The antiquity of this name is not in any doubt but it came to particular prominence in the family of Robert Adam, the celebrated architect, born in Kirkcaldy in 1728. Prior to this, however, Adam, Sub-Prior of Melrose, is shown as Abbot of Cupar in 1189, and Adam son of Adam is a witness to a charter by William Bruce to Adam of Carlisle of the lands of Kynemund. One Duncan Adam is stated by Anderson to have accompanied James, Lord Douglas, on his pilgrimage to the Holy Land with the heart of Robert the Bruce. William Adam, the father of the architects, Robert and James, and himself a distinguished architect, claimed descent from the knightly line of Duncan Adam. The Adam brothers were responsible for some of the most splendid classical buildings inside and outside Scotland, the inspiration for which they drew from studying classical architecture in Italy for several years between 1754 and 1757.
They have to their credit the homes of some of the most noble families in the land, including Hopetoun House, Culzean Castle and Gosford House, and in England Sion House, one of the seats of the Duke of Northumberland, and Luton Park in Bedfordshire. James Adam is known particularly as designer of Portland Place in London. The Adelphi buildings in the Strand in London are named after the two brothers, who participated jointly in this project. The family continued to give distinguished service through the line of John Adam of Blair Adam, which remains the family seat to this day. The Right Honourable William Adam of Blairadam was an eminent Scottish lawyer and is credited with the introduction of trial by jury in civil cases in Scotland. His son, Admiral Sir Charles Adam, was a Member of Parliament and Governor of Greenwich Hospital. General Sir Frederick Adam was wounded at Waterloo in 1815 and subsequently went to India to become Governor of Madras.