HERIOT, GEORGE (1563-1623), the founder of Heriot's Hospital, Edinburgh, was descended from an old Haddington family; his father, a goldsmith in Edinburgh, represented the city in the Scottish parliament. George was born in 1563, and after receiving a good education was apprenticed to his father's trade. In 1586 he married the daughtes of a deceased Edinburgh merchant, and with the assistance of her patrimony set up in business on his own account. At first he occupied a small " buith " at the north-east corner of St Giles's church, and afterwards a more pretentious shop at the west end of the building. To the business of a goldsmith he joined that of a money-lender, and in 1597 he had acquired 'such a reputation that he was appointed goldsmith to Queen Anne, consort of James VI. In 1601 he became jeweller to the king, and followed him to London, occupying a shop opposite the Exchange. Heriot was largely indebted for his fortune to the extravagance of the queen, and the imitation of this extravagance by the nobility. Latterly he had such an extensive business as a jeweller that on one occasion a government proclamation was issued calling upon all the. magistrates of the kingdom to aid him in securing the workmen he required. He died in London on the loth of February 1623. In 1608, having some time previously lost his first wife, he married Alison Primrose, daughter of James Primrose, grandfather of the first earl of Rosebery, but she died in 1612; by neither marriage had he any issue. The surplus of his estate, after deducting legacies to his nearest relations and some of his more intimate friends, was bequeathed to found a hospital for the education of freemen's sons of the town of Edinburgh; and its value afterwards increased so greatly as to supply funds for the erection of several Heriot foundation schools in different parts of the city.
Heriot takes a leading part in Scott's novel, The Fortunes of Nigel (see also the Introduction). A History of Heriot's Hospital, with a Memoir of the Founder, by William Steven, D.D., appeared in 1827; 2nd ed. 1859.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)