast Scotland with a knowledge of Esperanto is recorded in the early years of the twentieth century..

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 can speculste that the appearance of articles about Volapük in two local newspapers in 1888 and 1889 had prepared the ground.

Bill Chapman

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?

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