Also Known As
- Anna Gordon (♀)
Anna was very musical and her neice Elizabeth Anna Thomson ♀ considered her to be an excellent pianist. She was taught by her sister Margaret Justina Pratt ♀, herself home taught. She also had a beautiful voice and took singing lessons from Mrs. Bush, the leading soprano of the Edinburgh Operatic Company.
In 1854 Anna's neice and three nephews were sent back to Edinburgh, Scotland from India to be educated in her care. They lived with her and her husband, James, in Hart Street/68 Broughton Street, a garden-less house in central Edinburgh, Scotland. At that time Anna's father ♂ lived on Maryfield, a short road running from Edinburgh, Scotland in the direction of Leith with only a few houses on one side. The houses stood in nice gardens and his wife maintained a fine show of flowers in their own. Anna's neice, Elizabeth, recalls that at any time she and her brothers visited the house they always asked if they might visit the garden, while Anna chatted inside. This was always allowed on condition that they did not make a mess of themselves or the back yard where they drew water to water every inch of the garden - whether it needed it or not! They were not allowed to pick the flowers but never left without a nice bunch of cut flowers which were much appreciated.
In 1859 they moved to a larger house on a quiet country road on the outskirts of Edinburgh, Scotland, where they lived until 1863. Comely Garden House, as it was then called, was over 300 years old and was said to have belonged to Lord Balserino in the reign of Mary, Queen of Scots. Being a fairly large house it was made into two and shared by the Gordon's, who had the larger part, and an Irish family called O'Hara. The house was one of only a few and stood well back from the road, an extension of Abbey Mill Road, in a delightful old-fashioned garden, with lots of shrubs and flowers and good ground for vegetable and fruit bushes. The front of the house faced Arthur's seat and the flower garden was on that side. From it there was a very pretty view of the East window of the ruined chapel of Holyrood Palace. Beyond the flower garden there was a small paddock surrounded by beautiful old elm trees with a gate at the bottom leading directly to the Parade Ground where the soldiers freqently exercised. St. Mary's Loch was just beyond.
On the 7th of August, on the parade ground at Holyrood Park, Volunteer Corps, newly formed in response to the percieved threat of Emperor Louis Napolean, came from all around Scotland for the Royal Scottish Volunteer Review. Thousands of spectators were able to obtain a clear view of the parade ground from a part of Arthur's seat immediately above St. Mary's Loch. The day was brilliant and, to most people, intensely interesting and exciting. Anna's nephew, John, paraded in the Review as a member of the Volunteer Corps from Glasgow, where he was then working, in McKinnon's office.
Barely two weeks later, on the 19th of August, Anna's sister Jessie (Janet) married Walter Hardie at Comely Garden House. The ceremony took place very early in the day and was followed by the wedding breakfast soon after which the bride and bridegroom left for the English Lakes.
In May 1963, the Gordon's and their charges left Comely Garden House for a smaller one in Grange Loan, the then extreme limit of Newington. Anna, who knew that the Thomsons would all be leaving her in a few months, said that she could not bear the thought of staying on in the old home after their departure. She would, she said, be always hearing the boys running down the stairs. It certainly must have been lonely for her.
When William and Margaret Thomson finally returned from India in June 1863, their children remained with Anna a little longer while they sought a home in the south. Eventually they decided to rent a furnished house, The Cedars, in Enfield, and at the end of the summer, Margaret returned to Edinburgh, Scotland to engage servants before taking her children with her to London.