John Ritchie Findlay


1824 - 1898

Newspaper owner, social reformer and philanthropist. Born in Arbroath, Findlay was educated at the University of Edinburgh. He joined the Scotsman newspaper, which was founded by his great-uncle, in 1842. He took charge of the paper in 1870 and grew its circulation and influence.

He also composed poems, sonnets, wrote a biography of Thomas De Quincey (1785 - 1859) and a history of Hatton House in West Lothian, which he rented for a time. In Edinburgh, Findlay lived on Rutland Square later moving to a grander townhouse on Rothesay Terrace, built to his designs by Sydney Mitchell (1856 - 1930). He encouraged archaeological excavations on his country estate near Aberlour (Moray) and employed a young Robert Lorimer (1864 - 1929) to make alterations to Aberlour House.

Findlay also served as Secretary of the Society of Antiquaries and contributed the generous sum of £60,000 to build a National Museum of Antiquities (much donated anoymously), which also housed the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. He was also noted for other philanthropic acts, including educational and housing projects. He funded the construction of Well Court in Dean Village, as social housing to help that area recover from industrial decline. He also helped bring about Edinburgh Central Library, the city's first public library, and gave a pulpit to St. Giles Kirk to commemorate the resumption of daily worship there after more than 200 yrs. Findlay was granted the Freedom of the City of Edinburgh in 1896. He died an enormously wealthy man at Aberlour House but lies buried in Dean Cemetery (Edinburgh).

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