Basic Biographical Details

Name: James Smith
Designation: Architect
Born: 12 October 1808
Died: 30 December 1863
Bio Notes: James Smith was born on 12 October 1808 at Alloa where his father, John Smith, married to Betsy Thomson, built the parish church to Gillespie Graham's designs in 1814-15. The father is said by Morland to have been originally a crofter. In 1826 the family moved to Glasgow where Smith senior was contractor for the Royal Exchange and the Royal Bank Buildings. He had an office there, and by 1830 a workshop at 100 Renfrew Street. It was probably through this connection that James Smith Junior met and, in March 1833, married David Hamilton's daughter Janet. By about 1837 he seems to have taken over from his father, appearing as an architect and builder at 4 Royal Bank Place with a house at Bedford Place on Renfrew Street, and designing in that year the Public Baths on West Nile Street. John Burnet, writing in the APSD, stated that Smith was associated with Hamilton in the design of the buildings at Royal Bank Place while the Sasines show that their ownership extended into Royal Exchange Square. The development did not sell and was let. In 1840 he designed the Collegiate School, and shortly afterwards moved house to Birkenshaw Cottage, Eastwood. Following his father's death in 1843, James Hamilton entered into a partnership with him, but in the following year the firm was sequestrated, apparently as a result of money owing on the Royal Exchange Square development. Smith survived but Hamilton withdrew from practice as a principal, thereafter apparently working for his brother-in-law as an assistant. John Baird the younger, his chief draughtsman, then joined Smith in a partnership that had broken up by the beginning of 1848, Baird practising on his own account for a time before forming another partnership with his brother-in-law, Alexander Thomson, in the following year.

In the early 1850s Smith and his family rented part of a house at 16 India Street and in 1852 were at 21 Balhousie Street. In the winter of 1856 he moved his town residence to the lower half of 6 Blythswood Square (David Hamilton, yarn merchant, and his son William, relatives of Smith's wife, occupying the upper part) having built a large house at Rhu, Rowaleyn, two years earlier. The office was then at 123, and later 124, St Vincent Street. By that date he was a director of the North British Insurance Company, and a member of the Council of Glasgow Fine Art Association. In the mid-1850s his daughter, Madeline Hamilton Smith, formed a clandestine association with Emile L'Angelier, which she attempted to break off early in 1857. On 23 March L'Angelier died of arsenic poisoning. Madeline was tried for his murder in June and July 1857; a verdict of not proven was returned. In July 1861 she married George Wardle, an associate of William Morris, later moving to the United States after her marriage broke up.

James Smith's business was not much affected by the scandal associated with the trial, but was affected by intrusions on his family's privacy. In 1858 he disposed of Rowaleyn and moved to Bridge of Allan, but by 1860 he found himself compelled to move again, this time to Old Polmont where he purchased the house of Polmont Bank. He died on 30 December 1863, his death being noticed in the Building News of 15 January 1864.

Thomas Gildard, who had been an assistant in the D & J Hamilton and subsequently Hamilton & Smith offices, chose to forget Smith in his recollections of the office. Smith was presumably the unnamed architect who is described as having inherited David Hamilton's drawings through 'a misunderstanding' and subsequently losing them through negligent storage. Whether or not Smith designed his later works himself is open to some doubt in view of the early baths design; his last known work, the former Stirling's library in Miller Street, is known to have been designed by J Moyr Smith.

Smith was survived by three children, Bessie, Janet and John Hamilton Smith.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 1216, India Street, Glasgow, ScotlandPrivate 1852In early 1850s
Item 2 of 12Bedford Place, Renfrew Street, Glasgow, ScotlandPrivatec. 1837  
Item 3 of 124, Royal Bank Place, Glasgow, ScotlandBusinessc. 1837c. 1839 
Item 4 of 1221, St Vincent Place, Glasgow, ScotlandBusiness1844 *  
Item 5 of 12103, St Vincent Street, Glasgow, ScotlandBusiness1845 *  
Item 6 of 12123, St Vincent Square (or Street?), Glasgow, ScotlandBusinessc. 1851  
Item 7 of 1221, Dalhousie Street, Glasgow, ScotlandPrivate18521856 
Item 8 of 12Rowaleyn, Rhu, Dunbartonshire, ScotlandPrivate18541858 
Item 9 of 12124, St Vincent Street, Glasgow, ScotlandBusinessc. 18541862 
Item 10 of 126, Blythswood Square, Glasgow, ScotlandPrivate1856  
Item 11 of 12Bridge of Allan, Stirlingshire, ScotlandPrivate1858c. 1860 
Item 12 of 12Polmont Bank House, Old Polmont, ScotlandPrivatec. 18601863 

* 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 2Hamilton & Smith18431844Partner 
Item 2 of 2Smith & Baird18461848Partner 

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 4James Hamilton1844 Assistant 
Item 2 of 4William Scott Morton1854 Apprentice 
Item 3 of 4William Forrest Salmonc. 1857c. 1862(?)Apprentice 
Item 4 of 4John Moyr Smithc. 1859(?)c. 1863(?)Assistant(?) 

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 231830Royal Exchange Square, North side  GlasgowScotlandWith David Hamilton
Item 2 of 231832Meiklewood HouseGargunnock StirlingshireScotlandHouse and possibly stables
Item 3 of 231837Victoria Public Baths  GlasgowScotland 
Item 4 of 231840Collegiate SchoolGarnethill GlasgowScotland 
Item 5 of 231840Unspecified Buildings at KersieKersie StirlingshireScotland 
Item 6 of 231845Dumbreck VillaDumbreck GlasgowScotland 
Item 7 of 231845Ibroxholm Development  GlasgowScotlandBought Middleton of Ibrox and developed Ibroxholm
Item 8 of 23c. 1850DhuhillHelensburgh DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 9 of 231853Tenements in CranstonhillCranstonhill GlasgowScotland 
Item 10 of 231854ArdchapelShandon DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 11 of 231854RowaleynRhu/Row DunbartonshireScotlandFor himself
Item 12 of 23c. 1854KilmardinnyBearsden GlasgowScotlandReconstruction
Item 13 of 231855McLellan Art Gallery and warehouse  GlasgowScotlandOriginal building--art gallery
Item 14 of 23c. 1855Sunnyside VillaHolmwood, Cathcart GlasgowScotland 
Item 15 of 23c. 1855WoodcliffRhu/Row DunbartonshireScotlandFor himself
Item 16 of 231856Development on St Vincent Street  GlasgowScotlandBought and developed steading on St Vincent Street
Item 17 of 231859Overtoun HouseDumbarton DunbartonshireScotlandHouse and probably gatepiers
Item 18 of 23c. 1859(?)DrimsynieLochgoilhead ArgyllScotlandAlterations.

In 1859 John Smith was involved in the feuing of ground on the estate for sites for marine villas. This reinforces his connection with the estate at this date. (Scotsman 28 February 1859)
Item 19 of 231860Polmont BankOld Polmont StirlingshireScotlandNew wing after he bought bank as house for himself
Item 20 of 231863(?)Alloa ManseAlloa ClackmannanshireScotlandAlterations - carried out in 1865 but Smith responsible so must have been planned prior to his death in December 1863
Item 21 of 231863Bellahouston Established Church  GlasgowScotlandOriginal church
Item 22 of 231863Stirling's Library  GlasgowScotland 
Item 23 of 23Mid 1800sGlasgow Necropolis, Lawrie Family MonumentDennistoun GlasgowScotlandOn HS List appears as 'J Smith' so it may be a different Smith


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 4APSD The Dictionary of Architectureed Wyatt PapworthThe Architectural Publication Society (8v 1852-1892) 
Item 2 of 4Morland, Nigel That Nice Miss Smith   
Item 3 of 4Scotlands People Website Wills & Testaments  Stirling Sheriff Court SC67/36/48
Item 4 of 4Worsdall, Frank1963Article on James SmithDecember 1963Scottish Field, December 1963 

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architect:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 2Building News15 January 1864  Obituary
Item 2 of 2Glasgow Herald*  Check date--not given