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Sir William Fettes


1750 - 1836

Merchant and philanthropist. Fettes had grown wealthy trading tea and wine during the Napoleonic Wars and bought the estate of Comely Bank in NW Edinburgh. He twice served as Lord Provost of the city. However, in 1815, his only son fell ill and died of typhoid at the age of 27 while touring Europe. Thus, unable to pass his money on to the next generation, Fettes left the extraordinary sum of £166,000 to enable the foundation of Fettes College for the education of poor and orphaned boys. This was completed on part of his estate in 1870 by the architect David Bryce (1803 - 1876). The College remains one of Scotland's top private schools, although retaining a tradition of scholarships for poorer children.

Portraits of Fettes and his son hang either side of the door to the Old Library in the school which he founded.


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