William Adam (1689-1748)

William Adam (1689-1748)

Builder and architect

William Adam's main profession was architecture but his business interests ranged from barley and timber mills to salt pans and coal works. He gained the patronage of many influential men in Scotland and built houses for the earl of Hopetoun, Sir John Clerk of Penicuik and Lord Braco. With money made from this work he bought the estate of Blair Crambeth in Kinross-shire and renamed it Blair Adam. In 1730 he was appointed Mason to the Board of Ordnance in North Britain. This post was to provide lucrative fortification contracts after the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745. William Adam's collection of engravings of his own work and that of his contemporaries was posthumously published as 'Vitruvius Scoticus' in 1812.

Birth in 1689

William Adam was baptised on 24 October 1689, the son of John Adam and Helen Cranstoun. The entry in the Old Parish Register (OPR) for Abbotshall in Fife includes the names of two witnesses.

Baptism entry for William Adam

Baptism entry for William Adam in the OPR for Abbotshall (23 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 399/1

Marriage in 1716

William Adam married Mary Robertson on 30 May 1716. The entry in the Old Parish Register for Abbotshall shows they were both from the parish and had been 'contracted in order to marriage'.

Marriage entry for William Adam

Marriage entry for William Adam in the OPR for Abbotshall (13 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 399/1

They had ten children. Their son, Robert Adam (1728-1792), became the most prominent architect of his day.

Death in 1748

William Adam was buried on 29 June 1748. The Old Parish Register for Edinburgh gives his name in bold as 'Mr William Adams architect'. He was buried in Greyfriars kirkyard in a tomb designed by his son John.

Burial entry for William Adam

Burial entry for William Adam in the OPR for Edinburgh (22 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 685-1/94, page 19

Testament of William Adam

National Records of Scotland, CC8/8/112 pp 115-123

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