Basic Biographical Details

Name: James Gillespie Graham
Born: 11 June 1776
Died: 21 March 1855
Bio Notes: James Gillespie Graham was born in Dunblane on 11 June 1776, the son of Malcolm Gillespie, solicitor. He reputedly trained as a mason or joiner but may have had some experience in an architect’s office. Nothing is known of his career until after 1800 when he was employed as superintendent of the 2nd Lord Macdonald’s works on Skye, the role being more clerk of works than estate architect. The work consisted of simple functional buildings such as manses, schools and piers in which there was little scope for original architectural design.

By 1810 he had secured various commissions on mainland Scotland including a country house and county buildings.

In 1815 he married Margaret Graham, daughter of the wealthy William Graham of Orchill in Perthshire. They inherited the estate on the death of his father-in-law in 1825 and he took the name of Gillespie Graham. The couple had two daughters but Margaret Graham died in 1826. Gillespie Graham married again, this time to Elizabeth Campbell, daughter Major John Campbell of the 76th Regiment of Foot.

Gillespie Graham specialised in Gothic churches and castle-style country houses which are symmetrical but with a picturesque outline and a large round tower to one side. Near the end of his career his houses became more Baronial. Colvin states that the detailing on the exteriors of his houses can be coarse but the Gothic interiors are much finer with credible medieval character. Notable examples are Duns Castle and Taymouth. His churches are often good - for example Muthill which was highly regarded in 1837. The steeple at Montrose and the spire at Tolbooth St John’s in Edinburgh are particularly fine.

Gillespie Graham formed an association with the younger Pugin. It is said that he befriended him when Pugin was ship-wrecked off the coast at Leith. Pugin seems to have valued the friendship and was painted with a pair of compasses given to him by Gillespie Graham. Pugin in turn assisted him in providing drawings based on authentic Gothic sources. A number of Gillespie Graham’s buildings benefitted from Pugin’s knowledge: the chapels at St Margaret’s Convent in Edinburgh and at Heriot's Hospital, the Banner Hall at Taymouth and Tolbooth St John’s. Drawings for the latter are preserved in the Edinburgh Dean of Guild drawings collection. Pugin supplied Gillespie Graham with drawings and carvings for Murthly and undertook the drawings for Gillespie Graham’s entry into the Houses of Parliament competition.

Gillespie Graham made occasional designs in the classical style, notably at Gray’s Hospital, Elgin and in the Moray estate in Edinburgh where his bold departure from the grid pattern of the New Town makes excellent use of the contours of the ground and is an outstanding piece of urban planning.

As a person Gillespie Graham was ambitious, self-seeking and perhaps unscrupulous. In 1818 he gave himself the title ‘Architect in Scotland of the Prince Regent’ which changed during the royal visit to Scotland in 1822 to ‘Architect to His Majesty for Scotland’. Robert Reid who officially had a similar title from 1808 was annoyed by this. In 1810 Graham also competed for the post of Mastership of the Works of Scotland when James Brodie, who was the holder of the post, died, but Reid managed to get his current post merged with the Mastership of Works post. Graham was elected FSA Scot in 1817 and became a burgess of Edinburgh in 1838. In 1841 he was the director of the Scottish branch of the Church of England Life Fire Assurance Institute and as he himself was a mason, in 1845 he was elected a Director of the Scottish Freemasons Life Association. In 1844 he attended a meeting about the Scottish Central Railway and was a provisional committee member of the railway. In 1848 he was a commissioner of the Peace

In 1834 he had come into conflict with George Meikle Kemp over proposed restorations at Glasgow Cathedral. George Meilke Kemp drew up an unsolicited scheme for restorations in 1834. A local committee took up the ideas. There is some difference of opinion in sources as to what then happened. Colvin states that Kemp's scheme formed the basis for a scheme drawn up by James Gillespie Graham 'who unscrupulously took the sole credit, allowing the committee to publish them without acknowledgement to Kemp’. He then states that Kemp vindicated himself with an open letter to the committee. However Charles McKean in the online DNB gives a different version. He states that the scheme was drawn up by Kemp for Archibald MacLellan, the drawings being forwarded to the Treasury without credit to Kemp and published as ‘Plans and Elevations of the Proposed Restorations and Additions to the Cathedral of Glasgow, with an explanatory Address by the Local Committee’ (1836). Kemp presented a set of drawings to James Skene of Rubislaw each annotated with Kemp’s pseudonym to underline his authorship. MacLellan, perhaps concerned about Kemp’s lack of practical experience, meantime commissioned James Gillespie Graham for new proposals. Kemp, who was mortified, exhibited drawings of his scheme and a model with costs obtained from John Cousin in Edinburgh in 1838. However the whole scheme foundered and it was not until 1843 that the Cathedral was restored under the direction of Edward Blore.

Gillespie Graham died in Edinburgh on 21 March 1855 after a long illness. A well-known portrait by Watson Gordon which shows him in Highland dress is located at Ardblair Castle. He was a keen collector and after his death the sale of his property included silver and snuff boxes and Highland dress. In 1857 his house at 34 Albany Street was sold by public roup and his library of books was sold by auction.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this :
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 5Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness   
Item 2 of 5Orchill, Perthshire, ScotlandPrivate/business   
Item 3 of 51, Ainslie Place, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate  Date not certain but occupied by Mrs Gillespie Graham
Item 4 of 554, Albany Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivateBefore 1835  
Item 5 of 560, Great King Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivatec. 1840  

Employment and Training

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 1Robert Arthur LawsonAfter 1848Before 1854Apprentice 

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 159 Glenfinnan MonumentLoch Shiel Inverness-shireScotland 
Item 2 of 159 Johnstone CastleJohnstone RenfrewshireScotland 
Item 3 of 159 Nos 148-156 Kirkcaldy High StreetKirkcaldy Fife  
Item 4 of 1591800Snizort Parish ChurchKensaleyreSkyeInverness-shireScotlandOriginal church
Item 5 of 1591802Achnacarry House  Inverness-shireScotlandWork begun but not completed until much later under the direction of William Burn.
Item 6 of 1591802Old Parish ManseKensaleyre, SnizortSkyeInverness-shireScotland 
Item 7 of 1591802Teangue Knock Farmhouse and steadingEilean SionnachSkyeInverness-shireScotlandAlterations
Item 8 of 1591803Lanrick Castle  Perthshire/StirlingshireScotlandAlterations in the Gothic style
Item 9 of 1591804Killermont HouseNew Kilpatrick/Bearsden Dunbartonshire/GlasgowScotlandSouth front
Item 10 of 1591807New Kilpatrick Parish ChurchBearsden DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 11 of 1591807Warriston Crescent  Edinburgh  
Item 12 of 15918088-13 Abercromby Place  EdinburghScotlandonwards
Item 13 of 1591808Kilmuir Parish ChurchKilmuirSkyeInverness-shireScotland 
Item 14 of 1591809Terrace of houses, Howard Place  EdinburghSingapore 
Item 15 of 1591809Warriston Crescent  Edinburgh Nos 51-53 Warriston Crescent
Item 16 of 159Before 1809Allanton CastleCambusnethan LanarkshireScotlandEnlargement
Item 17 of 159c. 1809Clansburgh CottageArdnamurchan Inverness-shireScotland 
Item 18 of 1591810Church of ScotlandArisaig Inverness-shireScotland 
Item 19 of 1591810Cloncaird Castle  AyrshireScotlandScheme of turning it into a 'toy fort'
Item 20 of 1591810County BuildingsCupar FifeScotlandOriginal (west) section designed
Item 21 of 1591810Drumtochty CastleDrumtochty KincardineshireScotland 
Item 22 of 1591810Falkirk Old Parish ChurchFalkirk StirlingshireScotland 
Item 23 of 1591810Premises for the Commercial Bank  EdinburghScotlandConversion to premises for the Commercial Bank
Item 24 of 159c. 1810Culdees CastleMuthill PerthshireScotland 
Item 25 of 159c. 1810Sleat ManseSleatSkyeInverness-shireScotland 
Item 26 of 1591811County Prison, Station RoadCupar FifeScotland 
Item 27 of 1591811Crawford Priory  FifeScotlandRecasting of 18th-century block
Item 28 of 1591811Duff House  BanffshireScotlandGuided 4th Earl in furnishing and re-decoratin of hhouse.
Item 29 of 1591811Monimail ChurchMonimail FifeScotlandModified design of steeple by Robert Hutchinson
Item 30 of 1591812Cameron House and estate buildings  Dunbartonshire/StirlingshireScotlandEnlargement of house and new offices
Item 31 of 1591812Candleford House  Fife  
Item 32 of 1591812Eredine House   ScotlandCompletion of unfinished house
Item 33 of 1591812Monument to the Ist Lord MelvilleDunira, Comrie PerthshireScotland 
Item 34 of 1591812Parish ManseAuchtertool FifeScotland 
Item 35 of 1591812Ross Priory  DunbartonshireScotlandRemodelling
Item 36 of 1591812St Michael's Parish ChurchLinlithgow West LothianScotlandRestoration of chancel
Item 37 of 1591813Blairquhan CastleStraiton AyrshireScotlandScheme for remodelling old castle - not executed.
Item 38 of 1591813Bowland HouseWhitehill MidlothianScotland 
Item 39 of 1591813Commercial Bank  EdinburghScotland 
Item 40 of 1591813St Mary's RC Cathedral  EdinburghScotlandOriginal building
Item 41 of 159c. 1813Cairnie HouseColinsburgh FifeScotlandbuilt 'sixteen years ago' (1829)
Item 42 of 1591814Kilkerran HouseMaybole AyrshireScotlandBowed extensions at either end of front
Item 43 of 1591814St Andrew's RC Cathedral  GlasgowScotlandOriginal chapel
Item 44 of 1591815Armadale CastleArdvasarSkyeInverness-shireScotlandOriginal house
Item 45 of 1591815Clackmannan Parish ChurchClackmannan ClackmannanshireScotland 
Item 46 of 1591815Gray's HospitalElgin MorayshireScotland 
Item 47 of 1591815Liberton Parish ChurchLiberton EdinburghScotlandRebuilding
Item 48 of 159c. 1815Edmonstone CastleBiggar (near) LanarkshireScotland 
Item 49 of 159c. 1815Glenbarr Abbey  ArgyllScotlandAlterations and enlargement
Item 50 of 159c. 1815Lanrick Castle  Perthshire/StirlingshireScotlandPorte cochere
Item 51 of 159c. 1815Torrisdale CastleCarradale ArgyllScotland 
Item 52 of 1591816Court HouseInveraray ArgyllScotland 
Item 53 of 1591816Dunoon Parish ChurchDunoon ArgyllScotland 
Item 54 of 1591816Elgin CathedralElgin MorayshireScotlandNew roof on chapter house - may have been responsible
Item 55 of 1591816Keith Parish ChurchKeith BanffshireScotland 
Item 56 of 1591816Prestonfield House  EdinburghScotlandCircular stables
Item 57 of 1591816The CottageElgin MorayshireScotland 
Item 58 of 1591816The Market HouseDunss BerwickshireScotland 
Item 59 of 1591817ChurchChannelkirk BerwickshireScotland 
Item 60 of 1591817Dumfries Court HouseDumfries DumfriesshireScotlandConversion of chapel into court house. Colvin gives 1813 as date.
Item 61 of 1591817Dunblane CathedralDunblane PerthshireScotlandDesign for repairs and restoration, alterations to choir (work undone in 1890)
Item 62 of 1591817ManseRafford MorayshireScotland 
Item 63 of 1591817St Mungo's Parish ChurchAlloa ClackmannanshireScotland 
Item 64 of 1591817Warriston Crescent  Edinburgh Nos 5-33 Warriston Crescent
Item 65 of 1591818Blythswood House  RenfrewshireScotland 
Item 66 of 1591818Church of the Holy RudeStirling StirlingshireScotlandRestoration of West Church.
Item 67 of 1591818Dunbar Parish ChurchDunbar East LothianScotlandOriginal church
Item 68 of 1591818Duns CastleDuns BerwickshireScotlandGothic remodelling
Item 69 of 1591818Logie Easter Old Parish ChurchLogie Easter Ross and CromartyScotland 
Item 70 of 1591819Cambusnethan PrioryWishaw LanarkshireScotland 
Item 71 of 1591819George Street Independent Church  GlasgowScotland 
Item 72 of 1591819Nicolson Street Church  EdinburghScotlandOriginal building
Item 73 of 1591819Old Churchyard, Mar & Kellie MausoleumAlloa ClackmannanshireScotland 
Item 74 of 1591819Shotts Parish ChurchShotts LanarkshireScotlandOriginal design
Item 75 of 1591820Blythswood Square  GlasgowScotlandLayout
Item 76 of 1591820Kinloss Old ManseKinloss MorayshireScotlandOriginal building
Item 77 of 1591820Lee CastleCarnwath LanarkshireScotland 
Item 78 of 1591820Mount Melville HouseSt Andrews FifeScotlandFront block of earlier house (demolished 1900)
Item 79 of 1591820MountquhanieKilmany Fife  
Item 80 of 1591820SchoolKirkwallMainlandOrkneyScotland 
Item 81 of 1591820Stable BlockCupar Fife  
Item 82 of 159c. 1820Allanton CastleCambusnethan LanarkshireScotlandEnlargement
Item 83 of 159c. 1820Kilmaron CastleCupar FifeScotlandOriginal house
Item 84 of 1591821North LodgeHigh Road, Newport-on-Tay Fife  
Item 85 of 15918221-11 Albyn Place  EdinburghScotlandDesigned
Item 86 of 15918221-11 St Colme Street  EdinburghScotland 
Item 87 of 15918221-18A Moray Place  EdinburghScotland 
Item 88 of 15918221-8 Randolph Crescent  EdinburghScotland 
Item 89 of 159182219-36A Moray Place  EdinburghScotland 
Item 90 of 1591822Caroline Cottage  EdinburghScotlandAddition of wings
Item 91 of 1591822Kersfield  BerwickshireScotland 
Item 92 of 1591822Kilmadock Parish ChurchDoune PerthshireScotland 
Item 93 of 1591822Milne Graden HouseLadykirk BerwickshireScotland 
Item 94 of 1591822Randolph Crescent (north side) and Randolph Cliff  EdinburghScotlandDesigned north wing
Item 95 of 159c. 1822Springwood ParkKelso RoxburghshireScotlandAlterations including mausoleum and entrance gate by Kelso Bridge
Item 96 of 159c. 1822The Earl of Moray's Estate  EdinburghSouth Africa 
Item 97 of 1591823DormontDalton (near) DumfriesshireScotland 
Item 98 of 1591823Dunninald CastleCraig AngusScotland 
Item 99 of 1591823Institute for the Deaf  EdinburghScotland 
Item 100 of 1591823Terrace of houses, Alva Street  EdinburghScotland 
Item 101 of 1591824Dumbarton County Buildings, court and prisonDumbarton DunbartonshireScotlandDesign of original buildings which had public building and prison separated - design by Gillespie Graham amended by Robert Scott
Item 102 of 1591824Hamilton SquareBirkenhead CheshireEnglandBegun as part of a development on the lines of that at the Moray Estate.
Item 103 of 1591824Old PrisonDumbarton DunbartonshireScotlandWith Gillespie Graham
Item 104 of 1591824Tolbooth or GaolLeith Edinburgh Scotland 
Item 105 of 1591824Westertown HouseElgin (near) MorayshireScotlandStylistic attribution
Item 106 of 1591825Blacket place, layout  EdinburghScotlandLayout
Item 107 of 1591825Broughton Markets  EdinburghScotland 
Item 108 of 1591825Commercial Bank BuildingStirling StirlingshireScotlandCommercial Bank
Item 109 of 1591825Wishaw HouseWishaw LanarkshireScotlandEnlarged and remodelled
Item 110 of 159c. 1825Melville Street and Walker Street  EdinburghScotlandGeneral layout
Item 111 of 159c. 1825Rafford Parish ChurchRafford MorayshireScotland 
Item 112 of 1591826Dunino Parish ChurchDunino FifeScotlandOriginal church
Item 113 of 1591826Inverkeithing Parish ChurchInverkeithing FifeScotlandNave and aisled added to 14th-century tower
Item 114 of 1591826Morham ManseHaddington East LothianScotland 
Item 115 of 1591826Muthill ChurchMuthill PerthshireScotland 
Item 116 of 1591826St Mary's RC ChurchFochabers MorayshireScotland 
Item 117 of 1591827Commercial Bank of Scotland, InvernessInverness Inverness-shireScotland 
Item 118 of 1591827Quality StreetDavidsons Mains EdinburghScotland 
Item 119 of 1591828Dalgety ManseDalgety FifeScotland 
Item 120 of 1591828Douglas ManseDouglas LanarkshireScotland 
Item 121 of 1591828St John's ChurchPerth PerthshireScotlandRepairs and alterations begun at this date but not fully completed.
Item 122 of 1591829Murthly HouseDunkeld (near) PerthshireScotlandLeft unfinished.
Item 123 of 159183018-20 Queensferry Street  EdinburghScotland 
Item 124 of 1591830ArdhmorDalgety Bay Fife  
Item 125 of 1591830Dalgety KirkDalgety Bay Fife  
Item 126 of 1591830Parish ChurchDalgety FifeScotland 
Item 127 of 1591830Town HouseHaddington East LothianScotlandAddition of spire
Item 128 of 159c. 1830Ardmaddy CastleOban ArgyllScotlandAddition of porch
Item 129 of 159c. 1830Bonnington House  LanarkshireScotlandAddition of porch
Item 130 of 1591831Errol Parish ChurchErrol PerthshireScotland 
Item 131 of 1591832Montrose Old ChurchMontrose AngusScotlandNew steeple - perhaps assisted by A W N Pugin
Item 132 of 1591833Ashburnham Place  SussexEnglandTwo schemes drawn up - one for minor alterations and the other for complete remodelling in the Tudor style.
Item 133 of 1591834St Margaret's Convent of the Ursulines of Jesus  EdinburghScotlandSt Margaret's Convent Chapel
Item 134 of 1591834St Patrick's RC Chapel  EdinburghScotland'in the manner of' James Gillespie Graham
Item 135 of 159c. 1834Eagle InnErrol PerthshireScotlandIn 1844 built 'within the last ten years'.
Item 136 of 1591835Holyrood Abbey  EdinburghScotlandRestoration proposed
Item 137 of 159c. 1835BolfracksAberfeldy (near) PerthshireScotland 
Item 138 of 1591836Commercial Bank of Scotland  AberdeenScotland 
Item 139 of 1591836Designs for shield, sword handles and dirk    Drew up designs for all this 'plate'
Item 140 of 1591836Greenside Parish Church  EdinburghScotland 
Item 141 of 1591836Houses of ParliamentWestminster LondonEnglandCaledonian Mercury praised JGG for his drawings.
Item 142 of 1591836Milliken House  RenfrewshireScotlandPerhaps by Gillespie Graham.
Item 143 of 1591836St Michael's Chapel of EaseCupar FifeScotlandPlans prepared. Work to start Spring 1837.
Item 144 of 1591837Ardmaddy CastleOban ArgyllScotlandDesigns for Jacobean additions and alterations - not executed until after his death
Item 145 of 1591837Decorations at Celtic Fancy Ball, Assembly Rooms  EdinburghScotland 
Item 146 of 1591837George Heriot's Hospital  EdinburghScotlandInterior of chapel refitted. Provided drawings gratuitously.
Item 147 of 1591837Glasgow Cathedral  GlasgowScotlandScheme for restorations - not executed
Item 148 of 1591838Taymouth CastleTaymouth PerthshireScotlandRemodelling of west wing
Item 149 of 1591839Glendovan Church, Monument to Rev. J BrownGlendovan PerthshireScotland 
Item 150 of 1591839Kinglassie Parish ChurchKinglassie FifeScotlandAlterations
Item 151 of 1591839Tolbooth St John's Church  EdinburghScotland'acting Grand Architect' (Northampton Mercury)
Item 152 of 1591844Brodick CastleBrodickArranButeScotlandMajor additions
Item 153 of 1591845Episcopal ChapelGask PerthshireScotland 
Item 154 of 1591845Tullibardine Collegiate ChurchBlackford PerthshireScotlandDrew and painted church - perhaps made alterations?
Item 155 of 1591846Ayton CastleAyton BerwickshireScotlandOriginal house
Item 156 of 1591846RC Chapel of St Anthony The EremiteMurthly PerthshireScotlandRebuilding
Item 157 of 1591850s(?)34 or 54 Albany Street  EdinburghScotlandFitted up by Gillespie Graham in an 'expensive and ornate manner' - the public rooms being in the Gothic style.
Item 158 of 159c. 1850(?)Wester Bogie HouseAbbotshall FifeScotland 
Item 159 of 1591851Kinghorn Parish ChurchKinghorn FifeScotlandPlans for repairs (Colvin indicates that these were executed) and for new church.


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this :
Item 1 of 7APSD The Dictionary of Architectureed Wyatt PapworthThe Architectural Publication Society (8v 1852-1892) 
Item 2 of 7Brown, James1867Epitaphs and Monumental inscriptions in Greyfriars Churchyard, Edinburgh  pp226-7
Item 3 of 7Ferrey, B1861Recollections of A N Welby Pugin  p241
Item 4 of 7Macaulay, James1975The Gothic Revival  Chapter xiii
Item 5 of 7New DNB New Dictionary of National Biography   
Item 6 of 7Pride, Glen L1999The Kingdom of Fife2nd EditionThe Rutland Pressp34, p38, p50, p54, p92, p111, p112, p138, p181, p184
Item 7 of 7Scottish Record Society1933Roll of Edinburgh Burgesses  p68

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this :
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 16Architectural Heritage1997viii  
Item 2 of 16Architectural History198427  
Item 3 of 16Builder10 June 1882  Article on Edinburgh architects
Item 4 of 16Caledonian Mercury27 November 1848   
Item 5 of 16Dundee Courier28 March 1855  Death notice
Item 6 of 16Dundee Perth and Cupar Advertiser8 September 1854   
Item 7 of 16Durham County Advertiser1 October 1841  Also 15/10/1841
Item 8 of 16Edinburgh Evening Courant8 January 1857  Sale of 34 Albany Street
Item 9 of 16Edinburgh Evening Courant14 February 1857  Sale of library
Item 10 of 16Edinburgh Evening Courant17 February 1857  Sale of his collections
Item 11 of 16Edinburgh Evening Courant6 January 1868  Sale of 1 Ainslie Place
Item 12 of 16Perthshire Advertiser14 March 1844  And 4/4/44
Item 13 of 16Perthshire Advertiser27 February 1845   
Item 14 of 16Perthshire Advertiser24 April 1845   
Item 15 of 16Scots Magazine1815lxxvii p556
Item 16 of 16Scottish Georgian Society Bulletinbetween 1974 and 7500siii Article by James Macaulay 'James Gillespie Graham in Skye'.

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this :
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 3Edinburgh City ArchivesEdinburgh Dean of Guild Extracted processes 4 February 1841
Item 2 of 3National Archives of Scotland (formerly SRO)Gifts and depositsGD 51/6/1963 and 2012 
Item 3 of 3National Library of ScotlandManuscript CollectionMS 351, ff 102-3, 1056, f 141