Basic Biographical Details

Name: John Kinross
Born: 3 July 1855
Died: 7 January 1931
Bio Notes: John Kinross was born at Shore Road, Stirling on 3 July 1855. He was the second son of William Kinross (1810-74), the owner of a sizeable and successful carriage-building firm, William Kinross and Sons in Stirling, and his second wife, Ann Marshall (1821-99).

Kinross attended Stirling High School between 1865 and 1870. He was articled to John Hutchison, at 190 West George Street, Glasgow. In 1875 he moved to the Edinburgh office of Wardrop & Reid where he was first recorded in drawings for the Prestonmains Farm Offices in June 1875. There he worked on a range of quality country house, ecclesiastical and British Linen Bank branch projects. Between the winter of 1880 and the spring of 1881, he undertook an architectural study tour of Italy, producing on his return the folio volume, 'Details from Italian Buildings Chiefly Renaissance', published by George Waterston & Sons in 1882.

By the middle of 1882, Kinross was established in independent practice in partnership with Henry Seymour at 20 George Street, Edinburgh. Seymour and Kinross lasted as a partnership until 1889 and the quality of the work indicates that Seymour assumed a lower profile throughout that period. Kinross was also from 1887-1889 in partnership with W S Black as 'architects and designers'. This seems to have been quite separate from the partnership with Seymour.

Kinross was an active member of the Edinburgh Architectural Association (EAA), contributing regularly to its events and formally active from 1882-1905. This involved him with the leading figures of the east coast architectural profession and led to contact with several future patrons. By 1886, Kinross was a Vice-President of the EAA, subsequently serving as President between 1890 and 1892. Ecclesiastical commissions, notably for the Episcopal Church, dominated his early practice. He was never to become involved in speculative developments and as a consequence his domestic commissions demonstrated quality and refinement. In these years a distinctive, fused, modern yet traditional style developed out of the principles of the Queen Anne revival and his personal study of the Scottish seventeenth century.

Kinross was married on 13th August 1889 at Helmsley Parish Church to Mary Louisa Margaret Hall (known as Margaret), whom he had first met at dinner in the house which was his first major domestic commission, 1 Cluny Gardens. Two of their children would survive to adulthood, Eveline Mary and John Blythe.

In 1889 he moved to the Howe Street office from which he secured the patronage which brought his career to its height. He relocated to 2 Abercromby Place with Harold Ogle Tarbolton as partner in 1898, in response to a greater workload. He was President of the Edinburgh Architectural Society from 1898-99 and battled alongside Rowand Anderson and Washington Browne to gain recognition for architecture in the RSA.

From 1889, Kinross began a series of exhaustively researched and sensitively handled restorations. The first of these was at the Carmelite Friary Church, South Queensferry. The later projects were mostly gained through the informed and collaborative patronage of the Third Marquess of Bute. During the 1890s, two-thirds of Kinross's work came from the Marquess, including the major restorations at Falkland Palace, the Augustinian Priory, St Andrews, Pluscarden Abbey, and Greyfriars Church and Convent in Elgin, where he demonstrated his command of the issues in the current Restoration Debate and perceived 'best practice' of the time. Nonetheless domestic commissions remained the principal work in Kinross's practice and his preferred field. The reconstruction of Thurston House, Dunbar, from 1890, would open a succession of major country house designs. He was first engaged on the Manderston estate in Berwickshire in 1890, where his contribution escalated from ancillary structures to the reconstruction and extension of the house between 1901 and 1905, for his other major patron, Sir James Miller. The highpoint of his development of a traditional Scottish style was reached in the design of four houses in Mortonhall Road, Edinburgh, 1897, one of which was tailored to serve as his own residence.

In conjunction with the restorations and domestic commissions of the 1890s were the completion of three contrasting churches, St Peter's Fraserburgh, St Mary's Chapeltown, Glenlivet and St Peter's, Torry, Aberdeen, where he successfully explored modern interpretations of Scots Romanesque and Gothic design.

Kinross's enthusiasm for quality production and materials extended to the advanced form of cast-iron grate for Smith & Wellstood, work which gained him a regular Royalty until the War years. The employment of particularly talented pupils and assistants both confirmed Kinross's commitment to the architectural profession and his need for support in a burgeoning career. Hamilton More Nisbett and William McCulloch passed through the Howe Street office, while Bailey Scott Murphy joined Kinross as an assistant from 1897 to 1902, and David Morton Kinross, a nephew, as an apprentice in the 1890s. Sir Matthew Montgomerie Ochterlony trained with Kinross from 1899 before becoming principal draughtsman and later partnering Kinross's former partner, Tarbolton. Thomas Johnston Beveridge trained with Kinross from about 1903. John Ednie, was articled to the architect, while specialising in furniture design as much as architecture. James Grieve probably served as an apprentice in the office.

In parallel with his classical work at Manderston, in the years around 1900, Kinross developed a high-quality but select portfolio of domestic work in other styles, ranging from the Cotswold Jacobean style mansion, lodge and stables at Carlekemp, to various estate cottages at Altyre, while continuing his expertise in stable design at both the latter, and at Ingliston. The Peel, with English and Scottish Renaissance inspiration, followed in 1904, and the remodelling of Ardtornish from 1908, with interior redecoration largely derived from earlier works. He worked with the leading east coast craftsmen, firms of cabinetmakers and interior specialists, notably Scott Morton & Co, Whytock & Reid, Morrison Co, Grandison & Sons, and Thomas Hadden ensuring continuing excellence in design, material and rendition.

From 1905, as a result of the deaths of his two major patrons, Bute and Miller, and facing a national decline in the market for quality residences, Kinross's practice suffered a sharp decline. Tarbolton moved to Hay & Henderson in 1905, and Kinross began to actively seek commissions, notably in a pre-competition proposal for the Usher Hall and National Gallery, 1906, and in his competitive report for a conservative restoration of Kirkwall's St Magnus Cathedral in 1908 where the commission went to the less talented George Mackie Watson.

Elected a full academician of the RSA in 1905, Kinross immersed his energies increasingly in these artistic circles, holding a diverse array of posts, including Auditor. Through his work with the architectural section he demonstrated a rich and profound appreciation of contemporary design on an international level, working invariably alongside George Washington Browne. Education continued to demand his attention and from 1914 he contributed professionally to the Edinburgh College of Art's Design Section.

A life-long passion for Italy continued in these years of dwindling commissions as indicated by Kinross's extensive investigations into Michelangelo's Bruges Madonna.

After the War, Kinross's practice revived with a short phase of War Memorial commissions. He figured on a shortlist for the National War Memorial. A breakdown in 1920 caused by the sudden surge in the availability of work revealed the degree of his financial difficulties and led to a relatively brief partnership with James Inch Morrison which lasted until 1923. It also led to a radical downsizing of his practice, bolstered by a lucrative dabbling in the antiques trade. Yet he took an active interest in the dominant field of post-War housing, notably through his escalating involvement with the RSA, of which he became Treasurer in 1924. He researched but did not complete a history of the Academy, a project which was later resumed by Esmé Gordon.

Kinross died on 7th January 1931 and is buried at the Grange Cemetery, Edinburgh. He left a personal moveable estate of £5,562, and was survived by his wife, son and daughter. His 'The Scotsman' obituary noted that 'he held a high place in the estimation of many capable of appreciating his place in Scottish architecture and the contribution which he was able to make to its development. He brought a scholarly mind to his work', he was 'much admired, and by none more so than by members of his own profession. Washington Browne reported that Kinross enjoyed the reputation of his work as 'Caviare to the General'.

'Details from Italian Buildings, Chiefly Renaissance', 1882

(Biographical notes and list of works by D C Mays.)

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this :
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 1120, George Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness18801883 
Item 2 of 111, South Charlotte Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate1889  
Item 3 of 1118A, Howe Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness18901898With Tarbolton from c.1897
Item 4 of 112, Abercromby Place, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness18981916With Tarbolton until c1905 and thereafter on his own
Item 5 of 111, West Saville Terrace, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate18991900 
Item 6 of 1133, Mortonhall Road, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate19001911 
Item 7 of 1167, Braid Road, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate19111916 
Item 8 of 111, Atholl Place, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness19111920 
Item 9 of 1167, Braid Road, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate/business19161921 
Item 10 of 1124, Duke Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness19201931 
Item 11 of 112, Abercromby Place, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate/business19211931 

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 6John Hutchison18701875Apprentice 
Item 2 of 6Wardrop & Reid18751880Assistant 
Item 3 of 6Seymour & Kinross18821889Partner 
Item 4 of 6Black & Kinross18871889Partner 
Item 5 of 6Kinross & Tarbolton18971905Partner 
Item 6 of 6Kinross & Morrison19201923Partner 

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 15Thomas Johnston Beveridge 1910Assistant 
Item 2 of 15Hamilton More Nisbett18891894ApprenticeRemained as assistant
Item 3 of 15William McCulloch1 September 18891 September 1892ApprenticeRemained as assistant until July 1896
Item 4 of 15William McCulloch1 September 1892July 1896Assistant 
Item 5 of 15Hamilton More Nisbett18941896Assistant 
Item 6 of 15David Morton Kinross1894(?)1899(?)Apprentice(?) 
Item 7 of 15William McCulloch18981900Clerk of Works 
Item 8 of 15Bailey Scott Murphy18981902Assistant 
Item 9 of 15John Ednie18981903Apprentice 
Item 10 of 15James Grieve1898c. 1903(?)Apprentice 
Item 11 of 15John Myrtle Smith1900Before 1906Assistant 
Item 12 of 15Thomas Johnston Beveridge1903 Apprentice 
Item 13 of 15James Grievec. 1903(?)Before 1905Clerk of Works 
Item 14 of 15(Sir) Matthew Montgomerie Ochterlony19051911Chief Draughtsman 
Item 15 of 15Ebenezer James MacRaeJanuary 1908June 1908Assistant 


RIBA Proposals

This proposed the following individuals for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 1James McLellan Fairley21 June 1886for Associateship

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 881882St James the Less Episcopal ChurchPenicuik MidlothianScotlandWorking drawings
Item 2 of 881884St Baldred's Episcopal ChurchNorth Berwick East LothianScotlandLengthening of apse (with resiting of glass), addition of chancel and interior refurbishment
Item 3 of 881884Stirling Carriage Works, showrooms, offices and dwelling housesStirling StirlingshireScotland 
Item 4 of 881886Proposed dwelling housesStirling StirlingshireScotland 
Item 5 of 881886The Red House  EdinburghScotland 
Item 6 of 88After 1887Falkland PalaceFalkland FifeScotlandExcavation, restoration, consolidation and re-decoration begun (chapel and domestic buildings)
Item 7 of 881888Library for Solicitors to the Supreme Courts of Scotland  EdinburghScotlandCompetition design - unplaced
Item 8 of 881888St Michael's Church  EdinburghScotland 
Item 9 of 88c. 188824 Oswald Road  EdinburghScotland 
Item 10 of 881889Miners' cottagesElphinstone, near Tranent East LothianScotland 
Item 11 of 881889Our Lady Star of the Sea RC ChurchNorth Berwick East LothianScotlandSacristy and gallery added (also north chapels?) - this was formerly attributed to Basil Champneys but drawings show it was Kinross
Item 12 of 881889St Baldred's Episcopal ChurchNorth Berwick East LothianScotlandSouth aisle and lengthening of nave and second apse
Item 13 of 881889St Mary Episcopal ChurchSouth Queensferry West LothianScotlandRestoration and probably built new west porch
Item 14 of 881889St Peter's Episcopal church rectoryFraserburgh AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 15 of 88c. 1890Manderston House, formal terraces, formal gardens, east terraces and dovecotDuns BerwickshireScotlandFormal terraces - landscaping. Alos golden gates inserted
Item 16 of 88c. 1890Manderston, terraces to south and east, with stone stair, statuary etcDuns BerwickshireScotland 
Item 17 of 88c. 1890Thurston HouseInnerwick East LothianScotlandRefurbishment and reconstruction of existing house
Item 18 of 88189118-22 Howe Street  EdinburghScotlandReconstruction
Item 19 of 881891Castle Shotts BridgeFalkland FifeScotland 
Item 20 of 881891Factor's house (or farmhouse), Prestonhall EstateDalkeith MidlothianScotland 
Item 21 of 881891St Peter's Episcopal ChurchFraserburgh AberdeenshireScotlandChurch and furnishings
Item 22 of 88c. 1891Falkland PalaceFalkland FifeScotlandRestoration of cross house and walls enclosing palace garden and stables. Restoration ot real tennis court. Also restoration of chapel, Campbell Smith executed work.
Item 23 of 881892Altyre House  MorayshireScotlandWas appointed as architect to Sir William Gordon Cumming. Design for new wings?
Item 24 of 881892Falkland Palace, caichpule and stablesFalkland FifeScotlandRestoration
Item 25 of 881893St Andrews Augustinian PriorySt Andrews FifeScotlandExcavation, consolidation and partial renovation
Item 26 of 881894Manderston House, boat houseDuns BerwickshireScotland 
Item 27 of 881895Manderston House, gamekeeper's cottage and kennelsDuns BerwickshireScotland 
Item 28 of 881895Manderston House, stablesDuns BerwickshireScotland 
Item 29 of 88c. 1895(?)Manderston House, including service court and motor houseDuns BerwickshireScotlandRefurbishment and major extension of late 18th century house, new entrance front, lavish interior decoration
Item 30 of 88c. 1895Manderston, Eastern DamDuns BerwickshireScotland 
Item 31 of 88c. 1895Manderston, north entrance gatepiersDuns BerwickshireScotland 
Item 32 of 88c. 1895Manderston, sunken terraces with pavilion and dovecotDuns BerwickshireScotland 
Item 33 of 881896Greyfriars Church and ConventElgin MorayshireScotlandInvestigation and partial restoration
Item 34 of 881896Manderston House, formal terraces, formal gardens, east terraces and dovecotDuns BerwickshireScotlandEast terraces and dovecot
Item 35 of 881896Manderston, gardener's house and electric station at BuxleyDuns BerwickshireScotland 
Item 36 of 881896South Free Church MansePenicuik MidlothianScotland 
Item 37 of 881896St Mary's RC Church at Chapeltown in the Braes of GlenlivetGlenlivet BanffshireScotland 
Item 38 of 881897Manderston, Buxley, head gardener's house and outbuildings and fountainDuns BerwickshireScotland 
Item 39 of 881897St James the Less Episcopal RectoryPenicuik MidlothianScotlandAttribution by D C Mays
Item 40 of 881897St Peter's Episcopal ChurchTorry AberdeenScotland 
Item 41 of 881897Whitchester Lodge, walled garden and westlodgeDuns BerwickshireScotlandPerhaps designed forecour. Certainly designed entrance to walled garden
Item 42 of 8818982 Abercromby Place  EdinburghScotlandAlterations and redecoration
Item 43 of 881898CarlekempNorth Berwick East LothianScotland 
Item 44 of 881898Manderston, Dairy Court and Tower at BuxleyDuns BerwickshireScotland 
Item 45 of 881898Pluscarden PrioryPluscarden, Elgin MorayshireScotlandExcavation, consolidation and partial restoration
Item 46 of 881898Villas, Mortonhall Road  EdinburghScotland 
Item 47 of 881899St James the Less Episcopal ChurchPenicuik MidlothianScotlandCompleted the work - consists of chancel with Perp windows (furnishings by Tarbolton)
Item 48 of 881899Straiton Parish ChurchStraiton AyrshireScotlandAddition of porch, belfry and tower, and restoration of church - perhaps in fact John Murdoch responsible
Item 49 of 881900'RA' grate (rocking ashpan) design     
Item 50 of 881900British Linen Bank and Town Clerk's officeFalkland FifeScotlandAdditions to bank and new office
Item 51 of 881900Ingliston House and lodgeKirkliston West LothianScotlandStables and gardener's house
Item 52 of 881900Ingliston House Stable Block and Cottage (gardener's house)Kirkliston West LothianScotlandRestoration and reconstruction
Item 53 of 881900Manderston, Buxley, dairyman's house and archwayDuns BerwickshireScotland 
Item 54 of 881900Michael KirkGordonstoun/Gordonstown MorayshireScotlandRestoration and interior refurbishment of mausoleum for Episcopal worship
Item 55 of 88c. 1900Manderston House, bullock court and implement shed, BuxleyDuns BerwickshireScotland 
Item 56 of 88c. 1900Manderston, Buxley, estate officeDuns BerwickshireScotlandAlterations and additions
Item 57 of 88c. 1900Manderston, Buxley, farm courtDuns BerwickshireScotland 
Item 58 of 881901Cothall CottagesAltyre MorayshireScotland 
Item 59 of 881901Fairfield  EdinburghScotland 
Item 60 of 881901Pair of gardener's cottagesAltyre MorayshireScotland 
Item 61 of 881902Altyre House, stablesAltyre MorayshireScotland 
Item 62 of 88c. 1902Altyre House, generator houseAltyre MorayshireScotland 
Item 63 of 881904Manderston, engineer's house at BuxleyDuns BerwickshireScotland 
Item 64 of 881904Penicuik Co-operative emporiumPenicuik MidlothianScotland 
Item 65 of 881904The PeelClovenfords SelkirkshireScotlandWith George Beattie & Son as builders and Arnott McLeod as contractor
Item 66 of 881905Manderston MainsDuns BerwickshireScotland 
Item 67 of 881906Usher Hall  EdinburghScotlandDesign for Usher Hall, new National Gallery and new square submitted voluntarily by Kinross - not executed
Item 68 of 881907Kirkwall CathedralKirkwallMainlandOrkneyScotlandCompetition tender for restoration
Item 69 of 881908Ardtornish House, mansion and clocktowerArdtornish ArgyllScotlandRemodelling, including interior decoration
Item 70 of 881910Manderston House, including service court and motor houseDuns BerwickshireScotlandOrgan case in chapel and interior alterations in house
Item 71 of 881913Ardtornish House, mansion and clocktowerArdtornish ArgyllScotlandStill room and range
Item 72 of 881914House for the Edinburgh Day Nurseries Association  EdinburghScotlandAdditions and alterations to existing house
Item 73 of 881916Church of the Holy Rude, gravestone for Henry KinrossStirling StirlingshireScotland 
Item 74 of 88192022 Hermitage Drive  EdinburghScotland 
Item 75 of 881920Cockburnspath War MemorialCockburnspath BerwickshireScotland 
Item 76 of 881920Cupar War MemorialCupar FifeScotlandDesigned pedestal
Item 77 of 881920Montrose war memorialMontrose AngusScotlandDesign of original monument - with H S Gamley
Item 78 of 881921Buckie War MemorialBuckie BanffshireScotlandWith W Birnie Rhind as sculptor
Item 79 of 881921Fettes college, War Memorial  EdinburghScotlandWith W Birnie Rhind
Item 80 of 881921Hillside Cemetery, Kirriemuir Parish War MemorialKirriemuir AngusScotlandWith Henry Hutcheon, sculptor, Aberdeen
Item 81 of 881921Markinch Free ChurchMarkinch FifeScotlandWar memorial
Item 82 of 881921Memorial to John Irving of WhitehillLockerbie DumfriesshireScotland 
Item 83 of 881921Morningside Free Church  EdinburghScotlandWar memorial - with H S Gamley
Item 84 of 881921Norwich Union Life Assurance Office  EdinburghScotlandRebuilt the ground and first floors for Norwich Union
Item 85 of 881922Memorial tablet to Lord Herbert of LeaSouth QueensferryInchkeithFifeScotland 
Item 86 of 881922Premises for Messrs Gairn, Motor Engineers  EdinburghScotland 
Item 87 of 881922St Giles Cathedral, Memorial to Alastair Hunter MacFarlane  EdinburghScotland 
Item 88 of 88c. 1925Shanks and Davidson MemorialsBuckie BanffshireScotland 


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this :
Item 1 of 3Mays, Deborah Life and Works of John Kinross Unpublished PhD thesis, University of St Andrews 
Item 2 of 3Pride, Glen L1999The Kingdom of Fife2nd EditionThe Rutland Pressp86
Item 3 of 3RSA1931104th Annual Report  pp14-16

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this :
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 2RIAS Quarterly193136Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS)p112-116 - obituary by George Washington Browne
Item 2 of 2RIBA Journal24 January 1931 London: Royal Institute of British Architectsp184 - obituary

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this :
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 3Mount StuartBute Archives  
Item 2 of 3National Monuments Record of Scotland/NMRS, RCAHMSDrawings Collection Large collection of Kinross's Italian student drawings.
Item 3 of 3National Monuments Record of Scotland/NMRS, RCAHMSScott Morton (formerly Peter Miller) Collection, RIAS