Selected: ROBERTS, JOHN [1]


Born: 1712
Died: 1796


Architect, of Waterford. John Roberts, who was born in 1712, was the only son of THOMAS ROBERTS THOMAS ROBERTS , architect, of Waterford,(1) and his wife Sarah (née Bowles). According to Bayly's account of the family, he went to London as a young man 'to improve himself in the knowledge of his profession'. This period in London may have been connected with his elopement, when he was only about seventeen, with Mary Susannah Sautelle (1716c-1800), a Huguenot heiress.(2) The couple were to have twenty-four children, among them the landscape painters Thomas Roberts and Thomas Sautelle Roberts.(3)

On his return to Waterford Roberts practised as an architect and builder, manifesting, in Bayly's words, 'the valuable qualities of integrity, thrift, industry and force of character, which ultimately led to prosperity and honour for himself and his descendants'. He enjoyed the patronage of the Bishop of Waterford, Richard Chenevix, who, in a letter to Bishop William Gore of Limerick on 16 May 1775, described him in terms of the strongest approbation: he was an architect 'whose integrity, skill and experience I have long been acquainted with, he having finished the episcopal house, and…built two houses for me…He is well known to the Archbishop of Cashel, Lord Tyrone (whose fine offices he built) and the chief gentlemen of this county, having been employed by most of them in considerable buildings and to their entire satisfaction, and he has now undertaken the rebuilding of the cathedral of Waterford, his plan having been approved of by the corporation and the clergy.'(4)

Roberts and his large family lived for many years in the old bishop's palace, opposite the cathedral, with a country residence at Roberts Mount on the outskirts of the city. Roberts appears to have been in partnership with one of his sons, possibly BENJAMIN ROBERTS BENJAMIN ROBERTS , in 1777, when 'Roberts & Son' were importing timber,(5) but he appears on his own as 'architect, builder and sworn timber measurer' of William Street in a Waterford directory of 1788.(6) He remained actively engaged in his profession until the end of his life. The circumstances of his death during the building of the Catholic cathedral in Waterford are described by Bayly: 'in the early part of 1796, getting up one morning at three o'clock instead of six - having mistaken the hour - to inspect the workmen, he sat down in the unfinished building, fell asleep, and awakened so thoroughly chilled that death shortly after ensued'. He died on 23 May 1796 and was buried in the French Church. An abstract of his will, dated 1796, is in the National Archives.(7)

Roberts may be the 'John Roberts, Esq.' who subscribed for two copies of Pool and Cash's Views…in the City of Dublin (1780).

See WORKS.

References
All information in this entry not otherwise accounted for is from William J. Bayly, 'The Roberts family of Waterford', Journal of the Waterford and South East of Ireland Archaeological Society 2 (1896), 99ff., and Mark Girouard, 'The reign of the building families: City of Waterford, Ireland - II',Country Life 141, 15 Dec 1966, 1627-8.

(1) John Roberts's (great?-)granddaughter states in NA/PRO M4974 that John Robert's father was named Robert Roberts.(IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44).
(2) According to Bayly she was disinherited by her father as a result, but Girouard states that the marriage 'worked out well in the long run' because of the friendship of the Sautelles with Richard Chenevix, Bishop of Waterford, also of a Huguenot family.
(3) W.G. Strickland, A Dictionary of Irish Artists (1913), II, 278-283; Thomas Sautelle Roberts was originally intended to become an architect, and was admitted to the Dublin Society's School of Drawing in Architecture in 1777.
(4) Letter from Richard Chenevix, Bishop of Waterford, to William Gore, Bishop of Limerick, 16 May 1775, in NLI, Limerick MSS., PC 875, 19/7.
(5) 'Roberts & Son' of Waterford, were importing pine boards in 1777 (NA/PRO (Kew) Cust.1.141 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44))
(6) IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44.
(7) Ref. Jennings/393.

16 work entries listed in chronological order for ROBERTS, JOHN [1]


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Building: CO. WATERFORD, WATERFORD, BARRACK STREET?, BARRACKS
Date: 1754
Nature: JR paid for work on barracks at Waterford, Ross and Carrick.
Refs: Thomas Eyre's MS. 'General Accompt', 1752-1762, IAA, Acc. 86/149., II, 99,103,112

Building: CO. TIPPERARY, CARRICK-ON-SUIR, BARRACKS
Date: 1754
Nature: JR paid for work on barracks at Waterford, [New?] Ross and Carrick [on Suir?].
Refs: Thomas Eyre's MS. 'General Accompt', 1752-1762, IAA, Acc. 86/149., II, 99,103,112

Building: CO. WEXFORD, NEW ROSS, BARRACKS
Date: 1754
Nature: JR paid for work on barracks at Waterford, [New?]Ross and Carrick [on Suir?}.
Refs: Thomas Eyre's MS. 'General Accompt', 1752-1762, IAA, Acc. 86/149., II, 99,103,112

Building: CO. WATERFORD, WATERFORD, CATHEDRAL SQUARE, CHRIST CHURCH CATHEDRAL (CI)
Date: 1774
Nature: New Classical cathedral. JR's design chosen 1774. JR also builder of cathedral. Steeple raised post 1783. Building not finished until at least 1792. For Richard Chenevix, Bishop of Waterford
Refs: Mark Girouard, 'The reign of the building families: City of Waterford, Ireland - II', Country Life 141, 15 Dec 1966, 1627(illus.);  Roger Stalley, 'Reconstructions of the Gothic past:  the lost cathedral of Waterford', Irish Architectural and Decorative Studies 16 (2013), 94-99 (illus.).

Building: CO. WATERFORD, WATERFORD?, HOUSES (002)
Date: 1775a
Nature: 2 houses for Bishop of Waterford (at Waterford?)
Refs: NLI, Limerick MSS., special list 160, Box P.C.879, Bundle 19 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc.2008/44)

Building: CO. WATERFORD, CURRAGHMORE
Date: 1775a
Nature: Offices for 'Lord Tyrone' (1st or 2nd earl?), i.e. forecourt at Curraghmore? Girouard says JR a likely candidate and 1750-60 a likely date. Bence Jones says by JR. (Forecourt attr. to Francis Bindon by Knight of Glin in BIGS, 10, Nos. 2 & 3, Apr-Sep 1967, 16.)
Refs: Letter from Richard Chenevix, Bishop of Waterford, to William Gore, Bishop of Limerick, 16 May 1775, in NLI, Limerick MSS., PC 875, 19/7; Mark Girouard, 'Curraghmore, Co. Waterford', Country Life 133, 14 Feb 1963, 308; Mark Bence-Jones, Burke’s Guide to Country Houses. Volume I, Ireland. (London, 1978), 97

Building: CO. WATERFORD, WATERFORD, CATHEDRAL SQUARE, BISHOP'S PALACE
Date: 1775a
Nature: Completion, for Richard Chenevix, who became Bishop of Waterford in 1746..
Refs: Letter from Richard Chenevix, Bishop of Waterford, to William Gore, Bishop of Limerick, 16 May 1775, in NLI, Limerick MSS., PC 875, 19/7; Mark Girouard, 'The reign of the building families: City of Waterford, Ireland - II',Country Life 141, 15 Dec 1966, 1627

Building: CO. WEXFORD, WEXFORD, MAIN STREET NORTH, CHURCH OF ST IBERIUS (CI)
Date: 1775ca.
Nature: New church.
Refs: Draft entry by Stephanie Jones for DIB

Building: CO. GALWAY, TYRONE HOUSE
Date: 1779
Nature: Built for Christopher St George, 'reputedly to the design of John Roberts, of Waterford'. (Described by Rev. D.A. Beaufort, in 1787or 1788, as 'large and new but very bleak and too high'.)
Refs: Mark Bence-Jones, Burke’s Guide to Country Houses. Volume I, Ireland. (London, 1978), 279 (illus.; attr. suggested by Kinight of Glin?)

Building: CO. WATERFORD, WATERFORD, MALL, ASSEMBLY ROOMS & PLAYHOUSE
Date: 1783p
Nature: Built as assembly rooms and playhouse for Cornelius Bolton, Robert Shapland Carew, Henry Alcock, jr, and Simon John Newport. Grand banqueting room completed 1788.
Refs: P.M. Egan, History, guide and directory of county and city of Waterford [1894], 382;  Mark Girouard, 'The reign of the building families: City of Waterford, Ireland - II',Country Life 141, 15 Dec 1966, 1627-8(illus.)

Building: CO. WATERFORD, WATERFORD, JOHN'S HILL, LEPER HOSPITAL
Date: 1785
Nature: New building, with large, plain facade.
Refs: Mark Girouard, 'The reign of the building families: City of Waterford, Ireland - II',Country Life 141, 15 Dec 1966, 1628

Building: CO. TIPPERARY, CASHEL, FRIAR STREET, CHURCH OF ST JOHN THE BAPTIST (RC)
Date: 1790
Nature: New church.
Refs: Draft entry by Stephanie Jones for DIB; www.heritagecouncil.ie/publications/cashel/ch3.html

Building: CO. WATERFORD, WATERFORD, BARRONSTRAND STREET, CATHEDRAL OF THE HOLY TRINITY (RC)
Date: 1792p
Nature: Land granted 1792; JR died while building under construction, 1796.
Refs: Mark Girouard, 'The reign of the building families: City of Waterford, Ireland - II', Country Life 141, 15 Dec 1966, 1628(illus.)

Building: CO. MAYO, MOORE HALL
Date: ?
Nature: New house, for George Moore. Attr. to JR by Nolan. (Central breakfront rather similar to that at Tyrone House, Co. Galway.)
Refs: Joseph Hone, The Moores of Moore Hall) (1939), 28-30; Mark Bence-Jones, Burke’s Guide to Country Houses. Volume I, Ireland. (London, 1978), 210(illus.); Brian Nolan, 'Waterford Architect John Roberts remembered', Irish Architect 164 (Feb 2001), 8

Building: CO. WEXFORD, ROSEGARLAND
Date: ?
Nature: Bence Jones sees similarities between late 18th cent. range and Waterford Chamber of Commerce (doorway,hall staircase)
Refs: Mark Bence-Jones, Burke’s Guide to Country Houses. Volume I, Ireland. (London, 1978), 245-6

Building: CO. WATERFORD, WATERFORD, GEORGE'S STREET, CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
Date: ?
Nature: Attr. to JR by Egan and Girouard.   Built as private house for William Morris. Cost: £10,000 (Egan).Sold to Chamber of Commerce, 1815.
Refs: P.M. Egan, History, guide and directory of county and city of Waterford [1894], 386;  Mark Girouard, 'The reign of the building families: City of Waterford, Ireland - II',Country Life 141, 15 Dec 1966, 1628-9(illus.)