William Ritchie (editor)

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William Ritchie (1781 - 4 February 1831) was a Scottish lawyer, journalist and newspaper owner.

He was born at Lundin Mill, Fife, where his father had a flax dressing business.

At the age of 19 he moved to Edinburgh, and after some years employment in the offices of two firms of solicitors, he joined the Society of Solicitors in the Supreme Courts of Scotland in 1808.

After contributing to various publications for a number of years, in 1816 he joined with Charles Maclaren, his elder brother John Ritchie and John Ramsay McCulloch in founding The Scotsman newspaper, the first number of which appeared the following year.

Ritchie was joint editor of the paper with Maclaren until Ritchie's death in 1831.

In 1824 he published Essays on Constitutional Law and Forms of Process and in 1827 was appointed a commissioner under the Improvements Act. He campaigned for reform of policing and prison conditions, especially for poor debtors.

He was survived by his wife Alison Sandeman.


  • Dictionary of National Biography Elder Smith 1896