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Discovering our Douglas Ancestors and their Relatives

Sir Andrew (3rd Bt. of Fyvie) Forbes-Leith[1]

Male 1929 - 2000  (71 years)


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  • Name Andrew (3rd Bt. of Fyvie) Forbes-Leith 
    Prefix Sir 
    Born 20 Oct 1929 
    Gender Male 
    Died Nov 2000 
    Person ID I50869  My Genealogy
    Last Modified 19 Nov 2013 

    Father Sir Ian Algernon (2nd Bt) Forbes-Leith,   b. 27 Dec 1902,   d. Yes, date unknown 
    Mother Ruth Avis Barnett 
    Family ID F22149  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Jane Kate McCall-McCowan,   b. 1936,   d. 1969  (Age 33 years) 
    Married 1962 
    Children 
     1. Miranda Jane Forbes-Leith
     2. Louisa Mary Forbes-Leith
     3. Sir George Ian (4th Bt) Forbes-Leith
     4. John Charles Forbes-Leith
    Last Modified 24 Jan 2013 
    Family ID F22147  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
    • Sir Andrew Forbes-Leith, 3rd Bt, who has died aged 71, was the last laird of Fyvie Castle, Aberdeenshire, which in 1984 was bought by the National Trust for Scotland.
      Fyvie Castle ranks with Glamis as one of the finest examples of Scottish baronial architecture. In the 13th century it was a royal stronghold, one of a chain of fortresses dotted throughout medieval Scotland.

      The name Fyvie means "deer hill" in Gaelic, and the land around the castle was originally a royal hunting forest. Robert the Bruce dispensed justice in an open-air court here, and thereafter it belonged to his successors as Kings of Scotland.

      In about 1395, King Robert III granted the castle and lands to Sir Henry Preston, a kinsman of Forbes-Leith, as part of a ransom after the Battle of Otterburn. Sir Henry built the turreted Preston Tower, which showed the strong French influence at the time.

      Having passed by marriage to the Meldrum family, the castle was sold in 1596 to Alexander Seton, later Chancellor of Scotland, who greatly enlarged the castle, and the upper works, employing a vocabulary of bartizans, crow-stepped gables, skewputs, sculpted dormers and finials in the form of musicians and huntsmen. At the beginning of the 17th century, Charles I spent part of his childhood at Fyvie.

      In the 18th century, Fyvie was acquired by the Gordon family, who added the Gordon Tower to the north of Seton's west wing. In 1889, the castle was bought by Sir Andrew's great-grandfather, Alexander Leith, who had made a fortune in the Chicago steel industry before returning to his native Scotland.

      The Leith family had held lands in Aberdeenshire as far back as the 14th century, and could claim kinship with many of the most ancient families in Aberdeenshire. Alexander Leith was descended from Sir Henry Preston through his grandmother, Mary Forbes. After the purchase of Fyvie, he styled himself Forbes-Leith.

      In 1905, Alexander Forbes-Leith was raised to the peerage as the first (and last) Baron Leith of Fyvie. He added his own tower at the castle, designed by John Bryce, as well as commissioning some magnificent interior decoration. The gallery and drawing room in the Leith and Gordon towers, dating from 1900, are considered two of the finest Edwardian rooms in Britain, having a barrel-vaulted ceiling and pipe organ.

      Andrew George Forbes-Leith was born at Aberdeen on October 20 1929, the younger son of Sir Ian Forbes-Leith of Fyvie, 2nd Bt, Knight of the Thistle. Fyvie had been used as a hospital during the First World War, but the family moved back in shortly after Andrew was born.

      He was educated at Eton, where he was Master of the Beagles, and at Millfield, where he excelled at racket sports. He then spent his National Service in the Royal Artillery. His elder brother John was killed at the age of 21 while on active service with the Scots Guards in Malaya in 1949.

      During the early 1950s, Andrew Forbes-Leith studied agriculture at Cirencester and worked his passage to New Zealand. Returning to Scotland, he bought an estate at Dunachton near Kingussie in Inverness-shire. In 1962, he married Jane McCall McCowan, but she died in 1969, 10 days after the birth of their fourth child. Thereafter, looking after his children took first place.

      Forbes-Leith had been a keen naturalist since his childhood. During the 1970s he turned 600 acres of Dunachton - which is close to the resort of Aviemore - into the Highland Wildlife Park, stocked with a range of indigenous animals including lynx, bears and wolves. This is now the property of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland.

      Forbes-Leith succeeded to the baronetcy in 1973 on the death of his father, although by then he had already inherited Fyvie and was dividing his time between there and Dunachton.
      His inheritance at Fyvie included papers dating back to the reign of Robert the Bruce and paintings - most of them bought by his great-grandfather - by Lawrence, Reynolds, Gainsborough, Turner and Millais and the finest group of Raeburns outside the National Galleries of Scotland. There was also a fine collection of armour, much of it also assembled by Lord Leith. When, in the early 1980s, Forbes-Leith reluctantly decided that he could no longer afford the upkeep of the castle, he was anxious that it should not be stripped of its magnificent furniture and art collection.

      He was therefore greatly relieved when a grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund enabled the National Trust for Scotland to buy the castle and its contents (barring a few Leith family portraits which remain on loan), together with 100 acres.

      Standing at 6ft 3ins and strongly built, Andrew Forbes-Leith was a gentle character who enjoyed nothing more than going out for a walk with two children and a 4.10.
      He was an enthusiastic practical joker, a good mimic and a great friend to many people. A fine fisherman and shot, he owned a string of labradors whose pedigrees could be traced in an unbroken line through the bitches to the first of the breed to arrive from Canada in the 19th century.

      Sir Andrew Forbes-Leith is survived by two sons and two daughters. The elder son, George, who was born in 1967, succeeds in the baronetcy.

      From Lucy R Pelham Burn

      "the following descendents of Sir Ian and Ruth Forbes-Leith have beenborn in the last 13 years:
      >
      > Miranda Forbes-Leith m. Julian McHardy. 3 children: Andrew, Iona,Clodagh
      > Louisa Forbes-Leith m. Thomas Leader. 4 children: Josephine, Frederick,
      > Ruaraidh, Robert
      > Sir George Forbes-Leith 4th Bt m. Millie Ely. 3 children: India,Alexander,
      > Charles
      > John Forbes-Leith m. Marina Burges-Lumsden. 1 child: Sacha"

  • Sources 
    1. [S883] Hamish Maclaren.