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23 Jan 2024
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The Times, Mon 14 Apr 1930; Issue 45487; page 17; column C




Sir John Ritchie Findlay, Bt., of Aberlour, K.B.E., Lord Lieutenant of Banffshire, died at his residence, 3 Rothesay Terrace, Edinburgh, early yesterday morning. He had been confined to his house for the past six months, but until a week or two ago he had been able to attend to his many important public and business interests. He was in his 65th year.

The eldest son of the late Mr. J. Ritchie Findlay, of Aberlour, who was a nephew of the founder of The Scotsman, the late baronet became on his father's death in 1898 the principal partner in Messrs. John Ritchie and Co., the proprietors and publishers of The Scotsman and its associated newspapers. He 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 himself unstintedly in that work. Sir John Findlay was particularly interested in the furtherance and encouragement of art and archaeology, in which he followed in the footsteps of his father, the donor to the nation of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Queen Street, 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 Art. 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 of 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 Great War 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, the new naval base which was of such great service to the nation in the War. 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 his 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.

Sir John Findlay was educated at Harrow, where he was a contemporary of Mr. Baldwin and of Mr. John Galsworthy. From Harrow he passed to Balliol College, Oxford, 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. 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. In 1928 he was appointed to Lord Lieutenant for Banffshire, the county in which Aberlour, the family estate, is situated. He was an honorary R.S.A. and an honorary LL.D. of Edinburgh University. Sir John 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, former M.P. for the Ely Division.