Basic Biographical Details

Name: John Murray Robertson
Born: 31 January 1844
Died: 31 January 1901
Bio Notes: John Murray Robertson - always known as Murray to his friends and brother architects - was born at Strathord on 31 January 1844 the son of James Robertson and Catherine Smeaton. They were a strict Plymouth Brethren family. He was articled to the Perth architect Andrew Heiton II from 1859 to 1863 and remained with him as senior draughtsman for 8 years. In or about 1865 Heiton established a Dundee branch office with Robertson in charge to supervise the building of Broughty Ferry East Church, Castleroy, Fernhall, Ashwood and Fairfield in Broughty Ferry and Westwood and Kinbrae in Newport. Heiton's clients at Castleroy, the Gilroys of Tay Works, promised him their support if he settled in Dundee and after two years widening his experience with Augustus Frederick Livesay in Portsmouth and James Medland Taylor in Manchester, he set up his own Dundee office late in 1873. This appears to have been amicably agreed with Heiton who continued to farm out work to him at least until 1888 when he is said to have greatly assisted with the Station Hotel at Perth. After some initial success, commissions were more difficult following the City of Glasgow Bank failure and in 1878-79 he several times nearly gave up to return to Heiton's office until he established a more regular volume of business from 1880 onwards, the younger members of the Cox family being particularly good clients.

In his early works Robertson was influenced by the work of Alexander Thomson, notably at India Buildings Dundee and at Victoria Buildings Tay Street and Kinnoul School, both in Perth and designed for Heiton. He experimented with mass concrete at Beachtower and Moyness but because of problems of damp and smoke did not pursue them, reverting to more traditional construction, with brick chimneys and half-timbered gables as favourite motifs. An interest in contemporary American houses and Norman Shaw was foreshadowed at Reres Cottage (1875) and Rosebay (1875) in Broughty Ferry before reaching full flower in the markedly H H Richardson-inspired Cottage in Lochee of 1880-1 and the Bughties of 1882. Seathwood (1883) belonged to a rather different group but Americanisms and Japanese sunflower motifs were common to both. Richardsonian motifs also featured markedly at the Dundee Technical Institute of 1886. By the mid-1880s Robertson had departed from 'Old English' half timber and turned to a free Jacobean style, still with a few American and Norman Shaw features, ogee-capped tourelles and towers of Richardson and Scotland Yard inspiration being characteristic features. There is as yet no evidence that Robertson ever visited America, but Richardson's work was well publicised in Britain by the early 1880s. No foreign travel is mentioned in his nomination paper but he is know to have travelled a great deal on the continent in search of new ideas.

Although Robertson remained a strict Plymouth Brother, the regime in his office was kindly and he was an outstanding teacher: the staff were treated as a larger family, his main object in seeking to be a Fellow of the RIBA was said to be to further their interests, statements borne out by the frequency with which his name appeared as a proposer in Dundee and Aberdeen nomination papers. He was admitted on 23 January 1888, his proposers being Andrew Heiton, John Honeyman and, interestingly, William Leiper with whose domestic architecture his own had then much in common. A drawing instrument case still in the office in the 1960s recorded all those who had worked in his office.

Robertson died suddenly on 31 January 1901 at his home, Crossmount, Bridgend, Perth, prematurely worn out by overwork, and was buried at Wellshill Cemetery. His practice was taken over by his chief assistant James Findlay. Robertson married late: a daughter, Mrs Milne, was still living at Gardyne Cottage, Stonehaven until the early 1960s.

[See also separate entry for J M Robertson who was practising at 81 London Street, Glasgow in 1868 and may be the same person, although no other record of John Murray Robertson attempting to set up practice in Glasgow has yet been found.]

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this :
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 4Perth, Perthshire, ScotlandBusiness   
Item 2 of 419, Thomson Street, Dundee, ScotlandPrivate *Before 1901 
Item 3 of 4Crossmount, Bridgend, Perth, Perthshire, ScotlandBusiness Before 1901 
Item 4 of 433, Albert Square, Dundee, ScotlandBusiness1876After 1900 

* earliest date known from documented sources.

Employment and Training


The following individuals or organisations employed or trained this (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 4Andrew Heiton (junior)18591863Apprentice 
Item 2 of 4Andrew Heiton (junior)18631871Senior Draughtsman 
Item 3 of 4Augustus Frederick Livesay1871Before 1873Assistant(?) 
Item 4 of 4James Medland TaylorAfter 18711873Assistant(?) 

Employees or Pupils

The following individuals were employed or trained by this (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 19David Barclay NivenApril 1884November 1889Assistant 
Item 2 of 19George Alexander PyottAfter 18891897(?)Assistant 
Item 3 of 19David Lindsay Allan18901894Apprentice 
Item 4 of 19John Donald Mills18911896Assistant 
Item 5 of 19Godfrey Daniel Bower Shepherd18931896Apprentice 
Item 6 of 19David William Baxter18941896Assistant 
Item 7 of 19David Lindsay Allan18941897Assistant 
Item 8 of 19Archibald Stuart SoutarMay 18951899Apprentice 
Item 9 of 19Godfrey Daniel Bower Shepherd18961897Draughtsman 
Item 10 of 19Henry ('Harry') Thomson18961901Apprentice 
Item 11 of 19David Milne18981902Apprentice 
Item 12 of 19Archibald Bulloch6 June 18981901Apprentice 
Item 13 of 19Charles Geddes Soutar18991900Assistant 
Item 14 of 19Archibald Stuart Soutar189931 January 1901Assistant 
Item 15 of 19James Stedmanc. 1899c. 1900Clerk of Works 
Item 16 of 19David SmithLate 19001902Draughtsman 
Item 17 of 19Arthur Gordon WilsonJanuary 190131 January 1901Apprentice 
Item 18 of 19James FindlayBefore 19011901Chief Draughtsman 
Item 19 of 19James FindlayBefore 1901Before 1901Apprentice 


RIBA Proposers

The following individuals proposed this for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 3Andrew Heiton (junior)23 January 1888for Fellowship
Item 2 of 3John Honeyman23 January 1888for Fellowship
Item 3 of 3William Leiper23 January 1888for Fellowship

RIBA Proposals

This proposed the following individuals for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 3James Glen Sivewright Gibson16 June 1890for Associateship
Item 2 of 3David Barclay Niven13 January 1890for Associateship
Item 3 of 3James Souttar6 June 1898for Fellowship

Buildings and Designs

This 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 160 Belmont Burying Ground, monument   ScotlandDate uncertain therefore uncertain which architect involved
Item 2 of 160 Calender, Meadowside  DundeeScotlandAdditions
Item 3 of 160 Houses in Thomson Street  DundeeScotlandDate unknown
Item 4 of 160 Office premises for Lipman & Co.  DundeeScotland 
Item 5 of 160 Police ChambersBroughty Ferry DundeeScotlandAlterations - date unknown
Item 6 of 160 Rossie Estate, gate lodge (house for Thomas Bell)Rossie Estate Perthshire?ScotlandDate unknown
Item 7 of 160 Seymour LodgeNewport on Tay FifeScotlandAdditions of tower
Item 8 of 1601863Free East ChurchBroughty Ferry DundeeScotlandWon competition (10 premium) and secured job.
Item 9 of 1601865Westwood House and LodgeNewport-on-Tay FifeScotland 
Item 10 of 160c. 1865DundarrachPitlochry PerthshireScotlandPerhaps involved
Item 11 of 160c. 1865Hamilton House and LodgePerth PerthshireScotland 
Item 12 of 1601866Redgorton ManseRedgorton PerthshireScotland?
Item 13 of 1601867CastleroyBroughty Ferry DundeeScotland 
Item 14 of 1601867ForthillBroughty Ferry DundeeScotlandRemodelling and additions
Item 15 of 1601867Newfargie House and stablesGlenfarg PerthshireScotland 
Item 16 of 1601867St Mary's Redemptionist Monastery and Church, KinnoullPerth PerthshireScotlandChapel - as assistant to Andrew Heiton Junior
Item 17 of 1601868Kinfauns Parish ChurchKinfauns PerthshireScotland 
Item 18 of 1601868OrchillDunblane PerthshireScotland 
Item 19 of 1601868Port-an-EileanStrathtummel PerthshireScotland 
Item 20 of 160c. 1868FairfieldWest Ferry DundeeScotland 
Item 21 of 1601869Giffen Castle and StablesDalry AyrshireScotland 
Item 22 of 160Late 1860s(?)DurnPerth PerthshireScotlandOriginal house - as senior draughtsman to Andrew Heiton
Item 23 of 160c. 1870Ashwood, West FerryBroughty Ferry DundeeScotland 
Item 24 of 160c. 1870Craigclowan  PerthshireScotland 
Item 25 of 160c. 1870TaybankPerth PerthshireScotland 
Item 26 of 1601871St Fillan's RC ChurchCrieff PerthshireScotland 
Item 27 of 1601872Greig InstituteLeven FifeScotland 
Item 28 of 1601872Kinbrae HouseNewport FifeScotland 
Item 29 of 1601872Newtyle Parish ChurchNewtyle AngusScotland 
Item 30 of 1601872SeaviewMonifieth AngusScotlandFurther work
Item 31 of 1601872Victoria BuildingsPerth PerthshireScotland 
Item 32 of 160c. 18722 Tay StreetPerth PerthshireScotlandAttributed
Item 33 of 160c. 1872Drummond Arms HotelSt Fillans PerthshireScotland 
Item 34 of 160After 1873Belmont WorksHawkhill DundeeScotlandAdditions
Item 35 of 160After 1873Houses for Samnugger Company  CalcuttaIndia 
Item 36 of 160After 1873Luncarty BleachworksLuncarty PerthshireScotlandExtensions
Item 37 of 160c. 1873Perth Savings BankPerth PerthshireScotland 
Item 38 of 1601874Drumore  PerthshireScotlandOriginal building?
Item 39 of 1601874ElmgroveBroughty Ferry DundeeScotland 
Item 40 of 1601874Hope ParkBlairgowrie PerthshireScotlandIn conjunction with Andrew Heiton Junior
Item 41 of 1601874India Buildings  DundeeScotland 
Item 42 of 1601874RavenscraigWest Ferry DundeeScotlandMain house
Item 43 of 1601875Reres CottageBarnhill DundeeScotlandReconstruction
Item 44 of 1601875Rosebay HouseBroughty Ferry DundeeScotland 
Item 45 of 160c. 1875CraigmountBroughty Ferry DundeeScotlandNo date
Item 46 of 1601876BeachtowerWest Ferry DundeeScotland 
Item 47 of 1601876India Buildings  DundeeScotlandExtended to 4 Victoria Road
Item 48 of 1601876Sackmaking factory for James J Sinclair  DundeeScotland 
Item 49 of 1601876Shops for James Crichton  DundeeScotland 
Item 50 of 1601877Hunter's Department Store  DundeeScotland 
Item 51 of 1601877Shop, Wellgate  DundeeScotland 
Item 52 of 1601877Tayfield Works  DundeeScotland 
Item 53 of 1601877WestlandsWest Ferry DundeeScotlandPlan of grounds drawn up
Item 54 of 1601879Kellyfield House  DundeeScotlandRemodelling
Item 55 of 16018803 Norwood Crescent  DundeeScotland 
Item 56 of 1601880Cottage at Laurelbank  DundeeScotland 
Item 57 of 1601880DumgrayBroughty Ferry? Dundee?Scotland 
Item 58 of 1601880Great Eastern Public House and Dining Rooms  DundeeScotlandResponsible for Great Eastern Bar
Item 59 of 1601880RosebankBroughty Ferry DundeeScotland 
Item 60 of 1601880Royal Exchange, Merchants' Shelter  DundeeScotlandWon competition and secured job
Item 61 of 1601880The CottageLochee DundeeScotlandOriginal house
Item 62 of 160After 1880Stanley Mills, West LodgeStanley PerthshireScotlandRe-roofing
Item 63 of 1601881Broughty Ferry Baptist ChurchBroughty Ferry DundeeScotland 
Item 64 of 1601881HelensleeBroughty Ferry DundeeScotlandStables
Item 65 of 1601881(?)House at SeafieldBroughty Ferry DundeeScotland 
Item 66 of 1601881Magdalen Kirkton, outbuildings  DundeeScotland 
Item 67 of 1601881The Harrow  DundeeScotlandAlterations
Item 68 of 1601882Knowehead House; also stables, tennis court, laundry, garden and lodgeCrieff PerthshireScotland 
Item 69 of 1601882The BughtiesBroughty Ferry DundeeScotland 
Item 70 of 1601883DuncragganEast Newport FifeScotland 
Item 71 of 1601883Fernbrae  DundeeScotlandAddition
Item 72 of 1601883Hillside HousePerth PerthshireScotlandAdditions to hillside Villa for form Home for Incurables
Item 73 of 1601883House, Fort StreetBroughty Ferry DundeeScotlandAddition
Item 74 of 1601883Seathwood House, lodge and gatepiers  DundeeScotland 
Item 75 of 1601883The KnoweBroughty Ferry DundeeScotland 
Item 76 of 1601884RockknoweBroughty Ferry DundeeScotland 
Item 77 of 1601885Balmuir House and stables  Dundee (near)ScotlandModel farm, outbuildings at stables and other additions to house
Item 78 of 1601885The CroftLongforgan PerthshireScotlandDate on house (though may be 1895 - see notes above)
Item 79 of 1601885West March Steading  AngusScotlandAlterations
Item 80 of 1601886Ashton Works  DundeeScotlandAddition
Item 81 of 1601886Caledonian Insurance Building  DundeeScotland 
Item 82 of 1601886CraigheadBroughty Ferry? Dundee?Scotland 
Item 83 of 1601886Elmslea  DundeeScotlandHS says 'style of James MacLaren'
Item 84 of 1601886Semi-detached villas, Maryfield  DundeeScotland 
Item 85 of 1601886Technical Institute  DundeeScotland 
Item 86 of 160c. 1886University College Dundee  DundeeScotlandLinking of villas in Nethergate and alterations
Item 87 of 1601887CastleroyBroughty Ferry DundeeScotlandLodge
Item 88 of 1601887CraigardBroughty Ferry DundeeScotland 
Item 89 of 1601887Dryburgh House (Camperdown Estate)Lochee DundeeScotland 
Item 90 of 1601887St Mary's Episcopal ChurchBroughty Ferry DundeeScotlandTranseptal organ chamber
Item 91 of 1601887Villa, Balgay Terrace  DundeeScotland 
Item 92 of 1601887Villas, West Park Road  DundeeScotland 
Item 93 of 1601888University College Dundee, Chemical Laboratories  DundeeScotlandMade the front a U shape by addition of SW jamb
Item 94 of 1601889J Pullar & Sons DyeworksPerth PerthshireScotlandExtension - boiler house, dress-making and fur department
Item 95 of 1601889Villa (Glengate)Kirriemuir AngusScotland 
Item 96 of 1601890Drill HallArbroath AngusScotland 
Item 97 of 1601890Jordanstone HouseMeigle PerthshireScotlandNew wing at east end and alterations
Item 98 of 1601890Shops, dwellinghouse and workshops  DundeeScotland 
Item 99 of 1601890St Margaret's Episcopal Church and hallLochee DundeeScotlandChancel screen
Item 100 of 1601890Villa for Edouard FriedlanderWest Ferry DundeeScotland 
Item 101 of 160c. 1890Pine-Mount and summer house  DundeeScotlandSummer house - possibly
Item 102 of 1601891Glamis House  DundeeScotland 
Item 103 of 1601891HazelwoodWest Ferry DundeeScotlandRebuilding
Item 104 of 1601891The CairnLongforgan PerthshireScotland 
Item 105 of 1601892AshleaMonifieth AngusScotlandGifford states that Robertson was the architect and 1892 the date.
Item 106 of 1601892Barnhill Cemetery, Gilroy MausoleumBarnhill DundeeScotland 
Item 107 of 1601892Hope ParkBlairgowrie PerthshireScotlandAlterations
Item 108 of 1601892St ClareTayport FifeScotlandWith James Findlay drawing plans
Item 109 of 1601892Stables, Hope ParkBroughty Ferry DundeeScotland 
Item 110 of 1601892University College Dundee  DundeeScotlandUnspecified plans
Item 111 of 1601893Arima, Brook StreetBroughty Ferry DundeeScotland 
Item 112 of 1601893CastellarCrieff PerthshireScotland 
Item 113 of 1601893Dudhope Works  DundeeScotland 
Item 114 of 1601893Ethiebeaton  AngusScotlandAdditions
Item 115 of 1601893Princess Victoria May HotelStanley PerthshireScotlandAlterations and additions
Item 116 of 1601893TighnamuirinMonifieth AngusScotland 
Item 117 of 1601893Villa for Professor KnightSt Andrews FifeScotland 
Item 118 of 1601894Cox's Branch Library and BathsLochee DundeeScotland 
Item 119 of 1601894DurnPerth PerthshireScotlandGate lodge
Item 120 of 1601894House for Thomas Macauly  DundeeScotland 
Item 121 of 1601894House in Bellfield Avenue  DundeeScotland 
Item 122 of 1601894House in grounds of BallinardBroughty Ferry DundeeScotland 
Item 123 of 1601894Pitlochry InstitutePitlochry PerthshireScotland 
Item 124 of 1601895BalgilloBroughty Ferry DundeeScotlandAlterations
Item 125 of 1601895Cairnie LodgeCupar FifeScotlandAdditions and alterations
Item 126 of 1601895DurnPerth PerthshireScotlandAdditions to house
Item 127 of 1601895The BughtiesBroughty Ferry DundeeScotlandAddition of billiard room
Item 128 of 1601895WestlandsWest Ferry DundeeScotlandAdditions
Item 129 of 160c. 1895Tenement, Magdalen Yard Road  DundeeScotland 
Item 130 of 1601896Cardean House  PerthshireScotlandLarge addition matching existing
Item 131 of 1601896Double villaPerth PerthshireScotland 
Item 132 of 1601896Drumore  PerthshireScotlandAdditions and alterations
Item 133 of 1601896Sharp's Educational InstitutionPerth PerthshireScotlandAlterations
Item 134 of 1601897Barnhill SanatoriumPerth PerthshireScotland 
Item 135 of 1601897Dundee Royal Infirmary, Caird Maternity Block  DundeeScotland 
Item 136 of 1601897RockknoweBroughty Ferry DundeeScotlandBurnt and rebuilt in modified form
Item 137 of 1601897St Fillan's UF ChurchNewport-on-Tay FifeScotlandProposed additions to church and to manse
Item 138 of 1601897Warehouse and offices for William Low & Co  DundeeScotland 
Item 139 of 1601898Balgay House  DundeeScotlandAccording to Gifford responsible for conversion of Balgay house to hospital
Item 140 of 1601898Double villa, Perth Road  DundeeScotland 
Item 141 of 1601898Glenstal Castle  County LimerickEire 
Item 142 of 1601898Hillside HousePerth PerthshireScotland 
Item 143 of 1601898The CroftWest Ferry DundeeScotland 
Item 144 of 1601899Comerton Children's Home  FifeScotland 
Item 145 of 1601899Heathfield WorksHawkhill DundeeScotland 
Item 146 of 1601899LindertisKirriemuir AngusScotland 
Item 147 of 1601899RavenscraigWest Ferry DundeeScotlandLodge
Item 148 of 1601899St Oswald'sCrieff PerthshireScotlandHS attribution on stylistic grounds
Item 149 of 1601899WestlandsWest Ferry DundeeScotlandAlterations
Item 150 of 160Late 1800sFalcon LodgeBroughty Ferry DundeeScotlandHS attribution
Item 151 of 160Late 1800sWester Balruddery  AngusScotlandAttribution on grounds of style
Item 152 of 1601900Dryburgh House (Camperdown Estate)Lochee DundeeScotlandReconstruction - completed by James Findlay after his death
Item 153 of 1601900Liberal Club  DundeeScotlandAlterations
Item 154 of 1601900Stanley Established Church ManseStanley PerthshireScotland 
Item 155 of 1601900The CroftLongforgan PerthshireScotlandAlterations and additions
Item 156 of 1601900Villa for David RattrayKirriemuir AngusScotland 
Item 157 of 160c. 1900Villa for Hugh Scott EsqNewport FifeScotland 
Item 158 of 1601901House at DunblaneDunblane PerthshireScotland 
Item 159 of 1601901University College Dundee, medical schools  DundeeScotlandDesigned building; James Findlay completed it after his death
Item 160 of 160Before 1901House just west of Balmore gatesNewport FifeScotland 


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this :
Item 1 of 5British Architectural Library, RIBA2001Directory of British Architects 1834-1914   
Item 2 of 5Dundee Yearbook1901    
Item 3 of 5Post Office Directories     
Item 4 of 5RCAHMS1992Dundee on Record RCAHMSIndia Buildings; design by J M Robertson for original block (1874) p48
Item 5 of 5Scotlands People Website Wills & Testaments  Dundee Sheriff Court SC45/34/2 and SC45/31/53

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this :
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 2Builder9 February 1901  p142 Obituary
Item 2 of 2RIBA Journal9 February 1901v8London: Royal Institute of British Architectsp108Obituary p 158 (only announcement of death)

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this :
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 4British Architectural Library, RIBARIBA Biographical Files  
Item 2 of 4National Monuments Record of Scotland/NMRS, RCAHMSNMRS Architects Index  
Item 3 of 4Professor David M Walker personal archiveProfessor David M Walker, notes and collection of archive material Personal information from his one-time assistant David Baxter and from Frank Thomson and H Pearce Robbie.
Item 4 of 4RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert MuseumRIBA Nomination Papers F v8 p87 (microfiche 102/B1)