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Sir John Ritchie Findlay, 1st Baronet, K.B.E. (13 January 1866 – 13 April 1930), a Scotsman, was the owner of the business that published The Scotsman, a philanthropist, and later in life Lord Lieutenant of Banffshire.

Family and education

John Findlay was born in Edinburgh, Midlothian, the eldest son of J. Ritchie Findlay, of Aberlour, and Susan Leslie. His father was a nephew of the founder of The Scotsman, so on his father's death in 1898, he became the principal partner in Messrs. John Ritchie and Co., the proprietors and publishers of The Scotsman and its associated newspapers.

He was educated at Harrow, where he was a contemporary of Stanley Baldwin and of John Galsworthy. From Harrow he passed to Balliol College, Oxfordmarker, where he graduated with double honours, in Natural Science and in Literae Humaniores. In 1901 he married Harriet Jane, daughter of Sir Jonathon Backhouse, of Darlington.

Findlay died at his residence in Edinburgh and had been confined to his house for the prior six months. He is survived by Lady Findlay and a family of three sons and two daughters. The heir to the baronetcy is Mr. J. E. R. Findlay, who is a partner in John Ritchie and Co., and has been associated with the management of the firm for the past five years. The elder daughter is the wife of Sir Hugh Lucas-Tooth, a former M.P. for the Ely Division.

Profession and philanthropy

Sir John Findlay was an enlightened and progressive newspaper proprietor with a high ideal of the moral responsibility of the Press to the public. His newspaper interests, however, absorbed only part of his activities. He never entered the competitive arena of local or national politics, but his services were much sought after on semi-public administrative boards and public committees, and he gave of himself in that work. Findlay was particularly interested in the furtherance and encouragement of art and archaeology, in which he followed in the footsteps of is father, the donor to the nation of the Scottish National Portrait Gallerymarker in Edinburgh. Sir John was Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the National Galleries of Scotland, and for a long time Chairman of the Edinburgh College of Artmarker. His antiquarian interests found an outlet in his position as Vice-Chairman of the Scottish Ancient Monuments Board, and he was also an original member of the Royal Fine Art Commission for Scotland. He gave useful service to Scottish education as a member of the Advisory Council to the Scottish Education Department, and he undertook a very heavy task a few years ago when he became Chairman of the Scottish Advisory Committee on the Rivers Pollution.

On the outbreak of the World War I he was invited by the Government to become Chairman of the Scottish National Housing Company, which was entrusted with the construction of housing at Rosyth, then the new naval basemarker. Sir John's success in this enterprise led to his being asked by the last Unionist Government to form a company to accelerate house building in Scotland by the construction of steel houses. Many of these activities he was carrying on simultaneously — a heavy burden even for a stronger man physically. He never complained, however and his ability and self-sacrificing zeal won him not only the admiration but the personal esteem and good will of is colleagues and all who were brought into contact with him. Reserved and reticent, he never sought publicity, but many knew him as the soul of honour and integrity, as a man on whose judgment and discretion they could implicitly rely.

Lady Findlay ably supported her husband in his public work and was herself Chairman of the Scottish Unionist Association two years ago, the first woman to hold that office.

Sir John was created K.B.E. in 1917 and baronet in 1925. After fulfilling the role of Deputy Lieutenant, in 1928 he was appointed to Lord Lieutenant of Banffshire, the county in which Aberlour, the family estate is situated. He was an honorary Royal Scottish Academy and an honorary LL.D. of Edinburgh University.


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