James Murray (architect)

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Sir James Murray of Kilbaberton, (d.1634), was a Scottish master wright and architect. He served as the King's Master of Works under James VI, and Charles I. He was one of the first men in Scotland to be called an architect.[1]

His father James Murray (d.1615) was a master wright and was appointed Overseer of the King's Works in Scotland in 1601. The younger James was appointed Overseer in 1605, when his father resigned the post, and two years later was appointed principal Master of Works in Scotland, succeeding David Cunninghame of Robertland.[2]

Murray was granted land near Juniper Green, outside Edinburgh, in 1612. Between 1622 and 1623 he designed and built Baberton House as his home here.[2] The innovative symmetrical u-plan house still stands, although it was extended in the 18th century, and now serves as offices. Murrays initials, together with those of his wife, Katherine Weir, appear on the house.[3]

Murray drew up plans for Parliament House in Edinburgh in 1633, and the building was constructed to his design over the following years.[2] As Master of Works he was also in charge of works at Linlithgow Palace, the reconstruction of Holyrood Palace prior to the coronation of Charles I, and additions to the Great Hall at Edinburgh Castle.

On 28 September 1608, Murray chased Finlay Taylor, a baillie of the Canongate, with a drawn sword in the Abbey Close near Holyroodhouse.[4] In 1633, at the coronation of Charles I, Murray was knighted. He died in December of the following year.[2]


  1. ^ McWilliam, p.54
  2. ^ a b c d Colvin, p.567
  3. ^ Baberton House Listed Building Report
  4. ^ Register of the Privy Council, vol. 8, Edinburgh (1887), 166, 673.
Preceded by
David Cunninghame of Robertland
Master of Work to the Crown of Scotland
Succeeded by
Anthony Alexander