The Banffshire Reporter

History of Portsoy -  THE “BANFFSHIRE REPORTER”

Researched by Findlay Pirie

  • Published originally by Thomas Anderson.
  • Publication commenced around the 1850’s.
  • Printed at 5 Low Street and at Church Street Portsoy.
  • Newspaper sold to the Calder Brothers on the 14th June 1884.
  • Banffshire Reporter ceased publication in 1920.
  • Copies of the newspaper from 1869 can be seen on film at Macduff Library.

Ten top facts about local newspapers

Thomas Anderson: Printer and Publisher – 1810 -1888

  • Born to parents Alexander Anderson, Farm Servant and Margaret Brander.
  • Christened in the Parish of Fordyce on the 23rd June 1810.
  • Married Jane Allan daughter of John Allan and Jane Groat on the 6th. May 1838 in the Parish of Fordyce.
  • Jane Allan died at 7 Culbert St., Portsoy on 22nd. August 1872 aged 61
  • Married Elizabeth Boaden (36) daughter of Stephen Boaden, Coastguardsman and Charity Stevens, and widow of Henry Burns, H.M. Coastguard, on 29th. November 1873 at Elgin.
  • Thomas Anderson died in Ottawa, Canada on the 23rd January 1888
  • Elizabeth Boaden died at 120 Plantation St., Govan; Glasgow aged 63 on the 8th. January 1900.

Extracts from a lengthy article in the “Banffshire Reporter” on the occasion of a banquet given in his honour on his retirement on 10th June 1884 in Minty’s Hall, Portsoy: -

James Scott Skinner

James Scott Skinner

“ Four o’clock was the hour appointed for the banquet to take place, and by that time the hall presented a well-filled and cheerful appearance. The Committee had secured the services of Mr. and Miss Scott Skinner, Elgin, for the occasion, and their well executed performances on the piano and violin helped greatly to enliven the proceedings. The Committee deserves great credit for the successful manner in which they carried out the entire programme…

… On Mr. and Mrs. Anderson entering the hall, they were received with loud cheers. They were accompanied by Colonel Moir and Mr. Clark. The duties of the Chair were performed by Colonel Moir; Captain Kissach and Lieutenant Paterson acting as croupiers…

… THE CHAIRMAN – Ladies and Gentlemen, I hope that you will fill a bumper to the toast I am now about to propose – the toast of the evening. (Loud cheers) We have met today to do honour to a self-made man – Mr. Thomas Anderson, sometimes known as “Sir Thomas” but oftener as “Oor Tam.” He is a most wonderful man.

He mastered the art of printing after he had reached middle life; and his success in it, is well known to all of you. He could challenge Banff, Aberdeen and Kincardine as to neatness and display in the execution of his work. He deserves the highest praise for the success he has attained to in his profession. He has done wonders; but I will not enter into his history. It would answer no purpose, and, besides, it is well known to you all.

He is come of age, and I will leave him to speak for himself… Before I sit down I have another pleasant duty to perform, and it is a very pleasant one – to present Mr. Anderson with a silver salver and a purse of sovereigns … I wish you and Mrs. Anderson much joy. I propose the health of Mr. Anderson, with three times three and one cheer more. (Loud and prolonged cheers)

MR. ANDERSON, who was received with cheers said – Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, by the permission of a kind Providence I have been permitted to toddle about on this earth of ours for a longer period than the span of life usually allotted to man, and during my long life I have had many and curious experiences, and more than once have found myself in what I regarded as a tight place; but never in all my long life have I found myself in a more trying position than that in which your kindness has this evening placed me … I hold the principle – and it is a good principle for any one to hold – that, next to the reciprocation of conjugal and filial affection, the highest gratification that a man of right principle can obtain is the approbation of the community amongst whom his lot has been cast …

Having said that, there were perhaps some who might wish to know somewhat of the antecedents of the man they had met to honour, Mr. Anderson gave a rapid sketch of his birth, early years, and life, up to the time he was an inhabitant of Portsoy, in 1837, or very nigh, half a century ago…

… MR. MILNE in highly complimentary terms proposed the toast of the Press.

MR. ANDERSON, who replied, referred at some length to his connection with the press. He said – I have been connected with the press for a long period, in perhaps a very humble way. Still, I can claim to be the father of the press in Banffshire. I wrote to the “Banffshire Journal” before Mr. Ramsay was connected with it, or even knew of its existence. At the same time, I have much pleasure in bearing testimony to the great merit of Mr. Ramsay for bringing that great journal to such a high state of perfection that, as a provincial paper, it may be held to stand unrivalled.

Then as to my own connection with the press. Never was a newspaper started under more adverse circumstances than was the “Banffshire Reporter.” It is quite different to start a newspaper now. In the first place I had to find security for £400 before a single copy could be issued. If I dared to do so, or published a bit of news less than one month old, I should have rendered myself liable to the extent of £20 for every sheet, and every one handing such sheet from one to another would be liable to the same extent. There was also a duty of 1s 6d to pay for each advertisement every time it appeared.

I managed, however, to make a start, which I did in the first place at Elgin, where the paper was printed for some time by estimate. At that time I had the honour of going the round of the press, the “Times” not accepted. From a remark I made in my closing address at Elgin, I find that during the few weeks I had the paper printed there, I travelled on foot no less that 600 miles between my editorial garret and the press. I made an effort at that time to get a press of my own in Banffshire. I succeeded in accomplishing this object; but I thought I might get into deep water if I got men to carry on the paper; and, at 46 years of age, I commenced to teach myself, unaided, the art of printing. It was a hard struggle. I do not know if I could spell the word “printer” when I commenced, and as for punctuation, I knew little or nothing. But I had to sit down and study till my brains were like to crack.

I commenced by publishing one local paper after another, such as the “Portsoy Pioneer,” “Portsoy Local Journal.” and the “Portsoy Advertiser.” Although I did not get on at once, still I persevered. While rummaging over my old books I came across some papers printed when I had been but three years in the business, and I think they will compare favourably with those of a recent date.

At last the press was free – the stamp duty was repealed – and I re-established the “Banffshire Reporter.” This was the name by which I was known throughout the county when I was dry-nursing the “Banffshire Journal.” I had many hard struggles, but I got on. I had an old maxim which has ever stood me in good stead – that whatever was worth doing, was worth doing well, and I never put any work out of my hand without doing my best. Another maxim was, “Where there’s a will there’s a way.” My will was to act honestly, and, thank god, I think I have done it; and have thus attained to the top of my ambition. It is impossible to please every one. There is difference of opinion; and it is well that it should be so.

I have carried on the paper now for upwards of 30 years, and I never, but on two solitary occasions, and that recently, had a visit from the “stop-my-paper” monster – in other words, an ill-natured order to discontinue. So I must have had the respect of the community. They did not come from any party in Portsoy, and they were sent in under some misunderstanding. I have had subscribers at the end who has been so since the commencement of the paper; and I hope that they will still continue to be subscribers, although my connection with the paper has ceased.

I do not want to detain you; but you will perhaps bear with me when I say a few words regarding the young men who have succeeded me. (The Calder Brothers) They come amongst you with an excellent character, and under superior conditions, because they have both served their apprenticeships and they know the business. It will be some time before they get as much experience as I have, but it will all come to them in due course. Now as I am going away, I bequeath them to you as a legacy; and I hope that you will learn to discover that there is more gold to be got out of printers’ ink than in either Mexico or California.

I thank you for the manner in which you have received the toast, and for the patience with which you have listened to me.”

The Banffshire Journal, Tuesday, February 14, 1888: -

The Late Mr. Thomas Anderson.

Our obituary today contains the name of Mr. Thomas Anderson, late of Portsoy, whose death took place at Ottawa, Canada on the 23rd ultimate. The announcement will be read with melancholy interest by many in the lower district of Banffshire to whom the deceased was known. Mr. Anderson, who had reached the advanced age of seventy- eight years was a native of the Bogmuchals district of Fordyce. Learning the trade of a shoemaker, as a young man he wrought in Elgin, and thereafter settled at Portsoy in business on his own account. At his trade he was reputed to be exceptionally expert.

He also interested himself in local affairs, and about forty years ago sent communications to our columns. Abandoning his own business, he started a small newspaper in Portsoy and carried on a printing business. While in Elgin, Mr. Anderson had married, and as his family of daughters and sons grew up, they, in the most commendable spirit, assisted him in business, the girls becoming smart compositors and clerks.

Mr. Anderson continued in Portsoy till about three years ago, when he went to Canada to join his daughter and son-in-law, Mr. Burgess. Through the influence of Mr. Burgess, who occupied an important position in connection with the Government of Canada, Mr. Anderson found employment in one of the Government offices. He was the writer of a series of letters printed in our columns from Canada the last of which appeared only a week ago.

Had his early education been attended to, Mr. Anderson might have become a remarkable man. With very little elementary scholastic training he wrote clearly and well. A collection of verses from his pen was published many years ago, that entitles him to rank among the best of our Scottish local poets. The poems had a good circulation in the district, and Mr. Anderson in his later years resisted many entreaties to republish them.*

Many of his relatives had been old people in the Fordyce district, from whom he received stories of a remote period, that he used to relate with an evident appreciation of their humour or pathos. Old friends who have spent pleasant hours with Mr. Anderson, and they are not a few in number, will regret that he had not been spared to return to his native county which he loved so well.

Note :- * A copy of Mr. Anderson’s book of poems is held in the University Library in Aberdeen


  • George and Marcus Calder were born in Wick .
  • Purchased the “Banffshire Reporter” on 10th. June 1884.
  • George Calder and his family emigrated leaving Marcus in full control.
  • Marcus Calder married Isabella Flett, daughter of Alexander Flett, Blacksmith and Isabella Coghill, Wick at Banff on 29th. November 1881
  • Isabella Flett died at Church Street Portsoy on 15th. November 1893 aged 33
  • Marcus Calder married Georgina Edward, daughter of Thomas Edward, Naturalist and Sophia Reid, Banff at Banff on the 15th. July 1897.
  • Georgina Edward died at Church Street, Portsoy, on the 6th. August 1913 aged 55
  • Marcus Calder married Isabella McIvor daughter of Alexander McIvor, farmer, and Catherine Brotchie at Wick on the16th. February 1923
  • Isabella McIvor died 16th February 1946 aged 82.
  • Marcus Calder died 16th. November 1932 aged 75

Banffshire Journal, Tuesday, November 23rd 1932: -


The whole community regrets the passing of Mr. Marcus Calder (on 16th. Nov. 1932) who had been for many years associated with its activities? Mr. Calder, who had reached the age of 75, was born in Wick and became a compositor in the office of the “Northern Ensign” there. For a few years he was in the composing room of the “Banffshire Journal” where also was his brother George who is now in Toronto. As time went on he took over from the late Mr. Thomas Anderson (in June 1884) the business of printer and publisher of the “Banffshire Reporter” in Portsoy, a newspaper that was discontinued about fourteen years ago.

Mr. Calder took an active part in the foundation of St. Stephen’s Lodge of Freemasons in 1887 and had been its secretary since 1912 and for a number of years he was also secretary of the local branch of the Eastern Star. For long he was an elder and session clerk of the former U.P. Church and continued that work in the West Church. In a variety of ways he played a useful part in the work of the community and his death is a matter of warm regret on the part of many. He had been in Portsoy since 1885.

He was a man, distinctly, with a mind of his own. He held high ideals on many things and Church matters interested him closely.

Mr. Calder was three times married. His second wife was the daughter of Thomas Edward, the Banff naturalist, whose Life was written by Dr. Smiles. He is survived by his wife and a daughter, his only son being killed in the War.

There was a large company at the funeral on Saturday to Portsoy cemetery where the Rev. J.R. Brown, Chaplain, conducted the Masonic funeral. The elders and managers of the West Church attended in a body, as did also the Lodges of the Freemasons and the Oddfellows.

Banffshire Journal, Tuesday, March 13th 1934: -


From a Toronto newspaper to hand we learn with regret of the death of Mr. George Calder, printer, at the advanced age of 84. He was proprietor of the Times Publishing Co. in Toronto, in which he was actively engaged until a few weeks before his death, having been altogether for 71 years in the printing trade. Some ten years ago Mr. and Mrs. Calder celebrated their golden wedding. Mrs. Calder predeceased her husband by three years. There are three sons and four daughters surviving.

Mr. Calder was a native of Wick, where he served his apprenticeship, being afterwards for a number of years in the office of the “Banffshire Journal.” With his late brother, Marcus, he came to Portsoy and took over the business of Mr. Thomas Anderson, and carried on the “Banffshire Reporter.” Later the partnership was dissolved and Mr. Calder started business on his own account in premises in the Square and carried on until he went to Canada and settled in Toronto 22 years ago. While in Portsoy he took a great interest in Freemasonry and was one of the founder members of St. Stephen’s Lodge. He held the office of secretary for over 25 years. He was also interested in Church affairs and held the office of deacon in the then Free Church. His interest in Church matters continued during his stay in Toronto, being an office-bearer in the Glebe Presbyterian Church up to the time of Union.

From a memorial in the Old Section of Portsoy Cemetery: -

Erected by Isabella McIvor in memory of her husband

  • MARCUS CALDER printer and stationer, Died 16th. November 1932 aged 75
  • their daughters BELLA died 9th. March 1891 aged 8 and NETTA died 25th. March 1901 aged 13
  • their only son MARCUS died of wounds received in action in France 22nd. May 1918 aged 28; Interred in Pernes British Cemetery
  • his wife GEORGINA H.D. EDWARD died 6th. August 1913 aged 55
  • the above ISABELLA McIVOR died 16th. February 1946 aged 82
  • JAMES B. EWING beloved husband of Ann.E. Calder died 21st. January 1962 aged 79
  • the above ANN E. CALDER, daughter of said Marcus Calder and Isabella Flett died 6th. June 1964 aged 78

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