[Moray & Nairn FHS]

Moray & Nairn Family History Society

Founded 2009




MI Recording





Moray Miscellany

Nairnshire Miscellany

Member Charts

About Us

Contact Us


Professor John (Old John) Shand
C.M.G., LL.D., M.A.
1834 - 1914


John Shand’s first appointment was as mathematical tutor in Donald Morrison’s boarding establishment in connection with Elgin Academy.


At the time John Shand attended Elgin Academy, it was not unusual for masters to have their own boarding pupils. One such was Donald Morrison, Classics Teacher.

An advertisement in the Elgin Courant of 11th August 1854 (page 1) tells us that Mr Morrison’s boarding establishment for the education of young gentlemen will be re-opened on Monday, the 14th of August.

A similar advertisement in the same newspaper on 10th August 1855 (page 4) tells us that in Mr Morrison’s establishment, young gentlemen are prepared for the Universities, the Army, the Navy, or the Indian Service, and that on account of additions to his premises, which are not yet completed, his pupils will not re-assemble until Monday, 27th current.

In 1859, Donald Morrison resigned his position at Elgin Academy, taking all his boarding pupils with him and setting up a private school at Weston House, Elgin.

Donald Morrison left Elgin 1862 to take up the position of Rector in Glasgow Academy.


When applying for the position of Mathematical Master in Edinburgh Academy, John Shand secured a reference from Donald Morrison. This was included in Testimonials in Favour of John Shand, M.A. 1868, and says, in relation to his work as mathematical tutor in Elgin:


In that sphere he evinced educational powers of the very highest order, and soon succeeded in creating a taste for Mathematical studies which was truly astonishing.

His facility in accommodating himself to the various capacities of his pupils; his energy and enthusiasm in guiding them both individually and in classes; his earnest labours to promote independence of thought and originality of expression in all their exercises; and his power to control without severity, rendered his services invaluable.


John Shand was still in Elgin at the time of the annual examination in Elgin Academy in 1855. The Elgin Courant of 27th June (page 4) of that year tells us that the number at present studying under Mr Morrison and his assistant, Mr Shand, is fifty-three.

However, by the same time in 1856, John Shand had moved to the Military Mathematical Department of the Royal Naval and Military Academy, Gosport.

In 1858, when applying for the position of Mathematical Master in Ayr Academy, John Shand secured a reference from W B Kemshed, Superintendent of Military Schools, South-West District, England, which was also included in Testimonials in Favour of John Shand, M.A.1868 referring to John Shand’s time at the Royal Naval and Military Academy, Gosport:


I have personally known you for the last two years, as having charge especially of the Military Mathematical Department in that establishment.

During that period some two dozen military pupils have gone up for examination, every one of whom has passed, while several have, in your department taken the highest honours.

From the opportunities I have had of judging, I consider you a most successful Mathematical Teacher, and eminently qualified for the post you now seek.


John Shand was appointed to the position of Mathematical Master in Ayr Academy on 13th October 1858, but it was not until 15th December 1858 (page 4) that it was announced in the Aberdeen Journal. In that article, we learn that John had been appointed to a situation worth £300 a-year.

He later shows up in the 1861 census lodging at 8 Cathcart Street, Ayr:

1861 Census, Cathcart Street, Ayr

It was also in 1861 that there is the first reference to John Shand playing golf when he joined Prestwick Golf Club that year. Details from the minute book of the club record he was proposed by Mr Campbell and seconded by Dr Sloan. It may be fanciful to imagine John Shand learnt the game from ‘Old’ Tom Morris at Prestwick and taught mathematics & arithmetic to ‘Young’ Tom Morris in Ayr Academy.

John Shand did more than just play golf in his spare time when living and working in Ayr. The Glasgow Herald of 24th October 1860 tells us of his involvement with the institution of a working men’s college in the town as one of the gentlemen who are to conduct the classes.

John Shand is listed as a teacher of arithmetic and mathematics in the Ayr Academy in the Post Office Directories for Ayr, Newton and Wallacetown in 1861/62 (page 7):

Post Office Directory, Ayr 1867/68

He’s listed likewise in the 1864/65 (page 7) and also in that of 1867/68 (page 7) editions.

In these latter two, he also shows up in the directory living at 8 Cathcart Street, still in the house of C B Rowan, Solicitor, Procurator Fiscal for the Burgh of Ayr and Town Clerk of Prestwick. John Shand does not appear in the next edition for Ayr, Newtown and Wallacetown in 1870/71.

During his time in Ayr Academy, according to the details furnished by William Bone, Secretary to the Directors of Ayr Academy in one of the references included by John Shand in the Testimonials in Favour of John Shand, M.A. 1868, the numbers attending the classes under John Shand’s control grew from 189 in 1858 to 324 in 1868, and he seemed to be achieving pass rates between 70% and 90%. John remained in that position in Ayr for some nine years before seeking new employment.

In 1868, John Shand took the step of applying for the position of Mathematical Master in Edinburgh Academy, which had recently become vacant.

As part of his application for that post, John Shand prepared a letter and furnished some 26 references, published as Testimonials in Favour of John Shand, M.A. 1868 and found at University of Glasgow, Special Collections.

John Shand’s application, addressed to the directors of the Edinburgh Academy states:


My Lords and Gentlemen

I beg respectfully to offer myself as a Candidate for the Mathematical Mastership in the Edinburgh Academy, and to submit to your consideration the accompanying Testimonials.

Having early resolved to become a teacher of Mathematics, I have for many years embraced every opportunity of making myself practically acquainted with the methods of imparting Mathematical knowledge which are most approved of in Scotland and in England as well as on the Continent of Europe. I have also assiduously cultivated the study of the Mathematical and Physical sciences and have endeavoured, to the best of my ability, to keep pace with their latest developments.

For the last nine years I have conducted in a large public school a department in every way similar to that now vacant in the Edinburgh Academy; and, for the two years immediately preceding, I held the appointment of First Mathematical Master in the Royal Naval and Military Academy, Gosport. During those two years I was solely occupied in preparing Candidates for the various public Examinations - Military and Civil; and, bearing in view the class of pupils attending the Edinburgh Academy, I venture to express an opinion that the experience thus obtained would not be without value to that Institution.

If I shall be honoured by your choice, it will be my highest aim to discharge with energy and fidelity the duties of the important office to which I now aspire.

I am,
My Lords and Gentlemen.
Your most obedient Servant,
John Shand.

Ayr Academy, 10th March, 1868.


The full list of referees found in Testimonials in Favour of John Shand, M.A 1868. can be found towards the end this document. They included the Rector and most of the Directors of Ayr Academy, as well as various ministers of the church, fellow masters and academics. All praise John Shand’s qualifications and suitability for the position he was applying for.

The Edinburgh Evening Courant of 28th May 1868 carried notice of John Shand’s appointment, saying, we understand that at a meeting of the directors of the Edinburgh Academy, held yesterday, Mr John Shand, M.A., of the Ayr Academy, was elected mathematical master, in room of Mr Williams, who has recently been appointed one of her Majesty’s inspectors of schools for Wales. There were forty-one candidates.

John shows up as a staff member of Edinburgh Academy in the Post Office Directories for Edinburgh & Leith in 1868/69 (page 505):

Post Office Directory, Edinburgh 1869/70

He appears also in 1869/70 (page 588) and 1870/71 (page 537).

Although, in 1869/70, he is given as living at Buccleuch Place, he isn’t listed as a named resident of that street, and must have moved to Brandon Place soon after (see marriage, below).


Moray & Nairn FHS is not responsible
for the content of external internet sites.

Copyright 2019   Moray & Nairn Family History Society