Charles Alexander Stevenson

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Charles Alexander Stevenson
Born 1855
Died 1950 (aged 94–95)
Edinburgh, Scotland
Alma mater Edinburgh University
Occupation Lighthouse engineer
Spouse(s) Margaret Sherriff
Children D. Alan Stevenson
Two daughters
Parent(s) David Stevenson (father)
Elizabeth Mackay (mother)
Relatives David Alan Stevenson (brother)
The grave of Charles Alexander Stevenson, Dean Cemetery, Edinburgh

Charles Alexander Stevenson MICE MIEE FRSE (1855,[1] Edinburgh – 1950) was a Scottish lighthouse engineer who built twenty three lighthouses in and around Scotland.


He was born at 8 Forth Street[2] in the east part of Edinburgh's Second New Town[3] The family moved to 20 Royal Terrace on Calton Hill shortly after his birth.[4]

Born into the famous Stevenson family of lighthouse engineers, son of David Stevenson and his wife Elizabeth Mackay, brother of David Alan Stevenson, and nephew of Thomas Stevenson, he was educated at Edinburgh Academy 1866 to 1872[5] then studied Mathematics and Engineering at Edinburgh University where he graduated BSc. He joined the family business of lighthouse design in 1875 but remained unpaid as a family member until 1887 when his uncle, Thomas Stevenson died, whereafter he became a partner.[6] Between 1887 and 1937 he built twenty three lighthouses with his brother, David, and is noted for his experiments with optics. He also improved foghorns and created his own wireless communication system prior to Marconi's wireless.[7]

In 1886, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. His proposers were Sir John Murray, Peter Guthrie Tait, George Chrystal and Alexander Buchan.[8]

He lived at 9 Manor Place in Edinburgh with Ernest Maddox as his neighbour at 7 Manor Place.[9]

He died on 9 May 1950. He is buried in the first northern extension to Dean Cemetery in western Edinburgh. The grave lies on the north path towards the north-east corner. His son David Alan Stevenson lies alongside.


Barns Ness lighthouse

He married Margaret Sherriff (1863–1945).

His cousin was Robert Louis Stevenson, and grandfather was the lighthouse engineer, Robert Stevenson.

His son David Alan (1891–1971) was the last of the family to enter the profession of lighthouse design. He also had two daughters.

Lighthouses of Charles A Stevenson[edit]

Maughold Head lighthouse
Rattray Head Lighthouse
Killintringan Lighthouse from Larbrax Bay


  1. ^ "DSA Architect Biography Report". Retrieved 24 January 2013. 
  2. ^ Edinburgh and Leith Post Office Directory 1854-1855
  3. ^
  4. ^ Edinburgh and Leith Post Office directory 1855-56
  5. ^ Biographical Index of Former Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 1783–2002 (PDF). The Royal Society of Edinburgh. July 2006. ISBN 0 902 198 84 X. 
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Biographical Index of Former Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 1783–2002 (PDF). The Royal Society of Edinburgh. July 2006. ISBN 0 902 198 84 X. 
  9. ^ Edinburgh and Leith Post Office Directory 1891-92