Philanthropist and Snuff manufacturer
James Gillespie lived in Colinton village south-west of Edinburgh, he
ran a snuff-mill there, powered by the Water of Leith.
His brother, John, ran a shop on The Royal Mile's High Street where he
sold the snuff. (A plaque marks the place where his shop was, where Gordon's
Trattoria is now)
brother's were hard working and neither married. James was well known
for his frugality which together with the success of his snuff business
gave him great wealth.
In 1773 He built Spylaw House as his home, but he was generous enough
to take care of his employees and his tenants.
When he died in 1797 he left a fortune to build a 'Hospital' (school)
James Gillespie's School is still around today in the Marchmont area of
He is buried in the kirkyard of Colinton Parish Church.