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Sir John Usher


(Sir John Usher of Norton)

1828 - 1904

Whisky blender. Born in Edinburgh, the youngest son of spirit merchant Andrew Usher (1782 - 1855), he lived at the Pear Tree House on West Nicolson Street and was educated at Edinburgh Southern Academy on Buccleuch Place. He worked with his elder brother Andrew (1826-98) continuing their father's successful whisky-blending business, developing an international market for his Old Vatted Glenlivet. Usher bought Norton House at Ratho as his country seat in 1883 and bought the estate of Wells and Bedrule in the Scottish Borders in 1896 from the Elliots.

Usher was a staunch unionist and known for his strong religious principles as a member of the Free Church of Scotland. In 1898, he gifted money to the University of Edinburgh to help found a Chair in Public Health, the first of its kind in Britain, following this with a further donation in 1902 to create the John Usher Institute of Public Health, which continues within the University's School of Molecular, Genetic and Population Health Sciences. Usher was created a hereditary baronet in 1899, while the university awarded him an honorary degree in 1903 in recognition of his generosity.

He died suddenly in Cairo and was buried in Grange Cemetery, alongside his wife.


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