He went into the trade first with George Priestley in St Giles-in-the-Fields who died around 1812, and worked then with Priestley's widow. He took a particular interest in the study of architecture. In 1823 he issued a bibliographical Catalogue of Works on Architecture and the Fine Arts, of which a new edition appeared in 1854. He bought the architectural publishing business at 59 High Holborn built up by Isaac Taylor and his son Josiah Taylor as The Architectural Library, after Josiah's death in 1834.
He followed the Catalogue in 1849–50 with a Rudimentary Dictionary of Terms used in Architecture, Building, and Engineering, a work which reached a fifth edition in 1876.
Weale died in London on 18 December 1862.
He published also:
- ‘A Series of Examples in Architectural Engineering and Mechanical Drawing,’ London, 1841; supplemental ‘Description,’ London, 1842.
- ‘Designs of ornamental Gates, Lodges, Palisading, and Ironwork of the Royal Parks adjoining the Metropolis, edited by John Weale,’ London, 1841.
- ‘The Theory, Practice, and Architecture of Bridges of Stone, Iron, Timber, and Wire, edited by John Weale,’ London, 1843, 2 vols.; a supplemental volume, edited by George Rowdon Burnell and William Tierney Clark, appeared in 1853.
- ‘Divers Works of early Masters in Christian Decoration,’ London, 1846, 2 vols.
- ‘The Great Britain Atlantic Steam Ship,’ London, 1847.
- ‘Letter to Lord John Russell on the defence of the Country,’ London, 1847.
- ‘London exhibited in 1851,’ London, 1851; 2nd edit. 1852.
- ‘Designs and Examples of Cottages, Villas, and Country Houses,’ London, 1857.
- ‘Examples for Builders, Carpenters, and Joiners,’ London, 1857.
- ‘Steam Navigation, edited by John Weale,’ London, 1858.
- ‘Old English and French Ornaments, comprising 244 Designs. Collected by John Weale,’ London, 1858.
He edited ‘Weale's Quarterly Papers on Engineering,’ London, 1843–6, 6 vols., and ‘Weale's Quarterly Papers on Architecture,’ London, 1843–5, 4 vols.
Weale's Rudimentary Series 
Weale was on good terms with many men of science, and published cheap literature for technical education. His Rudimentary Series (over 130 works, usually selling at one shilling) and other educational series comprised standard works, both in classics and science. They were suggested initially by William Reid, and were continued after his death, first by James Sprent Virtue.
|Series number||First published||Author||Title||Comments|
|1||1849?||George Fownes||Rudimentary Chemistry||WorldCat editions
archive.org Read Online (1853).
|2||1848||Charles Tomlinson||Introduction to the Study of Natural Philosophy||WorldCat editions|
|3||1849||Joseph Ellison Portlock||Rudimentary Geology||WorldCat editions
There was an 1871 rewrite as Rudimentary Treatise on Geology by Ralph Tate: WorldCat editions
|4, 5||1848||Delvalle Varley||Rudimentary Mineralogy||WorldCat editions
Later editions with James Dwight Dana, as Rudimentary Treatise on Mineralogy. Delvalle Varley was the second wife of John Varley, and daughter of Wilson Lowry; her mother Rebekah Eliza Delvalle was a mineralogist.
|6||1849||Charles Tomlinson||Rudimentary Mechanics||WorldCat editions
archive.org Read Online
|7||1848||William Snow Harris||Rudimentary Electricity||WorldCat editions
Google Books, 1851 edition
|8, 9, 10||1850||William Snow Harris||Rudimentary Magnetism||WorldCat editions|
|11||1852||Edward Highton||The Electric Telegraph: its history and progress||Edward Highton was the brother of Henry Highton, and they both experimented with electricity, taking a particular interest in telegraphy.
|13, 14, 15, 15*||1848||Henry Law||Rudiments of Civil Engineering||Henry Law (1824–1900) was a civil engineer, a pupil of Brunel much involved in the Thames Tunnel.
archive.org Read Online, 1852 edition
|16||1852||William Henry Leeds||Rudimentary Architecture (Orders)||Google Books|
|17||1849||Thomas Talbot Bury||Rudimentary Architecture (Styles)||WorldCat editions
Google Books (2nd edition)
|33||1853||Samuel Hughes||A treatise on gas works||Samuel Hughes (c. 1816-1870), son of the engineer Thomas Hughes, was a civil engineer and Fellow of the Geological Society.
|45||G. R. Burnell||Limes, cements, mortars, concretes, mastics, plastering etc.||George Rowdon Burnell (1814-1868) was a writer on architecture and engineering, "one of the very few who have united a Fellowship of the Royal Institution of British Architects with a Membership of the Institution of Civil Engineers".
|61||1850||Thomas Baker||Rudimentary treatise on mensuration|
|63-65||1852-53||G. H. Andrews||Rudimentary treatise on agricultural engineering||George Henry Andrews (1816-1898), though trained as an engineer, was better known as a marine watercolorist.
|66||1852||John Donaldson||Rudimentary treatise on clay lands and loamy soils||John Donaldson (1799-1876) described himself as a 'Professor of Botany'. He taught at the Agricultural Training College at Hoddesdon, established in the 1840s under the headmastership of William Haselwood.
|69-70||Charles Child Spencer||A rudimentary and practical treatise on music||Charles Child Spencer (1797-1869) was an organist and choirmaster of St. James's Chapel, Clapton, London.
|80||Robert Murray||Rudimentary treatise on marine engines and steam vessels||WorldCat edition|
|83||1853||Rudimentary Treatise on the Construction of Locks||Editor Charles Tomlinson, materials by Alfred Charles Hobbs, compiler by George Dodd||Alfred Charles Hobbs; George Dodd (1853). Rudimentary Treatise on the Construction of Locks. J. Weale. Retrieved 10 May 2013.|
|99–100||John Radford Young||Tables intended to facilitate the operations of navigation and nautical astronomy||John Radford Young (1799-1885) was professor of mathematics at Belfast College fom 1833 to 1849.
|101||1852||W. S. B. Woolhouse||The elements of differential calculus||WorldCat edition|
|102||1852||Homersham Cox||The integral calculus||At archive.org|
|132||S. H. Brooks||Erection of Dwelling-houses||WorldCat edition|
- John George Swindell, Well-digging, Boring, and Pump-work
- Edmund Beckett Denison, Clock and watch making
- Joseph Glynn, On the construction of cranes, and machinery for raising heavy bodies
- Joseph Glynn, On the power of water, as applied to drive flour mills, and to give motion to turbines and other hydrostatic engines
- Alan Stevenson, On the history, construction, and illumination of lighthouses
- William Snow Harris, On Galvanism
- Thomas Roger Smith (1861) Acoustics
- Appletons' annual cyclopaedia and register of important events of the year: 1862. New York: D. Appleton & Company. 1863. p. 695.
- Topham, Jonathan R. "Weale, John". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/28908. (subscription or UK public library membership required)
- "Reid, William (1791-1858)". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
- Kauffmann, C. M. "Varley, John". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/28115. (subscription or UK public library membership required)
- Guyatt, Mary. "Lowry, Wilson". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/17103. (subscription or UK public library membership required)
- Obituary (PDF)
- A. W. Skempton, A biographical dictionary of civil engineers in Great Britain and Ireland, p. 378
- 'Obituary - Samuel Hughes', Geological Magazine, vol. 9 (1872)
- Minutes of the Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers, Volume 31 (1871), pp. 211 –212
- Martin Hardie & Dudley Snelgrove, eds., Water-colour Painting in Britain: The Victorian period, 1966, p. 80
- Jamie Croy Kassler, The science of music in Britain, 1714-1830: a catalogue of writings, lectures, and inventions, Volume 2, 1979, p, 961
- Norman St. John Stevas, ed., The Collected Works of Walter Bagehot: Letters, Harvard University Press, 1986, p.
- Google Books
- Google Books
- Google Books
- Dictionary of National Biography, Smith, Thomas Roger (1830–1903), architect, by Paul Waterhouse. Published 1912.