Fordyce, Alexander (DNB00)

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FORDYCE, ALEXANDER (d. 1789), banker, youngest son of Provost Fordyce of Aberdeen, and brother to David, James, and William Fordyce, each of whom is separately noticed, was educated under his uncle, Thomas Blackwell the younger [q. v.], and was afterwards for some time in the hosiery trade at Aberdeen. Abandoning this occupation, he went to London, and obtained a situation as outdoor clerk to a banker named Boldero. Eventually he became the most active partner in the firm of Neale, James, Fordyce, & Down. Under his guidance this firm speculated freely, and gained a large sum by obtaining early intelligence of the signature of the preliminaries of the peace of Paris in 1763, and a still larger one when East India stock rose greatly in 1764–5. With the proceeds of these and other speculations Fordyce purchased an estate and built a fine house at Roehampton, where he lived in great magnificence. He stood as a candidate for the borough of Colchester at the general election of 1768, and spent nearly 14,000l., but was defeated by twenty-four votes. On this he proceeded to build a hospital and otherwise ‘nurse’ the borough. In 1770 he married Lady Margaret Lindsay, second daughter of the Earl of Balcarres. The tide of fortune then turned; he lost heavily at the beginning of 1771 in the fluctuations of the market caused by the dispute with Spain about the Falkland Islands. His partners became alarmed, but it is said he succeeded in quieting their fears by the simple expedient of showing them a pile of bank notes which he had borrowed for the purpose for a few hours. His losses continuing, he absconded, and the bank stopped payment on 10 June 1772. The stoppage precipitated a crisis which was impending in consequence of the collapse of a speculative mania in Scotland; no bankruptcies of importance happened for a few days, but then a great panic arose in the city. Sir Richard Glyn and Hallifax stopped payment, though only temporarily as it turned out, and the stoppage of Sir George Colebrooke was only prevented with difficulty. Fordyce soon returned and went through his examination at the Guildhall, although his life was supposed to be in danger from the mob. His deficiency was about 100,000l. He was again the defeated candidate at Colchester in 1780. He died 8 Sept. 1789, at Mr. Mead's in George Street, Portman Square. A sermon by Thomas Toller, published in London in 1775, describes Fordyce's fall. His widow married in 1812 Sir James Bland Burges [q. v.]

[Gent. Mag. xlii. 310, 311, and 292, 293, 296, 392, 434-6, xxxviii. 274, xl. 344, vol. lix. pt. ii. p. 866; Grenville Papers, iv. 539-43; Walpole's Letters, v. 393-6; Anderson's Scottish Nation.]

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