James Gillespie Graham

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Graham's Blythswood House, Glasgow. Home of the Lords Blythswood; it was demolished in 1935.
James Gillespie Graham's Edinburgh townhouse, at 34 Albany Street

James Gillespie Graham (11 June 1776 – 21 March 1855) was a Scottish architect, prominent in the early 19th century.


Graham was born in Dunblane on 11 June 1776. He was the son of Malcolm Gillespie, a solicitor. He was christened as James Gillespie.[1]

In 1810, under the name James Gillespie, he was living in a flat at 10 Union Street at the head of Leith Walk in Edinburgh. By 1820 he had moved to a far more luxurious house at 34 Albany Street, not far from his earlier flat.[2]

He is most notable for his work in the Scottish baronial style, as at Ayton Castle, and he also worked in the Gothic Revival style, in which he was heavily influenced by the work of Augustus Pugin. However, he also worked successfully in the neoclassical style as exemplified in his design of Blythswood House at Renfrew seven miles down the River Clyde from Glasgow.

Graham designed principally country houses and churches. He is also well known for his interior design, his most noted work in this respect being that at Taymouth Castle and Hopetoun House.

Some of his principal churches include St Andrew's Cathedral in Glasgow, and St Mary's Roman Catholic Cathedral and the Highland Tolbooth Church (now The Hub) in Edinburgh. His houses include Cambusnethan House in Lanarkshire.

He was responsible for laying out the Moray Estate of Edinburgh's New Town, and for the design of Hamilton Square and adjoining streets in the New Town of Birkenhead, England, for William Laird, brother-in-law of William Harley, major developer of the New Town upon Blythswood Hill in Glasgow. According to the writer Frank Arneil Walker he may have been responsible for the remodelling of Johnstone Castle, Renfrewshire.[3]

He designed and built a house at 34 Albany Street in Edinburgh's New Town for himself and his wife and lived there from 1817 to 1833.[4]

He died in Edinburgh on 21 March 1855 after a four-year illness.

He is buried in the sealed south-west section of Greyfriars Kirkyard generally called the Covenanter's Prison together with his wife and other family members.


In 1815 he married Margaret Ann Graham, daughter of a wealthy landowner, William Graham of Orchill (d.1825) in Perthshire.[1] Together they had two daughters. In 1825, on the death of his wife's father, the couple inherited his large country estate, and James thereafter became known as James Gillespie Graham.[1]

His wife died in 1826, and he married again, to Elizabeth Campbell, daughter of Major John Campbell of the 76th Regiment of Foot.

Principal works[edit]


Tolbooth Kirk Edinburgh
The west front of Crawford Priory as it is today
Torrisdale Castle
Cambusnethan Priory
Duns Castle
19–34 Hamilton Square, Birkenhead
Ayton Castle
High Kirk, Dunoon

See also[edit]

Media related to James Gillespie Graham at Wikimedia Commons


  1. ^ a b c d Goold, David. "James Gillespie Graham". www.scottisharchitects.org.uk. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
  2. ^ Edinburgh Post Office Directory 1810/1820
  3. ^ Walker, Frank Arneil (1986) The South Clyde Estuary, RIAS
  4. ^ "Number 34 - Information on residents". Albany Street Edinburgh in the 19th century. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  5. ^ Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Graphic and Accurate Description of Every Place in Scotland, Francis Hindes Groome (1901)

External sources[edit]