Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

Architect, of Dublin. John Semple, the second son of JOHN SEMPLE [2]  JOHN SEMPLE [2] and his wife Mary Russell, was born in 1800 or 1801. He presumably received his training in building from his father; Bolger records measuring 'bricklayer's work done at Trinity College…by John Semple, junr' in October 1821.(1) In 1823 or 1824 he was taken into partnership by his father who had been appointed architect to the Board of First Fruits for the ecclesiastical province of Dublin. While 'John Semple & Son' are named in the directories from 1825 until 1832 as jointly occupying this position, it is the younger man who is generally regarded as having designed an idiosyncratic series of churches, which were built between 1825 and 1831. Shortly before the dissolution of the Board in 1833, the Semples were replaced by FREDERICK DARLEY[2]. FREDERICK DARLEY[2]. (2)

Semple was admitted a freeman of the City of Dublin as a member of the Bricklayers' Guild by Grace Especial at Michaelmas 1830. During the following decade he played an increasingly active role in the affairs of Dublin Corporation. He was a junior high sheriff for 1831-32;(3) and sheriff's peer from 1838 until 1841.(4) In July 1832 he was appointed joint engineer of the pipe water works with ANDREW COFFEY ANDREW COFFEY , at Coffey's request,(5) and within the next twelve months he became sole occupant of the post.(6) He was briefly suspended in January 1834, 'unpleasant matters' having been alleged against him,(7) but was reinstated in May after he had successfully argued his innocence.(8) By 1836 he was also architect to the Dublin Prisons Board.(9) In Pettigrew & Oulton's Almanack for the years 1839 until 1843 he is described as 'architect to the City Prisons, Roads and Pipe Water Works'.

A survey of a proposed new road from Donnybrook Bridge to Rock Road 'through Mr Semple's ground and the nursery', dated 9 December 1841, is among the Pembroke Estate papers in the National Archives.(10)

It appears to have been after his father's death in 1840 that Semple's career took a downward turn. By 1844 he had been succeeded by CHARLES TARRANT  CHARLES TARRANT as engineer to the Pipe Water Establishment. The directories indicate that at about the same time he moved into his barrister brother James's house in Donnybrook and that he gave up his Dublin office in 1848. In 1849 he went bankrupt(11) in connection with the development of Belgrave Square, Monkstown.(12) He is not listed in the directories between 1857 and 1861. In the latter year he was an entrant in the St Andrew's church competition, but his design was rejected as old- fashioned.(13) He reappears in the directories in 1862, when he was living at a house in Pleasant's Street with James. The two brothers subsequently moved to 78 Heytesbury Street, where James died in 1869. In 1776 John Semple went to live with his eldest son John George (d. 1900) at 6 Ontario Terrace, Rathmines, and died there from age and contusions after a fall on 15 October 1882. He had married Harriet Cuppaidge in 1832(14) and had at least eight children.

Addresses:(15) Work: 21 Marlborough Street (as John Semple & Son), 1824-1829; 20 Marlborough Street (as John Semple & Son), 1830-1833; City Assembly House, William Street, 1836; 40 Dame Street, 1838-39; 31 College Green, 1841; 12 College Green, 1841;(16) 13 College Green, 1843-1848.
Home: Lilliput, Donnybrook, 1836-1843; Eglinton House, Seaview Terrace, Donnybrook, 1844-47; Seaview Terrace, Donnybrook, 1849-1850; Merrion Lodge, Merrion, 1852-1853; Air Lodge, 50 Rathmines Upper, 1856; 21 Pleasant's Street, 1857-1869; 78 Heytesbury Street, 1870-1871; 5 Harrington Street, 1872-1873; 6 Ontario Terrace, Rathmines, 1876 until death.

See WORKS, BIBLIOGRAPHY. BIBLIOGRAPHY.



References

All biographical information in this entry not otherwise accounted for is from Étain Murphy, A Glorious Extravaganza: the history of Monkstown Parish Church(2003), 56-65. Semple's church architecture has been treated by M. Craig, 'John Semple and his churches', Irish Arts Review Year Book 1989-1990, 145-150, and Cormac Allen, 'The Semple Temples: the church architecture of John Semple & Son', unpublished architectural dissertation submitted to UCD. 1993.  (Cormac Allen also wrote a more comprehensive account of the Semples' work in 'The Architecture of John Semple & Son', an unpublished M Arch Sc thesis submitted to UCD in 1995, Information from Colm O'Brien, Apr 2012.)


(1) Bolger MSS, NA PRO 1A 58,128.
(2) Allen (1993), p.5, suggests that the death of Archbishop William Magee in 1831 'may have deprived his architects of an influential sponsor in the 1834 reorganisation of the Church of Ireland's building activities'.
(3) CARD XVIII, 515; XIX, 3.
(4) CARD XIX, 113.
(5) CARD XIX, 65.
(6) CARD XIX, 113.
(7) CARD XIX, 128.
(8) CARD XIX, 142.
(9) IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44.
(10) NA, Pembroke Estate collection, 2011/2/3/3.
(11) Dublin Evening Post, 9 Jun 1849.
(12) Information from Frederick O'Dwyer.
(13) Craig, op. cit., above, 150.
(14) Appendix to the Thirtieth Report of the Deputy Keeper of the Public Records in Ireland, 950.
(15) From Wilson's, Pettigrew & Oulton's, Post Office Thom's directories (and Jones's transcripts from latter), and Murphy, op.cit., above, 65.
(16) This is his address on the road survey in the National Archives, dated 9 Dec 1841 (see note 10, above).


27 work entries listed in chronological order for SEMPLE, JOHN [3]


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Building: CO. DUBLIN, TALLAGHT, CHURCH OF ST MAELRUAIN (CI)
Date: 1823-1829
Nature: New church incorporating belfry of ancient church. Consecrated 1 Nov 1829. 'the church, dedicated to St Maelruane, was built in 1829 on the site of the ancient structure, by a grant of nearly £3,000 from the late Board of First Fruits.' (Lewis)
Refs: S. Lewis, A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland (1837), II, 588; Douglas Scott Richardson, Gothic Revival Architecture in Ireland (1983), 76; M. Craig, 'John Semple and his churches', Irish Arts Review Year Book 1989-1990, 145(illus.),146; Clergy of Dublin and Glendalough (2001), 245;  exterior illlus. in Claude Costegalde & Brian Walker, The Church of Ireland: an illustrated history (2013), 297.

Building: CO. WEXFORD, WEXFORD, TEMPERANCE ROW, CHURCH OF ST SELSKAR (CI)
Date: 1825
Nature: New church in grounds of Selskar Abbey. Attributed to JS by Murphy.
Refs: Etain Murphy, 'The Semples and St Selskar's', Journal of the Wexford Historical Society No. 20 (2004-5), 45-55

Building: CO. WEXFORD, WEXFORD, TEMPERANCE ROW, CHURCH OF ST SELSKAR (CI)
Date: 1825-26
Nature: New church in grounds of Selskar Abbey, attributed to JS by Etain Murphy.
Refs: Etain Murphy, 'The Semples and St Selskar's', Journal of the Wexford Historical Society No. 20 (1004-5), 45-55

Building: CO. CARLOW, CARLOW, CHURCH (CI, KILLESHIN PARISH)
Date: 1826
Nature: New church with spire. Cost:£1846.3s.1d, half of which was gift from Board of First Fruits. Attributed to JS by Craig.   Described by Lewis as modern, with 'an arched stone roof. like St Kieran's chapel at Glendalough and those of St Cormac at Cashel and St Doulough near Dublin'. (Weight of roof cracked walls so that body of church had to be rebuilt in 1846.)
Refs: J.P. Lawson, Gazetteer of Ireland (1842), 201-2; M. Craig, 'John Semple and his churches', Irish Arts Review Year Book 1989-1990, 146,14(illus.); Clergy of Cashel and Emly; Clergy of Leighlin (Ulster Historical Foundation, 2012), 261(illus.),262;  exterior and interior illus. in Claude Costegalde & Brian Walker, The Church of Ireland: an illustrated history (2013), 351.  

Building: CO. DUBLIN, KILTERNAN, CHURCH (CI)
Date: 1826
Nature: New church. Consecrated,10 Dec 1826.
Refs: M. Craig, 'John Semple and his churches', Irish Arts Review Year Book 1989-1990, 146(illus.),150; Clergy of Dublin and Glendalough (2001), 127;  exterior illus. in Claude Costegalde & Brian Walker, The Church of Ireland: an illustrated history (2013), 292.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, WHITECHURCH, CHURCH (CI)
Date: 1826-27
Nature: New church. Consecrated 3 Jun 1827.
Refs: Douglas Scott Richardson, Gothic Revival Architecture in Ireland (1983), 71M. Craig, 'John Semple and his churches', Irish Arts Review Year Book 1989-1990, 146; Clergy of Dublin and Glendalough (2001), 252;  interior illus. in Claude Costegalde & Brian Walker, The Church of Ireland: an illustrated history (2013), 298.

Building: CO. KILDARE, THOMASTOWN, CHURCH (CI)
Date: 1827
Nature: Attributed by Patrick Farrell to JS; 'erected in 1827 by the gift of £900 from the same Board[First Fruits]' (Lewis).
Refs: Patrick Farrell notes in Jones file S32; S. Lewis, A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland (1837), II, 621

Building: CO. OFFALY, BALLYKEEN, CHURCH (CI)
Date: 1827
Nature: New church. (Date from Lewis. Now demolished.)
Refs: M. Craig, 'John Semple and his churches', Irish Arts Review Year Book 1989-1990, 146,150(illus.); S. Lewis, A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland (1837), I, 139

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, SIMMONSCOURT ROAD, CHURCH OF ST MARY (CI, DONNYBROOK PARISH)
Date: 1827
Nature: New transeptless church with 'vaulted roof' like Black Church and Trinity Church, Rathmines.  Built 1827 and licensed for worship 1 Apr 1830. Spire taken down afterdamage in storm of Jan 1839. Not rebuilt by 1859. Old church demolished shortly after opening of new church; ‘of the monuments in the interior, not one was rescued from destruction!’ (Christian Examiner)
Refs: Critical notice with illustration, not mentioning architect's name, in Dublin Penny Journal (1832), 212-3; Christian Examiner, New series, no. 6, Jun 1859, 129;   Irish Ecclesiastical Gazette 22, no. 22, 29 May 1880, 428;  M. Craig, 'John Semple and his churches', Irish Arts Review Year Book 1989-1990, 146,148(illus.); Clergy of Dublin and Glendalough (2001), 92;  exterior illus. in Claude Costegalde & Brian Walker, The Church of Ireland: an illustrated history (2013), 291. 

Building: CO. KILDARE, TIPPERKEVIN, CHURCH (CI)
Date: 1827-1830
Nature: Small church 'in the later English style' (Lewis), small and handsome with belfry of good construction (D'Alton). Built from 1827 and licensed for divine service 5 Aug 1830. Patrick Farrell says it is by JS.
Refs: S. Lewis, A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland (1837), II, 635; John D’Alton, The History of the county of Dublin (1838), ?; Clergy of Dublin and Glendalough (Ulster Historical Foundation, 2001), 328; Patrick Farrell MS notes in Jones file S32

Building: CO. KILDARE, NEWBRIDGE (NEAR), CHURCH OF ST PATRICK (CI, MORRISTOWNBILLER PARISH)
Date: 1828
Nature: New church; '…a small edifice, in the early English style, built in 1828, by a gift of £600 and a loan of £300 from the same Board [of First Fruits]; and the Ecclesiastical Commissioner have recently granted £287 for repairs.'(Lewis)
Refs: M. Craig, 'John Semple and his churches', Irish Arts Review Year Book 1989-1990, 146,149(illus.); S. Lewis, A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland (1837), II, 393; Douglas Scott Richardson, Gothic Revival Architecture in Ireland (1983), 71, 98n.39;  exterior illus. on Claude Costegalde & Brian Walker, The Church of Ireland: an illustrated history (2013), 322.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, CHURCH AVENUE (RATHMINES), CHURCH OF THE HOLY TRINITY (CI)
Date: 1828
Nature: New chapel of ease. Consecrated 1 Jun 1828
Refs: Dublin Penny Journal 2, 7 Sep 1833, 85(illus.); M. Craig, 'John Semple and his churches', Irish Arts Review Year Book 1989-1990, 146,148(illus.); Clergy of Dublin and Glendalough (2001), 158.

Building: CO. KILDARE, FEIGHCULLEN, CHURCH (CI)
Date: 1829
Nature: New church; 'a small but handsome structure, erected by a gift of £830 and a loan of £277 from the late Board of First Fruits, in 1829, and for its repair a grant of £248 has been recently made by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners' (Lewis).
Refs: M. Craig, 'John Semple and his churches', Irish Arts Review Year Book 1989-1990, 146,147(illus.); S. Lewis, A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland (1837), I, 617

Building: CO. DUBLIN, MALAHIDE, CHURCH ROAD, CHURCH OF ST ANDREW (CI)
Date: 1829
Nature: Adds.?
Refs: Patrick Farrell has copied elevation of E? end of this church, which has date and signature '7th Jan 1829, J. Semple & Son'

Building: CO. DUBLIN, MONKSTOWN, CHURCH (CI)
Date: 1829-1831
Nature: Remodelling and enlargement of church of 1789. Semple prepares initial plans, 1823. Old church demolished 1828. Plans still not fialized in Jun 1829. New church opened for worship on Christmas Day 1831. Builder: Edward Carolin & Sons..
Refs: Freeman's Journal, 11 Jun 1829;   M. Craig, 'John Semple and his churches', Irish Arts Review Year Book 1989-1990, 148(illus.); Clergy of Dublin and Glendalough (2001), 140; Étain Murphy, A Glorious Extravaganza: the history of Monkstown Parish Church (2003), 39-77;  exterior and interior illus. in Claude Costegalde & Brian Walker, The Church of Ireland: an illustrated history (2013), 293.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, ST MARY'S PLACE, ST MARY'S CHURCH (CI)
Date: 1830
Nature: New chapel of ease by John Semple & Son. Licensed for worship 18 Jan 1831. 'Whether these were the designs of John Semple Sen. (1763-1841) or Jun.(1801-1882) remains in question, though the Black Church seems more likely to be the brain-child of a thirty-year-old than a man of sixty seven.' (Casey)
Refs: M. Craig, 'John Semple and his churches', Irish Arts Review Year Book 1989-1990, 146; Clergy of Dublin and Glendalough (2001), 202;  Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 122-125.  

Building: CO. WICKLOW, CARYSFORT (RATHDRUM), ROYAL SCHOOL
Date: 1831
Nature: Combined school house and master's residence. Designed by JS. Builder: William Phillips, carpenter. Cost: £502-5s-5½d. School endowed by Charles I.
Refs: JRSAI 91? (1961), 193-217(illus.)

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, GREEN STREET, NEWGATE PRISON
Date: 1836-38p
Nature: Rebuilding and improvements. Tenders invited, Oct 1838.
Refs: NA/SPO OP 1837/86 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc.2008/44);  Freeman's Journal and Daily Commercial Advertiser, 6 Oct 1838.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, CARLISLE BRIDGE (OLD)
Date: 1838ca
Nature: Proposed widening.
Refs: NA/SPO CSORP 1839/64-485 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc.2008/44)

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, INCHICORE ROAD, KILMAINHAM GAOL
Date: 1838ca
Nature: Plans for additions.
Refs: NA/SPO CSORP 1838/2333 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc.2008/44)

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, GRANGEGORMAN, RICHMOND PENITENTIARY
Date: 1838p
Nature: Addition of 96 cells, kitchens and infirmary. Tenders invited, Sep 1838.
Refs: NA/SPO CSORP 1838/2333 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc.2008/44); Freeman's Journal and Daily Commercial Advertiser, 28 Sep 1838 (information from Frank Keohane, Mar 2010). 

Building: CO. GALWAY, SPIDDAL, CHURCH (CI)
Date: 1851-52
Nature: New church. Consecrated Aug or Sep 1852. Is this the church for which there are undated drawings signed by John Semple in RCB? And is this John Semple the Dublin architect or a member of the Semple family of building contractors in Galway?
Refs: Signed, undated drawings for a new 3-bay church with tower at W end, 1 bay chancel, in RCB Library, portfolio 26; B 9, 28 Jun 1851, 409; 10, 4 Sep 1852, 570 (architect is not named in either of these refs.)

Building: CO. DUBLIN, OLD CONNAUGHT, OLD BAWN HOUSE SITE
Date: 1857ca
Nature: JS lays out building plots at same.
Refs: Freeman's Journal and Daily Commercial Advertiser, 5 Sep 1857.

Building: CO. LAOIS, ABBEYLEIX, CHURCH OF ST MICHAEL & ALL ANGELS (CI)
Date: ?
Nature: New church. (W end only remains after remodelling).
Refs: M. Craig, 'John Semple and his churches', Irish Arts Review Year Book 1989-1990, 146

Building: CO. LOUTH, RATHCOR, CHURCH (CI)
Date: ?
Nature: 'looks as though Semple might have had a hand in it'
Refs: M. Craig, 'John Semple and his churches', Irish Arts Review Year Book 1989-1990, 146

Building: CO. KILDARE, RATHANGAN, CHURCH (CI)
Date: ?
Nature: New church.
Refs: M. Craig, 'John Semple and his churches', Irish Arts Review Year Book 1989-1990, 146,149(illus.);  exterior illus. in ;  exterior illus. in Claude Costegalde & Brian Walker, The Church of Ireland: an illustrated history (2013), 321.

Building: CO. LAOIS, CLONEYHURKE, CHURCH (CI)
Date: ?
Nature: New chapel of ease on site given by Warburton family of Gartryhinch.
Refs: M. Craig, 'John Semple and his churches', Irish Arts Review Year Book 1989-1990, 146,149(illus.);  exterior illus. in Claude Costegalde & Brian Walker, The Church of Ireland: an illustrated history (2013), 325.