7th February 1751

The ‘richest commoner in Scotland’ is born

Gilbert Innes served as deputy governor of the Royal Bank of Scotland for 38 years. He was the fourth child of George Innes, the bank’s first cashier (chief exec), and Gilbert himself became one of the bank’s directors in 1787. He was appointed deputy governor in 1794.

According to a profile on the RBS website, he “amassed a significant personal fortune, and by the time of his death [aged 81, on 26 February 1832] was reputed to be the richest commoner in Scotland. Innes had never married and died intestate, so his estate passed to his sister Jane. After she died intestate in 1839, investigations and claims relating to the estate revealed that Innes was the father of at least 67 illegitimate children.”

Largest fortune ever

The Perthshire courier of 19 December 1839 said Innes’ fortune had been “the largest, we believe, ever gained by one individual in Scotland” and that it had been earned “due to his industry and skill as a banker.”

“This venerable gentleman expired on Sunday, at his house in St Andrew Square,” the Inverness Courier of 7 March told its readers. “He had moved in public life in this city for much more than half a century, and few citizens of Edinburgh were, in that space of time, regarded with more general respect. His ample fortune having early placed him in a state of independence, he had devoted his attention to objects of public utility, and the encouragement of beneficial institutions.”

“His estimated £1m fortune went to his sister Jane,” reported the BBC on 16 January 2010. “It is believed that, at that time, it was the largest single inheritance ever passed down in Scotland. However, when Jane died in 1839, she did not leave a will, and during the scramble for her fortune the truth [about his illegitimate children] emerged.”



Other events that occured in February

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