Who was Anderson?

The story starts back in 1746 with the marriage of Marjorie Gilzean and a young man called Andrew Anderson. Andrew had joined a Hanovarian Regiment in Elgin. She and Andrew left Elgin when the Regiment moved South. Their travels are something of a mystery but it is likely they may have travelled as far as Spain or Gibraltar with the Regiment.

The next we hear of Marjorie was in 1748 when she arrived back in Elgin without her husband, whom we believe had been killed in action. She had travelled hundreds of miles on foot to get back to her native Elgin where she eventually arrived penniless and with a child in her arms. Her parents were both dead and she and her son, also named Andrew after his father, began to live a very harsh existence sleeping in the ruins of the Cathedral and relying on the generosity of local people.

As he grew up Andrew showed signs of being a bright lad and he was given a place at the Grammar School as ‘the pauper loon’. He progressed well at school and upon leaving became apprenticed to an uncle in Lhanbryde. This did not work out and he ran away to Leith and latterly to London where he found work in a tailor’s shop.

In 1760 Andrew was asked to deliver a suit of clothing to a Scottish soldier who was about to leave for India to join the Honourable East India Company. This gentleman offered to take Andrew to India with him. This was to prove a turning point in young Andrew’s life.

He never made any further contact with his mother and she eventually died in 1790 and lies buried in Kineddar Churchyard in Lossiemouth.

Andrew was commissioned as an Ensign in 1766 in the army of the Honourable East India Company. He proved himself to be a fine officer progressing steadily through the ranks and by 1811 had reached the rank of Major General – not bad for a ‘pauper loon’ from Elgin. It was possible to become very wealthy in the service as there were great prizes to be won and shared.

Perhaps influenced by his own upbringing Andrew Anderson executed a Deed of Trust in 1815 by which he left £70,000 to the Sheriff and Magistrates and Clergy of the established church in Elgin to build and endow an Institution in Elgin to provide a home for 50 children where they would be educated sufficiently to enable them to earn a living. The Institution was also to give a home to 10 aged persons.

General Anderson died in 1824 in London aged 77 and in 1830 Elgin Town Council commenced building on the lands of Maisondieu. The fine building of the Elgin Institute for the support of Old Age and the education of Youth was opened in 1832.

Though Andrew Anderson’s name is not inscribed anywhere on the building the home will forever be affectionately known in Elgin as Anderson’s, a proud memorial to one of the town’s illustrious sons.


Providing care for the elderly has come a long way from these early days and today the ‘old institute’ is a modern residential home offering a high standard of quality care in a pleasant and friendly environment for some 56 residents from Elgin and its surrounding area.

Major modernisation and refurbishment of the home has been carried out thanks donations from local benefactors.

More recently the heating system has been upgraded and, with financial help from a number of charitable trusts, the kitchen has been completely modernised to comply with current and future food hygiene regulations.

During 2010 one of our residents inspired a local historian to research the story of General Anderson and we were delighted when Peter Wills wrote the book “A History of General Anderson. 1745-1824. Preserving a Popular Legend & New Findings.” The book is summed up in the following review by Dr Iain Macfarquhar.

Of Elgin benefactors, Andrew Anderson was perhaps one of the greatest. Peter Wills presents his life and times in this small but informative volume. A truly remarkable and heart warming story of a “Son of Moray”.

The book is available for purchase by contacting Anderson’s. Price is £5.99. We can post the book to you at an additional charge of £1 to cover postage and packing.

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