Basic Biographical Details

Name: William Hackstoun (born William Haxton)
Designation: Architect
Born: 1855
Died: 8 June 1921
Bio Notes: William Hackstoun was born William Haxton at Balbreakie, Kennoway, Fife in 1855. He was articled to Horatio Kelson Bromhead in Glasgow where he became acquainted with his fellow pupils George Jack and Thomas Hamilton Crawford. It is unclear whether Hackstoun found paid employment as an architect in London, to which he moved at the end of his articles, but he quickly became attached to the James Marjoribanks MacLaren, William Flockhart and George Washington Browne circle. He also made contact with John Ruskin who was attracted to his Cotman-style watercolours and arranged for him to stay near his house at Coniston, commissioning drawings of the French cathedral towns: and it was Ruskin who persuaded him to change the spelling of his name to Hackstoun.

Hackstoun was a fine bass singer and studied for a time at the Royal College of Music in London and then with Campbell in Italy with the intention of following an operatic career. Ruskin persuaded him to return to watercolours but ‘the disciple’s thorny temper could not long remain obedient to a despotic mentor’. After a number of years in London during which he was financially supported by the art critic Dugald Sutherland MacColl, he settled for some years in St Andrews painting Fife landscapes, villages and seascapes.

Although his contemporaries thought him very able, Hackstoun was temperamentally unsuited to architectural practice, having ‘a terrifying emotional intensity’. In a letter to MacColl he described himself as being born not only to be a damned nuisance to himself ‘but to all my friends’. Nevertheless they remained loyal. In the 1890s, his work was handled by the London dealer Van Wisselingh, but thereafter ‘physical failure had set in and a decline from rich early promise’. He was living at 148 Hill Street, Glasgow in 1916 and was in London when he died on 8 June 1921.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 3Balbreakie, Kennoway, Fife, ScotlandPrivate1855 Place of birth
Item 2 of 3148, Hill Street, Glasgow, ScotlandPrivate1916 *  
Item 3 of 3London, EnglandPrivate8 June 1921 * Place of death

* 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 1Horatio Kelson Bromheadc. 1870(?)c. 1875(?)Apprentice 


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 3Borland, Maureen D S MacColl: Painter, Poet, Art Critic Harpenden: Lennard Publishing 
Item 2 of 3MacColl, Dugald Sutherland1931A Batch of Memories, IX: Other Arts The Weekend Review, 18 July 1931 
Item 3 of 3McEwan, P J M1994Dictionary of Scottish Art and Architecture   

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architect:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 1Architectural Review18996 pp67-70

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 1Special Collections, Glasgow University LibraryMacColl ArchiveH 14