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

Signed and dated

  • 1768


John Murray (1726-1800) was the son of John Murray, Laird of Philiphaugh, 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.

In the 1760s he engaged in land speculation in East Florida and the Isle of St John, in association with his cousin John Rutherford, receiver general of quit-rents in North Carolina, wo whom he had given a bond of £7,000. When Rutherford’s schemes failed, his creditors pressed Murray for payment, causing considerable financial distress. He went to America in 1769, settling in North Carolina, and succeeded in recouping most of his loses. He was resident in America for some years, but, as a loyalist, he then suffered various land losses. He then settled with his wife and daughters in Jamaica where he died in 1800.

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 Philiphaugh. Neither was executed, presumably owing to Murray's financial distress. Murray had moved into his house at Philiphaugh 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 Philiphaugh. 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.

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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Contents of Philiphaugh, Selkirk: unexecuted designs for a house and a greenhouse for John Murray, 1768 (5)