Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

Architect and surveyor, of Dublin. The Sproule family of Dublin, which was connected by marriage with the Johnston family of Armagh, had several members who were active in the Dublin building trades in the mid- and later eighteenth century. Samuel Sproule, who is said to have been eighty-seven years old at the time of his death in August 1831,(1) appears to have been the son of another Samuel Sproule, a nephew of GREGORY SPROULE  GREGORY SPROULE and JOHN SPROULE JOHN SPROULE , and a first cousin of SAMUEL SPROULE [2]. SAMUEL SPROULE [2]. (2)   He was a pupil in the Dublin Society's School of Drawing in Architecture and was awarded premiums in 1759 and 1760.(3)  In 1768 'Myers & Sproule' entered the Dublin Royal Exchange competition.(4) 'Myers' was presumably either CHRISTOPHER MYERS[1]  CHRISTOPHER MYERS[1] or his son GRAHAM MYERS GRAHAM MYERS , 'Sproule' presumably Samuel Sproule; they were awarded a piece of plate worth thirty guineas for their design, which was judged to have been one of the three best Irish entries.(5) Five years later, in 1773, Sproule entered the Dublin Blue Coat School competition and was awarded the second premium.(6) At this early stage in his career, of which little is known, he seems to have been as active as a topographical draughtsman as an architect. His view of Trinity College. Dublin, was published in the Hibernian Magazine in September 1771, and in 1776 he was asked by the select vestry of Clogher Cathedral to draw a 'view' of the unfinished tower of the church at Fivemiletown, Co. Tyrone.(7) Later evidence of his capacity as a draughtsman is furnished by John Ferrar who records that a view of Merrion Square by Sproule was presented by Richard, seventh Viscount Fitzwilliam, proprietor of the square, to King George III.(8) An engraving of this view forms the frontispiece to the first edition of Ferrar's View of Ancient and Modern Dublin (1796).

In 1778 Sproule married Ann, widow of George Fay of Dublin.(9) Soon afterwards he became involved in the development of the Fitzwilliam lands which lay to the south-east of the city centre and extended as far as Blackrock. His 'Plan of present and intended course of the River Dodder', dated 1780, is among the Pembroke Papers in the National Archives.(10) In 1780 he leased several plots of building ground from the Fitzwilliam estate, including plots on the east side of Merrion Square, in Holles Street and in Lower Mount Street. Further leases of plots in Merrion Square and Lower Mount Street followed in 1786 and 1791.(11) Some of this land was developed according to the terms of the leases, some was sold on, while a one-acre plot fronting Grand Canal Street, leased in 1780 and still undeveloped in 1797 was the subject of an ejectment. By this time Sproule was badly in arrears with the rent on his various holdings, greatly to the exasperation of Lord Fitzwilliam's agent Barbara Verschoyle.(12)

As well as his involvement in the development of the Fitzwilliam estate, Sproule was architect to the Bank of Ireland from 1783 to 1786, when he was succeeded by WHITMORE DAVIS. WHITMORE DAVIS. (13) During these years he drew up plans for a new seven-bay, three-storey bank on an unspecified site.(14) The designs presumably succeeded a proposal that Sproule should be employed to convert the Arsenal in Lower Castle Yard into new bank premises, announced in the Freeman's Journal of 10-12 December 1782. Sproule also worked for the Wide Streets Commissioners from 1783 until 1787 or later(15) and for the Commissioners of the Circular Road.(16)

In 1792 Sproule acquired a twenty-seven-acre estate at Ballinclea, Rochestown, Co. Dublin.(17) He also farmed beside the Shanganagh River.(18) It appears to have been at Ballinclea that - according to a memorial he presented to the Lord Lieutenant, the third Earl of Hardwicke, in October 1801(19) - he was attacked and robbed one night by 'three armed ruffians', one of whom he recognised. After he had recovered from the attack, he sent for the man and, by means of 'threats of punishment and promises of life,…obtained from him a discovery of the United Irish Plan, and regular organised system and many of the heads concerned in it'. He passed on this information to Henry, first Viscount Conyngham, and as a result was enlisted as a government spy in May 1798. For the next six months he sent regular information to the under-secretary in the Irish civil department, Edward Cooke, and also employed informers and interrogated suspects. For this he was paid £223.3s.4d. or more.(20) However, as he claimed in the memorial, his activities on behalf of the Government had placed him in considerable personal danger. As a result he was forced to abandon his house in the country, which he later sold for 'less than half its value', and to neglect 'a valuable farm', which resulted in an ejectment. He was now living in Dublin in reduced circumstances and requested that some employment might be found for him: 'I trust from my knowledge of the Country - and of Business in generall, I would be found a usefull Man in many situations'. The precariousness of his situation is corroborated by the fact that in the same year he tendered for building the new barracks in Cork. Although his tender was the lowest by £707, he was unable to offer any security and the contract was awarded to another builder.(21)

Little is known of Samuel Sproule after 1801. From 1820 or earlier he was living in Cowley Place off the north side of the North Circular Road.(22)  He died there on 19 August 1831,(23) survived by his wife, who died in the same house on 12 February 1840.(24)   O'Dwyer believes that he may have had a son, also called Samuel,(25) but there is no mention of him in Sproule's will of 3 January 1826.(26)

'Mr Sproule, architect' was one of the subscribers to Robert Pool & John Cash, Views…of Buildings…city of Dublin (Dublin, 1780), to the second edition of Taylor and Skinner's, Map of the Roads of Ireland(1783) and to John Ferrar's View of Ancient and Modern Dublin (1796). His copy of Robert Wood's The Ruins of Palmyra (1753) is in the Irish Architectural Archive(27) and that of Carlo Fontana's Templum Vaticanum et ipsius origo (1694) in the library of University College, Dublin.(28)    A portrait of him by Robert Lucius West was exhibited at the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1826 (no. 13). According to Strickland, the painter William Sadler executed some pieces in chiaro-oscuro for Sproule, 'presumably for wall decorations'.(29)

Sproule's pupils and assistants included his kinsman FRANCIS JOHNSTON FRANCIS JOHNSTON , who is believed to have worked in his office from 1782 to 1784.

Addresses:(30) Holles Street, <=1780(31)->=1786; Rathfarnham, 1787-1792; Dundrum, 1793-94; Rochestown, 1795 (also 9 Hamilton Row and 6 Wentworth Place, circa 1798);  Cowley Place, North Circular Road, <=1820(32) until death.
See WORKS and BIBLIOGRAPHY. BIBLIOGRAPHY.



References

Sproule is the subject of a very brief entry in APSD, S, 119, which cites Anthony Pasquin, Artists of Ireland (n.d.), 22, as its source. The fullest account of his life and activities is by Alex Maguire, 'Who was Samuel Sproule?', Dun Laoghaire Journal no. 8 (1999), 28-38. Information about Sproule's later years, death and will (see notes 1,21-23,25) was provided by Kieran Owens, Jan 2014.


(1) Evening Packet and Correspondent, 13 Sep 1831.
(2) MS. sketch family tree, compiled by F. O'Dwyer, 1988, in IAA, Jones file S103.
(3) Gitta Willemson, The Dublin Society Drawing Schools 1746-1876 (2000), 90; in Royal Dublin Society proceedings 77/148 he is referred to as an ex-pupil (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44) . See also J.D. Herbert, Irish Varieties (1836), 56 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44).
(4) B 27, 2 Oct 1869, 781.
(5) Faulkner's Dublin Journal, 21-23 Mar 1769.
(6) Freeman's Journal 2-4 Mar 1873 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44).
(7) Information from Jack Johnston (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44). Frederick O'Dwyer believes that the family came from Co. Tyrone (typescript notes on Nos. 39 & 40 Merrion Square by F. O'Dwyer in IAA, Jones file S103).
(8) John Ferrar, A view of Ancient and Modern Dublin(1796), 135.
(9) Maguire, op. cit., above, 28; the will of her husband, George Fay, gentleman, was granted in the Prerogative Court in 1777 (Arthur Vicars, Index to the Prerogative Wills of Ireland 1536-1810 (1897), 164); a transcript of his will and grant is in the National Archives (Eneclann Index of Irish Wills 1484-1858 (CD), Document ID 22495).
(10) NA, Pembroke Estate Papers, 2011/2/1/11.
(11) NA, Pembroke Estate Papers, 97/46/2.
(12) Eve McAulay, 'Some problems in building on the Fitzwilliam estate during the agency of Barbara Verschoyle', Irish Architectural and Decorative Studies 2 (1999), 111-114.
(13) Bank of Ireland minutes (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44); Maguire, op. cit., 29.
(14) E. McParland, 'The Bank and the Visual Arts', in F.S.L. Lyons, ed., Bicentenary Essays Bank of Ireland 1783-1983 (1983), 97-98(illus.); the handwriting on these drawings is undoubtedly Sproule's.
(15) For Sproule's work for the Commissioners, see E. McParland, 'The Wide Streets Commissioners: their importance for Dublin architecture in the late 18th-early 19th century', BIGS 15, No. 1 (Jan-Mar 1972), 11. According to Edward McParland files (IAA, Acc.2008/44) there are no references to him in the Commissioners' minutes after 1 May 1787, but Maguire, op.cit., 29, cites a reference in May 1792, when it was decided to adopt 'Mr Sproule's plan for widening Dame Street to 66 feet, from Palace Street to George's Lane'.
(16) JHCI 2, cccl (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44).
(17) Maguire, op. cit., above, 31-32.
(18) A map of Sproule's Shanganagh holding, dated 1793, is in NLI 16.G.42
(16) .
(19) NA/SPO 620/60/98.
(20) Maguire, op. cit., 35, writes that 'he received £500 from Mr Cooke, although the Secret Service Money Book reveals £223.3.4 in total.'
(21) NLI MS. 1122 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44); Maguire, op. cit., above, 35-37.
(22) He advertised leases of ground in Wentworth Place, Dublin, and adjoining Taney church in Dundrum Co. Dublin, from this address in 1820 and 1821 (Freeman's Journal, 27 Jul 1820, 3 Apr 1821).
(23) Will of Samuel Sproule, NA, Irish Wills Register IWR/1831/F/502 (microfilm);  the announcement of his death in the Evening Packet and Correspondent for 13 Sept 1831 gives his age as eighty-seven. 
(24) NA, Charitable Wills, 1832-1844, Vol. 12, p. 416. 
(25) See note 22, above.
(26) See note 1, above.
(27) This volume later belonged to Albert E. Murray.
(28) IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44.
(29) W.G. Strickland, A Dictionary of Irish Artists (1913), II, 316.
(30) From Wilson's Dublin Directory and Maguire, op. cit. above, 29,31,34, unless otherwise indicated.
(31) See note 9, above.
(32) See note 22.


22 work entries listed in chronological order for SPROULE, SAMUEL [1]


Sort by date | Sort alphabetically


Building: CO. DUBLIN, LISSEN HALL (SWORDS)
Date: 1765
Nature: Design for (or survey of?) addition of new entrance block to earlier house to form T-plan building. For John Hatch, MP.
Refs: 2 drawings in collection of Shelagh Davis-Goff, Lissen Hall: (1) general plan signed Samuel Sproule 1765; (2) similar, unsigned general plan including front and side elevations.  Could be designs or survey drawings. (Information from David Griffin, Jul 2014.)

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, CORK HILL, ROYAL EXCHANGE
Date: 1768-69
Nature: 'Myers & Sproule' competition entrants. (?Christopher or Graham Myers & SS) Judged to have submitted one of three best Irish entries and awarded piece of plate worth 30 guineas.
Refs: Faulkner's Dublin Journal, 21-23 Mar 1769; B 27, 2 Oct 1869, 781.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, MERRION SQUARE
Date: 1780a
Nature: Merrion Square E and Upper and Lower Mount Sts laid out by SS for Richard, 7th Viscount Fitzwilliam.
Refs: John Ferrar, AView of Ancient and Modern Dublin(1796), 73

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, MOUNT STREET UPPER
Date: 1780A
Nature: Merrion Square E and Upper and Lower Mount Sts laid out by SS for Richard, 7th Viscount Fitzwilliam.
Refs: John Ferrar, A View of Ancient and Modern Dublin(1796), 73.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, MOUNT STREET LOWER
Date: 1780A
Nature: Merrion Square E and Upper and Lower Mount Sts laid out by SS for Richard, 7th Viscount Fitzwilliam.
Refs: John Ferrar, AView of Ancient and Modern Dublin(1796), 73

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, CASTLE STREET, DUBLIN CASTLE
Date: 1782
Nature: SS 'employed to fit up the Arsenal in the Lower Castle Yard for the Purpose of the National Bank' (not executed)
Refs: Faulkner's Dublin Journal, 10-12 Dec 1782; Freeman's Journal, 10-12 Dec 1782 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc.2008/44)

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, DAME STREET
Date: 1782-85
Nature: SS involved in widening of same and design and layout of new houses for Wide Streets Commissioners.
Refs: NA, Wide Streets Commissioners minutes, 21 Oct 1782, 16 Jul 1784, 25 Feb 1785; NA, Wide Streets Commissioners maps, WSC/MAPS/115; E. McParland, 'The Wide Streets Commissioners: their importance for Dublin architecture in the late 18th-early 19th century', BIGS 15, No. 1 (Jan-Mar 1972), 10-11;  Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 414.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, CLARENDON STREET, CLARENDON MARKET
Date: 1783
Nature: Being erected under direction of SS, who also designed elevation of proposed houses to be built on surrounding lots in William St, King St, Chatham St and Clarendon Row.
Refs: Faulkner's Dublin Journal, 30 Jul-2 Aug 1783; M. Craig, Dublin 1660-1860 (1952), 322

Building: CO. DOWN, NEWRY, MERCHANTS' QUAY, ULSTER WHITE LINEN HALL
Date: 1783
Nature: New.
Refs: Engraving of signed and dated plan and elevation in collection of Desmond Guinness, Leixlip Castle; Freeman's Journal, 1-4 Feb 1783 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc.2008/44); C.E.B. Brett, Court Houses and Market Houses of the Province of Ulster (UAHS, 1973), 72.74(illus.)

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, MOUNT STREET LOWER, NO. 064
Date: 1783
Nature: 'a large double fronted house which Sproule built for George Putland in 1783' (F. O'Dwyer); 'possibly by Samuel Sproule' (Casey).
Refs: Typescript notes on Nos. 39 & 40 Merrion Square by F. O'Dwyer in Jones file;  Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 593.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, MARY'S ABBEY, BANK OF IRELAND (OLD)
Date: 1783
Nature: Alts and repairs to first premises of bank on corner of Boot Lane.
Refs: E. McParland, 'The Bank and the Visual Arts', in F.S.L. Lyons, ed., Bicentenary Essays Bank of Ireland 1783-1983 (1983), 97

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, DAME COURT
Date: 1784
Nature: Layout of same.
Refs: NA, Wide Streets Commissioners maps, WSC/MAPS/114 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc.2008/44)

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, GEORGE'S STREET SOUTH GREAT
Date: 1784
Nature: SS to make plans for same for Wide Streets Commissioners.
Refs: NA, Wide Streets Commissioners' minutes, 13 Feb 1784 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc.2008/44)

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, MARY'S ABBEY, BANK OF IRELAND (PROPOSED)
Date: 1784ca
Nature: Unexecuted designs for new bank at unspecified location.
Refs: Engraved designs in Bank of Ireland archives; E. McParland, 'The Bank and the Visual Arts', in F.S.L. Lyons, ed., Bicentenary Essays Bank of Ireland 1783-1983 (1983), 97-98(illus.)

Building: CO. ANTRIM, BELFAST, DONEGALL SQUARE, WHITE LINEN HALL
Date: 1785
Nature: By SS, according to Maguire.
Refs: Alex Maguire, 'Who was Samuel Sproule?', Dun Laoghaire Journal no. 8 (1999), 28 (illus. in C.E.B. Brett, The Buildings of Belfast (2nd ed., 1985), 7,Pl. 11)

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, MERRION SQUARE, NO. 035
Date: 1786a
Nature: New house built by SS on part of lot leased from Viscount Fitzwilliam in May 1780. Appears as built on lease of 1786.
Refs: Leases, 19 May 1780 and 11 Dec 1786, in NA, Pembroke Papers, 97/46/2

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, MERRION SQUARE, NO. 036-37
Date: 1786p
Nature: New houses built by SS on part of lot leased from Viscount Fitzwilliam in May 1780 and Dec 1786. Not built by Dec 1786.
Refs: Leases, 19 May 1780 and 11 Dec 1786, in NA, Pembroke Papers, 97/46/2;  Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 585.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, MERRION SQUARE, NO. 038-40
Date: 1786P
Nature: 'probably all designed by Sproule' (F. O'Dwyer) for Edward Kent.
Refs: Typescript notes on Nos. 39 & 40 Merrion Square by F. O'Dwyer in Jones file;  Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 585-6.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, ROEBUCK CASTLE
Date: 1788
Nature: Alts.(rebuilding?) for Thomas, 13th Baron Trimlestown.
Refs: E.McP files, citing Freeman's Journal, 22-25 Nov 1788

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, HOLLES STREET, HOUSES
Date: 1790a
Nature: Completed E side Holles St., where he had his own house.
Refs: Alex Maguire, 'Who was Samuel Sproule?', Dun Laoghaire Journal no. 8 (1999), 29,30

Building: CO. DUBLIN, BALLINCLEA (ROCHESTOWN)
Date: 1795ca
Nature: Improvements, for himself.
Refs: John Ferrar, AView of Ancient and Modern Dublin(1796), 123; Alex Maguire, 'Who was Samuel Sproule?', Dun Laoghaire Journal no. 8 (1999), 31,33(illus)

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, GRAND CANAL STREET, HOUSES
Date: ?
Nature: 'Some of the houses are by Samuel Sproule.'(Craig)
Refs: M. Craig, Dublin 1660-1860 (1952), 323

Author Title Date Details
Maguire, Alex 'Who was Samuel Sproule?' 1999 Dun Laoghaire Journal 8 (Dun Laoghaire Borough Historical Society, 1999), 28-38.