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Sir William Forbes, 6th Bt (1739-1806), Banker and benefactor

Sitter in 5 portraits
Brought up in dignified poverty, Forbes worked his way up from apprentice to partner at Coutts Bank, and at twenty-four was head of his own banking-house. Private banks were multiplying in the second half of the eighteenth century, due to industrial and commercial growth, and Forbes accumulated significant wealth. An exceptionally generous benefactor, much of it was given to various charitable establishments in Edinburgh, including the workhouse, five hospitals, two asylums and a school.

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Sir William Forbes, 6th Bt

by John Kay
etching and aquatint, 1806
NPG D16504


Sir William Forbes, 6th Bt

by James Ward, after Sir Joshua Reynolds
mezzotint, 1800 (1786)
NPG D37724