William Barclay Peat

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William Barclay Peat (1852-1936)

Sir William Barclay Peat CVO (15 February 1852 – 24 January 1936) was born in Forebank St Cyrus, Kincardine, Scotland. He was the second son of James Peat and Margaret Barclay (of the banking family that built Barclays Bank, one of England's largest). Born of privilege, Peat studied law at the prestigious Montrose Academy in Scotland, but he did not enter the legal profession.

Instead, the eager 17-year-old moved to London in 1870 to seek his fortune. He was hired as a junior accounting clerk for a London firm and quickly rose through the ranks, earning partnership at the age of 24.

On 29 December 1873, Peat married Edith Roberts (d. 1929) and together they had six children.

In 1891, Peat assumed leadership of the firm, renamed it William Barclay Peat & Company, and ignited an accounting legacy that has endured until today.[citation needed]

"The Peat family kept the partnership going with a requirement that the senior partner needed to be a Peat for at least three generations[clarification needed]," says Roger White, a retired KPMG partner and unofficial organization historian who wrote the book Peats to KPMG - Gracious Family to Global Firm. In fact, three of Peat's sons, Sir Harry, Roderick and Charles all later became partners in the firm. The Peat name lives on today in the world of accounting. His son Charles Urie Peat was MP for Darlington and served as Principal Private Secretary to Winston Churchill during the Second World War.

Peat retired from the firm in 1923 and died at his home, Wykeham Rise, Totteridge, Hertfordshire.

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