Basic Biographical Details

Name: David Hamilton
Born: 11 May 1768
Died: 5 November 1843
Bio Notes: David Hamilton was born in Glasgow on 11 May 1768, the son of William Hamilton, mason, and his wife ____. He appears to have trained as a mason, probably with his father, and was admitted to the Incorporation of Masons in Glasgow in 1800. However the year before, 1799, he is listed in Post Office directories as an architect, his address being the east side of Queen Street. There is evidence that he was turning his hand to designing buildings in the early 1790s but his significant extant work dates from about 1800 when he was in his thirties. In 1803 he was practising as an architect while also running a marble cutting business from a yard at the head of Buchanan Street which operated until at least 1830. This firm was called David Hamilton & Son as early as 1803. We know that his son John was in charge of the business in the 1830s but it is not clear if he is the ‘son’ in the practice name as early as 1803. If this is the case then John must have been considerably older than Hamilton’s other sons who were born in the 1790s and early 1800s.

Hamilton’s later work is well-recorded: a number of well-known Victorian architects worked in his office and left their recollections. He must have had some interaction with the Adam family as he made copies of many Adam drawings to which he, otherwise, would not have had access. As a mason he may have executed designs by the Adams.

His first major work was the planning of two streets, Union Street and King Street and various bridges in Aberdeen which he had won in competition. Work began on the Union Bridge over the Denburn Valley in 1801 but his levels were inaccurate and his design was superseded by that of Thomas Fletcher the resident superintending engineer with advice from Thomas Telford. He also gained recognition in the competition for the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, being placed third, the only Scottish prizewinner. His scheme lacked a significant tower or dominant feature to mark it as a public building. A critic in the Gentlemen’s Magazine noted that it was reminiscent of a ‘splendid patrician mansion rather than of an edifice intended for any grand national purpose’. Other competitions he entered were the Wellington monument in Dublin (an obelisk rising from a cluster of Doric columns) and in 1838 he won third prize in the competition for designing Donaldson’s Hospital in Edinburgh.

Hamilton’s earliest designs show the influence of James Wyatt as well as of the Adams. However he also owes something to the early work of Soane, especially in the ornaments on the rooflines of his buildings. The Queen Street Theatre known from elevations in Denholm’s ‘History of Glasgow (1804) and Hutcheson’s Hospital are examples of his early style. During his middle period he worked competently in the Greek Revival style – such as at Falkirk Town Steeple (Greek Doric order) and at Glasgow Royal Exchange (Corinthian order). It is hard to find parallels to his designs of the middle period, particularly in proportion and composition.

His last years were experimental. He was equally adept at designing in the Scots Jacobean style (for example at Dunlop) where the practice exhibited a good grasp of Scots 17th century work; the Norman Revival style (at Lennox Castle which could be compared to Hopper’s castles in England and Wales). His one essay in the Adam Castle style, Kincaid, which is symmetrical, is equally successful. His design for Castle Toward was asymmetrical and reminiscent of the work of Wyatville. His planning was also good – being both resourceful and ingenious. The Normal School is notable at the time of its building for its composition and Renaissance detail. The former Western Bank in Miller Street is unprecedented in detail which is almost Egyptian in inspiration and containing a germ of the future style of Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson. His last work, the Glasgow and Ship Bank returns to classical purity and may have been American in inspiration.

Hamilton married in 1794. He had at least four sons. Two of them died within a matter of days of each other in 1821. David, in his nineteenth year, died on 9 October and William, the eldest son, in his twenty-fifth year died on 11 October. William must have trained as an architect as the year before his death he had become a partner of his father, appearing in the Post Office directory for that year as ‘D & W Hamilton architects’. He was a fine watercolourist.

Of the survivors John practised as a marble and stone cutter, took over the business begun by his father and continued trading as David Hamilton & Son. He was probably latterly in sole charge. He ceased trading about 1839 and emigrated to America, dying in Philadelphia in 1853. The business was taken over by the Mossmans. James (born 1807) trained as an architect and according to some sources formed a partnership with his father in about 1834 as D & J Hamilton. However a rather later date for the partnership is suggested by Post Office Directories. In the directory for 1838-39 the entry for James is ‘James Hamilton at D Hamilton’s, architect’. The following year, 1839-40 the entry is ‘David & James Hamilton, architects’. James continued to practice after his father’s death in 1843 as David & James Hamilton until about 1845. He formed a partnership with his brother-in-law James Smith but withdrew after financial troubles.

Hamilton’s practice was largely confined to Glasgow and the west of Scotland. He was well respected in Glasgow as early as 1822 when he was a member of the Town Council. In 1834 a 'festival' in honour of Reform was led in Glasgow and a dinner was given for Lord Durham. Hamilton was one of the 'platform party' and was one of the croupiers. Near the end of his life he was entertained to a public dinner in 1840 when he was presented with a gold box which had a value of £500. He was seen as the father figure of Glasgow architects. He was known for his ‘singular amicability and modesty’ and for ‘the vivacity of his conversation’. He died after a stroke on 5 December 1843.

Additional information:
On 15 February 1805 he bought 574 square yards on the west side of Buchanan Street.
On 18 February 1820 he bought 574 square yards on the west side of Buchanan Street.
On 8 March 1820 he bought 574 square yards on the west side of Buchanan Street.
In 1836 he bought a further two plots on the west side of Buchanan Street.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this :
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 1Glasgow, ScotlandBusiness   

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 1D & J HamiltonBefore 1834December 1843Partner 

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 4John Herbertsonc. 1804c. 1805Apprentice 
Item 2 of 4William Stirling IIAfter 1807Before 1816Assistant(?) 
Item 3 of 4Charles Wilson18271833Apprentice 
Item 4 of 4Charles Wilson18331837Chief Assistant 

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 141 Elmwood, Little GovanGovan GlasgowScotland'A very superior oak bookcase with wings'
Item 2 of 141 House for Mr Cross     
Item 3 of 141 Linthouse  GlasgowScotlandAlterations - probably by Hamilton - date not certain
Item 4 of 141 Mr Braine's House    Plans drawn up
Item 5 of 141 Mr Flochan's House     
Item 6 of 1411790sMauldslie CastleCarluke LanarkshireScotlandWorking for the Adams?
Item 7 of 1411791House, Miller Street for John Alston  GlasgowScotlandPerhaps acted as clerk of works to Robert Adam
Item 8 of 1411792Castlemilk estate  GlasgowScotlandUnspecified work
Item 9 of 1411794Barnton Castle  MidlothianScotlandInvolved with Adam scheme. Reconstruction of Kings Cramond
Item 10 of 1411795Balbardie HouseBathgate West LothianScotlandProbably completed work by the Adams.
Item 11 of 141c. 1795Scheme for terrace of large houses   Scotland 
Item 12 of 141c. 1798Dumbreck House  GlasgowScotland 
Item 13 of 141c. 1798Tower House    Scheme only?
Item 14 of 1411799The Hunterian Museum  GlasgowScotlandUnexecuted design
Item 15 of 1411800Union Street and King Street and Union Bridge  AberdeenScotlandWon competition to design bridge and layout of two main streets - Union Street and King Street
Item 16 of 141c. 1800Ardenconnel HouseRhu DunbartonshireScotlandRemodelling with new front for Andrew Buchanan.
Item 17 of 14118012-storey 3-bay house   ScotlandDesigns drawn up.
Item 18 of 1411801House for Mr Ley     
Item 19 of 141After 1801Dalmarnock House  GlasgowScotlandReconstruction and wings
Item 20 of 141c. 180171 Queen Street  GlasgowScotland 
Item 21 of 141c. 1801Cessnock Castle  AyrshireScotland 
Item 22 of 141c. 1801Ferguslie HousePaisley RenfrewshireScotland 
Item 23 of 141c. 1801House for Robert McBrair  GlasgowScotland 
Item 24 of 141c. 1801Triangular House     
Item 25 of 1411802Golfhill House  GlasgowScotlandDMW attribution
Item 26 of 1411802Hutchesons' Hospital  GlasgowScotland 
Item 27 of 1411803Kelvingrove House  GlasgowScotland 
Item 28 of 1411803Theatre Royal  GlasgowScotland 
Item 29 of 1411803University of Glasgow  GlasgowScotlandProposed lecture room. Not executed
Item 30 of 141180425 Wellington SquareAyr AyrshireScotlandSuggestive of his style
Item 31 of 1411804Castlehill HouseAyr (near) AyrshireScotland 
Item 32 of 1411806Aikenhead HouseKing's Park GlasgowScotlandHamilton may have designed the original 1806 house
Item 33 of 1411806Nelson Monument  GlasgowScotland 
Item 34 of 1411806Sorn CastleMauchline AyrshireScotlandCoachhouse perhaps by Hamilton. Office court (Colvin)
Item 35 of 141c. 1806Kenmure HouseBishopbriggs LanarkshireScotland 
Item 36 of 1411807Airth HouseAirth StirlingshireScotlandMade designs for new scheme of remodelling - north west front. Different scheme executed by William Stirling. DMW gives date of 1803-5 for David Hamilton work.
Item 37 of 1411807Moore ParkGovan GlasgowScotland 
Item 38 of 141c. 1807New ChurchAyr AyrshireScotlandProvided design for church - executed by Robert McLachlan
Item 39 of 141After 1808GlenarbuckBowling DunbartonshireScotlandAdditions
Item 40 of 141c. 1808Possil House  GlasgowScotland 
Item 41 of 1411809Auchinraith HouseBlantyre LanarkshireScotland 
Item 42 of 1411809Crawford Priory  FifeScotlandAdditions. Colvin states that the building was begun by hamilton and completed by James Gillespie Graham.
Item 43 of 1411810Broadmeadows HouseSwinton Berwickshire  
Item 44 of 1411810Germiston House  Glasgow (near)ScotlandAdditions
Item 45 of 1411810Gorbals (John Knox) Church  GlasgowScotland 
Item 46 of 1411810Ralston House and lodgesPaisley RenfrewshireScotlandFirst phase of building
Item 47 of 141c. 1810Barnton Castle  MidlothianScotlandEnlargement (also gates perhaps 1813?)
Item 48 of 1411811Eglinton Castle and Tournament Bridge  AyrshireScotlandTournament Bridge of 1845 replaced bridge probably designed by Hamilton. Also drew up designs for gates.
Item 49 of 1411812Ballancleroch HouseCampsie Glen StirlingshireScotlandAlterations
Item 50 of 1411812Glasgow Cathedral  GlasgowScotlandAlterations including restoration of west window and niche for organ in choir. (organ brought from Trades Hall).
Item 51 of 1411812Layout and elevations of new houses, Calton Green  GlasgowScotland 
Item 52 of 1411812Tron Steeple  GlasgowScotlandRebuilding of Jail at Tron Steeple
Item 53 of 141c. 1812Kincaid HouseLennoxtown StirlingshireScotlandEnlargement
Item 54 of 1411813Cawder HouseBishopbriggs LanarkshireScotlandEnlargement
Item 55 of 1411813Erskine ChurchBishopton RenfrewshireScotland 
Item 56 of 1411813Erskine Parish ChurchBishopton RenfrewshireScotlandOriginal church
Item 57 of 1411813House for Mr Barton   Scotland 
Item 58 of 1411813Househill House   ScotlandNew front and other alterations
Item 59 of 1411813Ibroxhill House  GlasgowScotlandAlterations
Item 60 of 1411813Robert Dennistoun's House, Buchanan Street  GlasgowScotlandAlterations - adding wing to rear
Item 61 of 1411813Tolbooth  GlasgowScotland 
Item 62 of 1411813Town SteepleFalkirk StirlingshireScotland 
Item 63 of 141c. 1813Ballochmyle HouseMauchline AyrshireScotlandScheme for enlargement
Item 64 of 141c. 1813Castle SempleLochwinnoch RenfrewshireScotlandDesigned schemes in Gothic and classical style - not executed.
Item 65 of 141c. 1813RobertlandStewarton AyrshireScotlandIn style of David Hamilton - resembles Ladyland.
Item 66 of 1411814County Buildings and Sheriff CourtAyr AyrshireScotlandDesigns - unexecuted
Item 67 of 1411814Royal Irvine AcademyIrvine AyrshireScotlandEarlier academy on same site.
Item 68 of 1411814Town BuildingsPort Glasgow RenfrewshireScotland 
Item 69 of 1411815Bothkennar ManseBothkennar StirlingshireScotland 
Item 70 of 1411815Kilwinning Parish ChurchKilwinning AyrshireScotlandFree standing bell-tower on site of NW tower of old abbey
Item 71 of 1411815Town HallPort Glasgow RenfrewshireScotland 
Item 72 of 141c. 1815Swindridgemuir  AyrshireScotlandProbably by Hamilton
Item 73 of 1411816Airth Parish ChurchAirth StirlingshireScotlandSubmitted design - not selected
Item 74 of 1411816Hafton HouseDunoon ArgyllScotland 
Item 75 of 141c. 1816Barskimming House  AyrshireScotlandRear wings and probably Greek revival porch
Item 76 of 1411817LadylandKilbirnie AyrshireScotlandHouse
Item 77 of 1411817St John's Parish Church  GlasgowScotland 
Item 78 of 1411818Larbert Old ChurchLarbert StirlingshireScotland 
Item 79 of 1411820Castle TowardToward ArgyllScotland 
Item 80 of 1411820Castle Toward gatehouseDunoon ArgyllScotland 
Item 81 of 1411820Keir HouseDunblane PerthshireScotlandLodge and gates
Item 82 of 141c. 1820Garnkirk HouseCadder Glasgow Rebuilding retaining facade.
Item 83 of 141c. 1820Hamilton House  LondonEnglandAlterations
Item 84 of 1411821Toward CastleToward ArgyllScotlandUnspecified work
Item 85 of 1411822BarlanarkShettleston GlasgowScotland 
Item 86 of 1411822Hamilton PalaceHamilton LanarkshireScotlandRebuilding of north front, interpreting the designs by an Italian architect, Francesco Saponieri.
Item 87 of 1411822Larbert HouseLarbert StirlingshireScotlandRemodelling
Item 88 of 1411823Aikenhead HouseKing's Park GlasgowScotlandWings added
Item 89 of 1411823Castle HouseDunoon Argyll & ButeScotland 
Item 90 of 1411825Callendar HouseFalkirk StirlingshireScotlandLibrary and internal alterations
Item 91 of 1411825Lecropt Parish ChurchLecropt PerthshireScotlandAs joint architect with the Stirlings (tenders to be submitted to either architect)
Item 92 of 1411825Property, Corner of St Vincent Street and Renfield Street  GlasgowScotland
Item 93 of 1411825ScotstounRenfrew (near) RenfrewshireScotlandReconstruction
Item 94 of 141c. 1825The Ship Bank  GlasgowScotland 
Item 95 of 1411827Campsie High ChurchLennoxtown StirlingshireScotland 
Item 96 of 1411827Royal Exchange  GlasgowScotlandCunningham Mansion or Royal Exchange incorporating former Cunningham mansion.
Item 97 of 1411827St Enoch's Church  GlasgowScotlandRebuilding incorporating steeple of 1780.
Item 98 of 1411828Trades House  GlasgowScotlandExtensions
Item 99 of 1411829Cadder Parish ChurchBishopbriggs LanarkshireScotland 
Item 100 of 1411829Keir HouseDunblane PerthshireScotlandEnlargement of house by addition of drawing room and gallery
Item 101 of 1411829Priory LodgeLargs AyrshireScotland 
Item 102 of 1411830sSchool, AscogRothesayButeArgyll & ButeScotland 
Item 103 of 1411830Royal Exchange Square, North side  GlasgowScotlandWith James Smith
Item 104 of 141c. 1830Glasgow Royal Asylum  GlasgowScotlandPlans for enlargement (unexecuted?)
Item 105 of 141c. 1830WarristonLargs AyrshireScotland 
Item 106 of 1411831Bothwell Parish Church and Hamilton MonumentBothwell LanarkshireScotlandNew church to west of medieval choir
Item 107 of 1411831Dunlop House and LodgeDunlop AyrshireScotland 
Item 108 of 1411831Glasgow NecropolisDennistoun GlasgowScotlandIn conjunction with John Baird appointed to combine five competition designs into one
Item 109 of 1411831Paisley AbbeyPaisley RenfrewshireScotlandReport on heating (recommended scheme by Nott of Liverpool)
Item 110 of 1411832Ballimore, Otter FerryLoch Fyne ArgyllScotlandOriginal house
Item 111 of 1411832Keir Mains Farmhouse and Factor's house  StirlingshireScotlandFactor's house
Item 112 of 1411833Glasgow Necropolis, screen wall and Bridge of Sighs etcDennistoun GlasgowScotlandBridge of Sighs etc and general processional way with gates, gatepiers and gatehouse
Item 113 of 1411834Dunoon Parish ChurchDunoon ArgyllScotlandEnlargement
Item 114 of 141November 1834Pavilion for the banquet held in honour of Sir Robert Peel  GlasgowScotlandPlans drawn up for pavilion
Item 115 of 1411835Cleland Testimonial Building  GlasgowScotlandOriginal building
Item 116 of 1411835St Paul  GlasgowScotland 
Item 117 of 141After 1835ChurchAscogButeArgyll & ButeScotlandPrincipally designed by an assistant?
Item 118 of 141c. 1835Houses of ParliamentWestminster LondonEnglandWas placed third in the competition - the only Scottish prizewinner. Won £500.
Item 119 of 1411836Normal School  GlasgowScotland 
Item 120 of 1411837Glasgow Necropolis, Egyptian Vaults  GlasgowScotland 
Item 121 of 1411837Lennox CastleLennoxtown StirlingshireScotlandOriginal mansion house
Item 122 of 141After 1837British Linen Bank Head Office  GlasgowScotlandOriginal building. Colvin gives 1840-41.
Item 123 of 141c. 1837Brooksby HouseLargs AyrshireScotland 
Item 124 of 1411838Kilmichael Glassary Manse  ArgyllScotlandGave design advice to Crow
Item 125 of 1411838Mosesfield ParkSpringburn Park GlasgowScotland 
Item 126 of 1411838Trades House  GlasgowScotlandExtensions at rear
Item 127 of 1411839Hutcheson's Boys' School  GlasgowScotland 
Item 128 of 1411839Royal Infirmary  GlasgowScotlandWest extension
Item 129 of 1411839Western Club  GlasgowScotlandOriginal building
Item 130 of 1411840Clydesdale Bank  GlasgowScotland 
Item 131 of 1411840Western Bank, Glasgow  GlasgowScotland 
Item 132 of 141c. 1840Camis Eskan HouseCraigendoran DunbartonshireScotlandAddition
Item 133 of 141c. 1840Stonebyres HouseLesmahagow LanarkshireScotlandAdditions
Item 134 of 1411841Castlemilk House  GlasgowScotlandAdditions and alterations
Item 135 of 1411841Hamilton Palace Mausoleum and keeper's lodge  LanarkshireScotlandOriginal scheme, later superseded by Bryce's
Item 136 of 1411841Union Bank  GlasgowScotlandBuchanan Mansion incorporated
Item 137 of 1411842Free Church, AscogRothesayButeArgyll & ButeScotlandMay not have had much input as incapacitated by illness by this date.
Item 138 of 1411843Glenburn HydropathicRothesayButeButeScotlandOriginal building
Item 139 of 1411843Muirshiel HouseLochwinnoch RenfrewshireScotland 
Item 140 of 1411843St FillansLargs AyrshireScotland 
Item 141 of 1411843St George's Buildings  GlasgowScotland 


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this :
Item 1 of 2MacKechnie, Aonghus (ed.)1993David Hamilton 1768-1843: Father of the Profession   
Item 2 of 2Pride, Glen L1999The Kingdom of Fife2nd EditionThe Rutland Pressp92

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this :
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 3Builder27 October 1961  'Architectural Historians' Conference: Papers Submitted to the Edinburgh Meeting' p787 - David Walker delivered a paper entitled 'Towards a New Style' at the SAH (UK) Conference in Edinburgh on 15-17 Sept 1961 that discussed Hamilton's work
Item 2 of 3Caledonian Mercury25 October 1821  Death notices of sons.
Item 3 of 3Carlisle Journal1 November 1834