Surveyor General of Ireland

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The office of Surveyor General of Ireland was an appointed office under the Dublin Castle administration of Ireland in the 17th and 18th centuries.[1] The Surveyor General was typically responsible for the surveying, design and construction of civic works, and was often involved in overseeing the construction of military barracks and public buildings.[2] Though Surveyors General were officially appointed by the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, it was not unknown for the post to be "sold" by one holder to the next. For example, Arthur Jones-Nevill succeeded Arthur Dobbs in 1743, having paid £3,300 to secure the position. And despite being dismissed for maladministration, Nevill was allowed to sell the post on to Thomas Eyre in 1752.[3] Eyre was the last holder of the office, which was abolished in 1763.[4]

List of Surveyors General of Ireland[edit]

Years Office holder Legacy
~17th century William Parsons Participation in Plantation of Ulster.[5]
~1650s Benjamin Worsley Surveys following the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland.
~1650s Vincent Gookin MP and campaigner against forced transportations to Connaught.[6][7]
~1660s[8] William Petty Completion of the "Survey of Ireland" (commonly called the Down Survey).[9]
~1660s John Morton Architect to John Berkeley (Lord Lieutenant of Ireland from 1670 to 1672).[10]
1670–1700 William Robinson Charles Fort, Royal Hospital Kilmainham, St. Michan's, St. Mary's, Marsh's Library.[11]
1684–1698 William Molyneux Founding Dublin Philosophical Society, and sharing position with Robinson while Robinson was in ill-health.
1700–1730 Thomas de Burgh Royal (Collins) Barracks, Trinity library, St. Werburgh's.[12]
1730–1733 Edward Lovett Pearce Wings at Castletown House, Houses of Parliament, noted town-houses on Henrietta Street.[13]
1733–1743 Arthur Dobbs Finishing Houses of Parliament after Pearce's death, and becoming Governor of North Carolina.[14]
1743–1752 Arthur Jones-Nevill Maladministration, poor quality of barracks, being dismissed from post.[1]
1752–1763 Thomas Eyre Lodge (later Papal Nuncio residence) at Ashtown Castle, reconstruction of State Apartments and gardens at Dublin Castle.[4]


  1. ^ a b McParland, Edward (1995). "The Office of the Surveyor General in Ireland in the Eighteenth Century". Architectural History - Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain (SAHGB) 38: 91–101. ISSN 0066-622X. 
  2. ^ Office of Public Works - About - History
  3. ^ McParland (cited above), p. 97, notes that 'Such sums were not fees or bribes to officials for the appointments; instead they represented the value of the post when it was viewed as the personal property of the holder of the patent'. Thus the statement of May 1743 in TCD Clements MS 1741 that 'Dobbs has disposed his employment to one Mr Jones' (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44)
  4. ^ a b Dictionary of Irish Architects - Thomas Eyre
  5. ^ "Sir William Parsons". Retrieved 2012-09-22. 
  6. ^ "Vincent Gookin". Retrieved 2012-09-22. 
  7. ^  Stephen, Leslie; Lee, Sidney, eds. (1890). "Gookin, Vincent (1616?-1659)". Dictionary of National Biography 22. London: Smith, Elder & Co. pp. 168, 169. 
  8. ^ Paul Gallagher (1995). "Sir William Petty and British "Population Studies"". American Almanac. . Gallagher notes that 'Shortly after the Restoration of the Stuart monarchy in 1660, Charles II appointed Sir William Petty surveyor-general of Ireland'
  9. ^ "William Petty: Biography from". Retrieved 2012-09-22. 
  10. ^ - William Robinson (1645-1712)
  11. ^ - Sir William Robinson
  12. ^ - Thomas Burgh (1670-1730)
  13. ^ Dictionary of Irish Architects - Edward Lovett Pearce
  14. ^ Dictionary of Irish Architects - Arthur Dobbs