The new building at Stewart’s Melville College is named after James Wight Rutherford (1908-1978) who attended Edinburgh Institution (later Melville College) from 1913-1925. He was a loyal supporter of the school during his lifetime and donated several prizes for sport and the Boarding House. Following his death and that of his wife the entire proceeds of his estate were left to the Melville College Trust to be used for the benefit of the school. The story goes that the size of his estate came as a great surprise to the school. It had been assumed he would leave a small donation but when the letter from the lawyer arrived, the Bursar showed the letter to the Principal (and Bryan Lewis) who miscounted the zeros and read it as five thousand five hundred pounds… the Bursar pointed out it was actually five million five hundred thousand pounds.

How did he end up with this amount of money? He lived in a very average bungalow in Craigleith and had never given any indication of his wealth. He was a wise investor and did not spend money unless necessary.  Just prior to WW2 he told his wife that war was imminent and therefore he would invest in 6 pairs of good brown brogues (these he wore until his death never needing to buy any more pairs) and that all of their money should be placed in Government Bonds. Once invested he left the money there and never touched any of it … so that by his death it had become the large fortune that he donated to his old school.

It is especially fitting that the first building on the Queensferry Road site to have a Melville College connection should be named after such a generous benefactor. In keeping with his quiet and unassuming manner we can find no photograph of him despite his being a governor of the Melville College Trust for many years and having been a supporter at literally thousands of school and FP, rugby and cricket matches at all levels.  He always stood quietly on the touchline, beautifully attired in his kilt and of course never without one of his 6 pairs of brogues!

David McLeish, SMC Archivist

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