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Cousin, David (architect, and Superintendent of Works, Edinburgh)



  • Existence: 1809 - 1878


David Cousin was born in Leith in 1809 and was the son of John Cousin, a joiner. He was articled to his father as a joiner but studied mathematics with Edward Sang and early secured a place in William Henry Playfair's office - architect. He left in 1831 to commence his own architectural practice. Between 1839 and 1845 he was in partnership with the Glasgow civil engineer William Gale, with Cousin being in charge of the Edinburgh office and Gale the Glasgow one. In addition, in 1841 Cousin was appointed assistant to the elderly city Superintendent of Works, Thomas Brown, in Edinburgh.

In 1845, Cousin became architect to the British Linen Bank, and its branch bank building programme becoming the mainstay of his private practice. In 1847, on the retiral of Thomas Broun, he was appointed the city's Superintendent of Public Works in succession to Brown. This appointment brought with it responsibility for the University of Edinburgh which was then still municipally-owned.

He was a founder-member of the Architectural Institute of Scotland in 1850, and he helped to promote the Improvement Trust to which he was appointed architect in 1867. In accepting the Trust appointment, Cousin referred to a breakdown in health and asked that John Lessels be appointed joint architect with him.

Cousin resigned as City Superintendent of Works in 1872 because of failing health but retained his appointment as joint architect to the Improvement Trust. He went abroad to recover his health but continued for a time in private practice. His later years appear to have been spent mainly in Louisiana, USA, in a continuing attempt to recover his health. David Cousin died on 14 August 1878 at The Hermitage, Sans Souci, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Letter from Sir Robert Christison (1797-1882) to David Cousin of the City Chambers, Edinburgh

Identifier: Coll-1379
Scope and Contents The letter from Christison, 40 Moray Place [ Edinburgh], Monday 4 August [1862], to David Cousin of the City Chambers, refers to a 'long report' read by Dr. Bennett, on the Buildings Committee of the University. The report referred to how 'a careful survey' found the buildings were 'in a condition of great disrepair'. With regard to this, Christison had found, as 'Convenor of Finance', that he had 'a sum of £300' available in the general accounts, and explained that since Dr. Bennett and the...
Dates: 1862