Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Mylne, Robert (1633-1710)

1160581Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 40 — Mylne, Robert (1633-1710)1894Bertha Porter

MYLNE, ROBERT (1633–1710), mason, eldest son of Alexander Mylne (1613–1643), [see under Mylne, John, 1611–1667], and of his wife, Anna Vegilman, was born in Edinburgh in 1633. He was apprenticed to his uncle, John Mylne, and succeeded him as principal master-mason to Charles II in 1668. In 1665 he erected Wood's Hospital at Largo (rebuilt in 1830), and in 1668 entered into an agreement with the magistrates of Perth to build a market cross, the old one having been destroyed by Cromwell's army in 1652 (cf. Penny, Traditions of Perth, p. 15). Mylne's cross, which stood in the High Street, between the Kirkgate and the Skinner Gate, was completed in May 1669. It was taken down and sold in 1765, when increased traffic rendered it inconvenient. In 1669 Mylne was occupied in reclaiming the foreshore at Leith, where he constructed a sea wall, and on the land thus acquired he in 1685 erected stone dwellings, which are still in existence; in 1670 he was assisting Sir William Bruce [q. v.] in the designs for Holyrood Palace, the foundation-stone of which was laid 15 July 1671 by Mylne, who directed the erection of the building till its completion in 1679. Mylne's name and the date 1671 are cut on a pillar in the piazza of the quadrangle. Six of his original drawings prepared for the king remained in his family, and are reproduced in Mylne's ‘Master Masons,’ p. 168. Leslie House, Fifeshire, which had been commenced by his uncle, was erected under his direction about 1670. It was partially destroyed by fire in 1763. As master-mason or surveyor to the city of Edinburgh Mylne constructed cisterns in various parts of the town in connection with the new water supply from Comiston, between 1674 and 1681. He effected one of the first improvements in the old town by the construction of Mylne Square in 1689 (view in Cassell's Old and New Edinburgh, i. 237), and in the same year assisted in the repair of Edinburgh Castle, one of the bastions being called after him, Mylne's Mount.

At that time he was not only king's master-mason, but also hereditary master-gunner of the fortress. On 30 March 1682 he contracted for building a bridge of one arch over the Clyde at Romellweill Crags, now known as Ram's Horn Pool, Lanarkshire. After the revolution he seems to have been superseded as master-mason by Sir A. Murray of Blackbarony, but was employed on Holyrood Palace in June and July 1689. In November 1708 he was petitioning for twenty years' arrears due to him as master-mason. In 1690 he erected Mylne's Court, and about that time completed many buildings in Edinburgh under the new regulation for the erection of stone buildings in lieu of timber in the principal streets. In March 1693 he entered into a contract to complete the steeple of Heriot's Hospital, which had been begun in 1676. Mylne had been instructed on 3 May 1675 ‘to think on a drawing thereof against the next council meeting;’ it is not known whether the work carried out was entirely his own design. He executed the statue of Heriot over the archway within the court, from an original painting. After the great fire in Edinburgh in 1700 Mylne bought many sites in the town, and on them erected buildings, in which his style may still be traced.

Mylne was active in his connection with the masonic lodge of Edinburgh. He was ‘entered prentice’ to his uncle on 27 Dec. 1653, made fellow craft on 23 Sept. 1660, chosen warden in 1663, re-elected in 1664, and filled the deacon's chair during 1681–1683 and 1687–8. Till 1707 he took a leading part in the business of the lodge. He was made burgess of Edinburgh on 23 May 1660, and guild brother on 12 April 1665. As magistrate of Edinburgh his signature is attached to letters to the Duke of Lauderdale and to Charles II, dated 1674 and 1675 (Addit. MSS. 23136 f. 206, 23137 f. 72).

He acquired the estate of Balfarge in Fifeshire, and died at his house at Inveresk on 10 Dec. 1710, aged 77. He married, on 11 April 1661, Elizabeth Meikle, by whom he had a large family. He is commemorated on the monument to his uncle at Greyfriars. A portrait of him from a picture by Roderick Chalmers is reproduced in Mylne's ‘Master Masons’ (p. 217).

William Mylne (1662–1728), master-mason, son of the above, was born in 1662. He was entered in the lodge of Edinburgh on 27 Dec. 1681, fellow craft on 9 Nov. 1685, and freeman mason on 16 July 1687. He was warden of the lodge in 1695–7. He settled in Leith, and died 9 March 1728. By his wife Elizabeth Thomson he had several children [see under Mylne, Robert, 1734–1811]. He also is commemorated on the family monument.

[Dict. of Architecture; Mylne's Master Masons, pp. 171–249; Lyon's Hist. of the Lodge of Edinburgh, pp. 93–4; Groome's Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland; Cant's notes to Adamson's Muses Threnodie, 1774, pp. 129, 134–135; Builder, 1866, p. 187; Hist. of Holyrood House, pp. 89–94; Maitland's Edinburgh, p. 205; Steven's Hist. of Heriot's Hospital, pp. 87, 236; Ritchie's Report as to who was the architect of Heriot's Hospital, pp. 23–4; Brown's Inscriptions at Greyfriars, p. 249.]

B. P.