The Aitkens’ Coin-Glass Goblet

We have an antique vase from 1889. We didn’t know what it was, and more importantly we didn’t know who it was made for. Thanks to research then replies to this blog, the mysteries are solved (mostly). Wonderfully, we have heard from a descendant of the couple whose marriage it was made to commemorate (see below). The goblet is large (30cm tall with a 4 pint capacity) and beautifully engraved, with a floral thistle theme and pictorial images of Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyrood House. The lead crystal rings like a bell when tapped. And it has two coins/medals inside a blown glass cavity (“knop”) at the foot of its stem. 

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The long summer of 1913

This Scottish summertime photograph, helpfully labelled on the back, celebrates the 35th (so-called coral) wedding anniversary of James Scobbie and Mina Laughland on July 3rd 1913, just before WW1. For photos from their diamond wedding celebrations in 1938 just before WW2 along with newspaper biographies, see the post on their diamond, gold and “ruby” anniversaries. A looming war is invisible in photographs like this, if we can resist the temptation to use hindsight to pour meaning into the expressions of the people in these gapless gatherings.

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74 years officiating in Scottish forestry

Robert Paterson Galloway (1861-1936), pictured above, and his elder son Angus were both, as Edinburgh lawyers, major administrative figures in organisations representing forestry and arboricultural interests in Scotland, and provided stability and continuity as the secretary-treasurers of the Royal Scottish Forestry Society for 74 years, from 1895 to 1969. (The Royal Scottish Arboricultural Society as it was called in 1895 had been founded in 1854 and given a Royal Charter in 1887.) Robert was secretary and treasurer for 42 years! He died in 1936 aged 75, following an accident in Edinburgh in March 1935 in which he had been knocked down by a motor car.

We know something of their work and characters, because Robert was the subject of a glowing testimonial in the Transactions of the Royal Scottish Arboricultural Society to celebrate its 60th year, in 1914. His son Angus (1895-1971) likewise was lauded in an obituary in Forestry: An International Journal of Forest Research in 1972 both for his service as secretary and treasurer for the RSFS (for 9 years jointly with his father) and also as the first holder of the same roles for the Society of Foresters of Great Britain for 27 years from its founding in in 1925 till 1962.

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Morningside Wedding, Morningside Funeral

Ebeth Scobbie married at 28 and was widowed at 33. As Mrs Ebeth Newton, she married again at 46, to a successful and well-regarded Edinburgh solicitor, Robert Galloway, also a widow. He was 69. Their wedding in 1930 was at Greenbank Church (near Robert’s home) in the south of Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland.

I assume Ebeth and Robert found happiness with each other – they had just each lived through a dozen or so years of widowhood, right through the 1920s. I wonder if their ages were a big talking point back then: there was a 23 year age gap, which I assume was  unusual. Is that Angus (Robert’s son) scowling in the background?! Or does just he just have a serious face? Well, Angus was just 11 years younger than Ebeth… and they were in the same generation, given that they had both “seen action” in the war. Maybe he was uncomfortable.

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Ebeth Scobbie (1884-1940)

The girl on our left in this picture is Ebeth, photographed with her siblings and parents in Scotland when she was 12 or 13, around 1896. Here is some of her life story. I collected some of this material in 2016, at the time of the centenary of the tragic day on May 30th 1916 when she was widowed, aged 33, in Smyrna (now ─░zmir on the western Mediterranean coast of Turkey), and now a year later, in the days before posting this blog, I finally located and visited her grave in Morningside, a few minutes walk from my home.

Why was she there? What happened to her? Why am I writing about her?

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