Archibald was born at Little Ilford, Essex, England, in 1874. He spent a period of his early life at sea, rising to the position of one of the senior officers on the Paparoa, a vessel owned by the New Zealand Shipping Company.
His merchant navy career ended in 1901 following an accident, and he took up land-based work, initially working for Harcourt & Co. He then ventured into business on his own, firstly as a builder from around 1904, and later listing himself as an architect in Wise's Directories, before later in life working as a land agent. Over his career he designed nearly 50 buildings across Wellington, over half of which he also built.
Archibald died in 1911, following a week's illness, aged just 37.