General John Forbes

1707 - 1759

Military commander who founded the settlement of Pittsburgh in the USA. Born in Pittencrieff House (Dunfermline), Forbes was the son of an army officer. He set out to study medicine at the University of Edinburgh, but soon abandoned this to join the army. He gained a commission as a Lieutenant in the Scots Greys in 1735, seeing action on the Continent during the War of the Austrian Succession. He returned to Britain to serve under the Duke of Cumberland following the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745, taking part in the Battle of Culloden which brought this to an end.

Forbes was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in 1750 and sent to North America to fight the French seven years later. He saw action is in Nova Scotia and then was ordered to capture Fort Duquesne on the Ohio River. The fort was eventually abandoned and burned by the French. Forbes occupied it and ordered it rebuilt, naming it Fort Pitt after William Pitt the Elder, and the nearby settlement Pittsborough (later Pittsburg).

By this time, Forbes was gravely ill. He died the following year in Philadelphia, where he was buried in Christ Church.

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