Basic Biographical Details
|Name: ||John Adam |
|Designation: ||Architect |
|Born: ||1721 |
|Died: ||25 June 1792 |
|Bio Notes: ||John Adam was born in 1721, the eldest son of William Adam architect and his wife Mary Robertson, and older brother of Robert and James Adam. He was educated at Dalkeith Grammar School but involvement in his fatherís busy practice prevented him from attending the University of Edinburgh. During the 1740s he gradually took over running the practice and administering his fatherís affairs. When William Adam died on 24 June 1748 John succeeded him as laird of Blair Adam and he was appointed ĎKingís Masoní very soon after his fatherís death. His appointment was reported in the Scots Magazine of 1 July 1748. |
John immediately took his brother Robert into partnership. Between 1748 and 1758 they completed a number of contracting projects in the Highlands which were good money spinners including Fort George, which William Adam had undertaken after the 1745 rebellion. They also inherited his extensive architectural practice which, until Robert went to London and established himself there, continued to be run as a family partnership. John Adamís forte was business acumen rather than architectural talent. However he was a competent architect using English Palladian formulae. Those buildings he designed before 1760 were done so jointly with Robert Adam.
In 1761 John Adam was involved with the Society for Promoting the reading and Speaking of the English Language in Scotland and became an ordinary director.
About 1770 John Adam gave up architecture at a time when Robertís talents became obvious. He did continue as an advisor on bridges and other structures within Edinburgh. In 1768 he reported on the safety of a shop in High Street (owned by Alexander Dewar of Vogrie) opposite the Tron Kirk if the proposed alterations were carried out. In 1777 he reported with James Craig on the safety of a factory if the proposed in Bridge Street, Edinburgh, the doors and windows of which were to be enlarged.
He employed Robert and James to make designs for rebuilding Blair Adam although these were never executed. He continued to be involved in the business affairs of his brothers. After the failure of Fairholmeís Bank in 1763 he found himself in financial difficulties and the firm William Adam & Co. was established as a result. When the speculation at the Adelphi in London ended in disaster he mortgaged Blair Adam in order to avoid bankruptcy. His own business ventures included the sale of stone from the Aberdeen quarries and a partnership in the Carron Iron Works. It is possible that he was also the proprietor of a bleachfield in Maryburgh, Kinross-shire which was to be let in 1760. It was set up the year before. Applications in the newpaper advertisement advertising this stated 'Apply Mr John Adam, architect, Edinburgh, the proprietor, or Robert Burns of Barns'. There is some small ambiguity in the advertisement in that Adam and the proprietor may be two different people, although it seems unlikely.
John Adam died on 25 June 1792, leaving the Balir Adam estate to his only surviving son William Adam.
Private and Business Addresses
|The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:|
| ||Address||Type||Date from||Date to||Notes|
|Blair Adam, Perthshire, Scotland|| || || || |
Employment and Training
Employees or Pupils
|The following individuals were employed or trained by this architect (click on an item to view details):|
| ||Name||Date from||Date to||Position||Notes|
|George Richardson|| || ||Apprentice|| |
Buildings and Designs
|The following books contain references to this architect:|
|Campbell, R H||1961||Carron Company|| ||Edinburgh|| |
|Close, Rob and Riches, Anne||2012||The Buildings of Scotland: Ayrshire & Arran|| ||New Haven and London: Yale University Press||p633|
|DNB|| ||Dictionary of National Biography|| || ||Old DNB. Entry by A A Tait. |
|Fleming, John||1962||Robert Adam and his Circle|| || || |
|King, David||2001||The Complete Works of Robert & James Adam|| || ||Appendix C: 'Works done by John Adam on his Own'. |
|Mowat, I R M||1983||John Adam as Town Planner||no 10||Scottish Georgian Society Bulletin|| |
|Namier, L and Brooke, J||1964||The House of Commons 1754-1790|| || ||Volume ii, pp8-10|
|Sharples, J, Walker, D W and Woodworth, M||2015||The Buildings of Scotland: Aberdeenshire South and Aberdeen|| ||London and New Haven: Yale University Press||p99|
|The following periodicals contain references to this architect:|
| ||Periodical Name||Date||Edition||Publisher||Notes|
|Architectural Review||February 1958|| || ||Article by T C Barker ' The Aberdeen Quarries'|
|Caledonian Mercury||12 December 1761|| || || |
|The following archives hold material relating to this architect:|
| ||Source||Archive Name||Source Catalogue No.||Notes|
|Edinburgh City Archives||Edinburgh Dean of Guild||19/02/1772 [White & Mitchell]|
WARRANT GRANTED: 19 February 1772.
PETITION LODGED: 6 December 1771.
PETITIONER: White & Mitchell, merchants.
SITE: High Street, opposite the Tron Kirk.
PROPOSAL: To enlarge the shop windows.
NOTES: The shop is owned by James Dewar of Vogrie and he had previously applied to the Dean of Guild Court to have an alteration to his shop front. On 29 November 1768 the Court asked John Adam, William Milne and Alexander Gowans, architects to report on the safety of what was proposed and they did so on 1 December 1768, in the affirmative. The matter went to the Court of Session in a bill of advocation by the heritors in the flats above and they insisted on having a cautioner. Dewar wished to stand as his own cautioner but this was not accepted and his petition was refused. A drawing is mentioned in the reclaiming petition of James Dewar of Vogrie to the Court of Session, dated 16 November 1769.
|Edinburgh City Archives||Edinburgh Dean of Guild||02/04/1777 [Patrick Walker]||WARRANT GRANTED: 2 April 1777. |
PETITION LODGED: 10 February 1777.
PETITIONER: Patrick Walker, factor appointed by the Court of Session on the estate of the deceased Robert Ranken, ship carpenter in Inverkeithing.
SITE: Bridge Street.
PROPOSAL: Alterations to windows and doors.
NOTES: The factory is dated 23 December 1775. There is a report here dated 1 April 1777 by John Wilson and Alexander Laing, masons on behalf of themselves and John Adam and James Craig, architects, having inspected the tenement in Bridge Street and declared the intended work to be safe.
|RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert Museum||RIBA Drawings Collection|| ||Sketch book by John Adam of buildings seen in England, 1748.|