Basic Biographical Details

Name: James Smith
Designation: Architect
Born: 15 August 1782
Died: 17 January 1867
Bio Notes: James Smith was born in Glasgow on 15 August 1782, the eldest of the five children of Archibald Smith, a prosperous West India merchant, and his wife, Isabella Euing. Smith was educated at the grammar school in Glasgow and at the University where he matriculated in 1795. He became a sleeping partner in the firm of Leitch & Smith, West India merchants. His father died in 1821 and he moved to the family seat, Jordanhill, Renfrewshire.

In 1809 he married Mary, daughter of Alexander Wilson and granddaughter of Professor Alexander Wilson of Glasgow University. They had nine children, of whom three survived.

Smith had the luxury of a private income which enabled him to devote his time to pursuits which interested him – namely science, literature and the arts. He was also an accomplished yachtsman and navigator and by sailing he was able to combine leisure with his scientific and historical studies. He gained his reputation as a geologist and man of letters but also was an amateur architect. He was said to have had ‘a great taste for architecture and furnished plans for many of his friends’ which included the seat of his cousin, James Smith of Craigend.

He was a member of the Royal Society, the Geological Society and the Royal Geographical Society. In Glasgow he was president of both the Geological Society and the Archaeological Society. His pioneering geological studies earned him the epithet ‘the father of post-Tertiary geology of Scotland’. Smith was a trustee, manager and from 1830 to 1839 president of the Andersonian Institution in George Street, Glasgow. His most notable achievement as president was the foundation of the Andersonian Museum in 1831 and he designed a circular museum and lecture theatre for the Institution (although this has since been demolished.) He was a major benefactor to the museum and donated coins, medals and natural history specimens. He was honorary curator from 1848 until his death. He formed a small art collection and supported the fine arts in Glasgow as a member of the Glasgow Institution for Promoting and Encouraging the Fine Arts in the west of Scotland and as a member and president of the Glasgow Dilettanti Society. He was a Trustee of the Academy of Fine Arts in Glasgow.

Smith died on 17 January 1867 at Jordanhill and was buried in the family burying-ground at the Old Parish Church in Renfrew.

Smith was described in ‘One Hundred Glasgow men’ as ‘gentle and tolerant, he never made an enemy, and those who knew him will not soon forget his courtly yet genial manners, and his charming conversation and delicate humour, his constant good nature and kindliness, and his unaffected piety’.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 1Jordanhill, Glasgow, ScotlandBusiness   

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 6Before 1812Craigend CastleMugdock StirlingshireScotlandPlans for enlargement abandoned
Item 2 of 61824Jordanhill House  GlasgowScotlandRemodelling
Item 3 of 61826Govan Parish ChurchGovan GlasgowScotlandOriginal building
Item 4 of 61831High School  GlasgowScotlandDesign of interior of Andersonian Museum. Also lecture theatre.
Item 5 of 61846Hew Scott HallAnstruther Fife  
Item 6 of 61854Scheme for a Crystal Palace  GlasgowScotland 


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 5Colvin, H M1995A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects 1600-18403rd editionNew Haven and London: Yale University Press 
Item 2 of 5DNB Dictionary of National Biography   
Item 3 of 5Glasgow Gentry1870Old country houses of the old Glasgow gentry    
Item 4 of 5MacLehose, James1886Memoirs and portraits of one hundred Glasgow Men who have died during the last thirty years … Glasgow: James MacLehose & Sons 
Item 5 of 5Pride, Glen L1999The Kingdom of Fife2nd EditionThe Rutland Pressp153