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John Geddes in Siberia

In 1759 he was ordained a priest, and returned to Scotland, with George Hay and William Guthrie. The winds in the Firth of Forth forced the ship into Buckhaven instead of Leith, which was fortunate because security in Buckhaven was lax, whereas at Leith there was always the danger of being unmasked as Catholic Priests.

They walked to Edinburgh, and visited Bishop Alexander Smith to receive their appointments. John Geddes was given the Cabrach, an upland moor which straddled the counties of Banff and Aberdeen, well known for its severe weather, an unpopular posting among clergy, who nicknamed it “Siberia”.

When the young priest, John Geddes, arrived at his mission station in the Cabrach, He discovered that he was to share his house at Shenval with Bishop Hugh MacDonald, Vicar Apostolic of the Highland District, a great figure in our Scottish Catholic History. He had been banished from the kingdom, under pain of death if he returned, for being discovered as a priest present in Scotland which was forbidden by law, but it had more to do with him blessing the Jacobite Standard at Glenfinnan, something he did reluctantly aware of the probable outcome. After his trial, however, he had managed to slip back to the north. The Cabrach was not in his Highland District, but he was able to oversee it from there.

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