|Type||Independent day and boarding|
|Founder||Sir William Fettes|
|Local authority||Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Education|
|Houses||Carrington, Glencorse, Kimmerghame, Moredun, Arniston, College East, College West, Dalmeny & Craigleith|
|Colours||Chocolate & magenta|
|Former pupils||Old Fettesians (OFs)|
To perpetuate the memory of his only son William, who had predeceased him in 1815, Sir William Fettes (1750–1836), a former Lord Provost of Edinburgh and wealthy city merchant, bequeathed the then very large sum of £166,000 to be set aside for the education of poor children and orphans.
After his death the bequest was effected and invested and the accumulated sum was then used to acquire the land, to build the main building and found the school in 1870. Fettes College thus opened with 53 pupils (40 were Foundation Scholars with 11 others boarding & 2 day pupils).
A Fettes headmaster who provoked controversy was Anthony Chenevix-Trench (1971–79), formerly of Eton. The investigative journalist Paul Foot wrote an exposé in Private Eye detailing his excessive use of corporal punishment while he was a Housemaster at Shrewsbury School. Tim Card, a former Vice-provost of Eton College, said Chenevix-Trench's resignation from that school was caused by his heavy drinking and his overuse of the cane.
An all-boys school until 1970, when female pupils were first admitted for the final year, Fettes has been fully co-educational since 1983. Because of its prestige and high profile, several journalists recently described Fettes as "the Eton of the North".
- In 1998 Fettes was placed 4th in the Daily Telegraph league table of Schools.
- In 1999 Fettes was placed 5th in the Sunday Times list of top mixed independent schools in the UK.
- In 2001 Fettes was declared "Scottish School of the year" by the Sunday Times.
Fettes pupils wear distinctive chocolate and magenta coloured blazers. It is said that Fettes "used to have a hearty, rugger-bugger, Caledonian image".
In April 2009 Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education (HMIE) published a report on Fettes that evaluated the school as “excellent” in four out of five Quality Indicators and “very good” in the other one.
Fettes College follows the English rather than Scottish education system. Pupils take GCSEs rather than Scottish Standard Grades and students now have the choice between the A Levels and the new International Baccalaureate Diploma, but cannot take Scottish exams.
Boarding houses 
There are currently nine houses; four for boys, four for girls and one for boys and girls. The houses are named after the estates of the first Trustees. The male houses are large period buildings which stretch from East Fettes Avenue to Carrington Road; two of the female houses are in the upper floors of the main College Building, the third is in a modern building in the eastern part of the grounds and the new fourth girls' house is in the western part of the grounds and was finished in September 2012. The new house was built to reduce the pressure on the three girls' houses which were accommodating more pupils than the four boys' houses. The Upper Sixth Boarding House, for both boys and girls in their last year at Fettes, opened in September 2007.
- Carrington (1872-present)
- Glencorse (1873-present)
- Kimmerghame (1920-present)
- Moredun (1870-present)
- College East
- College West
Boys and girls 
- Craigleith (2007-present) Mixed Upper Sixth Form boarding house.
- Dalmeny was renamed to Carrington in 1873 due to a post office confusion.
- Inverleith was the previous name for the Preparatory School, now an entity in its own right.
- Dalmeny was the name of the day girls' boarding house on the ground floor of the west wing in the 1980s.
- Kimmerghame was the name of the junior boarding house between 1884 and 1895. It was closed during the years of World War II due to lack of pupils in the school.
The college's main building by David Bryce (built 1863-9) blends the design of a Loire château with elements of the 19th century Scottish Baronial. According to the school's website, the combination of styles and the site of the building led a modern architectural expert to praise it as "undeniably one of Scotland's greatest buildings".
Coat of arms 
The school crest is a bee because it appears at the top of Sir William’s Coat of Arms and his Seal (for letters etc.) was also a Bee. When the College Arms were granted, they were Sir William’s with the colours reversed. Nowadays a more modern image is used but it is still the same Coat of Arms.
The bee is the origin of the school's motto 'Industria'. Its motif features prominently around the school. Beehives appear over the now-unused East and West doors of the College. A Bee in stone watches over the front of Malcolm House (1880) and the Prep School. A large bee fronts Kimmerghame (1928) and there is an original lead bee in the porch of the Headmaster’s Lodge.
Fettes tartan 
A school tartan was designed in 1996 at the prompting of the Headmaster, Malcom Thyne. It is a fine balance between the traditional kilt colours of green, blue and black and the Fettes colours of chocolate and magenta, with white stripes to add brightness.
The Fettes tartan is worn as a kilt by boys and as a kilt skirt by girls who do not have a family tartan. The first showing of the kilt was on the hockey/lacrosse tour of Australia and Japan in 1998.
Fettes in fiction 
Body Politic 
In his first crime novel Body Politic, published in 1997, featuring detective Qunitilian Dalrymple and set in Edinburgh in 2020, Paul Johnston features Fettes College as a ruin, “blown to pieces in 2009” after it became a base for drug traders.
James Bond 
Whilst expanding on James Bond's back story, Ian Fleming wrote in You Only Live Twice that the agent had attended Fettes College, his father Andrew Bond's old school, after having been removed from Eton. "Here the atmosphere was somewhat Calvinistic, and both academic and athletic standards were rigorous. Nevertheless, though inclined to be solitary by nature, he established some firm friendships among the traditionally famous athletic circles, at the school. By the time he left, at the early age of seventeen, he had twice fought for the school as a light-weight and had, in addition, founded the first serious judo class at a British public school."
While Fleming never claimed there was any source for the name of Bond other than James Bond, an American ornithologist, there was a real life James Bond who did attend Fettes. He was a frogman with the Special Boat Service, much as the fictional character Bond has a naval background. The school had his "Who's Who" entry copied and framed over the Second Master's office door in one of its main corridors. This has since been removed.
Captain Britain 
|Captain America "Uh, it's Captain Britain, right? Tony was telling me all about that submarine rescue you guys did a few weeks back. That was pretty amazing."
Captain Britain "Oh, Tony's hilarious, isn't he? Everyone here just absolutely loved him. We've all been very excited about meeting you too, Captain. Did you know I used to have a poster of you on my wall when I was a pupil up at Fettes College in Edinburgh?"
|— The first meeting of Captains America and Britain|
Later to become Marvel Comics' Captain Britain, the British equivalent of Captain America, Brian Braddock was born to aristocratic parents in the town of Maldon, Essex. After falling upon hard times, Brian's family had lost their place in society, leaving Brian a lonely yet gifted child who immerses himself in the study of Physics.
A prodigious talent, Brian is selected to attend Fettes College where he excels in his studies. Following the death of his parents (Sir James and Lady Elizabeth) in what seemed to be a laboratory accident, Brian accepts a fellowship at Darkmoor nuclear research centre. When the facility is attacked by the Reaver, Brian tries to find help by escaping on his motorcycle. Although he crashes his bike in a nearly fatal accident, Merlyn and his daughter the Omniversal Guardian Roma appear to the badly injured Brian. They give him the chance to be the superhero Captain Britain. He is offered a choice: the Amulet of Right or the Sword of Might. Considering himself to be no warrior and unsuited for the challenge, he rejects the Sword and chooses the Amulet. This choice transforms Brian Braddock into Captain Britain, the champion of the British Isles.
There have only been nine headmasters of the school since it was founded:
- 1870 - 1889 Alexander Potts
- 1890 - 1919 William Heard
- 1919 - 1945 Alec Ashcroft
- 1945 - 1958 Donald Crichton-Miller
- 1958 - 1971 Ian McIntosh
- 1971 - 1979 Anthony Chenevix-Trench
- 1979 - 1988 Cameron Cochrane
- 1988 - 1998 Malcolm Thyne
- 1998 - present Michael Spens
Notable Old Fettesians 
- William Herbert Anderson, VC
- Tommy Armour, golfer
- Robert Keith Arbuthnott, 15th Viscount of Arbuthnott, CB, CBE, DSO, MC
- A.G.G. Asher, sportsman.
- Frank Barnwell, Chief designer of the Bristol bomber, Blenheim fighter, etc.
- Fereydoon Batamanghelidj, Persian/Iranian doctor
- David Bedell-Sivright, rugby internationalist.
- John Hay Beith, (aka Ian Hay) writer
- Maurice Berkley, English cricketer.
- Hugh Enes Blackmore, performer in the Gilbert and Sullivan operas in the late 19th century.
- Tony Blair, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 2 May 1997 to 27 June 2007, now the Quartet on the Middle East's envoy; the Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007 and the MP for Sedgefield from 1983 to 2007.
- Frans ten Bos, Dutch rugby player and businessman.
- John Cameron, Lord Coulsfield, Senator of the College of Justice in Scotland; Lockerbie trial judge; Privy Counsellor
- Norman Cameron, poet
- A. Y. Campbell, translator.
- Alan Archibald Campbell-Swinton, electrical engineer and television pioneer.
- Hugh Crichton-Miller, psychiatrist, founder of the Tavistock Clinic
- General John de Chastelain, CMM, Canadian. Chairman Independent International Commission on Decommissioning, Northern Ireland peace process
- Josias Cunningham, Northern Irish businessman and politician who closed down the Belfast Stock Exchange.
- Angus Deaton, Professor of Economics and President of the American Economic Association
- Ian Donald, medical pioneer in ultrasound.
- Andrew Ramsay Don-Wauchope, rugby internationalist.
- Hamilton Fyfe, editor and journalist.
- William Hamilton Fyfe, Principal of Queen's University and of the University of Aberdeen
- Bill Gammell, Scottish rugby international and CEO Cairn Energy plc
- Sandy Glen, pioneer of the package holiday.
- Nicholas Hammond, CBE, classicist and spy
- George Campbell Hay, poet in English and Scottish Gaelic amongst other languages, who wryly called Fettes College a little piece of "Forever England".
- William Theodore Heard, Cardinal (1959), Dean of the Roman Rota (1958)
- Alexander Mitchell Hodge, GC VRD, awarded George Cross
- Frank Hunter, sportsman.
- Richard Lambert, Former Editor of The Financial Times; Former member of Bank of England MPC; Director-General of Confederation of British Industry from 2006
- Ross Leckie, historical novelist (not to be confused with Canadian writer of same name)
- Selwyn Lloyd, Baron Selwyn Lloyd CH PC, Foreign Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer
- R. H. Bruce Lockhart Author; British rep. to provisional Czech Govt.(1940–41); Dir.-Gen. Political Warfare Executive (1941–45)
- W.L. Lorimer, linguist, editor of the Scottish National Dictionary, and translator of the New Testament into Lowland Scots.
- Roderick Macdonald KBE Chief of Staff to C-in-C Allied Naval Forces (1973–77), artist
- Roderick MacFarquhar, Orientalist.
- Dr Ian McKee, former Scottish National Party MSP.
- Donald MacKintosh, VC.
- Hector Lachlan Stewart MacLean VC.
- Iain Macleod, Minister of Labour, Colonial Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer
- K.G. MacLeod, sportsman, Scottish Sports Hall of Fame.
- David MacMyn, rugby internationalist.
- Matthew Fontaine Maury Meiklejohn, VC.
- Justin Melck, rugby player for Western Province, the Super Rugby side Stormers, Munster Rugby and now Saracens
- Charlton Monypenny, sprinter.
- George Morton, Labour Party politician.
- David Murray, Chairman & Managing Director, Murray International Holdings; Chairman, Rangers Football Club plc
- Wilfrid Guild Normand, Lord Justice General; Lord President of Court of Session (1935–47); Lord of Appeal (1947–53)
- David Ogilvy, founder of Ogilvy, Benson & Mather, advertising.
- George Pirie, former Inspector-General of the RAF
- Robert Alexander Rankin, mathematician who worked in analytic number theory.
- David Reid, Chairman of Tesco
- Edward Reid, Anglican bishop.
- Sidney Rowlatt, judge and chairman of the Rowlatt committee
- W. C. Sellar, co-author of 1066 and All That, Head of School 1917 and taught at the school.
- John Simon, 1st Viscount Simon, in Churchill's Government, Home Secretary, Foreign Secretary, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lord Chancellor, former Head of School.
- Walter Terence Stace, educator, philosopher and epistemologist, who wrote on Hegel, Mysticism, and Moral relativism.
- Donald Steel, golfer.
- Tilda Swinton, screen actress and Oscar winner, attended in her sixth year.
- D. R. Thorpe, political biographer.
- Michael Tippett, composer
- Ruthven Todd Scottish poet and novelist, known also as an editor of William Blake and as an artist.
- Gordon Waddell, rugby internationalist.
- Robert Wedderburn, co-developer, with John Nelder, of the generalized linear model methodology.
- Robert Whigham, former British Adjutant-General to the Forces
- Harry Woolf, Baron Woolf, lawyer, Master of the Rolls and Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales
- William Wotherspoon, rugby player.
Four Old Fettesians have won the Victoria Cross and one the George Cross, please see the above list for details. Former pupils of the school sometimes refer to themselves as "OF" and can use the post nominal "OF".
See also 
- Peter Victor, "Where to send your children to school if you want them beaten", Independent on Sunday, London, 1 May 1994.
- "Tony Blair's revolting schooldays", The Scotsman, Edinburgh, 23 July 2004.
- "Under the Green Oak, an old elite takes root in Tories", The Guardian, London, 12 August 2006.
- "House of rivals shares the bond of an educated elite", The Times, London, 12 December 2005.
- "Daily Telegraph League Table of Top Schools", Daily Telegraph, 29 August 1998
- "Top 250 Independent Schools", Parent Power Supplement, Sunday Times, 15 November 1999
- Edinburgh's Fettes College "Independent School of the Year" "Scottish Snippets", 27 October 2001
- The Tatler Schools Guide 2007.
- "Gammell jnr helps spark Fettes revival", The Scotsman, 15 March 2009.
- "Fettes HMIE Report", 28 April 2009.
- Fettes College: Academic Curriculum
- Another two schools offer the IB BBC News, 17 August 2006
- Fettes College: The Building Retrieved 2009-03-21
- Philp, p. 53
- Fettes College: The Bee Retrieved 2009-03-21
- Fettes College: The Fettes Tartan Retrieved 2009-03-21
- Ian Fleming, "You Only Live Twice", Chapter 21, Obit Retrieved 2009-03-21
- Ultimates 2, No. 4, May, 2005
- Chris Claremont (w), Herb Trimpe, Fred Kida (a). Captain Britain Weekly 1 (Week ending October 13, 1976), Marvel Comics
- Philp, pp. 130-131
- John de Chastelain: arms and the man BBC News, 30 May 1999
- George Cross Database
- Philp, Robert, A Keen Wind Blows, James & James, 1998 ISBN 0-907383-85-8
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