Basic Biographical Details

Name: Alexander Laing
Designation: Architect
Born: 13 June 1752
Died: 1823
Bio Notes: Alexander Laing was probably the Alexander Laing who was born about 13 June 1752, the son Alexander Laing and his wife Margaret Davidson. He probably trained as a mason as he first practised as such but later worked as an architect. He is listed first as a mason in the 1774 Edinburgh directories. He became a member of the Royal Company of Archers in 1777 after he had built their hall. He was admitted as a burgess of Edinburgh in 1782 and from this point onwards he called himself an architect. Colvin states that his buildings were designed in a ‘plain masculine style’ without elegance or refinement but the Town Steeple in Inverness is an exception.

Laing acted as an agent in the sale of various houses in Edinburgh and may have designed a house opposite St George’s Chapel which was to be sold by public roup in late 1798/early 1799 and also acted as agent in letting St Cecilia’s Hall in 1800. In 1797 he acted as the agent for the letting or sale of a lodging opposite the Cross, High Street, Edinburgh and in 1800 acted in a similar role for houses in Middle Meal Market Stair and in Libberton's Wynd. He also acted as a measurer/inspector in the long-running court battle between Sir John Lowther Johnston and William Elliot of Kelso about work undertaken by the latter at Westerhall.

Laing must have been reasonably prosperous as he contributed to the Royal Infirmary fund in 1797 and to the House of Industry in 1801. He was appointed a manager of the Public Dispensary in 1785.

Laing married three times: first on 19 April 1772 to Charlotte Polson; second on 13 September 1786 to Margaret Turnbull; and third on 18 November 1789 to Beatrix Currie.

Laing died in Portobello on 17 September 1823.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 13, St James Square, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusinessBefore 1800  

Employment and Training

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 1Andrew Petriec. 1813Before 1821ApprenticePetrie was articled to 'a prominent architect builder called Lang', probably Alexander Lang

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 281776Archers' Hall  EdinburghScotlandOriginal building
Item 2 of 281777Old High School  EdinburghScotland 
Item 3 of 281778Retreat HouseAbbey St Bathans BerwickshireScotlandPerhaps this was one of the designs by Laing for Francis Charteris of Amisfield.
Item 4 of 28c. 1781House for Sir James Hunter Blair  EdinburghScotland 
Item 5 of 281785South Bridge  EdinburghScotlandResponsible for construction to plans by Robert Kay
Item 6 of 281787Dalmahoy House and lodgesRatho EdinburghScotlandAddition of service wing and interior alterations
Item 7 of 281789Town Steeple and Court HouseInverness Inverness-shireScotlandSteeple
Item 8 of 281790Royal AcademyInverness Inverness-shireScotlandSupplied designs of Edinburgh Royal High School from which Academy was designed.
Item 9 of 281791Dunnikier HouseKirkcaldy FifeScotland 
Item 10 of 281791House, Gayfield Square  EdinburghScotland 
Item 11 of 281792House, Gayfield Place  EdinburghScotlandPorbably responsible for design and building - acting as agent in the sale at this date.
Item 12 of 281795Brechin Castle and gate lodgeBrechin AngusScotlandRemodelling of some rooms and new N wing
Item 13 of 28c. 1795Over Rankeillour House and estate buildings  FifeScotlandCompleted house after the death of James McLeran
Item 14 of 281796Darnaway Castle  MorayshireScotlandPlans drawn up for improvements and additions
Item 15 of 281797HarbourSouth Queensferry MidlothianScotland 
Item 16 of 281798House, 8 York Place  EdinburghScotland 
Item 17 of 281798Langton ChurchGavinton BerwickshireScotlandProbably built to Laing's designs
Item 18 of 281799Royal Northern InfirmaryInverness Inverness-shireScotland 
Item 19 of 281802Darnaway Castle  MorayshireScotlandCastellated house - incoporating medieval hall
Item 20 of 281802Dysart ChurchDysart FifeScotland 
Item 21 of 281802InvermayForteviot (near) PerthshireScotlandDesigned or supervised alterations including stables, west lodges, game larder, dairy and gazebo.
Item 22 of 281804Huntly Parish ChurchHuntly AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 23 of 281804Old ChurchPeterhead AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 24 of 281808Drumsheugh House  EdinburghScotlandGateway and lodge
Item 25 of 281808Dysart HouseDysart FifeScotlandProbably designed rear wings and west extension
Item 26 of 281814Abbey ManseDunfermline FifeScotland 
Item 27 of 281814Grange ManseGrange BanffshireScotland 
Item 28 of 281822Aberdour ManseAberdour AberdeenshireScotlandLaing intially acted as arbitrator in a long running dispute but he was eventually employed to modify a plan by William Robertson of Elgin.


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 3Colvin, Howard2008A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects 1600-1840 London: YUP. 4th edition 
Item 2 of 3Paul, J Balfour1875History of the Royal Company of Archers   
Item 3 of Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints: WebsiteAccessed 2014 - for details of birth and marriages

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architect:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 10Caledonian Mercury2 February 1785   
Item 2 of 10Caledonian Mercury18 September 1786  Marriage to Margaret Turnbull
Item 3 of 10Caledonian Mercury9 February 1797   
Item 4 of 10Caledonian Mercury10 April 1797   
Item 5 of 10Caledonian Mercury13 January 1800   
Item 6 of 10Caledonian Mercury10 March 1800   
Item 7 of 10Caledonian Mercury3 May 1800   
Item 8 of 10Caledonian Mercury11 July 1801   
Item 9 of 10Caledonian Mercury24 July 1824   
Item 10 of 10Scots Magazine1823  p512

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 1NASSC Archives (Sc)70/1/29p787-797