Basic Biographical Details

Name: William Leslie
Designation: Architect
Born: 1802
Died: 18 February 1879
Bio Notes: William Leslie was born at New Deer in 1802. His family were Independents, i.e. Congregationalists. He established himself at Park Cottage, Broadford, Aberdeen by at least 1828 when he designed a castellated lodge and gate for Hatton Castle. As a contractor his first job is said to have been the additions at Craibstone House, presumably those built in 1829, but it is not clear whether he designed them. He certainly built the North Church in Aberdeen to John Smith's designs in 1829-30 and Castle Newe to Simpson's designs in 1831. In 1836 he was appointed agent for the Sutherland estates, undertaking architectural and civil engineering work, from 1838 in partnership as McDonald & Leslie, based in Dornoch. His Sutherland appointment did not exclude contracting for others and in 1840-41 McDonald & Leslie widened the Bridge of Dee to the designs of James Walker of Walker & Burgess, London, using the original facings as far as practicable, a contract which marked the beginning of a shift of his business interests towards Aberdeen.

In 1844 the Duke of Sutherland commissioned designs from Sir Charles Barry for the enlargement of Dunrobin. These could not be fitted into the contours of the site, and after a castellated design made by the Duke himself had been discarded, the Duke returned to Barry's design and adapted it to the site with William Leslie as his architect in 1845, Barry being consulted on the details as the work proceeded. Leslie's role there is detailed in a letter by Leslie to Barry's son and biographer the Rev Alfred Barry 11 September 1866, enclosing a sketch elevation and ground plan by the Duke, 30 June 1844. Much of the detail design work was however in the hands of a pupil of Archibald Simpson's, Peter Kerr, from 1845 until 1848 when he joined Barry's staff in London.

In 1851 Leslie is recorded as living in Aberdeen and described as an 'architect and builder employing 150 hands'. The partnership of McDonald & Leslie was dissolved in 1853 when Leslie concentrated his business interests and practice in Aberdeen. Sometime thereafter he became a town councillor and was Lord Provost 1869-73; during his tenure of that office he became a landed gentleman buying the small estate of Nethermuir, remodelling the house as a neat Scots baronial villa. Although he appeared as an architect in the 'Architects Engineers and Building Trades Directory' 1868, with an address at Union Street his principal businesses were those of railway contractor and granite merchant. The buildings known to have been designed by him are few in number and mostly on the Sutherland estate. He died in Aberdeen on 18 February 1879.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 4Park Cottage, Broadford, Aberdeen, ScotlandPrivate/business1828 *  
Item 2 of 4Dornoch, Aberdeenshire, ScotlandBusiness18381858 
Item 3 of 48, Golden Square, Aberdeen, ScotlandPrivate1851  
Item 4 of 4123, Union Street, Aberdeen, ScotlandBusiness1868 *  

* 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 1McDonald & Leslie18381858Partner 

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 2Peter KerrAfter 1845c. 1848Draughtsman(?) 
Item 2 of 2John Malcolmc. 1862c. 1865Apprentice 

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 211828Hatton Castle Lodge and GatesTurriff AberdeenshireScotlandLodge and gates
Item 2 of 211833Kingussie Parish ChurchKingussie Inverness-shireScotlandAdditions
Item 3 of 211835Dornoch CathedralDornoch SutherlandScotlandAssisted Alexander Coupar with restoration work
Item 4 of 211840Bridge of Dee  AberdeenScotlandExecuted plans by James Walker of London
Item 5 of 211840Rhives HouseRhives SutherlandScotlandDesign probably by Leslie
Item 6 of 211841Helmsdale HarbourHelmsdale SutherlandScotlandEmbanked the river's shore
Item 7 of 211844Dunrobin CastleDunrobin SutherlandScotlandReconstruction incorporating suggestions from Duke of Sutherland based on Charles Barry' s scheme
Item 8 of 211845Dornoch SchoolDornoch SutherlandScotland 
Item 9 of 211845Lairg Parish ChurchLairg SutherlandScotland 
Item 10 of 211846Dunnet ManseDunnet CaithnessScotland 
Item 11 of 211846Uppat HouseGolspie SutherlandScotlandExtensive additions
Item 12 of 21After 1850Little Ferry Pier and boathouseGolspie SutherlandScotlandRebuilding
Item 13 of 21c. 1850Dunrobin Castle, Flagstaff Lodge  SutherlandScotlandAttribution by Elizabeth Beaton - with William Fowler
Item 14 of 211851Dunbeath Castle  CaithnessScotlandAdditions
Item 15 of 211851Lochmore Lodge  Ross & CromartyScotland 
Item 16 of 211852Dunrobin CastleDunrobin SutherlandScotlandWalled garden, west wall rebuilding
Item 17 of 211854Albion Street Congregational Chapel  AberdeenScotland 
Item 18 of 211855ManseOld Aberdeen AberdeenScotlandHouse by 'Mr Leslie' - probably William Leslie
Item 19 of 211864Belmont Congregational Chapel  AberdeenScotlandExecuted designs of James Souttar (Leslie was a member of this congregation)
Item 20 of 211866Woodside Independent Church  AberdeenScotlandFinanced by Leslie and perhaps designed by him
Item 21 of 21c. 1872NethermuirNew Deer AberdeenshireScotland 


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 2Architects Engineers and Building Trades Directory1868Architect's, Engineer's and Building Trades' Directory London, Wyman 
Item 2 of 2British Architectural Library, RIBA2001Directory of British Architects 1834-1914