Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

Architect, of Dublin, active from the 1770s until 1811 or later. Whitmore Davis, said to have been a native of Co. Antrim,(1) was presumably a son or close relative of WHITMORE DAVIS [1].& WHITMORE DAVIS [1].& #160; He was admitted to the Dublin Society's School of Drawing in Architecture on 7 June 1770.(2) He appears, with the description 'architect', in Wilson's Dublin Directory from 1787 to 1788 at 9 Grafton Street and from 1789 to 1796 at 17 Dawson Street. Davis seems to have been involved in some capacity in the building and furnishing of Caledon, Co. Tyrone, circa 1783.(3) From 1785-7 he received payments as surveyor of the Dublin Paving Board.(4) By 1786 he had became architect to the Bank of Ireland at St Mary's Abbey, where he was employed on minor works, but in 1788 he was reprimanded for lack of attention to his responsibilities.(5) In 1789 he advertised his intention of publishing a set of engravings of Irish country houses 'chiefly built under his immediate direction', a project which came to nothing,(6) and he may be the 'Mr Davis, architect' who in the same year laid before the Royal Canal subscribers 'the drawing of a passage-boat, to be wrought without the assistance of men or horses', which 'he said he would build at his own expense and should carry 80 tons, to go with a velocity equal to the draught of 4 horses'.(7) In 1790 he applied unsuccessfully for the position of engineer to the Pipe Water Committee, which was given to JAMES JOHNSTON. JAMES JOHNSTON. (8) The following year he was dismissed from his employment at the Bank of Ireland and replaced by THOMAS BROWN. THOMAS BROWN. (9) Although he was employed as architect of the new Female Orphan House in 1792-93, his performance was not judged satisfactory; the Board's minutes register 'much disappointment' at his not having completed the building within the time stipulated.(10) He carried out minor work on the Royal Irish Academy's house in 1793-94,(11) but his architectural practice appears to have been going into decline and by February 1797 he had been declared bankrupt.(12)  In the latter years of the 1790s he was employed by the Government in the management of Loughlinstown Camp and applied without success to the Lord Lieutenant for extra pay to reward his exertions there.   In July 1800 with the support of Francis Needham, who had been in command at Loughlinstown, he applied for a position with the Inland Navigation(13) - 'either as an assistant to the Commissioners, Inspector of the Works, or as Secretary, or any other situation' - urging that he had a very large family to provide for and that 'hardly anything is doing in my line of business'.(14) The application does not appear to have been successful, but some other jobs came his way:  in 1801-2 he was employed on building the new infantry barrack at Castlecomer, Co. Kilkenny,(15) in 1802 he was paid by Dublin Corporation for having organized the sale of materials from the old Tholsel,(16) and by 1803 he had succeeded RICHARD HARMAN  RICHARD HARMAN as Surveyor of the Revenue Buildings for the Port of Dublin, a post which he still held in 1811.(17)

Davis subscribed to Murphy's Plans…of the church of Batalha (1795), to John Ferrar's View of Dublin (1796) - in his preface Ferrar thanks Davis and others for 'obliging communications' - and to Humphrey's Irish Builder's Guide (1813).(18) 

See WORKS.



References



(1) Hibernian Magazine 1795 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44); J. Ferrar, View of Dublin (1796), 86.  
(2) MS. transcript from Royal Dublin Society minutes of School of Architectural Design admissions and prizewinners (in IAA).
(3) Hugh Roberts, Windsor Castle, in letter to Knight of Glin, 21 Jun 1991, cites Caledon bills, which include a bill from Patrick McDonagh, stonecutter, 1783, endorsed 'Whitmore Davis' and memoranda about furnishing and sundries for the house by a 'Mr Davis'; he also notes that a Mr Davis was consulted about Lord Caledon's Dublin house in Merrion Square, circa 1795-6.
(4) JHCI 13, clxxvi,cxci (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44).
(5) E.McParland, 'The Bank and the Visual Arts' in F.S.L. Lyons, ed., Bicentenary Essays: Bank of Ireland 1783-1983 (1983), 98.
(6) E.McParland, 'The papers of Bryan Bolger, measurer', Dublin Historical Record XXV., no. 4 (Sept. 1972), 124.
(7) DPJ 3 (new series), 17 Oct 1904, 464, citing Town & Country Weekly Magazine, 1789; Davis subscribed £400 to the Royal Canal Company in 1789 (P. Clarke, The Royal Canal (1992), 163.
(8) CARD XIV, 161.
(9) See note 4, above.
(10) 'Nemo', A Brief Record of the Female Orphan House…Dublin (1893), 22.
(11) RIA council minutes, Feb, 1793,12 Apr 1794 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44).
(12) Dublin Gazette, 21-23 Feb 1897 (information from Edward McParland, a[pr 2012).
(13) His design for a boat proposed for a canal was published in Town and Country Weekly Magazine in 1789 and his proposal for the docks mentioned or described in The Freeman's Journal, 4-6 Jun 1789 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44).
(14) Letters from Davis to Lord Castlreagh and from Maj. Gen. Francis Needham to E.B. Littlehales(?), 3 Jul 1800, in PRONI D3030/1399,1400 (photocopies in IAA).
(15) See William Tighe, Statistical Observations relative to the County of Kilkenny (1802), 57.
(16) CARD XV, 270. (167 Treble Almanac, 1803,1806,1809,1811; Samuel Johnston held the position in 1815. 
(18) IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44.


19 work entries listed in chronological order for DAVIS, WHITMORE [2]


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Building: CO. TYRONE, CALEDON HOUSE
Date: 1783-88
Nature: Whitmore Davis involved in building and fitting out of new house. For James Alexander, later 1st Viscount Caledon.
Refs: Introduction by Knight of Glin to catalogue of Christie's sale at Charleville, 23-24 Jan 1978, citing list of houses 'chiefly built under his[Davis's] immediate direction' in Dublin Evening Post 1789; PRONI D2433/33/2; Caledon MSS, as cited by Hugh Roberts in letter to Knight of Glin, 21 Jun 1991.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, TALLAGHT, ARCHBISHOP'S PALACE
Date: 1786
Nature: Payment of £10 to 'Davis for Plan & superintending Ice House' for Archbp. Fowler's palace
Refs: E.McP files, source not given.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, MARY'S ABBEY, BANK OF IRELAND (OLD)
Date: 1786-91
Nature: WD employed on minor works.
Refs: E.McParland, 'The Bank and the Visual Arts' in F.S.L. Lyons, ed., Bicentenary Essays: Bank of Ireland 1783-1983 (1983), 98.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, RINGSEND BRIDGE
Date: 1787
Nature: WD awarded 3rd premium for his design.
Refs: Freeman's Journal 26 May 1787

Building: CO. WICKLOW, DELGANY, CHRIST CHURCH (CI)
Date: 1789
Nature: 'light Gothic structure', built with funds (£5000) from Peter La Touche.  Inscriiption on W door states that it was built in 1789. Consecrated, 31 Jul 1791.
Refs: J. Ferrar, View of Dublin (1796), 86;  Clergy of Dublin and Glendalough (Ulster Historical Foundation, 2001), 272; Claude Costegalde & Brian Walker, The Church of Ireland: an illustrated history (2013), 301(illus.).

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, BOW LANE, ST PATRICK'S HOSPITAL
Date: 1789-1792ca
Nature: Further extension of wings at rere.
Refs: St Patrick's Hospital Archives, B/20 Minute Book, 1746-96, entry for board meeting of 20 May 1789; JHCI 14, xcviii, 15, lii (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc.2008/44);  Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 685.

Building: CO. WESTMEATH, PORT LOMAN
Date: 1789a
Nature: -
Refs: Introduction by Knight of Glin to catalogue of Christie's sale at Charleville, 23-24 Jan 1978, citing list of houses 'chiefly built under his[Davis's] immediate direction' in Dublin Evening Post 1789

Building: CO. WICKLOW, CHARLEVILLE (OLD HOUSE)
Date: 1789a
Nature: Work on old house (destroyed by fire in 1792), for ?Henry Monck.. (Bence Jones says new house also designed by Davis, 1797)
Refs: Introduction by Knight of Glin to catalogue of Christie's sale at Charleville, 23-24 Jan 1978, citing list of houses 'chiefly built under his [Davis's] immediate direction' in Dublin Evening Post 1789; Elisabeth Batt, The Moncks and Charleville (1979), 23,27(illus.); Mark Bence-Jones, Burke’s Guide to Country Houses. Volume I, Ireland. (London, 1978), 82

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, GARDINER'S ROW, HOUSE (EARL OF ROSSE)
Date: 1790
Nature: Bryan Bolger measures stonework (gates, walls &c.) at rear of house 'pr order of Mr Whitmore Davis'.
Refs: Bolger MSS, NA/PRO 1A/58/124

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, TEMPLE STREET, HOUSE (LORD LISMORE)
Date: 1790
Nature: Bryan Bolger measures stone and brickwork of additions by order of WD.
Refs: Bolger MSS, NA/PRO 1A/58/125

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, CIRCULAR ROAD NORTH, NO. 191-195 (FEMALE ORPHAN HOUSE)
Date: 1792-92
Nature: Engaged to build same by John Latouche.
Refs: Bolger MSS, NA/PRO 1A/58/128; E.McParland, 'The papers of Bryan Bolger, measurer', Dublin Historical Record XXV., no. 4 (Sept. 1972), 124; J. Ferrar, View of Dublin (1796), 66; 'Nemo', A Brief Record of the Female Orphan House…Dublin (1893), 22

Building: CO. WICKLOW, CHARLEVILLE
Date: 1792p
Nature: New house for Charles Stanley Monck to replace earlier one destoyed by fire, 1792. Attributed to WD by Bence-Jones.
Refs: Mark Bence-Jones,  Burke’s Guide to Country Houses. Volume I, Ireland (London, 1978), 82.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, PIGEON HOUSE, HOTEL
Date: 1793
Nature: WD awarded 2nd premium of 5 gns. for his design.
Refs: Journal of the Corporation for Preserving and Improving the Port of Dublin, 14 Oct 1793.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, GRAFTON STREET, NAVIGATION HOUSE (RIA PREMISES)
Date: 1793-94
Nature: WD employed on minor works.
Refs: E.McP files, citing RIA council minutes, Feb 1793 and 12 Apr 1794.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, GREEN STREET, COURT HOUSE
Date: 1794
Nature: WD supervises its erection.
Refs: NA/PRO 1A/58/128; E.McParland, 'The papers of Bryan Bolger, measurer', Dublin Historical Record XXV., no. 4 (Sept. 1972), 124; Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 99-100.

Building: CO. KILKENNY, CASTLECOMER, INFANTRY BARRACKS
Date: 1801-2
Nature: 'Mr Whitmore Davis, the architect, employed in building the new  barracks at Castlecomer' (Tighe). Barracks described in report of 12 Nov 1801 as 'building and in such a state of forwardness that it may be expected to be fit to inhabit in about ten months';  plan 'appears an approved good one'.
Refs: NA (Kew) PRO HO 100/108/72;  William Tighe, Statistical Observations relative to the County of Kilkenny (1802), 57.

Building: CO. KILKENNY, CASTLECOMER, INFANTRY BARRACKS
Date: 1801-2
Nature: 'Mr Whitmore Davis, the architect, employed in building the new  barracks at Castlecomer' (Tighe). Barracks described in report of 12 Nov 1801 as 'building and in such a state of forwardness that it may be expected to be fit to inhabit in about ten months';  plan 'appears an approved good one'.
Refs: NA (Kew) PRO HO 100/108/72;  William Tighe, Statistical Observations relative to the County of Kilkenny (1802), 57.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, NORTH WALL DOCKS
Date: 1810
Nature: Plans, with comments by Rennie.
Refs: PRONI D562/7763

Building: CO. KILDARE, HARRISTOWN HOUSE (KILCULLEN)
Date: ?
Nature: New house, for John La Touche.
Refs: IB 22, 15 Jun 1880, 166; introduction by Knight of Glin to catalogue of Christie's sale at Charleville, 23-24 Jan 1978, citing list of houses 'chiefly built under his[Davis's] immediate direction' in Dublin Evening Post 1789; E.McParland, 'The papers of Bryan Bolger, measurer', Dublin Historical Record XXV, no. 4 (Sept. 1972), 124; Mark Bence-Jones, Burke’s Guide to Country Houses. Volume I, Ireland. (London, 1978), 149