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Archibald Constable Geikie (1821–1898)

by Alan Dougan

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Archibald Constable Geikie (1821-1898), Presbyterian minister, was born on 22 July 1821 in Edinburgh, son of Rev. Archibald Geikie and his wife Isabella, née Cunningham. From the High School he went to the University of Edinburgh for one session in 1839-40 and then studied in Glasgow for the Congregation ministry at Queen's College and the Theological Academy. In 1843 failing eyesight forced him to quit his studies and he went with his father to Canada. In 1845 he was ordained to the Congregational ministry and wrote for the Toronto Globe. In 1852 he returned to Europe and in 1853-54 was minister of the British and American Chapel in St Petersburg. In 1854 he returned to Canada to work in journalism there and in the United States. Finding Canadian Congregationalism very different from Presbyterianized Independency, he became a Presbyterian minister in 1855 and settled at St Andrew's Church, Berlin (Kitchener), Ontario. Later he was assistant to Dr John Bayne of Galt, Ontario. In 1843 in Canada he had married Sarah Johnston, daughter of Hugh Johnston. In November 1858 at Orillia, Canada, he married Elizabeth Murdoch (d.1881).

When Bayne died, Geikie returned to Scotland and was commissioned by the Free Church of Scotland for service in Australia. He arrived in Sydney in October 1861, joined the Synod of New South Wales and from Bombala ministered in the Monaro. Translated to Bowenfels in 1863, he went in 1866 to St Stephen's, Bathurst, where he had a notable ministry. He worked patiently, drawing on Canadian experience, for Presbyterian union and in 1864 was elected moderator of the General Synod which united the Synods of New South Wales and Eastern Australia preliminary to the final Presbyterian union in 1865. He was elected moderator of the United Church in 1871. Geikie's work was recognized by honorary degrees from Hanover College, Ohio (D.D., 1872), Queen's University, Ontario (LL.D., 1884) and the University of St Andrews (D.D., 1885). He retired from the ministry on 17 December 1895 and in 1893-98 served on the Council of St Andrew's College, University of Sydney. He was a member of the Royal Society of Antiquaries, Scotland. He died at Woollahra on 29 July 1898 and was buried in Bathurst cemetery. He was survived by his third wife Elsbeth Cooper, née McPherson, whom he had married in Sydney in 1886, by a daughter of his first marriage, and by four sons and a daughter of his second. His estate was valued at £3000. Memorial windows are in St Stephen's, Bathurst, and St Andrew's College Chapel.

Geikie had strong convictions and a satirical wit. He shone more as a debater in the Church courts than as a preacher. These skills were always at the service of high ideals of the ministry. His published works included Christian Missions to Wrong Places, Among Wrong Races, and in Wrong Hands (1871), The Human Sympathies of Christ (nd), The Presbyterian Union of 1865 and Notices of Some Who Wrought It (1896) and at least two sermons.

Select Bibliography

  • J. Cameron, Centenary History of the Presbyterian Church in New South Wales (Syd, 1905)
  • J. Waugh, St. Stephen's, Bathurst, 1832-1932 (Bathurst, 1932)
  • Australian Witness, 1 Jan, 1, 22, 29 Apr 1876, 19, 26 Mar 1881, 27 Jan 1883, 24 May 1885
  • Presbyterian Messenger (Sydney), 1 Sept 1898
  • Scotsman, 22 Feb 1896
  • General Assembly, Minutes 1896, 1899 (New South Wales Presbyterian Library, Assembly Hall, Sydney)
  • letters and reports, Bowenfels and Bathurst (New South Wales Presbyterian Library, Assembly Hall, Sydney).

Citation details

Alan Dougan, 'Geikie, Archibald Constable (1821–1898)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1972, accessed online 17 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, (Melbourne University Press), 1972

View the front pages for Volume 4

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


22 July, 1821
Edinburgh, Mid-Lothian, Scotland


29 July, 1898 (aged 77)
Woollahra, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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