X: John Kinross (1855 – 1931)

Ever loving memory of John Kinross R.S.A. born 3rd July 1855, died 7th January 1931; wife Margaret L M Hall born 29thDecember 1863, died 5th October 1935; and their children Margaret Anne, Kathleen Mabel who died in infancy; Eveleen Mary born 24th February 1894, died 13th July 1969.

In memory of John Blythe Kinross C.B.E., H.R.S.A., Financier and Philanthropist, son of John and Margaret Kinross, born 31st January 1904, died 19th August 1989

See article in The Grange Newsletter, 127, May 2020.

John Kinross was born in Stirling on 30 July 1855, the second of four sons of William Kinross (c.1810-1874), a coachbuilder, and his second wife Ann Marshall.  William Kinross was head of the firm of Kinross & Co., employing 70 men in 1851 and 64 in 1861.  

William’s first wife, Janet Buchanan, had born him two sons, George and James, before her death in 1847 and they carried on the coach building business while his sons by his second marriage went into other occupations.  William (1852-1901) became a Paper Hanging Merchant, a partner in the firm of Lothian & Kinross in Edinburgh from c. 1879, and is buried in Newington Cemetery.  Henry (1858-1916) and David (1863-1936) stayed in Falkirk becoming Grain merchants.

John Kinross served his apprenticeship as an architect with John Hutchinson in Glasgow (1870-75) and then worked as an assistant with Wardrop and Reid in Edinburgh (1875-80).  He visited Italy in the winter of 1880-81 before settling in Edinburgh to work, initially in partnership with Henry Seymour, 1882-89, but mostly on his own apart from relatively short partnerships with Harold Ogle Tarbolton, 1897-1905, and James Inch Morrison, 1920-23.  

Much of Kinross’s work was ecclesiastical, for example, St Peter’s Episcopal Church and rectory at Fraserburgh (1889-91) and St Peter’s, Torry, Aberdeen (1897), or involved the restoration or re-development of older buildings like the Carmelite friary church, South Queensferry (1889–90), and the Augustinian priory, St Andrews (1893–8).  Following his visit to Italy he published Details from Italian Buildings Chiefly Renaissance in 1882 which attracted the attention of John Patrick Crichton-Stuart, 3rd Marquess of Bute (1847–1900), who gave him a number of commissions including restoration work at Falkland Palace, Pluscarden Abbey and Greyfriars Church and Convent in Elgin.  Another important project was work at Manderston House for Sir James Miller beginning in 1890 with minor developments and culminating in a major re-modelling of the house in the early 1900s.  

After the First World War Kinross designed a number of war memorials including memorials at Cockburnspath, Cupar, Buckie, Hillside Cemetery, Kirriemuir, and Fettes College, often working with sculptors like W. Birnie Rhind and H. S. Gamley.  He also designed a number of memorial tablets for churches.

Kinross’s limited amount of small-scale domestic architecture included, in Edinburgh, The Red House, 1 Cluny Gardens (1886); 24 Oswald Road (c. 1888); 31, 33, 35 Mortonhall Road & 14 Oswald Road (1898, built as a group and Category A listed in 1970) and 22 Hermitage Drive (1920).  

Kinross was actively involved in the Edinburgh Architectural Association from 1882 and was its President 1890-92.  He was elected an Associate of the Royal Scottish Academy (RSA) in 1893 and a full Academician in 1905, serving on the RSA Council for many years including as Treasurer from January 1924 until his death.  

In the 1890s Kinross lived at 1 (now 9) West Savile Terrace until 1898/9 when he moved to 33 Mortonhall Road (Seven Gables), which had been built for him. In 1911 he moved to 67 Braid Road and in 1921 moved again, to 2 Abercromby Place, which had been his business address since 1898. He died there on 7 January 1931.  

Kinross married (Mary Louisa) Margaret Hall (1863-1935) at Helmsley Parish Church, Yorkshire, on 13 August 1889.  They had four children: Margaret Anne Rushton (b. & d. 1891), Kathleen Mabel (1892-93), Eveleen Mary (1894-1969) and John Blythe (1904-89).  Eveleen taught music and remained in Abercromby Place until her death.

John Blythe Kinross moved to London and pursued a business career which made him a wealthy man – his obituary in The Times describes him as “a pioneer in the art of investing in small businesses”. He helped the first Lord Fraser buy The Glasgow Herald and in 1966 joined the board of House of Fraser. He set up the John Kinross Memorial Fund in 1982 in memory of his father to assist students of Architecture and Fine Art in established centres in Scotland to spend three months in Florence.

X – Kinross grave location