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Chesterfield and District Caledonian Association 1910 - 2010

Tuesday 4th January 2011

The Chesterfield and District Caledonian Association was founded in October 1910 although the Association was not the first collective of Scots in Chesterfield and the surrounding District.

Association President Andrew Boswell welcomes guests to lunchThe Derbyshire Courier dated 28th January 1882, reported that The Chesterfield Burns Society held a Burns Celebration on 23rd January 1882 at the Angel Hotel, Chesterfield. The Immortal Memory on that occasion was given by Dr John Carnegie, a former missionary to Amoy in China, who had moved to the town in 1872.

The Society was discontinued in 1904 but a number of its members played a role in the founding and development of the Chesterfield and District Caledonian Association.

Apart from local newspaper reports on a few Burns and St Andrew's Celebrations, limited material in the Chesterfield Library, The Glasgow Herald and the History of The Burns Federation, there are no other known records of The Society. The Society’s historical connection with The Association is significant.

First Members of the Association

Initially, 36 members joined The Association and paid their annual subscription of 2/6d.  Women were permitted to join The Association but only as Associate members - 14 women subscribed at the rate of 1/6d.

The Association's first President, Robert Howie, had also served as a President of The Chesterfield Burns Society.  Since 1910 eighty three Presidents have served and The Association has been supported by hundreds of people.

Though women were permitted Associate member status, the Burns Celebrations followed the traditional male only pattern of attendance.  However, progress was made at the 1920 Burns Celebration when ladies were permitted to attend.  A local newspaper reported it was "The first dinner arranged by The Caledonian Association since 1914 and a new and happy departure was the presence of women. The company numbered about 80."

Relationship with the Robert Burns World Federation

The Chesterfield Burns Society was affiliated to The Burns Federation (now named The Robert Burns World Federation) in 1886 - Roll Number 11.

The Society seems to have played a role in the early years of The Federation which was founded in 1885.  The Burns Federation records show that James Colquhoun Jnr from Sheepbridge, a member of The Chesterfield Burns Society, served on The Federation’s Executive Committee.  The Glasgow Herald reported on 9 August 1886, on the commemoration celebrations of the publication of Burns' Kilmarnock Edition in 1786, that James Colquhoun, Chesterfield, was in attendance at these celebrations held in Kilmarnock.

The Association did not affiliate with The Burns Federation until 1930 when Roll Number 438 was granted.  However, in 1949 the local representative of The Burns Federation suggested that the Association make application for Roll Number 11 to be restored - the number originally allocated to The Chesterfield Burns Society in 1886.  This was agreed provided the name of The Association was maintained.  The affiliation date, however, was not changed by The Federation to 1930 but remained as 1886.  

The Association regularly supported delegates' attendance at The Burns Federation Annual Conferences.  The Association continues its membership of The Federation, Roll Number 11, but in light of the information The Federation has been requested to note 1930 as the affiliation date not 1886.

President Andrew Boswell with Past President Chrissie Yeomans (the Association's most senior Past President whose term of office was in 1955 -1956) cutting the Centenary Anniversary Cake
President Andrew Boswell with Past President Chrissie Yeomans (the Association's most senior Past President whose term of office was in 1955 -1956) cutting the Centenary Anniversary Cake

Significant Dates

In October of 1931, the coming of age of the Association, at that time 21 years, was celebrated at a Halloween Party and a birthday cake was bought at a cost of £2.4.91/2 for the occasion.  The party made a loss of £2.0.01/2.

In 1935, to mark the Silver Jubilee of The Association a decision was taken to provide a chain of office or medallion to be worn by the President when visiting other Associations or Societies.  Two firms, Edward & Sons from Glasgow and Messrs Hamilton & Inches from Edinburgh were invited to submit designs.  The Committee accepted a design submitted by Edward and Sons. 

The Medallion was presented to the President, Mrs B S Nicholson, at a Committee Meeting held on 8 April 1936.  The minutes of the meeting record "it was worn for a short time" at this Committee Meeting.  The inscription on the reverse of the medallion is "In commemoration of the Silver Jubilee of The Association 1910-1935".  The Medallion continues to be used by Presidents elected by The Association.

Records of The Association for the period 1953 to 1964 are not available, so it is not known how The Association celebrated its 50 years in 1960.  There was, however, a Celebration of what was thought to be The Association's Centenary year in 1986.  However, this was in fact a celebration of the centenary year of the affiliation of The Chesterfield Burns Society to The Burns Federation and the continuing use of Roll Number 11 for the Association.

Relationship with St Andrew's Church

There has been a long relationship between The Association and St Andrew’s Church in Chesterfield and this continues to develop.  Two of the four founder members of St Andrew's Church, Dr Andrew Duthie and Mr Alexander Smart served as Presidents of The Association between 1929 and 1932.  Throughout the history of St Andrew's Church and The Association, many Church members have also been active members of The Association.

The church service which forms part of the Association's St Andrew's Celebrations in November continues to be held in St Andrew's Church.

Membership Highlights

Records show there was considerable growth in Association membership from the early 1930s to the 1960s when it reached around 360 members.

The activities organised by The Association reflected this large membership.  These included golf and tennis competitions;  badminton;  dance class;  drama group;  Christmas Parties for the children of members and at one time the Association printed its own Newsletter - "Scotch Broth".

These activities were in addition to the formal events such as the President's Reception, the Hogmanay Celebrations, St Andrew’s Night Dinner and Dance and the annual Burns Celebration

The Association has continued for the last forty years with a fluctuating membership but we are fortunate that we have been able to sustain a varied, but different programme of events.

There have been social changes over the last twenty years, but The Association is always ready to welcome new members, whatever their background, who have an interest in and appreciate Scotland, its culture, customs and literature.

For further information, please contact Ian Gordon on

















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