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Alexander Forbes-Leith


(Baron Leith of Fyvie)

1847 - 1925

Steel magnate. The son of Admiral John Leith and Margaret Forbes, Leith was brought up in Aberdeenshire. He began his career in the navy in 1860, but after distinguished service, left in 1872. He married Marie Louise January, the daughter of the director of an Illinois steel mill and worked his way up to become President of the Joliet Steel Company (which became part of Illinois Steel and eventually the United States Steel Corporation, of which Leith was a Director), as well as a partner in a merchant bank.

In 1889, he was able to purchase Fyvie Castle, which he had admired since his youth, for the remarkable sum of £175,000. He invested a considerable fortune in its restoration, furnishings and the art-work to adorn its walls. Having discovered that his mother's family had once owed the castle, he took on the surname Forbes-Leith, with dynastic ambitions. However, these ambitions came to an end when his only son Percy died of fever while serving in the Boer War. Percy is remembered by a window in Fyvie Church.

Elevated to a peerage in 1905, as Baron Leith of Fyvie, his daughter inherited the castle, which was eventually sold to the National Trust for Scotland in 1984.


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