Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

Builder and architect, of Dublin. There were several John Semples in the building trades in Dublin in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. John Semple [2] was the third surviving son of JOHN SEMPLE [1] JOHN SEMPLE [1] ; his baptism on 6 April 1763 is recorded in the register of the parish of St Thomas, Dublin.(1) Having been admitted a Freeman of the City of Dublin as a member of the Bricklayers' Guild by virtue of birth at Michaelmas 1792(2) - as was also ANTHONY SEMPLE -  ANTHONY SEMPLE - he was one of the two representatives of the Guild on the Common Council of Dublin for the years 1796-1799.(3) He was elected a sheriff in 1797 but chose to be excused from serving on payment of a fine of 300 guineas.(4) He is listed in the directories as a sheriff's peer from 1798 until 1839. In 1799 he was made a member of a committee responsible for providing furniture for the Mayoralty House(5) and in 1800 was one of a three-man sub-committee charged with finding a piece of land for a new reservoir at Portobello.(6) In 1804 he was appointed to inspect the new City Marshalsea(7) and in 1807 elected to the Grand Jury.(8) He was given the important task of designing and building the Round Room at the Mayoralty House for the reception of King George IV in 1821.(9) He is listed in the directories as 'City Architect' from 1824 until 1842. He was also a Trustee of the Corporation, resigning in 1834.(10)

Bolger records measuring brick and other work by John Semple at various sites in Dublin in the 1790s and opening years of the new century; he also measured carpentry work for Semple 'at his new buildings, North Wall' in January 1806.(11) These buildings appear to have been for a new commercial enterprise; the directories for the years 1807 until 1818 list 'Semple & Co, merchants, North Wall' as well as John Semple in Marlborough Street. In 1794 Semple was one of the 'Principal Architects and Builders of this City' who signed a memorial by Bolger, who was seeking the appointment of measurer to the Royal Canal works.(12) In 1791 Semple and George Darley wrote a report for Trinity College , Dublin, on the poor condition of RICHARD CASTLE' RICHARD CASTLE' s college steeple.(13) He was subsequently employed by the college, receiving regular quarterly payments between 1809 and 1823.(14)

In 1822 or 1823 Semple was appointed architect to the Board of First Fruits for the ecclesiastical province of Dublin; soon afterwards, in 1823 or 1824, he took his son JOHN SEMPLE [3]  JOHN SEMPLE [3] into partnership. During the next six years father and son were responsible for a series of remarkable churches for the Board of First Fruits, the idiosyncratic design of which is usually attributed to the son.(15) In 1832 or 1833, shortly before the Board of First Fruits was replaced by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, the Semples were succeeded by FREDERICK DARLEY[2].  FREDERICK DARLEY[2].

Not long after the ending of the partnership with his son in 1833, Semple gave up his Dublin office and moved to Dun Laoghaire.   According to a report on the brick- and stone-layers of Dublin who had been active in 1800, compiled by his fellow tradesmen in March 1834, this 'most respectable Man' who kept his own carriage had become 'reduced in circumstances from decline of Trade'.(16)   He died on 21 May 1840.(17). He had married Mary Russell (c.1771-1843) in 1788 and had at least two other sons who both attended Trinity College, Dublin: Edward, born circa 1795, who became a clergyman, and James, born circa 1803, who became a barrister.(18)    He also had a daughter, Isabella, who married William Wainwright Lynar.(19)

Semple's pupils and assistants included WILLIAM THOMAS MULVANY. WILLIAM THOMAS MULVANY.

The Irish Architectural Archive holds an undated plan and section of the basement arches of the Record Building in the King's Inns by Semple (Murray Collection, Acc. 92/46, no. 538).

Addresses:(20) Work: 21 Marlborough Street, 1791 or earlier until 1829; 20 Marlborough Street, 1830-1833;
Home: Fairyland, Dun Laoghaire, <=1804-1829; Haddington Terrace, Kingstown, 1836 until death.

See WORKS.



References

For the most detailed account of the John Semple[1] and John Semple[2] to date (2004) see Étain Murphy, A Glorious Extravaganza: the history of Monkstown Parish Church(2003), 56-65.

(1) R. Refaussé, Register of the Parish of St Thomas, Dublin, 1750-1791 (1994), 29.
(2) 'An alphabetical list of the Freemen of the City of Dublin, 1774-1824', The Irish Ancestor XV (1983), Nos. 1 & 2, 112.
(3) CARD XV, 533.
(4) CARD XV, 11,20; he is here described as a plasterer rather than a bricklayer.
(5) CARD XV, 109.
(6) CARD XV, 149.
(7) CARD XV, 379.
(8) Murphy, op. cit., 57.
(9) RIA pamphlet 1542/7 and O'Kelly pamphlet 6165 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44).
(10) CARD XIX, 142.
(11) Bolger MSS, NA/PRO 1A 58,127.
(12) Bolger MSS, NA PRO 1A 58,129.
(13) Trinity college muniments, MUN/P/2/170.
(14) Trinity college muniments, MUN/P/2/170-254, passim. 
(15) Murphy, op.cit., 68-69, puts forward an argument for the father's authorship of these churches.
(16) Royal Irish Academy, Haliday MS 4B 31;  this manuscript is a copy of a report presented to Daniel O'Connell in 1834 to support the argument for repealing the Act of Union by describing the catastrophic impact the Act had had on the tradesmen of Dublin.
(17) Murphy, op. cit., 62.
(18) Alumni Dublinenses, 741; both are described as sons of John 'architectus'.
(19) Murphy, op.cit.,60,62.
(20) From Wilson's and Pettigrew & Oulton's directories and Murphy, op.cit., 57-59,62,68.


22 work entries listed in chronological order for SEMPLE, JOHN [2]


Sort by date | Sort alphabetically


Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, GREEN STREET, COURT HOUSE
Date:
Nature: 'The plain joinery and modest ornament of the courtroom appear to be the result of C19 remodellings (1837 and 1842 by John Semple).' (Casey)
Refs: Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 99.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, COLLEGE GREEN, TRINITY COLLEGE, CHAPEL (1787)
Date: 1794
Nature: Bryan Bolger measures stonework by JS on new chapel and adjoining buildings, Aug, 1793, and bricklayer's work at new chapel, June 1794.
Refs: Bryan Bolger MSS, NA/PRO 1A/58/125,128

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, MARY'S ABBEY, BANK OF IRELAND (OLD)
Date: 1797;1799;1801-03
Nature: Bryan Bolger measures stone and brickwork on additional buildings, 1797,1799, brickwork at bank, 1801-2, brick and stonework at guard houses and new parade ground in Pill Lane and Boot Lane., 1803.
Refs: Bryan Bolger MSS, NA/PRO 1A/58/124,127

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, GREGG'S LANE, STABLES
Date: 1799
Nature: Bryan Bolger measures sundry works by JS at same for Miss Gleadowe.
Refs: Bryan Bolger MSS, NA/PRO 1A/58/125

Building: CO. KILDARE, ROBERTSTOWN, GRAND CANAL HOTEL
Date: 1799-1801
Nature: Contract to build same won by William Semple who failed to finish work and went bankrupt. Work completed by John Semple[2].
Refs: Ruth Delany, The Grand Canal of Ireland (1973), 131-2.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUN LAOGHAIRE, YORK ROAD, FAIRYLAND (ST HELEN'S)
Date: 1804p
Nature: Built by JS for himself on land leased 1 May 1804.
Refs: Étain Murphy, A Glorious Extravaganza: the history of Monkstown Parish Church(2203), 57-60(illus.)

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, RICHMOND BRIDGE
Date: 1805
Nature: Awarded 3rd premium in competition.
Refs: Minutes of Ballast Board (1808) (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc.2008/44); Parliamentary Papers Municipal Corporations (Irl) Report on City of Dublin 1835, 1836, p.145-6 (E.McP)

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, NORTH WALL, PREMISES
Date: 1806
Nature: Bryan Bolger measures 'Carpentry for John Semple at his new buildings, North Wall', Jan 1806.
Refs: Bryan Bolger MSS, NA/PRO 1A/58/127

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, ST ANDREW'S STREET, ST ANDREW'S CHURCH (CI, 2ND)
Date: 1806
Nature: Bryan Bolger measures masonry by JS on steeple.
Refs: Bryan Bolger MSS, NA/PRO 1A/58/128

Building: CO. DUBLIN, GLENAGEARY, HOUSE
Date: 1807
Nature: Bryan Bolger measures carpenters' work at Col. Brown's cottage, Glenageary, 1807.
Refs: Bryan Bolger MSS, NA/PRO 1A/58/124

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, MARY STREET, NO. 040 (APOTHECARIES' HALL)
Date: 1808
Nature: Bryan Bolger measures carpenters' work at same, 1808.
Refs: Bryan Bolger MSS, NA/PRO 1A/58/125

Building: CO. DUBLIN, MONKSTOWN, HOUSE
Date: 1808
Nature: Bryan Bolger measures extensive work (new house?) 'done for Jas. Edwards at his seat Monkstown by John Semple (all trades)'
Refs: Bryan Bolger MSS, NA/PRO 1A/58/124

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, COLLEGE GREEN, TRINITY COLLEGE, LIBRARY SQUARE
Date: 1809
Nature: George Darley to Bryan Bolger, 45 Jun 1809: 'You will be called on by Mr Semple to measure cut stone work done by him in the Library Square - he says Mr Morrison forc'd him to do it'.
Refs: Bryan Bolger MSS, NA/PRO 1A/58/133

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, CUSTOM HOUSE DOCKS
Date: 1820
Nature: Proposal for vaulted masonry custom stores.  (Rennie's cast-iron design chosen instead.).
Refs: Letter from JS to Chief Secretary NA/SPO CSORP 1820, S85 & S118 (letter attacks Francis Johnston) (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc.2008/44);  Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005),  124.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, DAWSON STREET, MANSION HOUSE (INCLUDING ROUND ROOM)
Date: 1821;1830;1832?
Nature: Addition of Round Room ('The King's Room') in Arabic style for reception of George IV. Second entrance and other necessary improvements, 1830 (tender of Richard McMullens for £374 accepted, but eventual cost higher). Payment of £37.10s for further imps. 'lately made', Feb 1833.
Refs: G.N. Wright, Historical Guide to Dublin (2nd ed., 1821), 254; RIA pamphlet 1542/7 and O'Kelly pamphlet 6165 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc.2008/44); APSD, D 76 (which says it is by George Semple); CARD XVII, 404-5; XVIII, 460,502,512; XIX, 87; Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 505.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, CHURCH STREET, ST MICHAN'S CHURCH (CI)
Date: 1825
Nature: JS & Son surveyed church and made estimates for repairs, 1825.
Refs: Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 240.

Building: ?, ?, GLEBE HOUSE
Date: 1827
Nature: Design for unidentified glebe house by John Semple & Son
Refs: Signed plan and elevation, dated 12 Nov 1827, in Representative Church Body Library, Rathgar, Dublin (information from Siobhan Sexton, Architectural Conservation Officer, Mayo County Council, Feb 2015).


Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, PHIBSBOROUGH ROAD, RECTORY (GRANGEGORMAN PARISH)
Date: 1827-28
Nature: New glebe house for Rev. Arthur Adamson.  Builder: William Moyers.
Refs: Undated floor plans, front elevation and specification, signed John Semple & Son (specification endorsed by William Moyers, 14 Dec 1827: 'I propose to build the Glebe House agreeable to the foregoing specification and plans for Four Hundred Pounds late Irish currency - that is Four Hundred and Sixty one Pounds Ten Shillings and Nine Pence Sterling of the present Currency') in Representative Church Body Library, Dublin, GH/42;  see also unsigned elevational view and block plan, 1836, GH/39.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, PHIBSBOROUGH ROAD, CHURCH OF ALL SAINTS (CI, GRANGEGORMAN PARISH)
Date: 1828
Nature: 'Externally a dour little First Fruits gabled hall of 1828 by John Semple & Son with a bellcote and octagonal corner turrets.'(Casey)
Refs: Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 275;  exterior illus. in Claude Costegalde & Brian Walker, The Church of Ireland: an illustrated history (2013), 288.
 

Building: CO. KILDARE, KINNEAGH, GLEBE HOUSE
Date: 1830-1835
Nature: New glebe house and offices for Rev. John Spray . Built 1835.
Refs: Elevation, plans, section of house and section of offices, signed John Semple & Son, 5 Oct 1830, and annotated, 'This plan has been made at the request of the Revd. Mr Spray, probablE estimate for house and offices £500', in Representative Church Body Library, Dublin, GH/43;  George Henderson, 'Extracts from Glendalach architects' reports', 1872

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, BRIDGE OVER RIVER DODDER
Date: 1831
Nature: JS architect of bridge opened by Lord Lieutenant in July 1831. Contractor: Henry, Mullins & McMahon.
Refs: Freeman's Journal and Daily Commercial Advertiser, 29 Jul 1831 (information from Frank Keohane, Mar 2010).

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, CHURCH AVENUE (DRUMCONDRA), CHURCH OF ST JOHN THE BAPTIST (CI, DRUMCONDRA PARISH)
Date: 1833
Nature: Repairs & redecoration. For Dublin Corporation.
Refs: CARD XIX, 84; S. Lewis, A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland (1837),