Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

Architect, active in England and Ireland. According to the researches of Stephen Massil, Daniel Robertson was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the youngest son of Andrew Robertson (1733-1791) and his wife Helen (née Crawford,) who died in 1778, which is presumably the terminus ante quem for Daniel's year of birth.  Andrew Robertson had emigrated from Scotland to South Carolina in 1756 but as a loyalist returned in 1782 to Britain. The details of Daniel's architectural training are not known, but he had family connections with ROBERT ADAM  ROBERT ADAM and his brothers, John, James and William, through their mother, Mary Robertson of Gladney.(1)   Daniel and his brother Alexander appear in London in in 1800 as protégés and partners of the youngest Adam brother, William, a builder and developer. Writing to John Clerk of Penicuik in November 1800, William Adam refers to a 'very extensive' contract for building warehouses at the West India Docks;  'as I shall have the assistance of my young friends A. & D. Robertson,' he continues, 'I think we shall get through it with great ease'.(2) In fact Adam's connection with the Robertson brothers proved disastrous. Although being made increasingly aware of the malign effect their fecklessness, irresponsiblity  and dishonesty were having on his own financial affairs, he seems to have found it impossible to break free from them until finally in January 1821, under pressure from his family, he signed a formal undertaking that he would have nothing more to do with them.(3)

Daniel Robertson had meanwhile married in 1808.  His bride was Amelia Helen Clarke, daughter of the Rev. Dr. Thomas Brooke Clarke, chaplain to the Duke of Cumberland and Receiver and Reporter of the Bishops' Diocesan Returns of England and Ireland, who was Irish by birth.  After the Robertson brothers were declared bankrupt in 1817, probably as a result of involvement in speculative building projects, Clarke, who had no illusions about his son-in-law but wanted to protect his daughter and her growing brood of children, tried in vain to persuade him to take up a salaried position in Ireland.(4)    Between 1826 and 1829, for reasons which are not known, Robertson received a series of commissions in Oxford, the most important being the Oxford University Press building.   Nevertheless, from the time of his 1817 bankruptcy onwards, he seems to have been constantly in debt and constantly in flight from his creditors, shifting household between different addresses in the south of England, Wales, France, and Ireland.  The fifth of his twelve children, Arthur, was born in Dublin in 1817, while the Daniel Robertson who was admitted to the Royal Dublin Society's school of figure drawing in 1823 may have been his second son.(5) 

In 1829 Robertson's Oxford career came to an end when he was imprisoned for debt, and in 1830 he was again declared bankrupt.  From the early 1830s he did no further work in Britain but received a series of commissions in Ireland, mainly for country house work in the south eastern counties. Most of these houses or additions were in the Tudor style, which, he asserted in a letter to a client, Henry Faulkner, of Castletown, Co. Carlow,  was 'still so new and so little understood in Ireland'. For some of them he used MARTIN DAY  MARTIN DAY as his executant architect. In spite of his success in attracting commissions, when he was working at Powerscourt in the early 1840s he was, in the words of Lord Powerscourt, 'always in debt and…used to hide in the domes of the roof of the house' to escape the Sheriff's officers who pursued him.(6)   By then he was crippled with gout and in an advanced state of alcoholism; at Powerscourt he 'used to be wheeled out on the terrace in a wheelbarrow with a bottle of sherry, and as long as that lasted he was able to design and direct the workmen, but when the sherry was finished he collapsed and was incapable of working till the drunken fit had evaporated.'(7)  In at least two instances - at Powerscourt and at Lisnavagh - he lived on the premises while work was in progress, and it iseems that from the 1830s until the year of his death his wife and family never settled for any time in Ireland.  These circumstances must have led to a considerable amount of shuttling between Britain and Ireland; in the winter of 1834-35, for example, Robertson spent nearly three months in London being nursed through a severe and prolonged attack of 'Rheumatic Gout' by his wife.(8)   In 1843 he filed for bankruptcy a third time.

Robertson was overseeing the completion of Lisnavagh, Co. Carlow, where he had been living intermittently since the start of building in 1846, when he fell seriously  ill in the spring of 1849.   Shortly beforehand he had persuaded  his long-suffering wife, herself in poor health, to come over to Ireland, and he was staying with her in Howth, Co. Dublin, when he died early in September 1849.  The location of his burial on 13 September has not yet been established.   He left  assets worth only £20.(10) His wife appears to have survived him until 1869.

The Irish Architectural Archive has drawings by Robertson for Powerscourt, 1840-1844, in the Powerscourt Albums (Acc. 89/62), for the church of St Matthias in Dublin, 1840-1843, in the Murray Collection (Acc. 92/46), for Rathwade, Co. Carlow, 1834 (Acc. 90/69) and for a gamekeeper's lodge at Bloomfield, Co. Wexford, 1837 (Acc. 80/10.5).

Addresses (in Ireland):  117 Great Brunswick Street, 1840-1841;  1 Lower Pembroke Street, 1841-43;  15 Lower Pembroke Street, 1843; Howth Cottage, Howth, Co. Dublin, at time of death.

See WORKS, for Irish works only, and BIBLIOGRAPHY. BIBLIOGRAPHY.



References

All information in this entry not otherwise accounted for is from Frederick O'Dwyer, '"Modelled Muscularity": Daniel Robertson's Tudor mansions', Irish Arts Review Yearbook 15 (1999), 87-97, Howard Colvin, A Biographical dictionary of British architects 1600-1840 (4th edn., 2008) , 873-876, and the researches of Stephen W. Massil, published as three articles in the Scottish Genealogist:  'The family of Daniel Robertson, architect and bankrupt', Vol. 59, No. 1 (Mar 2012), 3-18; 'Andrew Robertson of Gladsmuir in America 1756-1782, and his American family - Part One', Vol. 59, no. 4 (Dec 2012), 159-170, and 'Andrew Robertson of Gladsmuir in America 1756-1782, and his American family - Part Two', Vol. 60, no. 1 (Mar 2013), 31-38.  A miniature portrait of Daniel Robertson, painted in Charleston in 1793 by Peter Henry, is reproduced on the back cover of the latter issue.


(1) He may be the Daniel Robertson who signed a drawing among the Adam office drawings in the Victoria & Albert Museum, but O'Dwyer's conjecture that there may have been two persons of this name is persuasive.
(2) Clerk papers at Penicuik House, Midlothian, GD.18.4984.
(3) Clerk papers, GD.18.4996.
(4) Clerk papers, GD.18.4992.
(5) Gitta Willemson, The Dublin Society Drawing Schools 1746-1876 (2000), 83.  Arthur is described by Robertson in 1835 as being 'now a great architect in his way' (Letter from Daniel Robertson, Cork Street, London, to Henry Faulkner of Castletown, Co. Carlow, Feb 1835, in possession of Amy Monahan, Castletown, 1986, photocopy in IAA, Jones file R44). Neither son pursued an artistic or architectural career, however, Daniel becoming a lawyer and eventually joining the British consular service, and Arthur settling for a life of leisure.
(6) MS notes by Mervyn, 7th Viscount Powerscourt, in IAA, Powerscourt Album 1 (Acc. 89/62).
(7) See note 6, above.
(8) Letter from Robertson to Henry Faulkner, Feb 1835, see note 5, above. 
(9) Among the Rathdonnell Papers at Lisnevagh, Co. Carlow, are letters of 1849 from Robertson's son and widow which refer to the generosity of W.B. McClintock-Bunbury (for whom Robertson had designed Lisnevagh) in helping Mrs Robertson in her financial difficulties pending the settling of her husband's affairs.


33 work entries listed in chronological order for ROBERTSON, DANIEL


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Building: CO. WEXFORD, KILLOUGHRAM FOREST
Date: 1833
Nature: Proposed octagonal range of farm buildings with cottage ornee centrepiece. For Robert William Phaire.
Refs: Sketch plan, signed and dated Aug 1833, in collection of Lord Rathdonnell, Lisnavagh, Co. Carlow; Frederick O'Dwyer, '"Modelled Muscularity": Daniel Robertson's Tudor mansions', Irish Arts Review Yearbook 15 (1999), 95

Building: CO. WATERFORD, CURRAGHMORE
Date: 1833
Nature: Proposed Gothic extension and recasing, for 3rd Marquess of Waterford. Not executed.
Refs: Mark Girouard, 'Curraghmore, Co. Waterford'. Country Life 133, 21 Feb 1963,371; Frederick O'Dwyer, '"Modelled Muscularity": Daniel Robertson's Tudor mansions', Irish Arts Review Yearbook 15 (1999), 91

Building: CO. CARLOW, RATHWADE
Date: 1834
Nature: Enlargement, for Beauchamp Bartholomew Newton. Only partly executed.
Refs: Signed dated drawing in IAA, Acc. 90/69 (repr. by O'Dwyer, op.cit., below); Frederick O'Dwyer, '"Modelled Muscularity": Daniel Robertson's Tudor mansions', Irish Arts Review Yearbook 15 (1999), 89(illus.),92-93.

Building: CO. CARLOW, BALLYDARTON
Date: 1835a
Nature: New house built by Samuel Watson of Kilconner, Co. Carlow, for his son, Samuel Watson (1715-1784), described by DR as 'my beautiful, my own Ballydarton...my pride'.
Refs: Letter from DR to Henry Faulkner, 16 Feb 1835, in collection of Amy Monahan, Castletown, 1986 (photocopy in IAA); Frederick O'Dwyer, '"Modelled Muscularity": Daniel Robertson's Tudor mansions', Irish Arts Review Yearbook 15 (1999), 88(illus.),92

Building: CO. CARLOW, CASTLETOWN
Date: 1835ca
Nature: New wing, for Henry Faulkner.
Refs: Letter from DR to Henry Faulkner, 16 Feb 1835, in collection of Amy Monahan, Castletown, 1986 (photocopy in IAA); Frederick O'Dwyer, '"Modelled Muscularity": Daniel Robertson's Tudor mansions', Irish Arts Review Yearbook 15 (1999), 91-93

Building: CO. CARLOW, BAGENALSTOWN, COURT HOUSE
Date: 1835ca
Nature: New court house with Ionic portico. 'The parochial school-house, a neat building in the Grecian style, is in Bagnalstown, where also is a handsome court-house in the same style, lately erected at the expense of Philip Bagenal, Esq., in which quarter sessions are held at the usual periods.' (Lewis). Court house probably designed by DR as Philip Bagenal of Benekerry (second son of Philip Newton of Dunleckney, who assumed name of Bagenal in 1832) was the brother of Walter Newton of Dunleckney, Beauchamp Bartholomew Newton of Rathwade, John Newton of Bagenalstown House, and Henry Newtown of Mount Leinster, who were all clients of DR in this period.
Refs: Samuel Lewis, A Topographical dictionary of Ireland (1837), I, 584.

Building: CO. CARLOW, DUNLECKNEY MANOR
Date: 1835p
Nature: Tudor Gothic house, for Walter Newton.
Refs: Frederick O'Dwyer, '"Modelled Muscularity": Daniel Robertson's Tudor mansions', Irish Arts Review Yearbook 15 (1999), 88(illus.),92-3 (described in IB 11, 15 Dec 1869, 293)

Building: CO. WEXFORD, JOHNSTOWN CASTLE
Date: 1836
Nature: Gothicization and enlargement for H.K. Grogan Morgan, assisted by Martin Day.
Refs: Signed drawings, dated 1836, in collection of OPW in 1961 (see Connoisseur May, 1961, 283); Frederick O'Dwyer, '"Modelled Muscularity": Daniel Robertson's Tudor mansions', Irish Arts Review Yearbook 15 (1999), 94), 91,94

Building: CO. WEXFORD, WILTON CASTLE
Date: 1836ca
Nature: Enlargement and Gothicization, for Harry Alcock.
Refs: 'Section of the side of the staircase next to the study wall in the hall at Wilton Castle' among Rathdonnell Papers, Lisnevagh, Co. Carlow; signed? drawing, dated 1837./ in NLI, AD 3503; Frederick O'Dwyer, '"Modelled Muscularity": Daniel Robertson's Tudor mansions', Irish Arts Review Yearbook 15 (1999), 95(illus.); David Rowe & Eithne Scallan, Houses of Wexford(Ballinakella Press, 2004), no.1024(illus.)

Building: CO. CARLOW, WYKEHAM (BAGENALSTOWN)
Date: 1836ca
Nature: 'Robertson's hand can also be detected in the Newton dower house, Wykeham...an elegantly proportioned Tudor villa...'
Refs: Frederick O'Dwyer, '"Modelled Muscularity": Daniel Robertson's Tudor mansions', Irish Arts Review Yearbook 15 (1999), 90(illus.),93

Building: CO. CARLOW, MOUNT LEINSTER LODGE
Date: 1836ca
Nature: Tudor Gothic, for Henry Newton.
Refs: Frederick O'Dwyer, '"Modelled Muscularity": Daniel Robertson's Tudor mansions', Irish Arts Review Yearbook 15 (1999), 90(illus.),93

Building: CO. WEXFORD, WELLS HOUSE
Date: 1836ca-1845ca
Nature: Tudor remodelling of house, and landscape scheme (in progress 1844), for Robert Doyne.
Refs: Signed and dated drawings in the collection of Uli Rossler, Wells House (2014);  Frederick O'Dwyer, '"Modelled Muscularity": Daniel Robertson's Tudor mansions', Irish Arts Review Yearbook 15 (1999), 91(illus.),93.

Building: CO. LONGFORD, CARRIGGLAS
Date: 1837-1845
Nature: Tudor Gothic remodelling for Thomas Lefroy. Contractor for mason work: William Dennin. Coats of arms carved by Andrew Coffey. Clerk of Works: Simmons.
Refs: Drawings in coll. Geoffrey Lefroy, Carrigglas (photocopies in IAA Acc. no. 86/150); Mark Bence-Jones, Burke’s Guide to Country Houses. Volume I, Ireland. (London, 1978), 58(illus.); Christine Casey & Alistair Rowan, The Buildings of Ireland: North Leinster (1993), 179-182, Pls.115,116; Frederick O'Dwyer, '"Modelled Muscularity": Daniel Robertson's Tudor mansions', Irish Arts Review Yearbook 15 (1999), 87(illus.), 94

Building: CO. WEXFORD, CASTLEBORO
Date: 1837a;1844ca
Nature: Classical house, largely destroyed by fire c.1839 and rebuilt, incorporating some of earlier house, c.1844. For 1st Baron Carew.
Refs: Frederick O'Dwyer, '"Modelled Muscularity": Daniel Robertson's Tudor mansions', Irish Arts Review Yearbook 15 (1999), 95;  Howard Colvin, A Biographical dictionary of British architects 1600-1840 (4th edn., 2008), 875.


Building: CO. WEXFORD, BLOOMFIELD (ENNISCORTHY)
Date: 1837ca
Nature: Conversion of farmhouse into 'handsome Elizabethan villa'. Also design for gamekeeper's lodge, 1837. For William Russell Farmar.
Refs: Detail drawing for gamekeeper's lodge, 1837, in IAA, Acc. 80/10.5; Frederick O'Dwyer, '"Modelled Muscularity": Daniel Robertson's Tudor mansions', Irish Arts Review Yearbook 15 (1999), 95,96(illus.)

Building: CO. WICKLOW, GLENDALOUGH HOUSE
Date: 1838p
Nature: Tudor Gothic extension, landscaping, stables, and probably cottage orné gate lodge, for Thomas Johnson Barton. (Reduced in size, 1979)
Refs: Frederick O'Dwyer, '"Modelled Muscularity": Daniel Robertson's Tudor mansions', Irish Arts Review Yearbook 15 (1999), 96(illus.)

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, WELLINGTON SQUARE, CHURCH OF ST MATTHIAS (CI)
Date: 1840-43
Nature: Church with Corinthian portico. Contract drawings, 1840. FS laid 1842 (Goslin says on St Matthias's Day, 24 Feb 1842., 'Annals of Dublin' say 15 Apr 1842). Opened 1843. Contractor: Henry Kingsmill. Unexecuted proposal for Italianate tower and clerk's accommodation, Dec 1843. (Demolished late 1950s)
Refs: Drawings, 1840-43, in IAA Murray Collection, Acc. 92/46. nos. 501-510 (see B. Goslin, 'History and descriptive catalogue of the Murray Collection', MA thesis submitted to NUI, Jan 1990, 172-4); 'Annals of Dublin' (unpaginated) in Pettigrew & Oulton's Dublin Almanac (1847); Frederick O'Dwyer, '"Modelled Muscularity": Daniel Robertson's Tudor mansions', Irish Arts Review Yearbook 15 (1999), 96.

Building: CO. WICKLOW, POWERSCOURT
Date: 1840-44
Nature: Modifications to house and schemes for terrace and gardens to S.
Refs: Drawings in IAA, Powerscourt Albums, 1/26/1-1/27/1. 1/30/1. 1/36/1-1/51/2, 1/60/2-1/73/1, 1/87(P)/2-3

Building: CO. WEXFORD, BALLINKEELE
Date: 1840;1843
Nature: Classical house for John Maher. Also gabled gate lodge, 1843.
Refs: Drawings, s. & d. 1840-1843,1848, on deposit in IAA, Acc.98/105.1-70,72 (see Ballinkeele list); unsigned undated design for library in collection of Mary Sherwood, Enniscorthy (photograph in IAA); Frederick O'Dwyer, '"Modelled Muscularity": Daniel Robertson's Tudor mansions', Irish Arts Review Yearbook 15 (1999), 95-6; David Rowe & Eithne Scallan, Houses of Wexford(Ballinakella Press, 2004), no. 77(illus.)

Building: CO. WEXFORD, BALLYMURN, CHURCH OF THE ASSUMPTION & ST MALACHY (RC)
Date: 1841
Nature: DR believed to have collborated with John Hogan in designing the altarpiece in commemoration of sister of John Maher, MP, of Ballinkeele.
Refs: 2 unsigned, undated rough sketch designs among Ballinkeele drawings on deposit in IAA, Acc.98/105.74,75; another (shwoing alternative arrangement) in collection of Mary Sherwood, Enniscorthy (repr. in J. Williams, Companion guide to Architecture in Ireland 1837-1921 (1994), 376); Frederick O'Dwyer, '"Modelled Muscularity": Daniel Robertson's Tudor mansions', Irish Arts Review Yearbook 15 (1999), 96

Building: CO. WATERFORD, WHITFIELD COURT
Date: 1841ca
Nature: New house, for William Christmas.
Refs: Howard Colvin, A Biographical dictionary of British architects 1600-1840 (4th edn., 2008) , 875, citing Waterford Mail, 9 Sep 1841.

Building: CO. WICKLOW, KILRUDDERY
Date: 1845
Nature: Designs for gardens (balustrades, fountains, &c.). For 10th Earl of Meath.
Refs: Signed, dated drawings at Kilruddery (photographs in IAA, Reading Room box files); Frederick O'Dwyer, '"Modelled Muscularity": Daniel Robertson's Tudor mansions', Irish Arts Review Yearbook 15 (1999), 96.

Building: CO. CARLOW, LISNAVAGH
Date: 1846-49
Nature: New Tudor Gothic house, for Capt. William McClintock-Bunbury, RN. Work still in progress at the time of Robertson's death. (Reduced in size in 1950s). Builder: Henry Kingsmill.
Refs: Drawings, bills, specifications, correspondence, in collection of Lord Rathdonnell, Lisnavagh, Co. Carlow (1999); Agricultural Review (1858), 83; Frederick O'Dwyer, '"Modelled Muscularity": Daniel Robertson's Tudor mansions', Irish Arts Review Yearbook 15 (1999), 93(illus.),94,96

Building: CO. WEXFORD, CAHORE HOUSE
Date: 1846a
Nature: Tudor Gothic enlargement of small seaside villa, for John George, QC.
Refs: Frederick O'Dwyer, '"Modelled Muscularity": Daniel Robertson's Tudor mansions', Irish Arts Review Yearbook 15 (1999), 94(illus.)

Building: CO. CARLOW, RATHVILLY, CHURCH OF ST MARY (CI)
Date: 1847-48
Nature: Addition of transepts and chancel.
Refs: Drawings dated 1847 at in collection of Lord Rathdonnell, Lisnevagh, Co. Carlow, 1999 (see Frederick O'Dwyer, '"Modelled Muscularity": Daniel Robertson's Tudor mansions', Irish Arts Review Yearbook 15 (1999), 97, n.29) and dated Mar 1848 in RCB Library, portfolio 21

Building: CO. CARLOW, RATHVILLY, POLICE BARRACKS
Date: 1848
Nature: Design for converting same into private house of hotel.
Refs: Drawing, signed and dated 1848, 3 signed drawings, dated 1845, in collection of Lord Rathdonnell, Lisnevagh, Co. Carlow.

Building: CO. KILKENNY, BLANCHVILLE
Date: ?
Nature: Stables and bell tower, traditionally said to have been built for James Charles Kearney, attributable to DR.
Refs: Frederick O'Dwyer, '"Modelled Muscularity": Daniel Robertson's Tudor mansions', Irish Arts Review Yearbook 15 (1999), 92(illus.),93-4

Building: CO. KILKENNY, SHANKILL CASTLE
Date: ?
Nature: Addition of gatehouse to existing gateway (by Daniel Robertson?), for James Aylward. Gateway attr. to DR by Williams.
Refs: Frederick O'Dwyer, '"Modelled Muscularity": Daniel Robertson's Tudor mansions', Irish Arts Review Yearbook 15 (1999), 92(illus.),93;  J. Williams, Companion guide to Architecture in Ireland 1837-1921 (Dublin: Irish Academic Press,1994), 249.

Building: CO. CARLOW, BAGENALSTOWN, HOUSES (002)
Date: ?
Nature: 'Robertson's hand can also be detected in...a pair of townhouses in Bagenalstown...stucco-faced, with granite dressings rather than the usual ashlar.'
Refs: Frederick O'Dwyer, '"Modelled Muscularity": Daniel Robertson's Tudor mansions', Irish Arts Review Yearbook 15 (1999), 93

Building: CO. CARLOW, BAGENALSTOWN HOUSE
Date: ?
Nature: Minor extensions to out offices, for John Newton.
Refs: Frederick O'Dwyer, '"Modelled Muscularity": Daniel Robertson's Tudor mansions', Irish Arts Review Yearbook 15 (1999), 93

Building: CO. CARLOW, UPTON
Date: ?
Nature: Classical house, for John Gray.
Refs: Frederick O'Dwyer, '"Modelled Muscularity": Daniel Robertson's Tudor mansions', Irish Arts Review Yearbook 15 (1999), 93

Building: CO. WEXFORD, RAMSFORT (GOREY)
Date: ?
Nature: Modest three-storey early 19th century house with two 3-sided bows attr. to DR by Rowe & Scallan. For Stephen(?) Ram.
Refs: David Rowe & Eithne Scallan, Houses of Wexford(Ballinakella Press, 2004), no. 844

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, HARCOURT TERRACE, NO. 006
Date: ?
Nature: 'Attributable to Daniel Robertson, who was engaged on the nearby church of St Matthias...' (Williams).
Refs: J. Williams, Companion guide to Architecture in Ireland 1837-1921 (Blackrock: Irish Academic Press,1994), 135.

Author Title Date Details
O'dwyer, Frederick '"Modelled Muscularity": Daniel Robertson's Tudor mansions' 1999 Irish Arts Review Yearbook 15 (1999), 87-97.