Basic Biographical Details

Name: David Clunas
Designation: Architect
Born: 24 February 1833
Bio Notes: David Clunas was born in Audlearn on 24 February 1833, the son of Alexander Clunas and Margaret Mason or Masson. His early experience was probably in the north-east but by 1868 he had settled in Edinburgh. He may have had some connection with Peddie & Kinnear as a Mr Clunas was their site agent at the building of the Royal Bank, Montrose in 1863-64, perhaps eking out a living while he established himself in private practice, but the Clunas there may have been his brother, William, who as far as is known, never attempted to establish himself in private practice.

From about 1874 Clunas was in partnership with Charles R Sey. Their practice appears to have been primarily industrial housings and their main claim to fame is their experiment with mass concrete as a low-cost solution for the Working Mens House Building Association in Dundee. This partnership was dissolved by mutual consent on 19 February 1876.

Despite his seemingly respectable position as an Edinburgh architect, David Clunas continued to struggle financially, resulting in the eventual sequestration of his estates in June 1877. At this stage it became clear that he had also been forging the signatures of various firms and individuals to bills of exchange, the bills being kept floating one against the other until his bankruptcy. On 14 January 1878 at the High Court of Justice in Edinburgh Clunas pleaded guilty to forgery and was sentenced to five years penal servitude. According to the Manchester Guardian report he had been discovered in Ireland about to embark for America. He appears to have served the earlier part of his sentence at Edinburgh Jail, but by 1881 he had been transferred to Dartmoor.

David Clunas may well have emigrated to the United States following his release. The 1900 US Census lists a David Clunas born Scotland February 1833 working as a contractor and builder in Portland Oregon. However, according to the census record he had arrived in America in 1860 - perhaps a less than honest response for obvious reasons.

Clunas married twice. By his first marriage to Marjory Reid he had four daughters, Jane, born 10 April 1861, Margaret Mason, born 1 September 1863, Mary Ann, born 21 July 1865 and Marjory born 1 February 1868. By his second marriage to Agnes Grey Lightwood on 6 November 1873 he had one further daughter, Agnes, born 7 September 1874.

Clunas's date of death is not yet known.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 9Newlands of Moynes, Auldearn, Nairnshire, ScotlandPrivate1830s Living as a child here
Item 2 of 96, Tarvet Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate1868 *  
Item 3 of 911, Melbourne Place, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness18681869 
Item 4 of 951, Hanover Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness18701873 
Item 5 of 919, Gillespie Crescent, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate1872  
Item 6 of 913, Frederick Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate/business18741877 
Item 7 of 9Edinburgh Prison, Carlton Hill, Edinburgh, Scotland September 18771879Assumed given location of sequestration meetings
Item 8 of 9 Her Majesty’s Convict Prison, Princetown, Devonshire, England 1881 Otherwise Dartmoor Prison. As 1881 Census
Item 9 of 9Portland, Oregon, United States of AmericaPrivate/business1900 Probable location - Check required

* earliest date known from documented sources.

Employment and Training


The following individuals or organisations employed or trained this architect (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 1Clunas & Seyc. 1874February 1876Partner 

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 6187023-29 Blackfriars Street  EdinburghScotlandExecution of design by David Cousin
Item 2 of 61870Two blocks, Blackfriars Street  EdinburghScotlandExecuted Cousin Design
Item 3 of 6c. 187011-15 Blackfriars Street  EdinburghScotlandExecution of design by Cousin and Lessels
Item 4 of 618741-23 Court Street  DundeeScotlandwith the Concrete Building Company
Item 5 of 61875Southminster Theatre  EdinburghScotland 
Item 6 of 61876Bellshill Free ChurchBellshill LanarkshireScotland 


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 2Post Office Directories     
Item 2 of 2RCAHMS1992Dundee on Record RCAHMSView of 1-23 Court Street (1989) p43

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architect:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 5Edinburgh Gazette15 August 1876  p581 - dissolution of partnership
Item 2 of 5Edinburgh Gazette8 June 1877  p433 - sequestration confirmed
Item 3 of 5Edinburgh Gazette25 September 1877  p707 sequestration meeting
Item 4 of 5Edinburgh Gazette22 August 1879  p874 Sequestration meeting
Item 5 of 5Manchester Guardian15 January 1878  p5 An Edinburgh Architect Sentenced to Penal Servitude

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 1Professor David M Walker personal archiveProfessor David M Walker, notes and collection of archive material Letter from Charles Clunas 14 June 1996