Anderson Brothers




Short story


Young adult

Historical era

18th century


Margaret Lyford-Pike


We Lived in Drumfyvie


"God Be with You" (We Sign the Covenant)


Drumfyvie Elects a Provost

"Anderson Brothers" is the twelfth story in the 1975 collection We Lived in Drumfyvie, originally co-written with producer Margaret Lyford-Pike as episodes of an unidentified children's radioplay series.


Hugh Anderson is the only son of a Drumfyvie merchant, whose younger brother John is master of the trader North Star. Hugh regards his uncle's visits as holidays from the workaday world.

When Hugh is seventeen, John brings home his new wife, a Spanish merchant's daughter named Anita, a woman of unconventional dignity. Hugh's mother Elspeth is mildly horrified, but resolves to do her best for her sister-in-law. This includes introducing her to respectable Drumfyvie society forthwith, despite Anita's alarming propensity for gypsy tunes and lack of embarrassment about her undelicate upbringing.

When John is briefly called away on a short voyage on another ship too small to accomodate Anita, she stays behind with her in-laws. Elspeth takes the opportunity to launch her into Society at the Assembly Rooms, where she makes a good impression, but knows none of the dances. She offers to demonstrate a Spanish dance to a gentleman soliciting her hand, and Hugh whistles the music for her while she performs an unstaid gypsy dance. Elspeth, scandalised, makes their excuses and hustles Anita and Hugh home, but Anita gently rejects the claim that she has done anything to embarrass the family.

No scandal arises from the incident. When John returns, they remain with Hugh's family for a few idyllic weeks, then sail once more. Two weeks later the North Star goes down in a storm off Finisterre, leaving no survivors.


Dates for We Lived in Drumfyvie are given in the chapter headings. The principal scenes of "Anderson Brothers" take place in 1740.

  • 1738: Hugh is indentured at 15
  • 1740: John marries Anita


  • Hugh Anderson, narrator, son of Anderson the Elder
  • William Anderson, merchant, the elder Anderson Brother, Hugh's father
  • Lady –, a baronet's widow, the upstairs neighbour
  • Elspeth Anderson, Hugh's mother, a creature of habit
  • Kirsty, the maidservant
  • John Anderson, sea captain, the younger Anderson Brother
  • The North Star, John's ship
  • Master Baird & Master Jamieson, witnesses to Hugh's indentures
  • Anita Anderson, Johnnie's Spanish wife, a humming-bird
  • Mistress Gilchrist & Mistress Kerr, early visitors
  • Alan Murray, captain of Black-Eyed Susan
  • Happy Dispatch, a rival trader
  • Mistress MacAlisdair, Lady Directress of the Assembly Rooms
  • Old Ben, the fiddler
  • Ian Hamilton, the Provost's son
  • Tom Shaw


  • Drumfyvie
    • Market Street, Anderson Bros. HQ
    • The Old Kirk
    • the Assembly Rooms
  • Kelso, home of Quaker wool dealers
  • Perth, linen supplier
  • London, linen destination
  • Aberdeen, wool producer
  • Alloa, coal producer
  • Moray Firth, corn producer
  • Paisley, linen producer
  • Glasgow
  • Leith, port of Edinburgh
  • France, wool market
    • Bordeaux, wine exporter
    • Finisterre, where North Star goes down
  • Sweden, wool market, iron producer
  • Rotterdam, coal market, site of a Merchant School
  • Norway, corn market, timber producer
  • Poland, flax producer
    • Danzig
  • Spain, wine exporter
  • The New World
    • West Indies, source of coffee, molasses
  • The Canary Islands, wine exporter