Family Research – English, Scottish and Irish Genealogy


Last Will and Testament of James Gillespie Graham (1776-1855).

The 21st March 2005 is the 150th anniversary of the death of one of Scotland’s most prolific architects, James Gillespie Graham, and February’s featured document on the National Archives of Scotland website is his last will and testament.

Last Will

Born James Gillespie in Dunblane in 1776, he made his early reputation designing castles and mansions in the Highlands and may have been the first to use the term ‘baronial’.

His later work included the Roman Catholic cathedrals in Glasgow and Edinburgh and additions and alterations to many historic buildings. His most famous work is the Glenfinnan monument at the head of Loch Shiel.

In 1815 he married Margaret, daughter of William Graham of Orchill, in Perthshire, and adopted her surname of Graham. Margaret Gillespie Graham died in 1826 and in 1830 Graham married again and lived latterly in Edinburgh, where he was for a time a member of the Town Council and a governor of George Heriot’s School.

Graham made a will in 1848 (National Archives of Scotland reference SC70/4/40 pp. 597-603), which is interesting in several respects. Firstly, he left most of his architectural books, papers and drawings to his “faithful assistant and clerk”, Robert Hutton, stipulating that they should not pass into the hands of any other professional person. He later revoked this condition in a codicil of 1851, excluding Hutton from the will and leaving the disposal of his papers to his daughter and second wife. The papers do not appear to have survived.

He also left one of his portraits (by Sir John Watson-Gordon) to his first wife’s family at the house of Orchill and another portrait (by Sir Henry Raeburn) to his second wife. The Watson-Gordon portrait survives in a Scottish private collection, and is the source for many published illustrations of Graham. However, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery Reference Section, which keeps a detailed (although not comprehensive) record of Scottish portraiture in public and private collections, can shed no light on the subsequent fate of the Raeburn portrait.

Graham’s executors made two inventories of his movable assets in 1855 and 1866 (National Archives of Scotland references SC70/1/87, pp. 721-729 and SC70/1/129 pp. 669-677). The total movable estate came to 3065 pounds 5 shillings and 7 pence (the equivalent of over 172,000 pounds today).

The testament and inventories of James Gillespie Graham are among 520,000 wills and testaments of Scots (from 1500 to 1901) digitised and indexed by the Scottish Archive Network (SCAN) – a project set up by the National Archives of Scotland, which has revolutionised research into Scottish wills and testaments. For further information about James Gillespie Graham, his will and testament, and the SCAN project visit the National Archives of Scotland website at

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