David Hamilton (1768-1843): Architect and “Father of Architecture in the West of Scotland”


David Hamilton was born on the 11th of May 1768, the son of a stonemason. He trained as a builder/stonemason, and had some contact with the Adam family of architects, whose buildings in Glasgow included the old Royal Infirmary, Trades’ Hall on Glassford Street, and the Assembly Rooms on Ingram Street. Hamilton had access to their drawings, many of which he copied and are now in the Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow.


His first work of significance in Glasgow was Hutchesons’ Hospital, 1802-05, on Ingram Street.  It was built to replace the charity’s seventeenth-century building, and provided a meeting place for the patrons.


Hutchesons’ Hospital


Hamilton also designed the Nelson Monument on Glasgow Green, 1806, which was the first to be erected in Britain.  nelsonmon


In the 1890s, Thomas Gildard (1822-95), who had been one of David Hamilton’s apprentice draughtsmen, described his mentor as: “… a man of most impressive presence, frank and kindly in manner, with a bearing of ease and dignity. He was … “somewhat” aristocratic in appearance, and in social intercourse was distinguished by much grace and courtesy.”


The obituary in The Glasgow Constitutional described Hamilton as the “Father of architecture in the West of Scotland”.



For further information, see: The Wealth of a City: A ‘Glance’ at the Fine Arts in Glasgow Volume One: 1641-1830, 2010. The David Hamilton Collection, four volumes, compiled by Alexander Aiken, Mitchell Library, Glasgow.



George Fairfull-Smith, January 2020.