Basic Biographical Details

Name: William Davidson
Born: 7 September 1875
Died: 27 May 1934
Bio Notes: William Davidson was born 7 September 1875 in Edinburgh and was initially trained as a surveyor. He was then articled to Thomas Purves Marwick and remained as assistant, moving to Hippolyte Jean Blanc's for one-and-a-half years, then to James Anderson Williamson's for two years, and thereafter spending unspecified periods with James Archibald Morris in Ayr, and J N Scott & A Lorne Campbell and Archibald Macpherson in Edinburgh. He was educated at Heriot-Watt College, the School of Applied Art of the Royal Institution, Edinburgh,studying under Campbell Mitchell and Robert Burns and at Edinburgh School of Art.

From 1901 onwards he made numerous architectural tours of English abbeys, cathedrals and churches, particularly those of Norfolk and Suffolk, of which he would form a specialist knowledge which was later put to good use in a number of ecclesiastical restoration projects in the area. He made an exhaustive study of East Anglican rood screen paintings at this time. His first trip abroad was to northern Italy in 1903, and the following year he won the 100 RIBA Owen Jones travelling studentship which allowed him to spend six months touring Belgium (Brussels and Antwerp) and Italy (Pompeii, Naples, Rome, Ravenna, Venice, Verona, Milan, Florence, Genoa etc.).

He commenced independent practice in 1907, becoming the head of Edinburgh College of Art Evening Architectural School from 1908. In that year he submitted a design for the Scottish National Exhibition jointly with Bailey Scott Murphy. The following year, in collaboration with Ebenezer James MacRae who had been a fellow draughtsman in Macpherson's office, he exhibited designs for the furnishing and restoration of two Norfolk churches at the Royal Scottish Academy. Further collaborative designs were exhibited in 1911 and 1919, but the association between Davidson and MacRae appears to have been a loose one, as there is no evidence of a formal partnership having existed and MacRae was employed in the City Architect's Office throughout the period concerned.

Davidson was admitted LRIBA on 6 June 1910, his proposers being Marwick, Blanc and Robert Stodart Lorimer; and was elected FRIBA on 14 June 1926, proposed by John Begg, Marwick and James Alexander Arnott. After World War I he was in J S Richardon's office at 4 Melville Street but had a spearate practice from 1921-28. In the latter year he formed an association with Matthew Montgomerie Ochterlony, who subsequently formed a partnership with Harold Ogle Tarbolton.

Most of Davidson's work seems to have consisted of church furnishings and memorials and much of it was in England. His FRIBA nomination papers also state that he carried out 'domestic work in Edinburgh & district' and 'School work etc. in Argyllshire', although no further details of such projects are currently known.

Davidson also exhibited as a painter at the RA and RSA, wrote articles for London architectural journals on ecclesiastical architecture and decoration, and assisted Francis Bond, Lewis F Day and 'Mr Ward' (possibly William Henry Ward) with the preparation of books on architecture, decoration and applied art. He lectured to learned societies in London, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Norwich and elsewhere on architecture and decorative art.

He died at the Western General Hospital on 27 May 1934 after a long illness.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this :
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 8131, Gilmore Place, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate/business(?)1904 *  
Item 2 of 879, Marchmont Road, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate1910 *  
Item 3 of 854, Queen Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusinessc. 1910c. 1912 
Item 4 of 821, Viewforth Gardens, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate1913c. 1914 
Item 5 of 8Tower House, Liberton, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate/business1919 From 1919 iand in the 1920s
Item 6 of 84, Melville Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusinessBefore 1920 *After 1926In J S Richardson's office, but separate practice 1921-27
Item 7 of 8East House, Liberton, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate1926 *  
Item 8 of 82, Coates Crescent, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusinessc. 1928After 1932 

* 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 8Thomas Purves Marwick1895c. 1899Apprentice 
Item 2 of 8Thomas Purves Marwickc. 18991903Draughtsman 
Item 3 of 8Hippolyte Jean Blanc1903c. 1904Assistant 
Item 4 of 8James Anderson Williamson19041906Draughtsman 
Item 5 of 8James Archibald Morrisc. 1905c. 1905Draughtsman 
Item 6 of 8J N Scott & A Lorne Campbell (or Scott & Campbell)c. 1906c. 1907Draughtsman 
Item 7 of 8Archibald Macphersonc. 19071907Draughtsman 
Item 8 of 8James Smith Richardsonc. 1918 Assistant(?) 


RIBA Proposers

The following individuals proposed this for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 6James Alexander Arnott14 June 1926for Fellowship
Item 2 of 6John Begg14 June 1926for Fellowship
Item 3 of 6Hippolyte Jean Blanc6 June 1910for Licentiateship
Item 4 of 6(Sir) Robert Stodart Lorimer6 June 1910for Licentiateship
Item 5 of 6Thomas Purves Marwick6 June 1910for Licentiateship
Item 6 of 6Thomas Purves Marwick14 June 1926for Fellowship

RIBA Proposals

This proposed the following individuals for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 4Thomas ('Tom') BertramEarly 1933for Associateship
Item 2 of 4Morton John Heddell CowieLate 1930 or early 1931for Associateship
Item 3 of 4James Watson Ritchie29 November 1926for Associateship
Item 4 of 4George Patrick Houston WatsonEarly 1931for Licentiateship

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 33 Corstorphine Parish ChurchCorstorphine EdinburghScotlandWar memorial - date unknown
Item 2 of 33 South Walsham Parish ChurchSouth Walsham NorfolkEnglandDate unknown
Item 3 of 33 Various domestic buildings  EdinburghScotlandUnspecified domestic works mentioned in FRIBA nomination papers but without further details; date unknown
Item 4 of 33 Various school buildings  ArgyllScotlandUnspecified school buildings mentioned in FRIBA nomination papers but without further details
Item 5 of 331907Scottish National Exhibition, 1908Saughton EdinburghScotlandCompetition design - unsuccessful
Item 6 of 331908St Michael'sRanworth NorfolkEnglandRestoration
Item 7 of 331909Church of St Agnes, rood screenCawston NorfolkEnglandDesign exhibited - in collaboration with Ebenezer James MacRae
Item 8 of 331909Church of St HelenRanworth NorfolkEnglandDesigns for restoration - in collaboration with Ebenezer James MacRae
Item 9 of 331910St Margaret's ChurchUpton NorfolkEnglandRestoration and proposed rebuilding of tower
Item 10 of 331912St Nicholas Parish ChurchPotter Heigham NorfolkEnglandProposed restoration
Item 11 of 331919Balmaghie War MemorialBalmaghie KirkcudbrightshireScotland 
Item 12 of 331919Hitchcock Memorial  CalabarNigeria 
Item 13 of 331919Memorial to Lt V C Bruce, Longside Parish ChurchLongside AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 14 of 331919Proposed House at Kenmore for Lt Col A F EgertonKenmore PerthshireScotland 
Item 15 of 331920Balgonie War MemorialBalgonie FifeScotland 
Item 16 of 331920Hightae War MemorialHightae DumfriesshireScotland 
Item 17 of 331920War Memorial, Corstorphine UF ChurchCorstorphine EdinburghScotland 
Item 18 of 331921Memorial, Nelson's Works  EdinburghScotland 
Item 19 of 331921RC Church of St John the BaptistCorstorphine EdinburghScotland 
Item 20 of 331923Two Memorial Crosses for Lady Nina Balfour, One at Newton DonKelso RoxburghshireScotland 
Item 21 of 331924Design for unspecified small city church     
Item 22 of 331925Cockburnspath Parish ChurchCockburnspath BerwickshireScotlandRestoration and decoration
Item 23 of 331926St Margaret's ChurchUpton NorfolkEnglandRebuilding of tower
Item 24 of 331928Kirkside HouseSt Cyrus KincardineshireScotlandAlterations and additions to front and staircase - in association with Matthew Montgomerie Ochterlony
Item 25 of 331928Ladybank Free ChurchLadybank FifeScotlandRedecoration (executed by J Randall & Sons, Cupar)
Item 26 of 331929The Lodge  EdinburghScotlandConversion of stables to house - in association with Ochterlony
Item 27 of 331929Warkworth CastleWarkworth NorthumberlandEnglandProposed restoration of chapel as memorial to Percy Family
Item 28 of 331929WoodendHenham EssexEngland 
Item 29 of 331930Dunfermline Abbey, lecternDunfermline FifeScotlandIn association with Matthew Montgomerie Ochterlony; execution supervised by Davidson
Item 30 of 331930St BarbaraShilbottle NorthumberlandEnglandProposed new church
Item 31 of 331931Kirkside HouseSt Cyrus KincardineshireScotlandUpper walled garden
Item 32 of 331932Mary Slessar Memorial  DundeeScotlandDesign only
Item 33 of 33c. 1933House for Miss CampbellBowden RoxburghshireScotlandDesigned most of house


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this :
Item 1 of 3Post Office Directories     
Item 2 of 3Who's Who in Architecture1914    
Item 3 of 3Who's Who in Architecture1926    

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this :
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 2British Architect22 January 1904  pp60-61
Item 2 of 2Builder1934146 p970

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this :
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 3British Architectural Library, RIBARIBA Biographical Files  
Item 2 of 3Courtesy of Neil DarlingtonInformation sent via DSA website Sent August 2009
Item 3 of 3RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert MuseumRIBA Nomination Papers L v1 no21, F no2395