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Glasgow Humane Society                                        Page1  Page2
The Glasgow Humane Society has been operating continuously from its
Boathouse and Residential base in the Glasgow Green since 1790.

The Society was officially founded on the 16th August 1790 by a group of Glasgow businessmen.

1790 Robert/Nathaniel Jones was appointed the first Officer of the Glasgow Humane Society
1796 John Wiseman Officer Glasgow Humane Society
1801 James Baird Officer Glasgow Humane Society

1844-1850 James Geddes Officer Glasgow Humane Society
1845-1859 John McLean Officer Glasgow Humane Society
1848 Duncan Downie Officer Glasgow Humane Society  
     1848 minute it was agreed that the following should continue as Officers-John McLean at Govan,
     Duncan Downie at Broomielaw and James Geddes at the Green.
1852 – 1857 Officers were – James Geddes, Glasgow Green and John McLean at Govan
                     James was also Ferry-Keeper until the opening of the new suspension bridge at the society’s house.
1858 William Geddes son of George Ass. Keeper
1859 – 1889 George Geddes
George Geddes

1859 George Geddes I became Officer until he passed away in 1889.
1889 George's son also named George (II) was appointed officer.


Mr.George Geddes, the Officer of the
Glasgow Humane Society, outside the boathouse at Glasgow Green c1900

Mr. Geddes was a very strong man and rescued many people from drowning in the Clyde .






George Geddes II's son also called George (III) drowned while attempting a rescue 11th Nov.1928

1928 Benjamin Parsonage was appointed officer in conjunction with George Geddes II.

George Geddes II subsequently died in 1932.
1932 - 1979 Ben Parsonage took sole charge until his death in 1979
1957 first recorded “in boat” assistance by George Parsonage son of Ben.
1979 George Parsonage, Officer Glasgow Humane Society


April 2005, extract from GlescaPals messageboard, 'GlescaPal AnnieMay', Ontario, Canada
I remember when ah wis a wean ma grandpa would threaten if ah wisnae being good. "Geordie Geddes i'll get ye" Scared me half tae death.  Scared me even merr when ah fun oot who he wis.
Geordie Geddes wis the keeper o' the Morgue as well as the river. He wis the wan that dragged the river when they were lookin fur a body. A believe his son (also a Geordie Geddes) took over frae him when he retired. 
Aye an' Ah got threatened wi the bad fire tae on occasions.

April 2005, extract from GlescaPals messageboard, 'GlescaPal Ronnie', London
George Geddes was appointed full time officer to the Glasgow Humane Society in 1859 and was succeeded in the post in 1898 when his similar named son took over and held the post until 1932. It was said for two generations, whenever there was a fatality connected to the river, the cry 'send for Geordie Geddes' went up.
Following George Geddes death in 1932 the post was taken over by his assistant Ben Parsonage who had been appointed in 1928, and he proved to be the longest serving officer of the GHS, working on the river until his death in 1979. During his employ it was reckoned that he was responsible for saving more than 1,000 lives, and had recovered more than 2,000 bodies. After his death his son George Parsonage took over as an officer on a part time basis.
The Glasgow Humane Society still operates as on an autonomous society, independent of Glasgow District and the Strathclyde Region.

April 2005, extract from GlescaPals messageboard, 'Tammytroot', Glasgow
I have to get a plug in here for Neil Munro's "Para Handy" and "Erchie" stories, because Geordie Geddes is mentioned in one of the Para Handy episodes. (GlescaPal SunnyJim claims to have been dragged from the Clyde by Geordie Geddes.)
Most of the stories were set in the period 1890-1920 or thereabouts, and give a real insight into how life in Glesca was lived at that time.

May2008, extract from email, Michelle Schaller, Australia
Dear Mr. McArthur,

I just found your site when I googled the humane society Glasgow. I was rapt to find the photo and write up on George Geddes.. He was the son of my gggGrandparents George (the original) & Christina Geddes.

This photo I am attaching may be of interest to you. Unfortunately its not in the best of condition. It was sent to me by another descendant.

It is of Georges' (from your photo) brother, John Geddes, his wife Eleanor and their very large brood.
They are my gr gr grandparents.

I have been told John was also involved with the Humane Society.
A distant relative says he has a medal that was handed down to him that belonged to John.


John lived at the Humane society, presumably until he married Eleanor Borle at Stockwell Pl, Glasgow, in 1880.

In the 1881 census he is listed as a Sand Merchant, employing 6 men..

In the 1891 census his occupation is listed as 'Ferry Lessee So I guess he went back to his roots.

An old Aussie saying.. "your bloods worth bottling!!'  
Thank You :-)  regards Michelle

         then 4 years later!!!   in Aug 2012, I received an original  copy of this photo  see page2


Nov.2012, extract from email, Fiona Birks, England
Hello, I found your website while searching for the words to a song that my parents and grandparents used to sing to me when I was wee, while bouncing me on their knee! I've been singing it too my children and my four year old asked me what it was about. I searched "Geordie Geddes" and your website came up. Thank you for the information and the photograph, it is wonderful to learn about the history and have some context for the words!
"Send for Geordie Geddes, tell him he's to come,
                  Tell him he's to save the life of Baker and his chum,
                  Tell him if he hurries up he'll get a half a crown,
                  For the boiler's burst and the boat's gone down."

I don't suppose you have any insight as to who "Baker and his chum" are?
With thanks, Fiona Birks.


Glasgow Humane Society post is currently held by George Parsonage,
his house is in Glasgow Green near the Peoples Palace ( more info and photo's to follow)

The aims and objectives of the Society are :-
+ Preservation of human life in and around the waterways of Greater Glasgow.

+ Provision of lifeboat / safety services where and when requested.
+ Advice to councils, emergency services, universities and schools businesses, riverside users and general members of the
   public on safety and accident prevention on waterways.

+ Education of the public in water safety.

A Short History of the Glasgow Humane Society
                                                                                                                                                 Page1  Page2




Glasgow Green



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