National Records of Scotland

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John Loudon McAdam (1756-1836)

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John Loudon McAdam (1756-1836)

Builder and administrator of roads

John Loudon McAdam travelled to New York to work with his uncle, a merchant, and in 1778 married Glorianna Nicoll. He returned to Scotland a few years later, purchased the estate of Sauchrie in Ayrshire, became a trustee of Ayrshire turnpike roads and manager of the British Tar Company. In 1798 the family moved to Bristol. He assessed the condition of thousands of miles of roads and made recommendations for a new, simple system of road construction and the appointment of surveyors to maintain standards. This led to great improvements across the country. After the death of his first wife he married Anne Delancey, settled in Hertfordshire and made regular visits to Scotland. He died in Moffat on 26 November 1836 and was buried there. His name has entered the language -  macadam, tarmacadam (tarmac) and macadamized - as a term for the method of road-making he had pioneered.

Birth in 1756

John Lowdon McAdam was born on 23 September 1756, the son of James McAdam Esquire and Susannah Cochrane. The entry in the Old Parish Register (OPR) for the parish of Ayr shows that his middle name  had originally been recorded as Lothian. He was baptised on 28 September by Mr William Dalrymple with George and John Gairdener as witnesses.

Birth and baptism entry for John Loudon McAdam

Birth and baptism entry for John Loudon McAdam (16 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 578/4, page 11

Birth of his daughter in 1798

Three of John Loudon McAdam's children were born in Scotland: James Nicoll McAdam in 1786, Glorianna Margarata McAdam in 1787 and Georgina Keith McAdam in 1789. Their births and baptisms are found in the Old Parish Registers for Maybole (OPR 605/2) and for Ayr (OPR 578/4). In this entry in the Old Parish Register for Ayr he is recorded as John Loudon McAdam Esquire of Sauchrie.

Birth and baptism entry for John Loudon McAdam's daughter

Birth and baptism entry for John Loudon McAdam's daughter (34 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 578/4, page 138