Surveyor General of Ireland

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The office of Surveyor General of Ireland was an appointed officer 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.[nb 1] Eyre was the last holder of the office, which was abolished in 1763.[4]

List of Surveyors General of Ireland[edit]

Name Date(s)[nb 2] Term Notes, refs.
Walter Cowley 15 November 1548 During pleasure [5]
Edmund Sutton 19 September 1551 Without tenure [5]
Michael FitzWilliam 12 May 1552 For life Grand uncle of Thomas FitzWilliam, 1st Viscount FitzWilliam[5][6]
Launcelot Alford 16 January 1572 During pleasure [5]
Sir Geoffrey Fenton 10 August 1591 For life [5]
Sir William Parsons 26 December 1602 During good behaviour Survey of the escheated counties of Ulster.[5]
Francis Blundell 18 February 1609 In reversion for life [5]
Sir William Parsons 14 February 1610 Re-instated.[5]
Sir William Parsons and his brother Laurence Parsons 26 March 1611 For life [5]
Sir William Parsons, his son Richard Parsons, and Adam Loftus of Rathfarnham 24 December 1624 Upon surrender for life [5][7]
Benjamin Worsley 1652 During pleasure Surveys for Adventurers' Act and Act for the Settlement of Ireland 1652[8]
Vincent Gookin 11 January 1657 During pleasure [8]
Allen Brodrick 2 August 1658 For life [8]
Sir William Petty 18 September 1660 For life Down Survey. Date and term are from Hardinge, who says William's cousin John Pettie was the appointee.[8][9]
Sir James Shaen 13 February 1667 For life [8]
William Robinson 1670–1700 For life Charles Fort, Royal Hospital Kilmainham, St. Michan's, St. Mary's, Marsh's Library.[10]
William Molyneux 31 October 1684 – 1698 For life Molyneux paid Robinson £250 in return for a half-share of the patent (half of £300 per annum). The revised patent was issued with help from James Butler, 1st Duke of Ormonde. The full patent would revert to one on the other's death.[11][12]
Thomas de Burgh 1700–1730 Royal (Collins) Barracks, Trinity library, St. Werburgh's.[13]
Edward Lovett Pearce 1730–1733 Wings at Castletown House, Houses of Parliament, noted town-houses on Henrietta Street.[14]
Arthur Dobbs 1733–1743 Finishing Houses of Parliament after Pearce's death, and becoming Governor of North Carolina.[15]
Arthur Jones-Nevill 1743–1752 Maladministration, poor quality of barracks, being dismissed from post.[1]
Thomas Eyre 1752–1763 Lodge (later Papal Nuncio residence) at Ashtown Castle, reconstruction of State Apartments and gardens at Dublin Castle.[4]


  1. ^ McParland notes "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".[3] 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)[original research?]
  2. ^ First or only date is date of appointment



  • McParland, Edward (1995). "The Office of the Surveyor General in Ireland in the Eighteenth Century". Architectural History. SAHGB. 38: 91–101. doi:10.2307/1568623. ISSN 0066-622X. JSTOR 1568623. S2CID 195025920.


  1. ^ a b McParland 1995
  2. ^ Office of Public Works - About - History
  3. ^ McParland 1995, p. 97
  4. ^ a b Dictionary of Irish Architects - Thomas Eyre
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Hardinge, W. H.; Ridgeway, Thomas (1861–64). "On Mapped Surveys of Ireland". The Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy. 8: 39–55: 44. JSTOR 20488800. Retrieved 9 September 2016.
  6. ^ Ball, Francis Elrington (1903). "Merrion and its Castle". A History of the County Dublin: The People, Parishes and Antiquities from the Earliest Times to the Close of the Eighteenth Century. Vol. Part 2. Dublin: Alex. Thom. p. 10. Retrieved 10 September 2016. his brother, Michael Fitzwilliam, of Donore, in the County Meath, Surveyor–General of the Crown lands
  7. ^ Collins, Arthur; Brydges, Sir Egerton (1812). Collins's Peerage of England; Genealogical, Biographical, and Historical. F. C. and J. Rivington, Otridge and son. pp. 44–45. Retrieved 9 September 2016.
  8. ^ a b c d e Hardinge, W. H. (1873). "On Manuscript Mapped and Other Townland Surveys in Ireland of a Public Character, Embracing the Gross, Civil, and Down Surveys, from 1640 to 1688". The Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy. 24, Antiquities: 3–118: 9. JSTOR 30079258. Retrieved 9 September 2016.
  9. ^ Hull, Charles Henry. The Economics Writings of Sir William Petty Together with the Observations Upon the Bills of Mortality. CUP Archive. p. xxiv.
  10. ^ "Sir William Robinson (1645-1712)". Architects & Historical Figures. Retrieved 9 September 2016.
  11. ^ Carroll, Patrick (2 October 2006). "Engineering the Data State: Scopes, Meters, and Graphs". Science, Culture, and Modern State Formation. University of California Press. p. 101. ISBN 9780520932807. Retrieved 9 September 2016.
  12. ^ Molyneux, Capel; Molyneux, William (1820). Phillipps, Thomas (ed.). An account of the family and descendants of Sir T. Molyneux, Kt, Chancellor of the Exchequer in Ireland. Evesham: Printed by J. Agg. p. 62. Retrieved 9 September 2016.
  13. ^ - Thomas Burgh (1670-1730)
  14. ^ Dictionary of Irish Architects - Edward Lovett Pearce
  15. ^ Dictionary of Irish Architects - Arthur Dobbs