Basic Biographical Details

Name: John James Laing
Designation: Architect
Born: c. 1820(?)
Died: 1862 or 1863
Bio Notes: John James Laing was educated at George Heriot's Hospital and was one of John Dick Peddie's earliest apprentices. In 1847 he made measured drawings of Elgin Cathedral and from 1850 onwards won several of the Architectural Institute of Scotland prizes. G S Aitken recorded that he did much of the detail design work on the original schemes for the Cockburn Street buildings, and he made the watercolour presentation drawing of the scheme as seen from Waverley Bridge. He met John Ruskin in November 1853 and subsequently wrote to him for advice on his career. Ruskin engaged him as an illustrator, probably in 1855, with freedom to undertake other work, notably for E E Viollet-le-Duc. In that same year, 1855, from his address at Meadowbank, Edinburgh he exhibited at the RSA two designs for chapels (540 and 649), a view of Melrose (638) and a restoration drawing of the east end of Elgin Cathedral (653). On Ruskin's recommendation Laing secured a post as assistant to Deane & Woodward in Dublin, but was soon unhappy at not being given design detail work as he had hoped and returned to Ruskin's employ. He caught a severe cold working for him in Switzerland, fell into a decline and died.

Laing can probably be identified with the John James Laing who was described as an artist in chis will and who died in 1863 (or possibly late 1862). At that time he was living at 272 Buchanan Street, Glasgow. His mother was Margaret Begg Laing.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 2272, Buchanan Street, Glasgow, ScotlandBusiness 1863 
Item 2 of 2Meadowbank, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate1855 *  

* 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 2John Dick Peddiec. 1846c. 1851Apprentice 
Item 2 of 2Deane & WoodwardAfter 185515 May 1861Assistant 

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 31851Cockburn Street  EdinburghScotlandDetail drawings for first proposals - as apprentice to John Dick Peddie
Item 2 of 31855Design of chapel adapted for cemetery     
Item 3 of 31855Elgin CathedralElgin MorayshireScotlandRestoration drawing


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 3Cook, E and Wedderburn, A Library edition of the works of John Ruskin, letters  volume 36, pp186-188
Item 2 of 3O'Dwyer, Frederick1997The Architecture of Deane and Woodward Cork UP 1997p289
Item 3 of 3Scotlands People Website Wills & Testaments  Glasgow Sheriff Court Inventories SC36/48/49 and Wills SC36/51/44

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 1RIAS Collection, NMRS, RCAHMSHistory and Reminiscences of the Edinburgh Architectural Association