County surveyor for the northern division of Co. Dublin, 1845-1861, and for Co. Antrim, 1861-1884. Alexander Tate was born in England, 1 July 1823, son of John Tate and Alicia Chambers; he was baptised 25 August 1823 in Regent Square Scotch Church, St Pancras, London. He became a pupil of JACOB OWEN in the Office of Works; his fellow pupils included CHARLES LANYON and HENRY SMYTH . In March 1844 he was appointed assistant surveyor to STEWART GORDON , the county surveyor for Co. Derry, charged with superivising the construction of the bridge over the River Bann at Coleraine. After being placed first in the competitive examination for the Co. Dublin district surveyorships, he was appointed the first county surveyor for the northern district of Co. Dublin in 1845. He held this position - to which was subsequently added responsibility for the central district of the county - until December 1861, when he succeeded Lanyon as county surveyor of Co. Antrim, and surveyor of Carrickfergus. He retired in 1884 to be replaced by JOHN HENRY BRETT . His assistants included JOHN FREDERICK EVELYN BARNES , ALEXANDER MITCHELL BURDEN , SAMUEL PATRICK CLOSE , JOHN PURSER GRIFFITH , FREDERICK WILLIAM MCCULLOUGH , JOSEPH HENRY MOORE amd JASON RIGBY.
After his retirement from the county surveyorship, Tate no longer practised as an engineer although he appears to have retained an office in Belfast for a further ten years (see addresses, below). He died at home in Whitehouse, Belfast, on 29 July 1904 at the age of eighty-one. At the time of his death he was the 'father' of the Institution of Civil Engineers of Ireland, which he had joined in 1844. He had an interest in scientific research and was a life member of the British Association, acting as secretary of one section at the meeting of the association in Dublin in 1857. He was also a member of the Royal Dublin Society.
ICEI: elected member, 1844; auditor, 1847; council member, 1855; hon. secretary & treasurer, 1856-1862; vice-president, 1867.
RIAI: elected fellow, 21 Febrary 1850; auditor, 1852-1854;(Jones transcripts from Thom's directories) secretary & treasurer, 1860; proposed as fellow, 3 April 1876.
Belfast Architectural Association: takes chair at meeting, January(?) 1874.
RSAI: member by 1859.
Addresses: Work: 3 Gardiner's Row, 1847-48; Richmond, Drumcondra, 1849-1861; 20 Queen Street, Belfast, 1868-1894.
Home: Deerpark, Castleknock, 1854; Santry Lodge, Santry, Co. Dublin, 1855-1862; 2 Queen's Elms, Belfast, 1863-1870; Longwood, Belfast, 1894; Rantalard, Whitehouse, Belfast, 1895 until death.
The fullest account of Tate's life and particularly of his career as a county surveyor is in Brendan O'Donoghue, The Irish County Surveyors 1834-1944 (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2007), 286-287. Information regarding birth and and baptism from Census of Ireland 1901, National Archives of Ireland, and Adrian Stevenson, Dublin. All other information in this entry not otherwise accounted for is from this source and from the obituary of Tate in TICEI 32 (1904-5), 28-30.
DB 4, 1 Jan 1862, 7.
Jones transcripts from Thom's directories.
RIAI council meeting minutes, 17 Jan 1850, 66; general meeting minutes, 2 Feb 1850, 70.
RIAI council meeting minutes, 3 Apr 1876, 196.
IB 16, 1 Feb 1874, 46.
JRSAI 5 (1858-59), list of members.
From Jones's transcripts from Thom's directories and RIAI and ICEI membership lists unless otherwise stated.
See note 6, above.