Edinburgh Bookshelf

Kay's Originals Vol. 1


Volume 8 Page 255
  Enlarge Enlarge     Pictures Pictures
.BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 181 tion in being enabled, from the gradual increase of his salary, to contribute to her comforts. By his undeviating rectitude, steady application, and the display of very superior qualifications for the profession, he had early attracted the notice of Messrs. Coutts, with whom he was, in 1761, admitted into partnership, with only a small share in the profits. Owing to the death of one of these gentlemen, and the retirement of the other on account of bad health (the other two brothers being settled in London), a new company was formed in 1763, consisting of Sir William Forbes, Mr. James Hunter (afterwards Sir James Hunter Blair), and Sir Robert Herries. Although neither of the Messrs. Coutts had any share in the new concern, the firm continued under the old name until 1773, when, on the withdrawal of Sir Robert Herries, who forme& a separate establishment in London, the name of the firm was changed to that of Forbes, Hunter, and Co. Sir William was at the head of the concern, over which he ever after continued to preside, and the uncommon success which attended its operations is in no small degree attributable to his peculiar sagacity and prudence. In 1783 the Company commenced to issue notes, which obtained an extent of credit almost without parallel. Sir William married, in 1770, the eldest daughter of Dr. (afterwards Sir James) Hay, which event obliged him to separate from the " venerated guide of his infant years," who lived to a good old age, happy in the growing prosperity and kind attention of her son.' Sir William had now fairly commenced that career of usefulness which so much distinguished his long life. Naturally of a benevolent disposition, his attention was early directed to the charitable institutions of the city, many of which, previous to his taking an interest in them, were in a languishing state. The Charity Workhouse, of which he became a Manager in 1771, felt, in an especial manner, the effects of his persevering solicitude. In 1777 he published a pamphlet on the improvement of this institution, which was characterised as '' full of practical knowledge and enlightened benevolence ;I' and he continued through life to take an active interest in its welfare. Of the Orphan Hospital, too, he was a Manager for many years, and always, from 1774, one of its most zealous and efficient directors. The erection of the late High School, in which Sir Walter Scott and other eminent men were educated, is another proof of Sir William's public spirit as a citizen, and his active perseverance and power of overcoming difficulties. He was a zealous Manager of the Royal Infirmary, to which, at his death, he left Q200. The Lunatic and Blind Asylums owed much to his exertions ; and, in short, no improvements were contemplated, and no benevolent work projected, which did not find in Sir William ready and efficient support. In accordance with a long-cherished desire of restoring his family, which had been reduced by attainder, to its former dignity and fortune, Sir William embraced a favourable opportunity of purchasing seventy acres of the upper 1 She died in 1789.
Volume 8 Page 256
  Enlarge Enlarge