Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

Architect, of Clarendon Street, Dublin. John Smyth or Smith was an architect of substance in Dublin from the late 1750s until his death in 1775. His parentage is not recorded.(1) His known works suggest a link with the established church in the diocese of Dublin. He was involved in some way in the building of three Dublin city churches - St Catherine's, St Thomas's and St Werburgh's -and he designed the monument to Archbishop Arthur Smyth (d.1771) in St Patrick's Cathedral. St Catherine's, St Thomas's and the monument are all illustrated in Pool & Cash's Views…in the City of Dublin (1770), which names Smyth as the architect of all three and of 'several other of our public buildings'.(2) In 1760 he was presented with the Freedom of the Corporation of Bricklayers and Plaisterers in a silver box.(3)

Smyth appears to have been as much an engineer as an architect. In 1763 he was engaged by the Ballast Office to carry on the construction of the east abutment of the South Wall of Dublin harbour,(4) which included the erection of the Poolbeg lighthouse at its eastern extremity. The lighthouse was completed in 1767, and in October of the following year the Corporation ordered that Smyth be officially thanked and presented with a piece of plate worth twenty guineas 'in testimony of their approbation of his conducting and completing with very great difficulty the building of the lighthouse, in a a manner so judicious, permanent, and elegant'.(5) Smyth continued to direct work on the east abutment at a salary of £200 per annum until his death.(6) In 1763 he was also consulted by the Corporation's Pipe Water Committee for advice on the city's water supply. He was asked 'to view the river Anna Liffey at or near Island Bridge, and to examine the difference of the height from the bason to the river, and the practicability of throwing the water by an engine from thence into the bason'.(7) He duly produced a scheme, which was not adopted;(8) it was presumably for this report and proposal that the Corporation ordered he should be paid £30 in January 1766.(9)

Smyth held the post of Surveyor of Revenue Buildings from at least 1765 or 1766 until his death,(10) when he was succeeded by THOMAS IVORY. THOMAS IVORY. (11) He died early in 1775 and his library was auctioned the following June.(12) He was a subscriber to the Rev. John Payne's Twelve Designs of Country Houses(1757), to the First Volume of the Instructions given in the Drawing School established by the Dublin-Society (1769) and to the fifth volume of Vitruvius Britannicus (by John Woolfe & James Gandon, 1771).

Address:(13) Clarendon Street, 1760-1774; 15 Clarendon Street, 1775.

See WORKS.



References



(1) A John Smyth, organist and harpsichord player at the Crow Street Music Hall was living in Clarendon Street in 1738.
(2) Robert Pool & John Cash, Views of the most remarkable public buildings, monuments and other edifices in the city of Dublin (1780), 93.
(3) Faulkner's Dublin Journal, 18-22 Nov 1760.
(4) CARD XI, 129.
(5) CARD XI, 453; see also Freeman's Journal 22-25 Oct 1768 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44).
(6) Faulkner's Dublin Journal, 6-8 Dec 1770; CARD XII, 156.
(7) CARD XI, 150-151.
(8) CARD XI, 265-6.
(9) CARD XI, 310-11.
(10) He is so described in Wilson's Directory from 1766 until 1775.
(11) Faulkner's Dublin Journal, 22-25 Apr 1875.
(12) Dublin Journal, 29 Jun 1775 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44).
(13) From Wilson's Dublin Directory.


9 work entries listed in chronological order for SMYTH, JOHN [1]


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Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, MARLBOROUGH STREET, ST THOMAS'S CHURCH (CI, OLD)
Date: 1758-1762
Nature: New church, modelled on Palladio's church of the Rendentore at Venice. FS laid 1758; finished 1762; '...the church of St Thomas is an exact copy from a design by Palladio, with some omissions, not to the advantage of the composition' (Malton).
Refs: Robert Pool & John Cash, Views of the most remarkable public buildings, monuments and other edifices in the city of Dublin (1780), 90(illus.);  James Malton, A Picturesque and descriptive view of the city of Dublin (1799), unpaginated;  IB 8, 1 Feb 1866, 30; 64, 29 Jul 1922, 525(illus.); APSD, S, 93; H.A. Wheeler & M.J. Craig, The Dublin City Churches (1948), 36; M. Craig, Dublin 1660-1860 (1952), 179; E. McParland, Public Architecture in Ireland: 1680-1760 (2001), 203;  Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 125.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, COLLEGE GREEN, TRINITY COLLEGE, PROVOST'S HOUSE
Date: 1759
Nature: 'Smith Architect' paid £22.15s. for plan for same but may not be responsible for building as executed. For Provost Francis Andrews. (Facade copied from Lord Burlington's design for house for General Wade in Mayfair.)
Refs: Georgian Society Records (1909-13), III, 51-56, Pls. 1-12; Maurice Craig, 'John Smyth and the Provost's House, Dublin', Connoisseur (Apr 1960, 148-155(illus.); arguments against Smith's authorship are rehearsed in E. McParland, 'An Academic Palazzo in Ireland- the Provost's House, Trinity College, Dublin - I'', Country Life 160, 14 Oct 1976, 1034-1037 (the second, concluding article is in Country Life 160, 21 Oct 1976, 1106-1109); F. O'Dwyer, 'Building empires: architecture, politics and the Board of Works 1760-1860', Irish Architectural and Decorative Studies 5 (2002), 125ff.;  Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 393,395-6.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, THOMAS STREET, ST CATHERINE'S CHURCH (CI)
Date: 1760-1769
Nature: New church. Cost over £7,000. FS laid 1760; opened for worship 1769.
Refs: Robert Pool & John Cash, Views of the most remarkable public buildings, monuments and other edifices in the city of Dublin (1780), 93(illus.);  James Malton, A Picturesque and descriptive view of the city of Dublin (1799), unpaginated;  APSD, S, 93; H.A. Wheeler & M.J. Craig, The Dublin City Churches (1948), 16; M. Craig, Dublin 1660-1860 (1952), 179; E. McParland, Public Architecture in Ireland: 1680-1760 (2001), 202(illus.),203; but see F. O'Dwyer, 'Making connections in Georgian Ireland', BIGS 37 (1996-97), 10-11, who suggests that Smyth was executant architect of design by Joseph Jarratt, whereas Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 623-4. suggests that S was assisted by Joseph Jarratt;  exterior and interior illus. in Claude Costegalde & Brian Walker, The Church of Ireland: an illustrated history (2013), 289.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, SOUTH WALL, POOLBEG LIGHTHOUSE & EASTERN ABUTMENT
Date: 1766a-1767;1771-1775
Nature: Lighthouse at eastern extremity of South Wall to replace floating light. First lit 29 Sep 1767. JS was also responsible for building eastern abutment of South Wall, in or after 1771..
Refs: CARD XI, 129,332,392,404,408,453 (Although Post Chaise Companion(? ed.) xxiv, and J. Ferrar, View of Ancient and Modern Dublin(1796),34-35, both state that the lighthouse was begun in 1762, it is still spoken of as 'intended' in the Ballast Office's report to the Corporation of Jan 1763, and is not mentioned as being in progress until Apr 1766; TICEI 6 (1859-61), 7; R.C. Cox & M.H. Gould, Civil Engineering Heritage: Ireland (1998), 15; E. McParland, Public Architecture in Ireland: 1680-1760 (2001), 202(illus.), 121 (NB. An unsigned, undated draft proposal for this lighthouse - by JS or another - is in the King's Inns drawings collection, photograph in IAA, 005/010, S6676); Faulkner's Dunlin Journal 6-8 Dec 1770

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, WERBURGH STREET, ST WERBURGH'S CHURCH (CI)
Date: 1767
Nature: JS 'was architect for the gallery and probably, therefore, of the organ-case also..The tower and spire of 160 feet were added in the following year, and it seems reasonable to credit this also to Smyth.'(Craig) Casey states that JS added the Vice-Regal pen to the gallery rather than the gallery itself.
Refs: M. Craig, Dublin 1660-1860 (1952), 178; Faulkner's Dublin Journal, 26-30 May 1767;  Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 343.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, RAM ALLEY, HOUSE & OFFICES
Date: 1767
Nature: JS prepares plan for rebuilding house in Ram Alley as corporation offices. Contractor; John Wilson?
Refs: CARD XI, 375

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, PLUNKETT STREET, HOUSES
Date: 1770p
Nature: Lots of ground for sale, Jun 1770, on which were to be built within three years houses 'not less than three stories high from the kitchen…pursuant to a plan for one house lately made by John Smith of Clarendon-street'
Refs: Faulkner's Dublin Journal, 12-14 Jun 1770

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, PATRICK STREET, ST PATRICK'S CATHEDRAL (CI)
Date: 1771-1775
Nature: Monument to Archbishop Arthur Smyth in S transept.. 'The whole was designed by Mr John Smyth, and executed by Mr Van Nost; the expence amounted to 1500£.'(Pool & Casth). (Strickland says that monument was designed and executed by Van Nost and finished in 1775 by Henry Darley;  Casey says that it was installed by Henry Darley.)
Refs: Robert Pool & John Cash, Views of the most remarkable public buildings, monuments and other edifices in the city of Dublin (1780), 97(illus.); APSD, S, 93;  Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 620.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, DAWSON STREET, ST ANN'S CHURCH (CI)
Date: ?
Nature: Attr. to 'J. Smith' by Wright (but original church of 1719-20 too early for John Smyth [1]).
Refs: G.N. Wright, Historical Guide to Dublin (2nd ed., 1821), 253