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William McCombie


1805 - 1880

Cattle breeder. McCombie was a native of Tillyfour (Aberdeenshire), the son of a farmer and cattle dealer. Educationally unexceptional, he gave up his studies at the University of Aberdeen to become a ploughman on his father's farm. McCombie too dealt in cattle before settling to become a tenant farmer in 1829. McCombie became a successful breeder of Aberdeen-Angus cattle. Through careful management of the beasts and planned matings, he was able to improve his stock.

McCombie was greatly respected for his success, winning prizes including the top prize at the Paris Exposition of 1878. His best known beast, Black Prince, which had won several prizes in 1867, was inspected by Queen Victoria, who also enjoyed its beef as a Christmas present. The Queen visited McCombie at Tillyfour the following year.

He is also noted as the first tenant farmer to be elected to the House of Commons (1868), at a time when it filled by the landed gentry. He was Liberal member for West Aberdeenshire.

McCombie died at his home in Tillyfour. Not only was he the 'Great Preserver' of the breed, but he significantly developed and strengthened it. A statue commemorating McCombie's work was unveilied in 2001 by Charles, Prince of Wales, in the presence of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, both noted Aberdeen-Angus breeders. The statue is situated by the roadside on the route into Alford.


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