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Significant Scots
Robert Mylne


MYLNE, ROBERT, a distinguished architect, was born in Edinburgh, January 4, 1734. He was the son of Thomas Mylne, a magistrate of the city, and an architect, whose predecessors for several generations had been master-masons to the king, and one of whom built the additions to Holyrood house in the reign of Charles II., and is interred in the neighbourhood of that palace, with a highly panegyrical epitaph. After receiving a general education in Edinburgh, the subject of this article travelled on the continent for improvement in his hereditary science. At Rome, where he resided five years, he gained in 1758, the first prize of the academy of St Luke in the first class of architecture, and was unanimously elected a member of that body. In the course of his travels, he was able, by the minuteness of his research, to discover many points in ancient architecture which no one ever before or ever after remarked, and to illustrate by this means some obscure passages in Vitruvius. On returning to London, a friendless adventurer, the superiority of a plan which he presented, among those of twenty other candidates, for the contemplated Blackfriars’ bridge, gained him the employment of superintending that great public work, which was commenced in 1761. This plan and the duty of superintendence were rewarded, according to agreement, by a salary of 300 a-year, and five per cent, upon all the money expended. So well had he calculated the cost, that the bridge was completed (1765) for the exact sum specified in the estimate, 153,000. As a specimen of bridge architecture, on a large scale, it was long held in the very highest rank; and a learned writer has even pronounced it the most perfect in existence. The mode of centering employed by Mr Mylne, has, in particular, been the theme of much praise.

This eminent architect was afterwards appointed surveyor of St Paul’s cathedral; and he it was who suggested the inscription in that building to the memory of Wren—"Si monumentum quaeris, circumspice," an idea so felicitous, that it may safely be described as more generally known, and committed to more memories, than almost any similar thing in existence. Among the buildings erected or altered by him, may be mentioned—Rochester cathedral, Greenwich hospital, (of which he was clerk of the works for fifteen years,) King’s Weston, Ardincaple house, and Inverary Castle. He was a man of extensive knowledge in his profession, both in regard to its theory and practice. After a long career of distinguished employment, he died, May 5, 1811, in his seventy-eighth year, at the New River Head, London, where he had long resided as engineer to that company, and was interred in Westminster Abbey, near the tomb of Sir Christopher Wren. By his wife, Miss Mary Home, whom he married in 1770, he had nine children, five of whom survived him.


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