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Commemorative Plaques Record Details

James Leatham (1865 - 1945)

Picture of the Palque

Location : 68 Schoolhill

Area : Central Aberdeen

Plaque Type : Yellow

About James Leatham : Socialist, journalist and propagandist. Born in Aberdeen, Leatham was apprenticed to a firm of printers and then established his own printing shop in 1889. A militant advocate of free speech, he published The Workers Herald, Scotland’s first socialist newspaper and became editor of The Peterhead Sentinel in 1897. Leatham served as Provost of Turriff 1933-1945.

More Information : Born at 32 Forbes Street, Aberdeen, on 19 December 1865 to Margaret Catanach. About 1870 his family moved a short distance to 12 Short Loanings, also in the Rosemount area of Aberdeen, where he spent most of his childhood. Leatham was later apprenticed to a firm of printers and compositors. He moved to the north of England before returning to Aberdeenshire. He established his own printing shop in 1889 at the age of 24. He was a militant advocate of free speech and publisher of The Worker’s Herald, Scotland’s first socialist newspaper, and later became editor of The Peterhead Sentinel. He also published, edited and contributed to The Gateway from 1912 to his death in 1945. This was published at his Turriff based Deveron Press. On and off for some 22 years Leatham was a member of Turriff Town Council: he was Provost of Turriff between 1933 and 1945. He also wrote a number of educational works, including studies of the novels of Charles Dickens and of characters from Shakespeare’s plays. His Deveron Press also published some educational works, such as The Style of Louis Stevenson (Turriff, Deveron Press, 1925). He also wrote and printed the quarterly Westwood Magazine nominally the journal for Turriff’s Westwood Girl’s School. He also wrote for a number of newspapers, including the Press and Journal and a number of political magazines. He was in correspondence with some of the leading Socialists of the day, such as Ramsay MacDonald. He was awarded the M.B.E. in 1942. This plaque is erected on the frontage of what was No.68 Schoolhill, where Leatham lived between 1911 and 1913. Despite his strong connections with Turriff he retained a close living and working connection with Aberdeen: he was the tenant of 68 Schoolhill until 1913 when the tenancy passed to Isabel Leatham, his daughter-in-law. Leatham died in December 1945 and is buried in St Machar’s churchyard in Old Aberdeen. There is a biography of his life by Robert Duncan entitled James Leatham, (Aberdeen, Aberdeen People’s Press, APP Labour History Series No.3). In May 1971 his daughter, Mrs Mabel M. Letham Aiken, presented many of his papers to Aberdeen University where they remain.