National Records of Scotland

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Robert Adam (1728-1792)

Robert Adam (1728-1792)


Robert Adam followed his father, William Adam (1689-1748), into architecture. He studied at Edinburgh and in Rome (1754-8) where he drew inspiration from the ancient ruins and painted frescoes that would transform his work. He set up an architectural practice in London with his brother, James Adam, and they became famous for interior design. In 1761 he was appointed Architect of the King's Works, thanks to the influence of his fellow countryman the Marquess of Bute. He was MP for the county of Kinross from 1768. He died in 1792 and was buried in Westminster Abbey.

Robert Adam's firm was responsible for some of the most beautiful buildings in the United Kingdom including Home House in Portland Square, London (1765), Charlotte Square in the New Town of Edinburgh (1791) and Register House, home of the National Records of Scotland (1774). The spectacular Culzean Castle, built for the tenth Earl of Cassillis in Ayrshire, contains a unique double staircase in an oval space (1777-9).

Robert Adam is one of the famous Scots commemorated in our Archivists' Garden. The entry on bear's breeches (acanthus) provides background information about his use of this plant in his designs. This image (52 KB jpeg) shows detail from the Adam Dome in General Register House (Crown copyright, 2008)

Detail from Adam Dome

Birth in 1728

Robert Adam was baptised on 24 July 1728, the son of William Adam and Mary Robertson. According to the entry in the Old Parish Register (OPR) for Abbotshall he was baptised before the congregation.

Baptism entry for Robert Adam

Baptism entry for Robert Adam in the OPR for Abbotshall (18 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 399/2

Testament of Robert Adam

National Records of Scotland, CC8/8/129 pp162-165

View transcript (13 KB PDF)

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