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Philipshaugh, Selkirk, Ayrshire: unexecuted designs for a house and a greenhouse for John Murray, 1768 (5)

1768
John Murray (1726-1800) was the son of John Murray, Laird of Philipshaugh, and Eleanor Hamilton, the granddaughter of the Duke of Hamilton. In his youth Murray practiced at the Scottish bar, and then succeeded his father in 1753, becoming the head of a powerful landed Border family. He served as MP for Linlithgow Burghs in 1754-61, and married Miss Thomson in c1765. Later, however, maintaining an ultimately unsuccessful political interest, coupled with various failed financial ventures, necessitated the sale of various estates in 1769, when he emigrated to North Carolina. Murray is known to have returned to Scotland by 1783, and then later to have settled in Jamaica where he died.

In 1768, shortly before his emigration, John Murray commissioned James Adam to design a new house, and a greenhouse, possibly to replace the older Jacobean house at Philipshaugh. Neither was executed, presumably owing to Murray's financial distress. Murray had moved into his house at Philipshaugh when his more splendid house, the nearby Hangingshaw in Yarrowford, was destroyed by fire in the mid-1760s, and therefore, it is possible that Adam's designs may have been for the replacement of Hangingshaw rather than Philipshaugh. Although unexecuted, the importance of this design cannot be overstated as it is the only classical country house from the period of Robert and James Adam’s partnership (1763-92) that can be attributed entirely to James's authorship.

Literature:
A.T. Bolton, The architecture of Robert and James Adam, 1922, Volume II, Index pp. 26, 82; D. King, The complete works of Robert & James Adam and unbuilt Adam, 2001, Volume II, pp. 94, 132, 224; K. Crift, J. Dunbar, and R. Fawcett, The buildings of Scotland: Borders, 2006, p. 637; 'Murray, John (1726-1800) of Philipshaugh, Selkirk', The history of Parliament online

Frances Sands, 2012
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