© All rights reserved. Edinburgh Architectural Association 1907 Exhibition Catalogue  

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Basic Biographical Details

Name: Robert Matheson
Designation: Architect
Born: 29 November 1807 or 18 August 1808 or
Died: 5 March 1877
Bio Notes: There is uncertainty over the date and location of birth of Robert Matheson: some sources state that he was born on 29 November 1807 in Edinburgh, the son of Robert Matheson and Elizabeth Fraser; but most agree that he was born on 15 (some sources give 18) August 1808 in Tain, the son of James Matheson, cabinetmaker and ALexie Urquhart. It is not known where he was first apprenticed, but in 1828 he was appointed junior clerk in the Edinburgh Office of Works by Robert Reid. As his appointment had not been ratified by the Lords of the Treasury, the Barons of the Exchequer and the Surveyor General of the Board of Works, Major General Stephenson, he was not entitled to compensation when the office was re-organised on a reduced basis and he became redundant on 1 April 1840. A single payment of £60 was made.

In September 1840 William Nixon, appointed Clerk of Works for Scotland on transfer from Dublin in April 1840, found that the surviving second clerk, James Miller, had been guilty of serious mismanagement, and the Office of Woods and Forests instructed Nixon to offer his post to Matheson. Early in March 1848, when Nixon became seriously ill, Matheson was appointed temporary head and remained so after Nixon's death on the 24th. Although some half-a dozen Scottish architects in private practice applied for the post, the Chief Commissioner for HM Woods and Forests nominated Matheson as Clerk of Works for Scotland on condition that he sat an examination set by James Pennethorne, William S Inman and John Phipps, which he failed 'more especially as regards construction' and he reverted to being second clerk. But after some months he was appointed interim head clerk and after holding the post satisfactorily for a year he became permanent Clerk of Works for Scotland and retained that post when the Woods and Forests became the Office of Works by Act of Parliament in October 1851. Matheson was very competent Italian Renaissance designer,and his first major work, New Register House, was of considerable interest for the iron structure of its central domed interior and book stacks. He quickly grew in authority to the point of preparing the redesign of the elevations of Francis Fowke's Chambers Street museum in High Renaissance form, but his proposal was not accepted, Fowke's scheme being adhered to.

Sometime before 1863 Matheson appears to have inherited considerable wealth. In June of that year he purchased nine acres at West Coates from the Heriot Trust and proceeded to form Grosvenor Street and Landsdowne Crescent specifying elevations which he himself had designed. The northern area was hived off to Peddie & Kinnear who developed Grosvenor Crescent in association with the adjoining property on Palmerston Place which they had acquired from the Walker Trust.

Matheson married Alexa Urquhart and lived in some style at 25 Abercromby Place. He died in office on 5 March 1877, and was buried in Dean Cemetery.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 2Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness   
Item 2 of 225, Abercromby Place, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate 1877 

Employment and Training

Employers

The following individuals or organisations employed or trained this architect (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 2H M Office of Works (later Ministry of Works, Department of the Environment and Property Services Agency)18281848Junior ClerkIn Edinburgh office
Item 2 of 2H M Office of Works (later Ministry of Works, Department of the Environment and Property Services Agency)March 18481877Clerk of WorksIn Edinburgh office

Employees or Pupils

The following individuals were employed or trained by this architect (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 2Hippolyte Jean Blanc18641869Draughtsman 
Item 2 of 2Robert Macfarlane Cameron18811882Draughtsman 

Buildings and Designs

This architect was involved with the following buildings or structures from the date specified (click on an item to view details):
 Date startedBuilding nameTown, district or villageIslandCity or countyCountryNotes
Item 1 of 73 Clifton Terrace  EdinburghScotland 
Item 2 of 73 Paisley AbbeyPaisley RenfrewshireScotlandRestoration as Architect in Scotland with HM Office of Works. [date to be checked]
Item 3 of 73 West Coates development  EdinburghScotlandDate unknown
Item 4 of 731845Dunfermline AbbeyDunfermline FifeScotlandRestoration - as assistant to William Nixon, architect in charge of the Office of Works in Scotland
Item 5 of 731848Royal Botanic Garden, lecture hall, classrooms, museum and officesInverleith EdinburghScotlandAs architect for Scotland in H M Office of Works
Item 6 of 731848University of St Andrews, Chapel of St SalvatorSt Andrews FifeScotlandCompleted cloister behind chapel after Nixon's death - as Architect for Scotland in H M Office of Works
Item 7 of 731848University of St Andrews, St Salvator's CollegeSt Andrews FifeScotlandCompletion of Nixon's scheme for north range - as Architect for Scotland in H M Office of Works
Item 8 of 731848University of St Andrews, St Salvator's CollegeSt Andrews FifeScotlandCompletion of Nixon's boundary walls after his death - as Architect for Scotland in H M Office of Works
Item 9 of 73c. 1848Glasgow Cathedral  GlasgowScotlandFrom 1848 onwards general repairs and new west front to design by Edward Blore. Matheson first as clerk and then architect for Scotland in the Office of Works
Item 10 of 73c. 1850Linlithgow Palace, LodgeLinlithgow West LothianScotland 
Item 11 of 73185171 North StreetSt Andrews FifeScotlandGateway adjoining St Salvator's Chapel - as Clerk of Works for Scotland in H M Office of Works
Item 12 of 731851University of St Andrews, Chapel of St SalvatorSt Andrews FifeScotlandParapet wall on tower (Matheson as architect for Scotland in the Office of Works). Executed as designed by William Burn
Item 13 of 731851University of St Andrews, St Mary's CollegeSt Andrews FifeScotlandRepairs (Matheson as architect for Scotland in the Office of Works)
Item 14 of 731853Fortrose CathedralFortrose Ross and CromartyScotlandRestoration - as architect for Scotland in the Office of Works
Item 15 of 731853University of St Andrews, Chapel of St SalvatorSt Andrews FifeScotlandFitting of clock (Matheson as architect for Scotland in the Office of Works
Item 16 of 731854Royal Botanic Garden, new Palm HouseInverleith EdinburghScotlandMatheson as architect for Scotland in the Office of Works
Item 17 of 731855King's CollegeOld Aberdeen AberdeenScotlandTwo alternative schemes: Neo-Jacobean and Oxford Gothic (Matheson as architect for Scotland in the Office of Works) - not built
Item 18 of 731855Palace of Holyroodhouse  EdinburghScotlandRefitting of the Throne Room, paintwork and paper by D R Hay (Matheson as architect for Scotland in the Office of Works)
Item 19 of 731856Advocates' Library  EdinburghScotlandRemodelling and extension of Upper Corridor Library with canted bays at north side - as architect for Scotland in H M Office of Works
Item 20 of 731856Board of Supervision (of Poor) Chambers, 125 George Street  EdinburghScotlandAdditions at the back - with Matheson as architect for Scotland in the Office of Works
Item 21 of 731856Law Courts, Inner House  EdinburghScotlandExecuted alterations design by Playfair - as Architect for Scotland in the Office of Works
Item 22 of 731857General PrisonPerth PerthshireScotlandRedesigning and completion of Brown's scheme, with Matheson as architect for Scotland in the Office of Works
Item 23 of 731857Holyrood Park, Duddingston South Lodge  EdinburghScotlandAs Architect for Scotland in H M Office of Works
Item 24 of 731857Holyrood Park, Meadowbank Lodge  EdinburghScotlandAs Architect for Scotland in H M Office of Works
Item 25 of 731857Holyrood Park, St Leonard's Lodge  EdinburghScotlandAs Architect for Scotland in H M Office of Works
Item 26 of 731857Palace of Holyroodhouse, Abbey Court House  EdinburghScotland 
Item 27 of 731857Palace of Holyroodhouse, gatehouse and former guardroom  EdinburghScotlandReconstruction of its surviving stairtower - Matheson as architect for Scotland in the Office of Works
Item 28 of 731857Palace of Holyroodhouse, Holyrood Lodge  EdinburghScotland 
Item 29 of 731857Parliament House, Supreme Courts of Scotland  EdinburghScotlandLaw Room. Redesigning and completion of Brown's scheme, with Matheson as architect for Scotland in the Office of Works
Item 30 of 731857Tolbooth St John's Church  EdinburghScotlandAlterations of throne bench as pulpit - Matheson as architect for Scotland in H M Office of Works
Item 31 of 73c. 1857Holyrood Park, Wells O' Wearie Cottage  EdinburghScotlandAs Architect for Scotland in H M Office of Works - HS attribution because of similarity to the Holyrood Lodges
Item 32 of 731858New Register House  EdinburghScotlandMatheson as architect for Scotland in the Office of Works
Item 33 of 731858Palace of Holyroodhouse, fountain in forecourt  EdinburghScotlandAs architect for Scotland in H M Office of Works - Charles Doyle responsible for drawings
Item 34 of 731859Campbeltown PoorhouseCampbeltown ArgyllScotlandOriginally employed to draw up plans; withdrew after dispute over cost
Item 35 of 731859General Post Office  EdinburghScotland 
Item 36 of 731859King's CollegeOld Aberdeen AberdeenScotlandTudor gothic scheme (Matheson as architect for Scotland in the Office of Works)
Item 37 of 731859King's CollegeOld Aberdeen AberdeenScotlandSimplified scheme built (Matheson as architect for Scotland in the Office of Works)
Item 38 of 731859Royal Botanic Garden, Old Palm StoveInverleith EdinburghScotlandIron shafts replaced stone mullions (as architect for Scotland in the Office of Works)
Item 39 of 731859St Duthac's ChurchTain Ross and CromartyScotlandRestoration - Matheson as architect for Scotland in the Office of Works
Item 40 of 731860Palace of Holyroodhouse  EdinburghScotlandReplanning of 2nd floor as the Duke of Hamilton's and Marquess of Breadalbane's apartments (Matheson as architect for Scotland)
Item 41 of 731860Palace of Holyroodhouse, stables  EdinburghScotlandMatheson as architect for Scotland in the Office of Works
Item 42 of 731861Edinburgh Industrial Museum  EdinburghScotlandCentral part built to Fowke's design, Matheson as architect for Scotland in the Office of Works (1st phase)
Item 43 of 731861General Post OfficePerth PerthshireScotlandMatheson as architect for Scotland in the Office of Works
Item 44 of 731861House, Register Lane  EdinburghScotlandAlterations
Item 45 of 731861Palace of Holyroodhouse, gatehouse and former guardroom  EdinburghScotlandGatehouse
Item 46 of 731861Palace of Holyroodhouse, gateway and former school  EdinburghScotland 
Item 47 of 731861University of St Andrews, Chapel of St SalvatorSt Andrews FifeScotlandRestoration, including window tracery and pinnacles on south front, and reseating - as Architect for Scotland in H M Office of Works
Item 48 of 73c. 1861Charlotte Square  EdinburghScotlandProposals for redesign of gardens
Item 49 of 731862National Bank of Scotland Head Office (Former)  EdinburghScotlandAltered entrance lobbies
Item 50 of 731863House in Lansdowne Crescent  EdinburghScotlandDesign of elevations
Item 51 of 731863Lansdowne Crescent  EdinburghScotland 
Item 52 of 73c. 1863General Post Office  DundeeScotlandWith Matheson as architect for Scotland in the Office of Works
Item 53 of 73c. 1863General Post OfficePaisley RenfrewshireScotlandMatheson as architect for Scotland in the Office of Works
Item 54 of 731864Grosvenor Crescent  EdinburghScotlandOriginal scheme
Item 55 of 731864University of St Andrews, Chapel of St SalvatorSt Andrews FifeScotlandGlazing of cloister (now reversed) - as Architect for Scotland in H M Office of Works
Item 56 of 731865(?)Grosvenor Street  EdinburghScotlandDesign of facades
Item 57 of 731866Dunblane CathedralDunblane PerthshireScotlandRepairs on tower and spire
Item 58 of 731866(?)Waverley Station, hotel and market scheme  EdinburghScotland'Design for Grand National Hotel in combination with the new Waverley Station' (Matheson in private practice)
Item 59 of 731867East Queen Street Gardens  EdinburghScotlandAs Chief Artchitect in HM Office of Works
Item 60 of 731867King's College, Theology Manse  AberdeenScotland 
Item 61 of 731868King's CollegeOld Aberdeen AberdeenScotlandLibrary (Matheson as architect for Scotland in the Office of Works)
Item 62 of 731868Parliament House, Supreme Courts of Scotland  EdinburghScotlandPart restoration and alterations - with Matheson as architect for Scotland in the Office of Works
Item 63 of 731868St Giles Cathedral  EdinburghScotlandFirst proposals for restoration including improvements to the choir 'as proposed by the Lord Provost' (Matheson as architect for Scotland in the Office of Works)
Item 64 of 731869Register House  EdinburghScotlandBack Dome added for new record hall (necessitated by the Lands Registration Act) with Matheson as architect for Scotland in the Office of Works
Item 65 of 731869University of St Andrews, Chapel of St SalvatorSt Andrews FifeScotlandForbes Memorial Stalls (canopied stalls for Principal and Masters) - as Architect for Scotland in H M Office of Works
Item 66 of 731870Edinburgh Industrial Museum  EdinburghScotlandWestern part of central building completed to Fowke's design, with Matheson as architect for Scotland in the Office of Works (2nd phase)
Item 67 of 731871St Michael's Parish ChurchLinlithgow West LothianScotlandDesign for 'interior…as proposed to be restored' (Matheson as architect for Scotland in the Office of Works)
Item 68 of 731873Dunblane CathedralDunblane PerthshireScotlandAdvised (as architect for Scotland in the Office of Works) on repair work on chancel - with Sir G Gilbert Scott
Item 69 of 731873Post OfficeLeith EdinburghScotlandMatheson as architect for Scotland in the Office of Works
Item 70 of 731875General Post Office  AberdeenScotlandMatheson as architect for Scotland in the Office of Works
Item 71 of 731875Glasgow General Post Office  GlasgowScotlandNew building (Matheson as architect for Scotland in the Office of Works)
Item 72 of 73Before 18772 and 3 Rosebery Crescent  EdinburghScotlandDevised overall scheme
Item 73 of 731898Post office, Hill StreetArbroath AngusScotlandAs Chief Architect, HM Office of Works

References

Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
 Author(s)DateTitlePartPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 3Grant, David The Office of Works and the Renovation of the Scottish Universities, 1808-89   
Item 2 of 3Pride, Glen L1999The Kingdom of Fife2nd EditionThe Rutland Pressp122
Item 3 of 3Scotlands People Website Wills & Testaments  Edinburgh Sheriff Court Wills Sc70/4/166

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architect:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 3Builderearly 1877XXXV p 250 - obituary
Item 2 of 3Building News1877  Obituary - check date
Item 3 of 3Scotsman6 March 1877  p8 - death notice

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 4Courtesy of the great-great-grandson of Robert MathesonInformation sent via Dictionary Survey Sent September 2013
Item 2 of 4National Archives of Scotland (formerly SRO)Ministry of Works files  
Item 3 of 4Professor David M Walker personal archiveProfessor David M Walker, notes and collection of archive material Additional research by Iain Paterson (who suggests Matheson was born 29 November 1807 in Edinburgh, son of Robert Matheson and Elizabeth Fraser)
Item 4 of 4Public Record OfficeOffice of Woods and Forests and Office of Works letter books  

Images

© All rights reserved. Edinburgh Architectural Association 1907 Exhibition Catalogue  

© All rights reserved. Edinburgh Architectural Association 1907 Exhibition Catalogue