Basic Biographical Details
|Name: ||Alexander McGill |
|Designation: ||Architect |
|Born: || |
|Died: ||May 1734 |
|Bio Notes: ||Alexander McGill was the son of George McGill, minister of Arbirlot, Angus. He was apprenticed to Alexander Nisbet, mason in Edinburgh, in June 1697. In 1710 as ‘architector’ he gained free admittance to the Edinburgh masons’ lodge. He rose to become one of Scotland’s leading architects in the early 18th century. In November 1720 he was appointed to the newly constituted post of City Architect of Edinburgh which carried a salary of Ł50 per year. However the salary was terminated as a cost-cutting exercise when there was no public work of importance in hand. McGill continued to be employed from time to time on an ad hoc basis. He had the reputation of knowing his business ‘very well’ (from business correspondence of the 2nd Earl of Bute). |
McGill was associated with James Smith early in his career. Vitruvius Scoticus states that Yester House was designed jointly by the two architects. Furthermore an unexecuted design for Cullen House is endorsed as ‘Messrs Smith & McGill’s 3rd design of Cullen House’.
The association between Smith & McGill seems to have lasted until 1731, the year of Smith’s death. In 1727 McGill appears as Smith’s assignee in a lawsuit brought by Smith against the Earl of Leven for non-payment of accounts due for the building of Melvillle House. He also acted as a witness in an agreement concerning a pumping engine which Smith had installed in a coalmine of his estate of Whitehill. Smith and McGill were employed by the City of Edinburgh to inspect a defect in the quay at Leith in 1729.
McGill’s architectural style was a simple one based on that of Sir William Bruce. He seems to have been involved with Bruce in a number of ways: he completed the House of Nairne in Perthshire. At Kellie he had dealings with Alexander Edward, Bruce’s associate.
McGill generally designed houses with a rectangular main block with piended roof and regular fenestration. He did not embrace the baroque ornamentation of William Adam, although at Donibristle Chapel, one of his last work the use of blocked architraves and other features suggest the influence of James Gibbs.
McGill died in Edinburgh in May 1734.
Buildings and Designs
|The following books contain references to this architect:|
|DNB|| ||Dictionary of National Biography|| || ||Article by John Lowrey|
|Pride, Glen L||1999||The Kingdom of Fife||2nd Edition||The Rutland Press||p38|
|Scott, Hew|| ||Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae|| ||Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd||volume V, p421|
|Scottish Record Society||1929||Edinburgh Register of Apprentices 1666-1700|| || || |
|The following periodicals contain references to this architect:|
| ||Periodical Name||Date||Edition||Publisher||Notes|
|East Lothian Antiquarian & Field Naturalists' Soc||1972||XIII|| ||pp23-4. Article by John G Dunbar 'The Building of Yester House'. |
|The following archives hold material relating to this architect:|
| ||Source||Archive Name||Source Catalogue No.||Notes|
|Edinburgh City Archives||Sederunt Book of the Sub-Committee for managing the Ale Duty|| ||2 September 1729; 6 December 1725. Also Ale Duty Accounts, 1718-68.|
|Mount Stuart||Bute Archives|| ||Copies of extracts at NMRS.|
|New Register House||Wills and Testaments||28 February 1737, 28 May 1756|| |