Born on November 1, 1840, in Cloyne, County Cork, Ireland, Clayton immigrated to Cincinnati, Ohio in 1848, after the death of his father. He learned the skills of a plasterer, a marble carver, and architectural draftsman, and moved to Galveston to take a position as a supervising architect. It was in his new hometown that he made his mark as an architect, creating some of the most beautiful and recognizable structures of the city.
The following are a very small sampling of this gifted man's work.
1874-77 Saint Patrick's Cathedral
1878-79 Eaton Memorial Chapel
1881 Electric Pavillion
1881-83 Harmony Hall
1882 Beach Hotel
1885 Gresham House
1889 Lasker House
1891-95 Ursuline Academy
1891 University of Texas Medical Branch
Despite 25 years as Galveston's most prominent architect, Clayton ultimately filed bankruptcy. In 1916 when he died at age 76, his wife and five children could not afford a proper tombstone and so his grave was marked with one of his marble samples.