Finding History On The Doorstep


Do you ever decide to do a quick Google search, maybe looking for a little history, only to find yourself catapulted from one query to another, emerging some time later more than a little dazed?

Well, that’s exactly what happened to me this week.

I keyed in a simple search about a local quarry (to settle a healthy debate at home), when a name linked to the area was thrown up — Cynicus.

Suffice to say almost an hour of googling had me finding all sorts of stuff that happened right on my doorstep, yet until that point I had been unaware of.

Cynicus turns out to be the pseudonym of the artist and satirical cartoonist Martin Anderson (1854-1932). He retired to the local area following a career that saw many highs, and some lows.

Born in Leuchars, Anderson, who had studied at Glasgow School Of Art, had been employed by the forerunner to D C Thomson, John Leng & Co.

Didn’t shy away from controversial subjects

They were the publisher of the “Dundee Advertiser”, and also “The People’s Friend”. What a small world!

Anderson was apparently the first staff artist to be employed by a newspaper. He then went on to freelance for other publications.

He didn’t shy away from tackling controversial subjects through his sketches, postcards and illustrations.

And, judging by his cartoons, he wasn’t a fan of the suffragette movement!

We don’t have to agree with his sentiments, however, to realise they are a great depiction of key events and the feelings in certain quarters at the time.

Anderson went on to found his own publishing company and resided in London, Leeds and latterly Edinburgh. Unfortunately, fire destroyed his business, and he returned to his roots to live out his days in Fife.

Where will my next search lead me?

He sadly lies in an unmarked grave in Tayport.

I wonder if any readers have discovered something interesting on their doorstep?

And I also wonder where in history my next Google search will lead me . . .

For more from the “Friend” team, read our blog here.

Yvonne McKenzie

Yvonne works on the Features team and admits to being nosy, so loves looking after the Between Friends letters and finding out all about our lovely readers. She also looks after our health copy and enjoys writing about inspiring people that help make the articles in the magazine so interesting.