Sir James Leith
Born: 08 Aug, 1763
Died: 16 Oct, 1816
Field: Soldier
Location in the Abbey: Nave
Type of memorial: Grave

Sir James Leith, army officer, is buried in the centre part of the nave of Westminster Abbey. He died of yellow fever in Barbados on 16 October 1816 and his body was returned to England and buried on 15 March 1817. A small stone marks his grave, with the inscription:

GEN. SIR J.LEITH GCB 1816

The Abbey burial book, quoting his coffin plate, describes him as "Grand Cross of the most honourable Military Order of the Bath, Knight Commander of the royal Military Order of the Tower and Sword of Portugal, Grand Cordon of the royal Military Order of Merit of France, Governor of Barbados, Commander of the forces in the Windward and Leeward Islands, and Colonel of the fourth West India regiment". A request from sculptor Joseph Kendrick to erect a statue of Sir James in the Abbey was declined.

He was born into an old Scottish family on 8 August 1763, a son of John Leith of Leith Hall, and his wife Harriot (Steuart). He was educated in Aberdeen and joined the army, serving in Gibraltar, Ireland, Spain and the West Indies. By 1804 he was a Brigadier General and took part in the battle of Corunna. In 1798 he married Lady Augusta Forbes, daughter of the 5th Earl of Granard, who survived him. His heir was Sir Andrew Leith Hay.

A photo of the stone can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library.

Further reading:

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004

 

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