Robert Weir Schultz was born in Port Glasgow on 26 July 1860, the son of Henry Schultz, sugar refiner, and Isabella Smail Weir, youngest daughter of Robert Weir, a physician in Galashiels, where the Schultz family also had a presence. Henry Schultz died in 1863 and his son Robert was sent to Galashiels to be brought up by Isabella’s elder sister Jane, the wife of Alexander Cunningham Tweedie, also a physician at 43 High Street, Galashiels.In his youth Schultz was very tall and red-haired. Around 1876 he was articled to Robert Rowand Anderson, attending morning classes at the Watt Institute. Schultz completed his articles with Anderson, subsequently joined by George Washington Browne and by Hew M Wardrop, in 1883, a period during which he may have come to the notice of the 3rd Marquess of Bute when engaged on Mount Stuart. After about a year with Anderson as an assistant, Schultz obtained a letter of introduction to Richard Norman Shaw, probably from Anderson’s friend David MacGibbon, and he entered Shaw’s office on 15 January 1884. His arrival there coincided with the foundation of the Art Workers’ Guild, amongst whose founders were Shaw’s assistants or former assistants Edward Schroeder Prior, Mervyn Macartney, Ernest Newton and William Richard Lethaby, all of whose work was to have an influence on Schultz’s.In the following year he became acquainted with Sidney Barnsley, who had joined Shaw’s office in that year, and his brother Ernest who was an assistant in John Dando Sedding’s office, in turn leading to acquaintance with Ernest Gimson, also in Sedding’s office. In 1886 Schultz moved to the office of Sir Ernest George and Harold Ainsworth Peto, where he became acquainted with Herbert Baker, E. Guy Dawber and Edwin Lutyens. During his period with Shaw and with Ernest George & Peto, from 1885 onwards, Schultz studied at the RA Schools, and there he renewed acquaintance with his life-long friend Francis William Troup, whom he had known in Anderson’s office.In December 1887 Schultz won the RA Gold Medal and Travelling Studentship, the subject being a railway terminus, and on Lethaby’s advice Schultz left for Greece and the Near East early in 1888, stopping en route for the summer in Italy to sketch first in Venice and its environs (including Murano, Torcello and Padua), and then in Florence, Perugia and Rome.
In the following year Schultz revisited Greece with Sidney Barnsley and became a member of the British School at Athens, which made a grant for further study from funds subscribed by, among others, the Marquess of Bute and Dr Edwin Freshfield. Their studies subsequently led to ‘The Monastery of St Luke of Stiris in Phocis’, the publication of which in 1901 was financed by Freshfield.Schultz and Barnsley returned to London in November 1890 and set up offices in 1891 at 14 Gray’s Inn Square, adjacent to Troup’s premises, Schultz having previously been based at 9 Hart Street.
In that same year Schultz joined the Art Workers’ Guild and secured his first important client, the 3rd Marquess of Bute, who had reviewed the results of his studies on 4 January 1889. Schultz retained the confidence of the 4th Marquess of Bute after the death of the 3rd Marquess in 1900, and his practice was to remain prosperous for the next decade and a half. Among his assistants in those years were Frank Charles Mears, John Greaves later of Lutyens’ office, and another two called Guthrie and Pechell.In 1912 Schultz married Thyra Macdonald, their house being an extended barn on land he owned at Hartley Wintney, Hampshire, but shortly before the First World War Schultz offended the Marquess by preferring to show what were probably rather large drawings in his office rather than bringing them to his house, St John’s Lodge, and after war broke out in August 1914 Schultz found it necessary to add another Weir (his mother’s maiden name) to his name to avoid his wife, a local JP and Councillor, suffering from expressions of anti-German feeling; he was known thereafter as Robert S. Weir. From the early 1920s Weir was assisted by Alwyn B Waters and R H W Richardson, but after Waters left in 1930 he employed no assistants of any kind and at or about the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 he closed his practice completely, Troup’s office completing any work in hand, and sent his papers and drawings for salvage.Schultz died at The Barn on 29 April 1951 and was buried in the churchyard of St Mary Hartley Wintney, close to the graves of Lethaby and Sir Ambrose Heal