His career as an army agent enabled Ross to buy land in England, Scotland and the West Indies. In 1766 he assisted Patrick Murray, 5th Lord Elibank to purchase the Cromarty estate, which was then passed on to Ross in 1772. Lord Elibank had commissioned Robert Adam to make unexecuted designs for his wife, Maria Margaretta’s funerary monument in 1762-63 (Adam volumes 2/173-173, 18/83, 19/34-35, 21/164 and 54/2/15,) and it is probably through this connection that Ross came to meet Adam. Ross undertook manifold improvements to the Cromarty estate, and in c1772-81 he commissioned Robert Adam to make designs for the local parish church. These designs have previously been attributed to Robert’s brother John, but this is incorrect. Adam’s designs were unexecuted, and instead Ross built a chapel for the local Gaelic speakers in 1783 (to designs by an unknown architect). Most of the Gaelic-speaking congregation had arrived in Cromarty to work in Ross’s local hemp manufactory. This was only the fourth Gaelic Chapel in Scotland, and the congregation was not dissolved until 1918. The chapel is now a ruin.
On acquiring the Cromarty Estate in 1772, Ross had immediately demolished Cromarty Castle, which had been built in the fifteenth century by the Earls of Ross. He built Cromarty House to designs by an unknown architect, which was completed in 1774 and is now a hotel. Adam did make designs for a small house for George Ross, but the scale of these designs is incompatible with that of Cromarty House, and they were presumably not intended as the principal seat of the estate. The proposed location of this small house designed for George Ross is unknown. It is not thought to have been executed.
George Ross died in 1786. His estates were inherited by a nephew as his only son had committed suicide after an argument with his father over the correct way to carve a joint of meat.
A.T. Bolton, The architecture of Robert and James Adam, 1922, Volume II, Index pp. 7, 86; D. Alston, Cromarty old parish church: a history of the building, 2001, pp. 1-43; D. King, The complete works of Robert and James Adam & unbuilt Adam, 2001, Volume II, p. 66; ‘Ross, George, of Cromarty’, Oxford dictionary of national biography online
Frances Sands, 2015
Sir John Soane's collection includes some 30,000 architectural, design and topographical drawings which is a very important resource for scholars worldwide. His was the first architect’s collection to attempt to preserve the best in design for the architectural profession in the future, and it did so by assembling as exemplars surviving drawings by great Renaissance masters and by the leading architects in Britain in the 17th and 18th centuries and his near contemporaries such as Sir William Chambers, Robert Adam and George Dance the Younger. These drawings sit side by side with 9,000 drawings in Soane’s own hand or those of the pupils in his office, covering his early work as a student, his time in Italy and the drawings produced in the course of his architectural practice from 1780 until the 1830s.
Browse (via the vertical menu to the left) and search results for Drawings include a mixture of Concise catalogue records – drawn from an outline list of the collection – and fuller records where drawings have been catalogued in more detail (an ongoing process).
Contents of Cromarty Parish Church, Ross and Cromarty, Highlands: designs for a church and a house for George Ross, unexecuted, 1772-81 (16)
- Preliminary designs and finished drawings for a church, 1772-81, unexecuted (10)
- Preliminary design and finished drawings for a house, c1772-86, unexecuted (5)
- Preliminary design for a chimneypiece for the back parlour of an unknown house, c1772-86, unexecuted (1)