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Sir James Leith

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 16th October 1816 and his body was returned to England and buried on 15th 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 8th 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.

Further reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

Born

8th August 1763

Died

16th October 1816

Occupation

Soldier

Location

Nave

Memorial Type

Grave

Sir James Leith
Sir James Leith by Charles Picart (1780-1837) after John Wright (c. 1745-1820)

Philadelphia Museum of Art [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Sir James Leith
James Leith grave

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2021 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

I feel very privileged to work here. I take so much pride in working for a beautiful place like the Abbey, it’s unique.

Alex - Abbey Marshal

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