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Basic Biographical Details

Name: James Archibald Morris
Designation: Architect
Born: 14 January 1857
Died: 8 November 1942
Bio Notes: James Archibald Morris was born in Ayr on 14 January 1857, the younger child of Archibald Morris and his wife Anne Watson; his father was a well-off ship master trading between Ayr and Liverpool. Morris was educated at Ayr Academy and articled to A Lindsay Miller in Glasgow 1873-78. While there he attended the Haldane Academy, later absorbed into Glasgow School of Art and at the end of the apprenticeship spent two years studying 'ancient remains' in Scotland and France which laid the foundations for the conservation aspect of the practice. On his return he settled in London, enrolled at the Slade School to study art under Alphonse Legros and at the Royal Academy Schools under Phené Spiers to advance his architectural education, classes also being taken at University College.

Morris set up practice on his own account at 46 Newmarket, Ayr at the early age of twenty-three in September 1880 and was elected ARIBA on 23 May of the following year, his proposers being John Baird, James Salmon and the elder George Bell; the first year of practice was concerned with feuing his property at Savoy Park Ayr and it was not until 1882 that any other significant commissions came in, the earliest being the photographer Ambrose Bara's house in Citadel Place (1882-83) - photography was one of the great interests of Morris's life - and the UP Church in Prestwick (1884).

In 1883 or 1884 Morris married Elizabeth Forgan, the daughter of Captain Charles Forgan of Towerhill, Kilmaurs, and took on as an assistant James Kennedy Hunter. Hunter was born in Ayr in 1863, the son of Andrew Hunter, a prosperous builder and Ayr Town Councillor and had spent two years training as a land-surveyor before entering into a shortened apprenticeship with the Ayr architect John Mercer. In 1885, after two years as an assistant, he was taken into partnership by Morris. Either in that year or the following year Morris moved to London, opening an office at 6 Delahay Street, Westminster leaving Hunter in charge of the Ayr office, and began entering major national competitions.

The reasons for setting up the London office are not entirely clear and it may have acted as an agency for Morris's considerable industrial interests. These are said to have been related to his love of fine craftsmanship as much as straightforward investment. In 1883 he had joined the board of the Kennedy Patent Water Meter Company and nine years later, in 1892, he was to join the board of the Glenfield Company. The companies merged in 1900 and in recognition of his role, Morris became first its vice-chairman, and in 1925 chairman, ending his career by writing the history of the company in 1939.

No actual building designed by the London practice has yet been identified, but it must have had more than an agency role as in 1891 Morris merged it with that of the Frenchman Alfred Chastel de Boinville who already had a Scottish connection. Born in 1850 of an old aristocratic family, Chastel de Boinville was a pupil of A Guyot from 1862 and had worked with Geoffroy of Cherbourg, 1868, followed by two years in unspecified offices to July 1870. In 1871 he moved to Glasgow where he was employed by Campbell Douglas and worked with James Sellars, shortly to become a partner, and was probably in his company that Sellars made his first trip to Paris in 1872. On the strength of his experience he was appointed architect to the Board of Public Works in Japan from 7 October 1873. There he taught architecture, the first significant westerner to do so, and he designed The Hall of the Imperial College of Engineering, since demolished, but his aristocratic demeanour, heavily accented English and somewhat unsystematic teaching resulted in his contract not being renewed and in 1881 he returned to London to set up practice at 2 Westminster Chambers with what appears to have been a younger brother, William Chastel de Boinville who had been articled to Piers St Aubyn from 1870 to 1875 and remained as assistant. While at Victoria Street they seem to have been employed in some capacity at the India Office.

The Morris-Chastel de Boinville partnership appears to have demerged again c.1893-95, most probably in 1895 when Hunter left the Ayr office having established a much larger clientele than Morris had. Morris then returned from London to concentrate on his industrial interests and consolidate what was left of his Ayr practice, although at least one English client appears to have remained loyal.

While in London Morris had joined the Art Workers Guild and became acquainted with its leading luminaries. In 1898 he took a leading role in establishing a similar Scottish body, The Scottish Society of Art Workers which was intended to complement Rowand Anderson's School of Applied Art, both of which had been established in 1892. Morris was the Society's first president, the other leading figures including Robert Lorimer, Phoebe Traquir, Alexander Nisbet Paterson, Oscar Paterson, John Keppie and Henry Edward Clifford.

Morris was one of the most original architects of his generation as can be seen at his own house, Savoy Croft, and particularly at Balgarth as first built. Herman Muthesius observed of him that he was 'a good architect who works in simple modern-looking forms while yet maintaining his own personal style'. Unfortunately his practice was never as extensive as it might have been, as it was seriously affected by the departure of Hunter. Glenfield and Kennedy took up too much of his time, as did the Boys' Brigade, the Ayrshire Association of Federated Burns Clubs, The Burns Federation, 'The Burns Chronicle', The Ayr Academy Club of which he was chairman, and the several conservation campaigns in which he was involved, notably those for St John's Tower at Ayr, The Auld Brig of Ayr, Loudoun Hall, and the Lister Ward of the Glasgow Royal Infirmary. He was an enthusiastic Volunteer and was present at the 'Wet Review' in Edinburgh.

Morris's surviving sons had no interest in the business: the youngest, George, had been killed in action with the Royal Flying Corps in 1917, and another, also James Archibald Morris (born 1888), had become an engineer to the Eastern Indian Railways. The practice effectively closed in the early 1920s with a series of war memorials.

The diminution of the practice had little effect on recognition by his peers. He was elected ARSA in 1916 and elevated to RSA in 1931 although by that date he was merely exhibiting projects from many years before, and in 1930 he was appointed to the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland in recognition of his extensive antiquarian publications.

Morris's wife was killed in a road accident in 1935 and Morris himself died at Savoy Croft on 8 November 1942, leaving moveable estate of £24,148 1s 3d. He was survived by two sons and a daughter. In his last years James A Carrick described his study as 'a treasure trove of books and antiquarian studies, thick with dust'.

Publications by Morris:

'The Abbey of Crossraguel' (1886)
'History and Art: A Florentine outline' ('Proceedings of the Philosophical Society of Glasgow', XXXXI, 1900, pp167-81)
'An Old Scottish Town' ('Transactions of the Edinburgh Architectural Association', November 1905, pp10-15)
'The Immortal Memoray' (1912)
'The Brig of Ayr and something of its story' (1912)
'The Church of St John the Baptist, Ayr' ('Proceedings of the Scottish Ecclesiological Society', III, 1912, pp331-42)
'The Application of Art to Industry' ('Transactions of the Edinburgh Architectural Association', VIII, 1914, pp1-16)
'The Art of Ayrshire White Needlework' (1916)
'A Humble Plea for the retention of the famous Lister Ward in the Royal Infirmary of Glasgow' (1923)
'A Further Plea for the retention of the famous Lister Ward in the Royal Infirmary of Glasgow' (1924)
'The Citadel of Ayr' ('Transactions of the Glasgow Archaeological Society', VII, pp299-312)
'Lister and the Lister Ward in the Royal Infirmary of Glasgow' (with A E Mayland et al.) (1927)
'The Auld Toon o' Ayr' (1928, reprinted 1943)
'The Auld Brig o' Doon' ('Burns Chronicle', 1929, pp27-39)
'Alloway: The Protection and Preservation of its Memorials of Robert Burns', (1930)
'John Callaghan, Poet and Tutor' (1933)
'A Romance of Industrial Engineering' (1939 - re: Glenfield & Kennedy)
'Unattainable Ideals' (n.d.; copy in Ayr Library)
'Ayrshire White Needlework'

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 446, Newmarket Street, Ayr, Ayrshire, ScotlandBusiness18801888 
Item 2 of 46, Delahay Street, London, EnglandBusinessc. 18831894 
Item 3 of 451, Sandgate, Ayr, Ayrshire, ScotlandBusinessBefore 18921896 
Item 4 of 4Wellington Chambers/64, Fort Street, Ayr, Ayrshire, ScotlandBusiness18961939 or 1940(?)At least until that date

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 4Andrew Lindsay Miller18731878Apprentice 
Item 2 of 4Morris & HunterMay 1885May 1896Partner 
Item 3 of 4Chastel de Boinville & Morris1891c. 1896Partner 
Item 4 of 4Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS)1930   

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 6James Kennedy HunterMay 1883May 1885Improver 
Item 2 of 6John Whitelaw Lockhart18961899Apprentice 
Item 3 of 6Alexander Alban Hamilton Scott (or Archibald Alban Hamilton Scott, or Augustine Alban Hamilton Scott)c. September 1896c. December 1896Assistant 
Item 4 of 6Charles James McNair18981903Apprentice 
Item 5 of 6William Davidsonc. 1905c. 1905Draughtsman 
Item 6 of 6Robert Leslie Rollo19111913Assistant 


RIBA Proposers

The following individuals proposed this architect for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 6James Baird11 March 1889for Fellowship
Item 2 of 6John Baird the Second23 May 1881for Associateship
Item 3 of 6George Bell II23 May 1881for Associateship
Item 4 of 6Campbell Douglas11 March 1889for Fellowship
Item 5 of 6John Honeyman11 March 1889for Fellowship
Item 6 of 6James Salmon (senior)23 May 1881for Associateship

RIBA Proposals

This architect proposed the following individuals for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 18James Andrew Carrick4 December 1933for Associateship
Item 2 of 18William CowieLate 1933 or early 1934for Fellowship (proposed 10 July 1933, elected on unknown date, signed declaration 2 January 1934)
Item 3 of 18Andrew Douglas15 October 1930for Licentiateship
Item 4 of 18George Gunn11 March 1895for Associateship
Item 5 of 18James Murdoch Dalziel HendersonLate 1921for Associateship
Item 6 of 18Thomas Roger Kitsell8 June 1891for Associateship
Item 7 of 18Robert Govan Lindsay30 November 1931for Associateship
Item 8 of 18James Lochhead1911for Fellowship
Item 9 of 18Alexander MairLate 1930 or early 1931for Licentiateship
Item 10 of 18Charles James McNair22 April 1912for Licentiateship
Item 11 of 18Henry Sloan McNair15 October 1930for Licentiateship
Item 12 of 18John Ewing Murray22 April 1941for Associateship
Item 13 of 18John Rogerson13 January 1890for Associateship
Item 14 of 18Andrew Rollo29 February 1904for Associateship
Item 15 of 18Robert Leslie RolloLate 1920for Associateship
Item 16 of 18Alexander Caldwell Thomson22 April 1912for Licentiateship
Item 17 of 18John Frederick ('Fred') Torry12 December 1939For Associateship
Item 18 of 18John St Clair Williamson24 June 1912for Licentiateship

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 78 Green LodgeAyr AyrshireScotlandAdditions - date unknown
Item 2 of 78 Red GortonAyr AyrshireScotlandDate unknown
Item 3 of 78 The HomesteadPrestwick AyrshireScotlandDate unknown
Item 4 of 781881Savoy Park feuingAyr AyrshireScotland 
Item 5 of 781882Prestwick UP ChurchPrestwick AyrshireScotland 
Item 6 of 7818834-6 Citadel PlaceAyr AyrshireScotland 
Item 7 of 781883Bonded Store, Smith Street and Kyle StreetAyr AyrshireScotland 
Item 8 of 781884The Red HouseAyr AyrshireScotland 
Item 9 of 781886146 High StreetAyr AyrshireScotland 
Item 10 of 781886Edinburgh Municipal Buildings  EdinburghScotlandUnsuccessful competition design
Item 11 of 781888Quarry Green SchoolAyr AyrshireScotlandCompetition design - placed first
Item 12 of 781889Sheffield Municipal BuildingsSheffield YorkshireEnglandCompetition design - not successful
Item 13 of 781891Ayr Public LibraryAyr AyrshireScotlandCompetition design - unplaced
Item 14 of 781891Craighall SchoolTrinity EdinburghScotlandUnsuccessful competition design
Item 15 of 781891Glasgow Art Gallery and MuseumKelvingrove GlasgowScotlandUnsuccessful competition design - Simpson and Milner Allen appointed
Item 16 of 781891The Old Church, AyrAyr AyrshireScotlandFont
Item 17 of 781891The Old Church, AyrAyr AyrshireScotlandFont in halls
Item 18 of 781891Working Men's Unionist ClubNewton on Ayr AyrshireScotland 
Item 19 of 781892BalgarthAlloway AyrshireScotland 
Item 20 of 781892DerclachAyr AyrshireScotland 
Item 21 of 781892Robert Burns StatueAyr AyrshireScotlandDesign of pedestal exhibited
Item 22 of 781892Savoy CroftAyr AyrshireScotland 
Item 23 of 781893ChestnutsAyr AyrshireScotland 
Item 24 of 781893Fenwick LodgeAyr AyrshireScotland 
Item 25 of 781893Prestwick Golf Club HousePrestwick AyrshireScotlandEnlargement of villa
Item 26 of 781893Scottish Episcopal Church, WallacetownAyr AyrshireScotlandHall
Item 27 of 781893St Andrews Free Church and hallAyr AyrshireScotlandCompetition design - not successful
Item 28 of 781894GlenburnPrestwick AyrshireScotland 
Item 29 of 781894The GreenMaybole AyrshireScotland 
Item 30 of 781895Ayr AcademyAyr AyrshireScotlandAlterations
Item 31 of 781896Monkton SchoolMonkton AyrshireScotland 
Item 32 of 781896The Red HouseAyr AyrshireScotlandAddition and gardens
Item 33 of 781897Crossraguel AbbeyMaybole AyrshireScotlandConsolidation and conservation work
Item 34 of 781897ShalimarAyr AyrshireScotlandAdditions
Item 35 of 781898BalgarthAlloway AyrshireScotlandAdditions
Item 36 of 781898Drill Hall and Headquarters, 1-7 Burns Statue SquareAyr AyrshireScotlandDesign exhibited 1898 and 1904
Item 37 of 781898Unionist ClubPrestwick AyrshireScotland 
Item 38 of 781899Communion table and font for an unspecified church in AyrAyr AyrshireScotlandDesign exhibited
Item 39 of 781899Greenan TowerDoonfoot AyrshireScotlandConsolidation and conservation
Item 40 of 781899Wellsbourne HouseAyr AyrshireScotland 
Item 41 of 781900ShalimarAyr AyrshireScotlandAlterations
Item 42 of 781901CessfordTroon AyrshireScotland'Possibly' (HS)
Item 43 of 78c. 1901Hinton House  NorthamptonshireEngland 
Item 44 of 781902Three houses    Design exhibited
Item 45 of 781905The BieldAyr AyrshireScotland 
Item 46 of 781906Hartley HouseAyr AyrshireScotlandAlterations
Item 47 of 781907Auld BrigAyr AyrshireScotlandRestoration - with W S Wilson as engineer
Item 48 of 781907Ayr AcademyAyr AyrshireScotlandAdditions including art school and assembly hall redecoration
Item 49 of 781907Old ChurchyardGirvan AyrshireScotlandWalls and entrance added as memorial to the parents and borthers of Alexander Johnstone of Ayr.
Item 50 of 78Before 1907The BungalowPrestwick AyrshireScotland 
Item 51 of 781909Ayr Old Parish Church, Adair MonumentAyr AyrshireScotlandRestoration
Item 52 of 781909Conheath House  DumfriesshireScotlandAdditions
Item 53 of 781909Conheath private chapelConheath DumfriesshireScotlandDesign. Chancel only built
Item 54 of 781909Girvan Old Church, gatewaysGirvan AyrshireScotland 
Item 55 of 781909The Old Church, AyrAyr AyrshireScotlandRestoration of monument to William Adair (d1684)
Item 56 of 781910Police StationDarvel AyrshireScotland 
Item 57 of 781911Ayr AcademyAyr AyrshireScotlandAlterations
Item 58 of 781911Kennox HouseStewarton AyrshireScotlandAdditions
Item 59 of 781911Kirkmichael Parish Church, pulpitKirkmichael AyrshireScotlandMonument to Henry Fairlie
Item 60 of 781912St Ninian'sEpiscopal ChurchTroon AyrshireScotlandChurch and lychgate
Item 61 of 781914Savoy CroftAyr AyrshireScotlandAddition
Item 62 of 78c. 1914Troqueer, Lanark RoadColinton EdinburghScotlandAttribution in B of S, but building is believed to be by W J Kennedy
Item 63 of 781915Ayr Old Parish Church, communion table, font and lecternAyr AyrshireScotland 
Item 64 of 781917St Ninian'sEpiscopal ChurchTroon AyrshireScotlandFont
Item 65 of 781919Alloway War MemorialAlloway AyrshireScotland 
Item 66 of 781920Kirkmichael Parish Church, pulpitKirkmichael AyrshireScotlandDesigned pulpit, with Hugh Wallace (sculptor) - World War I memorial
Item 67 of 781920SchoolAlloway AyrshireScotlandWar Memorial
Item 68 of 781921Auchinleck Auld Kirk and Churchyard with War MemorialAuchinleck AyrshireScotlandWar Memorial
Item 69 of 781921Dailly War MemorialDailly AyrshireScotland 
Item 70 of 781921Girvan War MemorialGirvan AyrshireScotland 
Item 71 of 781921Newton on Ayr Free ChurchNewton on Ayr AyrshireScotlandWar Memorial - moved here from Parish Church
Item 72 of 781921Prestwick UP ChurchPrestwick AyrshireScotlandWorld War I memorial in NE vestibule
Item 73 of 781921Prestwick War MemorialPrestwick AyrshireScotland 
Item 74 of 781921St Ninian'sEpiscopal ChurchTroon AyrshireScotlandPulpit, choir stalls and chancel screen
Item 75 of 781922Ballantrae Parish ChurchBallantrae AyrshireScotlandFirst World War Memorial
Item 76 of 781922Ballantrae War MemorialBallantrae AyrshireScotland 
Item 77 of 781923Headquarters 1/5 Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers   Scotland 
Item 78 of 781929The Red HouseAyr AyrshireScotlandProposed addition - design exhibited


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 8Beauty's Awakening Beauty's Awakening: The Centenary Exhibition of the Art Workers' Guild Brighton Museum September -November 1984, Royal Pavilion Brighton 
Item 2 of 8Close, Robert1988Attainable ideals: James A Morris 1857-1942 Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society Newsletter, Spring 1988, pp5-7 
Item 3 of 8Muthesius, Herman1904Das Englische Haus See translation by Denis Sharp and Janet Seligman 1979 
Item 4 of 8Nicol1908Domestic Architecture in Scotland   
Item 5 of 8RIBA1939The RIBA Kalendar 1939-1940 London: Royal Institute of British Architects 
Item 6 of 8Royal Society1920Royal Society of Edinburgh Year Book   
Item 7 of 8Scottish Biographies1938  E J Thurston (pub.) 
Item 8 of 8The Fettes College Register1970The Fettes College Register: Centenary Edition, 1870 to 1970 Edinburgh 

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architect:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 6Architect and Building News4 December 1942   
Item 2 of 6Ayrshire Post20 November 1920   
Item 3 of 6Builder27 November 1942   
Item 4 of 6Glasgow Herald19 November 1942  Obituary
Item 5 of 6RIBA JournalJanuary 1943 London: Royal Institute of British Architectsp68
Item 6 of 6Scotsman19 November 1942  Obitury p4


© All rights reserved. The Bailie (date not yet established).  (Courtesy of Iain Paterson) 

© All rights reserved. The Bailie (date not yet established). (Courtesy of Iain Paterson)