Basic Biographical Details

Name: Alexander Edward
Designation: Architect
Born: 1651
Died: 16 November 1708
Bio Notes: Alexander Edward was born in 1651, the son of Robert Edward, minister at Murroes, Angus, and a polymath, being interested in astronomy, dialling and cartography and who enjoyed the patronage of the Maule family, the Earls of Panmure. Like his father Alexander Edward had wide interests. He studied at the University of St Andrews and graduated in 1670. He entered the Church and held the living of Kemback in Fife from 1682 to 1689. In the latter year he was dispossessed as he was an Episcopalian.

Edward’s interest in architecture seems to date from the mid-1680s. Three plans of Sir William Bruce’s house, Kinross House, gardens and policies are attributed to Edward because of their similarity to a drawing of the layout of the gardens at Hamilton Palace which bears Edward’s signature. The drawings of Kinross show the house more or less as built but with minor differences of detail suggesting Edward’s drawings just pre-date the building of the house (which was begun in 1685). Although the design must have been Bruce’s own work, Edward may have acted as his architectural assistant or clerk of works.

In the 1690s he seems to have had the same role as amanuensis at Melville House, Fife. In a letter from Sir William Bruce to the Earl of Melville he states that Edward was working hard drawing out his designs for Melville House and that he would be sent to explain them to the Earl before he proceeded with the drawings for the garden and court. Similarly the drawings for the remodelling of Kinnaird Castle are in Edward’s hand. He also made drawings for the gardens there dated 1695 and 1697. The work at Kinnaird was not executed owing to the 4th Earl of Southesk's death in 1699.

Edward did undertake some work on his own. Between 1696 and his death in 1708 he undertook work on Brechin Castle. He also witnessed various contracts – for Kinloch House where Tobias Bachop built an addition and at Kellie Castle. He witnessed a contract between Henry Maule of Kellie and a wright named Hendrie for panelling the interiors of the principal rooms, to conform to the model of that in the waiting room at Panmure. He also seems to have provided Hendrie with a drawing with a ‘compleat capital’ for the drawing room. His advice on Kellie continued until at least 1705. He provided advice and drawings on a range of other houses.

Along with the plan for the Duke of Hamilton of the gardens at Hamilton Palace he was concerned with alterations to the Duke’s English seat, Ashton Hall. In 1701-2 Edward visited London, Paris and the Low Countries on behalf on a group of Scottish noblemen with Jacobite sympathies. The list included the Earls of Mar, Loudoun, Strathmore, Panmure, Hopetoun, Northesk and Southesk, the Marquess of Annandale, the Master of Balmerino, Sir John Shaw of Greenock and Hercules Scott of Brotherton. His mission was to ‘view, observe and take draughts of the most curious and remarkable Houses, Edifices, Gardings, orchards, parks, plantations, land improvements, coall works, mines, water works and other curiosities of nature or art’.

The list of houses he was to visit included Chatsworth, Lowther, Belvoir and ‘Earl Carlil’s new designs near York’ (Castle Howard). The Earl of Mar wanted drawings of Ranelagh House, Chelsea, and of the Earl of Rochester’s house at Petersham. Edward was to report back to various people when he reached London. Those included the Earls of Panmure, Mar and Southesk and to ‘Alex Izat’, a joiner employed by Bruce at Hopetoun and elsewhere about ‘lyning of rooms’. Edward carried with him a letter of introduction from Sir Robert Sibbald to Sir Hans Sloane in which he was described as having ‘acquired much fame by his skill in Architecture and drawing plans of houses and gardens'.

Edward was also commissioned to visit Kneller, Knyff, the mason Robert Kidwell, and several map sellers. In Paris he bought prints. He noted that the best three examples of architecture in Paris were the south east front of the Louvre, the façade of St Gervais and the Val-de-Grâce. His route also included Versailles, Marly and St Cloud and he carried coded letters to the Pretender’s Court at St Germain. His notebook is preserved in the Dalhousie Papers in the National Archives. A collection of engravings now in Barnbougle Castle may be those he collected for the Earl of Hopetoun as it contains a number of French 17th century engravings of gardens and palaces, an invitation to attend the funeral of the French architect Aubry at St Eustace in Paris in December 1701 and a drawn plan of a parterre at the Palais Royal with an inscription in Edward’s hand.

The whereabouts of most other drawings that Edward made in France is not known. The exceptions to this are a plan of Marly by him in James Gibbs’s drawings in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford; some drawings of topiary at Versailles annotated in his hand are in an album from Cliveden House, Buckinghamshire (now held in the RIBA Drawings Collection). A letter dating from 1702 from Edward who was in Le Havre to the Earl of Mar also survives.

Edward died in Edinburgh on 16 November 1708 and was buried in Greyfriars Churchyard.

Edward’s importance lies in his role as Sir William Bruce’s amanuensis and his main independent work, Brechin Castle, shows that stylistically he was a follower of Bruce. However he was probably a better designer that this work reveals. His garden layouts are formal as in the style of the period. The antiquary Robert Sibbald described him as a 'great master in architecture, and contrivance of avenues, gardens and orchards' and composed an epitaph in which he described him as 'another Vitruvius’.

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 1(Sir) William Bruce Mid 1680s Assistant 

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 14c. 1685Hamilton PalaceHamilton LanarkshireScotlandPlan of garden drawn up as assistant to Sir William Bruce.
Item 2 of 14c. 1685Kinross House and Home Farm  Kinross-shireScotlandAs assistant to Bruce made three drawings of house, garden and policies.
Item 3 of 141696Brechin Castle and gate lodgeBrechin AngusScotlandAlterations - forecourt and pavilions (since demolished). Office houses to NE 1697. Extension to NW wing 1698.
Item 4 of 141697Kinloch HouseMeigle PerthshireScotlandActed as witness to contract in which Tobias Bachop was to build an addition to the house to conform to existing building and chimney type to conform to those at Panmure.
Item 5 of 141697Melville House  FifeScotlandActed as assistant to Bruce, drawing out Bruce's designs and was to be sent to explain the drawings to the Earl of Melville before proceeding with the drawings for gardens and court.
Item 6 of 141698Kinnaird Castle, with stables and lodgeBrechin AngusScotlandScheme for enlargement - as assistant to Bruce
Item 7 of 141699Falkland PalaceFalkland FifeScotlandMade a 'draught of the Low palace at Falkland'.
Item 8 of 141699Kellie CastlePittenweem FifeScotlandActed as a witness to a contract between Henry Maule of Kellie , the younger brother of the Earl of Panmure, and a wright named Hendrie to panel the interior of the principal rooms - to conform to the 'lyning of the waiting-room at Panmure'. In the case of the drawing room the work was to be carried out 'according to a draught to be given to the said Hendrie with a compleat capitall'. Edward continued to give advice until at least 1705.
Item 9 of 141699Kellie Castle  AngusScotlandIn association with Alexander McGill
Item 10 of 14February 1700House at Rossie  AngusScotlandWas involved with the building at Rossie.
Item 11 of 141701Brechin Castle and gate lodgeBrechin AngusScotlandParkland laid out
Item 12 of 141704Dunkeld CathedralDunkeld PerthshireScotlandLarge architectural monument to the Ist Marquess of Atholl
Item 13 of 141706Ashton Hall  LancashireEnglandInvolved with the building of this house. In June 1708 he was reeported as 'goeng to take care of the D. of Hamilton's Gardens & Co at Ashton'.
Item 14 of 14Before 1707Hopetoun HouseAbercorn West LothianScotlandWas involved in the laying out of the gardens at Hopetoun.


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 3Gifford, John2012The Buildings of Scotland: Angus and Dundee Yalep379
Item 2 of 3Lowrey, John1987Alexander Edward Crawford Arts Centre, University of St Andrews 
Item 3 of 3Scott, Hew Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae Edinburgh: Oliver & Boydvolume V, p206

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 6Ashmolean MuseumDrawings CollectionIII, 49Reproduced in the Gazette des Beaux Arts, ser. iv, ci, pp54-56
Item 2 of 6British LibrarySloane ManuscriptsMS 4038, f.167Sibbald describing Edward.
Item 3 of 6National Archives of Scotland (formerly SRO)Gifts and depositsGD 124/16/24 
Item 4 of 6National Archives of Scotland (formerly SRO)Gifts and depositsGD 45/26/140 
Item 5 of 6National Archives of Scotland (formerly SRO)Gifts and depositsGD 124/15/219 
Item 6 of 6National Library of ScotlandManuscript CollectionSdv. MS. 33.5. 14, f.1