Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

Engineer and architect.  Davis Ducart's origins are uncertain.  According to William Brownlow, writing to the Earl of Abercorn in 1768, he 'dropped into this Kingdom from the clouds, no one knows how, or what brought him to it'.(1)  If the evidence of his will is to be believed,(2) his real name was Daviso De Arcort.(3)  Brownlow calls him a Piedmontese, but he is also variously described as 'an English Engineer who had been long in the Sardinian Service',(4) 'an Italian engineer and very ingenious architect',(5) 'and 'our French architect'.(6)  Ducart himself writes that he was born and bred an engineer in the 'hilly…Parts adjacent to the Alps…so often visited by the English Nobility and Gentry'.(7) 'D[avi]s D[ucar]t, Esq' is one of the engineers lampooned in the Freeman's Journal of 31 May-2 June 1770, where he is described as 'A Gentleman Adventurer on board a French Privateer in the last War' who was taken prisoner and confined in the west of Ireland. According to this source, while he was imprisoned, Ducart 'employed himself drawing Portraits and little Landscapes (being bred a Painter) and by selling them to Hawkers, procured for himself a comfortable Subsistance'.

Whatever his origins, Ducart was active in Ireland in the 1760s and 1770s both as an engineer and as an architect. The earliest reference to him in these roles is on 28 October 1761, when Cork Corporation ordered a payment of £25 'to Mr Davis Ducart, Engineer, for his trouble in taking the level of the river Lee, and drawing several plans of waterworks to supply this City with water'.(8) On 6 May 1765 Ducart entered into an agreement with Cork Corporation, whereby he was to carry out his design for the new Mayoralty House in Cork for a sum not exceeding £2000, being paid five per cent on the money expended, with the possibility of a further gratuity to be awarded at the discretion of the building committee. Two years later it was decided that he had not earned any gratuity, a member of the building committee having reported 'that Dukart did not give due attendance to the building of said Mayoralty House, whereby the Masons and Carpenters were often idle for want of his being in Corke to give them directions, that a larger sum that £2000 had been expended, and the same is not finished'.(9)

The lack of 'due attendance' complained of by the Cork Mayoralty House building committee in 1767 was not surprising because by this time Ducart was not only engaged on the Custom House at Limerick and but had also developed other interests in the north of the country. In April 1766 he had been invited by the the Boyne Navigation Commissioners to survey the river with a view to the completion of the navigation between Drogheda and Slane. His report resulted in his being appointed engineer to the works at an annual salary of £100, a post which he retained until the end of 1771. In 1767 he also became involved in the Co. Tyrone navigation, where he proposed constructing a canal without locks to link the Coalisland canal with the adjacent collieries. He addressed his arguments in favour of his novel system to a committee of the Irish House of Commons on 17 November 1767,(10) and his proposals, notwithstanding the costly construction of aqueducts and tunnels which was entailed, were duly approved. 'Ducart's Canal' was the first and only canal in Ireland to use a system of inclined planes rather than locks to raise or lower boats from one level to another. The innovation was not a success, and the canal fell into disuse after only a few years.(11) Ducart also proposed and partly executed a subterranean navigable canal to connect with the Newry Canal.(12) Another canal scheme in which he was involved, which would have linked Strabane to the River Foyle, came to nothing.

The last years of Ducart's life were chiefly given up to mining after he became a majority shareholder and resident engineer of the Tyrone Mining Company in 1769. He made his home at Drumrea, in the centre of the Tyrone coal field.   In 1775 he wrote that He had given up engineering as the profession had been 'made disagreeable' to him.(13)  He died some time between 30 November 1780, when he wrote a codicil to his will, and 3 March 1781, when the Belfast News Letter referred to his 'recent' death. His will, which was not proved until 29 March 1786, mentions his friends James Fortescue of Ravensdale Park, John Townsend of Castle Townsend and Frederick Hervey, Earl Bishop of Derry, but no relatives.

As an architect, Ducart was not without critics. In November 1769 Sleater's Public Gazetteer noted that in Cork a 'French architect' had 'raised several monuments to his eternal shame'.(14) An attack on him in the Freeman's Journal for 3-4 February 1773 states that he had given up architecture by this time: 'Our French architect was possessed of as much solid sense, perhaps, as Mr O-r [Omer], yet he never could bring any thing to perfection he put his hands to; he made some of his first (and, alas! his last) experiments as an architect, at the cost of the public and many private gentlemen, in the country and city of Cork, the latter of which bears a large monument of his insipid, uncooth taste in the art of designing; he was actually ignorant of the common rules and proportions of architecture; eternally committing mistakes and blunders, and confounding and contradicting his own directions, until he himself saw the folly of such proceedings, and (not without certain admonitions) quitted the profession he had no sort of claim to.'(15)

Frederick O'Dwyer has suggested a connection between Ducart and the Lafranchini family of stuccadores(14) and also between Ducart and Thomas Penrose of Cork,(16) who exhibited an elevation of Ducart's design for an aqueduct on the Tyrone Canal at the Society of Artists in Ireland in 1773, with a note that it had been designed and executed by Ducart 'under the inspection of Thomas Penrose'.(17)

Addresses: College Green, Dublin, 1769;(18) Drumrea, Co. Tyrone, <=1770 until death?

See WORKS and BIBLIOGRAPHY. BIBLIOGRAPHY.



References

All information in this entry not otherwise accounted for, including the date of Ducart's death, is from John Logan, 'Dropped into this Kingdom from the clouds': The Irish career of Davis Dukart, architect and engineer, 1761-1781', Irish Architectural and Decorative Studies 10 (2007), 34-89, which is the fullest account to date (2008) of Ducart's years in Ireland. For other accounts, see Judith Hill, 'Davis Ducart & Christopher Colles: architects associated with the Custom House at Limerick', Irish Architectural and Decorative Studies 2 (1999), 119-145, and the entry by Daniel Beaumont in DIB.

(1) Letter from William Brownlow, Lurgan, to Earl of Abercorn, 8 Aug 1868, in PRONI, D623/A/38/82 and/or T2541/IA/1/8/81; for a longer excerpt from this letter, see PRONI E-catalogue, http://applications.proni.gov.uk/LL_DCAL_PRONI_ECATNI/ResultDetails.aspx (last visited, Nov 2011).
(2) The original will, burned in the Prerogative Court, is summarized in Georgian Society Records 5 (1913), 72; an abstract is in the Genealogical Office, Kildare Street (MS 424, pp.237-8).
(3) In its anglicized form the name also appears as Dukart, Duckart and Duchart. See also note 6, below.
(4) TICEI 6 (1859-61), 26.
(5) Arthur Young's Tour in Ireland (1777-1779), ed. by  A.W. Hutton, (London & New York : G. Bell & Sons, 1892), II, 127.
(6) Freeman's Journal, 2-4 Feb 1773 (information from Kenneth Severens).
(7) Report by Ducart on extension of the Coalisland Canal, dated Dublin, 17 Nov 1767, published in Irish parliamentary journal for November 1767, reproduced in W.A. McCutcheon, The Industrial Archaeology of Northern Ireland (1980), 61; he may be referring to Piedmont or the Val D'Aosta, which at that time were part of the Kingdom of Sardinia. The name 'de Arcore' or 'de Arcort' occurs among the nobility of Piedmont, and 'Daviso' among that of the Val 'd'Aosta (information from Nobile Carlo Palumbo-Fossati, Venice).
(8) R. Caulfield (ed.) The Council Book of the Corporation of the City of Cork (1876), 752; in the same year he corresponded with William Colles on the subject of waterworks (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44, citing NA/PRO 2/469/10). 'David Dukart' of Cork, also appears in a memorial of deed poll of 1764 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44).
(9) Caulfield, op. cit., 815-16.
(10) W.A. McCutcheon, op. cit., pp. 62-65.
(11) TICEI 6 (1859-61), 27-28.
(12) Letter in John Rylands Library, Manchester, Bagshawe MSS (letter from Tim Knox to E. McParland, 15 May 1995).
(13) Public Gazetteer, 31 Oct-4 Nov 1769 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44).
(14) A similarly phrased attack on him in Freeman's Journal, 13 -16 May 1769, claims that at that date Ducart was making £500 or £600 per annum as an architect (information from Kenneth Severens).
(15) Frederick O'Dwyer, 'Making connections in Georgian Ireland', BIGS 38 (1996-97), 13-14.
(16) Frederick O'Dwyer In conversation with editor.
(17) G. Breeze, Society of Artists in Ireland: Index of Exhibits 1765-80 (1985), 21.
(18) Letter to Frederick Hervey, Bishop of Derry, dated 13 February 1769 (photograph in IAA), quoted by P. Rankin, Irish Building Ventures of the Earl Bishop of Derry (UAHS, 1972), 11.


24 work entries listed in chronological order for DUCART, DAVIS


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Building: CO. CORK, CORK, WATERWORKS (PROPOSED)
Date: 1761
Nature: DD paid for plans for same, 28 Oct 1761.
Refs: R. Caulfield (ed.) The Council Book of the Corporation of the City of Cork (1876), 752

Building: CO. CORK, BALLYCRENAN?
Date: 1764-65?
Nature: Possibly the house that DD states in his will he had rebuilt for 'Mrs Wallis, now Mrs Mercer' (ie. Ann, widow of Barrachia Wallis of Ballycrenan (d.1765) who married Richard Mercer, 1766)
Refs: Letter from Brian de Breffny to Desmond Guinness, 27 Aug 1980; John Logan, 'Dropped into this Kingdom from the clouds': The Irish career of Davis Dukart, architect and engineer, 1761-1781', Irish Architectural and Decorative Studies 10 (2007), 57-58

Building: CO. CORK, LOTA (GLANMIRE)
Date: 1765
Nature: New house for Noblett Rogers, in collaboration with Michael Shanahan. Descr, by D.A. Beaufort in 1788:'…the house is by Ducart - heavy and the plaister falling off but some good rooms & a balcony over a portico at hall door'.
Refs: Letter from Michael Shanahan, 2 Jan 1784, to Earl Bishop of Derry in Hervey Bruce MSS, quoted by Knight of Glin in uncompleted thesis, 'The Irish Palladians'; Journal of the Rev. D.A. Beaufort, 10 Sep 1788; Mark Bence-Jones, Burke’s Guide to Country Houses. Volume I, Ireland. (London, 1978), 191; Desmond Fitzgerald, Knight of Glin, 'The architecture of Davis Duckart', Country Life 142, 28 Sep 1967, 738-9(illus.); Mark Bence-Jones, Burke’s Guide to Country Houses. Volume I, Ireland. (London, 1978), 191(illus.); John Logan, 'Dropped into this Kingdom from the clouds': The Irish career of Davis Dukart, architect and engineer, 1761-1781', Irish Architectural and Decorative Studies 10 (2007), 49-53(illus.)(names client as Robert Rogers)

Building: CO. LIMERICK, LIMERICK, CUSTOM HOUSE QUAY, CUSTOM HOUSE
Date: 1765-1769
Nature: New. Begun 9 Jun 1765. Carried out by Christopher Colles from DD's designs. Cost about £8,000.
Refs: E.McP files, citing NA/PRO Cust.113; J. Ferrar, The History of Limerick…to the year 1787 (1787), ?; Patrick Fitzgerald & John James McGregor, The history, topography, and antiquities, of the county and city of Limerick (Dublin, 1826-7), 589-590; M. Lenihan, Limerick; its history and antiquities (1866), 356; Desmond Fitzgerald, Knight of Glin, 'The architecture of Davis Duckart', Country Life 142, 28 Sep 1967, 735(illus.); Judith Hill, The Building of Limerick (1991), 85-86(illus.); Judith Hill, 'Davis Ducart & Christopher Colles: architects associated with the Custom House at Limerick', Irish Architectural and Decorative Studies 2 (1999), 119-145; John Logan, 'Dropped into this Kingdom from the clouds': The Irish career of Davis Dukart, architect and engineer, 1761-1781', Irish Architectural and Decorative Studies 10 (2007), 39-45

Building: CO. CORK, CORK, HENRY STREET, MAYORALTY HOUSE
Date: 1765-1773
Nature: New. DD, architect, with Charles Swiney, carpenter, and Edmond Flaherty, builder. FS laid 17 Jun 1764. Finished (shell only|?) Aug.1867.  Mayor in residence by Jul 1769 but building not complete until 1773. (Became Vincentian Seminary c1845 and Mercy Hospital c.1857.)
Refs: APSD, C, 148; R. Caulfield (ed.), The Council Book of the Corporation of the City of Cork (1876), 815-16; Francis H. Tuckey, The County and City of Cork Remembrancer (Cork, 1837), , 149; J. Windele, Historical and Descriptive Notices of the City of Cork (1849), ?; MS. notes by Robert Walker, Cork City Surveyor, c1890; Mark Bence-Jones, 'A city of vanished waterways - Cork I', Country Life 142, 3 Aug 1967, 252(illus.),253; Desmond Fitzgerald, Knight of Glin, 'The architecture of Davis Duckart', Country Life 142, 28 Sep 1967, 735(illus.); John Logan, 'Dropped into this Kingdom from the clouds': The Irish career of Davis Dukart, architect and engineer, 1761-1781', Irish Architectural and Decorative Studies 10 (2007), 36-39.

Building: CO. CORK, KILSHANNIG
Date: 1765-6
Nature: New 7-bay, 3-storey over basement house house, for Abraham Devonsher.
Refs: Mentioned in Ducart's will (see summary in Georgian Society Records 5 (1913), 72); Desmond Fitzgerald, Knight of Glin, 'The architecture of Davis Duckart', Country Life 142, 28 Sep 1967, 736-8(illus.); Mark Bence-Jones, Burke’s Guide to Country Houses. Volume I, Ireland. (London, 1978), 176(illus.); John Logan, 'Dropped into this Kingdom from the clouds': The Irish career of Davis Dukart, architect and engineer, 1761-1781', Irish Architectural and Decorative Studies 10 (2007), 48-49.

Building: CO. TYRONE, COALISLAND-DRUMGLASS CANAL EXTENSION
Date: 1767-1777
Nature: First and only inclined planes in Irelnd.
Refs: JJHCI 8, Part 2, 179ff.; W.A. McCutcheon, The Industrial Archaeology of Northern Ireland (1980), 61-65,90n.56-57

Building: CO. FERMANAGH, FLORENCE COURT
Date: 1767-68ca
Nature: Addition of wings attributed to DD by Knight of Glin. For John Cole, 1st Baron Mount Florence.
Refs: Desmond Fitzgerald, Knight of Glin, 'The architecture of Davis Duckart', Country Life 142, 5 Oct 1967, 780(illus.); Alistair Rowan, The Buildings of Ireland: North West Ulster (1979), 298-300

Building: CO. KILKENNY, CASTLETOWN COX
Date: 1767p
Nature: 'the architect was Duchart, a Sardinian' (Tighe). For Michael Cox, Archbishop of Cashel.
Refs: William Tighe, Statistical Observations relative to the County of Kilkenny made in the years 1800 and 1801 (1802), 589; Country Life 44, ? ? 1918, 190,214; IB 60, 9 Nov 1918, 487; 61, 8 Feb 1919, 48; Desmond Fitzgerald, Knight of Glin, 'The architecture of Davis Duckart', Country Life 142, 5 Oct 1967, 798-9(illus.); John Logan, 'Dropped into this Kingdom from the clouds': The Irish career of Davis Dukart, architect and engineer, 1761-1781', Irish Architectural and Decorative Studies 10 (2007), 53-57

Building: CO. LAOIS, BROCKLEY PARK
Date: 1768
Nature: 'built in 1768 under the direction of Ducart, an Italian architect, on the site of a former one burnt down' (|Anthologia Hibernica|). For 2nd Viscount Jocelyn; demolished 1944.
Refs: 'An account of the ancient and present state of …Stradbally and of Brockley Park…', Anthologia Hibernica IV (Sep 1794, 184-5; Thomas Milton, The Seats and Demesnes of the Nobility and Gentry of Ireland (1783-93), 19,Pl.10; Desmond Fitzgerald, Knight of Glin, 'The architecture of Davis Duckart', Country Life 142, 5 Oct 1967, 799; Mark Bence-Jones, Burke’s Guide to Country Houses. Volume I, Ireland. (London, 1978), 48(illus.); John Logan, 'Dropped into this Kingdom from the clouds': The Irish career of Davis Dukart, architect and engineer, 1761-1781', Irish Architectural and Decorative Studies 10 (2007), 59-62(illus.)

Building: CO. LIMERICK, LIMERICK, ASSEMBLY MALL, ASSEMBLY ROOMS
Date: 1768
Nature: DD submits plan for same but proposal of William Deane Hoare preferred by subscribers.
Refs: John Logan, 'Dropped into this Kingdom from the clouds': The Irish career of Davis Dukart, architect and engineer, 1761-1781', Irish Architectural and Decorative Studies 10 (2007), 45,46(illus.)

Building: CO. TYRONE, NEWMILLS, AQUEDUCT
Date: 1768ca
Nature: Part of Coalisland-Drumglass canal extension. Executed 'under the inspection of Thomas Penrose'.
Refs: G. Breeze, Society of Artists in Ireland: Index of Exhibits 1765-80 (1985), 21; Alistair Rowan, The Buildings of Ireland: North West Ulster (1979), 437; W.A. McCutcheon, The Industrial Archaeology of Northern Ireland (1980), 64,Pl.18/1

Building: CO. DERRY, DERRY, BRIDGE OVER RIVER FOYLE
Date: 1769
Nature: Designs for stone bridge and alternative wooden bridge prepared by DD in 1769. For Frederick Hervey, Bishop of Derry. Not executed.
Refs: Letter from Ducart, College Green, 13 Feb 1769, to Frederick Hervey, Bishop of Derry (photograph in IAA), quoted by P. Rankin, Irish Building Ventures of the Earl Bishop of Derry (UAHS, 1972), 11

Building: CO. LIMERICK, LIMERICK, NEWTOWN PERY
Date: 1769
Nature: Plan of plots for lease devised by DD.
Refs: Judith Hill, The Building of Limerick (1991), 105-6; John Logan, 'Dropped into this Kingdom from the clouds': The Irish career of Davis Dukart, architect and engineer, 1761-1781', Irish Architectural and Decorative Studies 10 (2007), 45-48 (date given as 1765 by same author in 'Barracks, asylum and model school:  public architecture in Limerick from the late-eighteenth to the mid-nineteenth century', Limerick History and Society, ed. by Liam Irwin & Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh (Dublin: Geography Publications, 2009), 277).

Building: CO. CORK, CASTLE MARY
Date: 1780a
Nature: Designed 'a difficult roof', for Richard Longfield.
Refs: Mentioned in Ducart's will (see summary in Georgian Society Records 5 (1913), 72); Mark Bence-Jones, Burke’s Guide to Country Houses. Volume I, Ireland. (London, 1978), 73; John Logan, 'Dropped into this Kingdom from the clouds': The Irish career of Davis Dukart, architect and engineer, 1761-1781', Irish Architectural and Decorative Studies 10 (2007), 59

Building: CO. CORK, LITTLE ISLAND HOUSE
Date: 1780ca
Nature: For - Bury. Attr. to DD by Knight of Glin.
Refs: Desmond Fitzgerald, Knight of Glin, 'The architecture of Davis Duckart', Country Life 142, 5 Oct 1967, 798-9(illus.); Mark Bence-Jones, Burke’s Guide to Country Houses. Volume I, Ireland. (London, 1978), 189

Building: CO. GALWAY, DUNSANDLE (ATHENRY)
Date: ?
Nature: Tentatively attr. to DD by Knight of Glin. For Denis Daly, MP.
Refs: Desmond Fitzgerald, Knight of Glin, 'The architecture of Davis Duckart', Country Life 142, 5 Oct 1967, 799; Mark Bence-Jones, Burke’s Guide to Country Houses. Volume I, Ireland. (London, 1978), 116(illus.)

Building: CO. TIPPERARY, WOODROOFF HOUSE (CLONMEL)
Date: ?
Nature: Addition of square courts attr. to DD by Knight of Glin.
Refs: Desmond Fitzgerald, Knight of Glin, 'The architecture of Davis Duckart', Country Life 142, 5 Oct 1967, 799; Mark Bence-Jones, Burke’s Guide to Country Houses. Volume I, Ireland. (London, 1978), 286

Building: CO. CORK, CASTLE HYDE
Date: ?
Nature: For John Hyde. Knight of Glin says 'possibly' by DD, tho' given to Abraham Hargrave, sen, by Bence-Jones. (AH probably only carried out wings; central block earlier)
Refs: Desmond Fitzgerald, Knight of Glin, 'The architecture of Davis Duckart', Country Life 142, 5 Oct 1967, 799(illus.) but cf. Maurice Craig & the Knight of Glin, Ireland Observed (1970), 26; Mark Bence-Jones, Burke’s Guide to Country Houses. Volume I, Ireland. (London, 1978), 70(illus.); Mary Cecilia Lyons, Illustrated Incumbered Estates Ireland, 1850-1905 (1993), 21(illus.)

Building: CO. CORK, COOLE ABBEY (FERMOY)
Date: ?
Nature: Attributed to DD by Knight of Glin. For Henry Peard.
Refs: Desmond Fitzgerald, Knight of Glin, 'The architecture of Davis Duckart', Country Life 142, 28 Sep 1967, 738-9(illus.); Mark Bence-Jones, Burke’s Guide to Country Houses. Volume I, Ireland. (London, 1978), 90; John Logan, 'Dropped into this Kingdom from the clouds': The Irish career of Davis Dukart, architect and engineer, 1761-1781', Irish Architectural and Decorative Studies 10 (2007), 62,66

Building: CO. CORK, DRISHANE CASTLE?
Date: ?
Nature: Rebuilding of house for 'Mrs Wallis, now Mrs Mercer'.
Refs: Mentioned in Ducart's will (see summary in Georgian Society Records 5 (1913), 72)

Building: CO. WATERFORD, CAPPOQUIN
Date: ?
Nature: Possibly attributable to DD on stylistic grounds.
Refs: Verbal communication from David Griffin

Building: CO. ARMAGH, ARMAGH, PALACE DEMESNE, ARCHBISHOP'S PALACE
Date: ?
Nature: Evidence of design by DD.
Refs: E. McParland, 'James Gandon and the Royal Exchange Competition', JRSAI102 (1982), 68; information from Anthony Malcomson; Kevin V. Mulligan, The Buildings of Ireland: South Ulster (2013), 134.  

Building: CO. TYRONE, LISSAN HOUSE
Date: ?
Nature: '…demesne embellished with thriving plantations, an artificial sheet of water with cascades, and a picturesque bridge, built by the celebrated Ducart' (Lewis).
Refs: Samuel Lewis, A Topographical dictionary of Ireland (1837), II, 287; see Alistair Rowan, The Buildings of Ireland: North West Ulster (1979), 362 (suggests that lake and landscape improvements and even 18th cent. house may also have been by DD); John Logan, 'Dropped into this Kingdom from the clouds': The Irish career of Davis Dukart, architect and engineer, 1761-1781', Irish Architectural and Decorative Studies 10 (2007), 62,70,72(illus.)

Author Title Date Details
Fitzgerald, Desmond, Kinght Of Glin 'The Irish Palladians' Uncompleted thesis for Harvard University. (Typescript copy in IAA.)
Fitzgerald, Desmond, Kinght Of Glin 'A baroque Palladian in Ireland: the architecture of Davis Duckart' Country Life 142, 28 Sep,5 Oct 1967, 735-9,798-801
Hill, Judith 'Davis Ducart and Christopher Colles: aqrchitects associated with the Custom House at Limerick' 1998 Irish Architectural and Decorative Studies 2 (1999), 118-145.