Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

County surveyor for Cos. Sligo, 1834-1836, and Louth, 1836-1840. Francis Dubourdieu, who was born circa 1784, was the fourth son of of the Rev. John DuBourdieu (1755ca-1839), curate and subsequently rector of Annahilt, Co. Down, author of A statistical survey of Co. Down (1802) and A statistical survey of Co. Antrim (1812). His mother was born Margaret Sampson. By 1823 he was serving as a lieutenant with the Royal Hanoverian Engineers in Germany.   He had been promoted to the rank of captain when he wrote in 1826 from Stade in Lower Saxony to the Irish Board of Works to apply for a post, as he understood that the Board was to be reorganized.(1) On his return to Ireland he was initially employed by the Newry Navigation Company; then in 1831-2 he became resident engineer under the Board of Works for the construction of the road from Kells, Co. Meath, to Bailieborough, Co. Cavan. In May 1834 he was appointed county surveyor for Co. Sligo(2) and in October 1836 for Co. Louth. He was forced to resign from the latter post in August 1840, on account of continuing disagreements with the Grand Jury, and was succeeded by JOHN NEVILLE. JOHN NEVILLE. (3) By 1855 he had moved to Maghery near Moy, Co. Tyrone, where he had a charcoal manufacturing business. 

Towards the end of his life Dubourdieu lived with his sister, Mrs Margaret Gorman.   He died on 1 December 1861 and was buried at Soldierstown, Co. Antrim.  He had married In 1811 but had no children.   His wife, Lavinia Sally Anne (née Harffy), was some twelve years older than himself and had had two previous marriages.  She remained in Germany after his return to Ireland and died there in 1853.  

Two maps drawn by Dubourdieu while he was in northern Germany are in the Stasatsarchiv Stade and a further three in the Hauptstaatsarchiv Hannover.   While he was in Hanover, Dubourdieu published a booklet, Vorschläge zur Verbesserung des Brückenbauwesens im Königreich Hannover und anderen Theilen Norddeutchlands [Propositions for the improvement of the building of bridges in the kingdom of Hanover and other parts of northern Germany]  (Stade, 1823).  He also published a translation from a German military treatise, Instructions for the choice, fortifying, occupation, defence and attack of military positions (London, 1830).  Later in life he published a volume of his own verse, Wild Flowers from Germany (Belfast,Dublin & London,1850), dedicated 'to the Ladies of Ireland'.(4)

Dubourdieu's pupils and assistants included MATTHEW MOORE GRAHAM. MATTHEW MOORE GRAHAM. (5)

ICEI:  founder member, 1835.(6)

Address: Ennismore Cottage, Maghery, Moy, Co. Tyrone, 1855.


All information in this entry not otherwise accounted for is from the account of John Dubourdieu in J.B. Leslie & H.B. Swanzy, Biographical Succession Lists of the clergy of the Diocese of Down (1936), 142-4, from Brendan O'Donoghue, The Irish County Surveyors 1834-1944 (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2007), which gives the fullest account of Dubourdieu's career, and from information provided by Elisabeth Roeder-Voss, Rösrath, Germany, a descendant of Lavinia Dubourdieu by her second marriage to Lt. Robert Cooper, RE (e-mail, Sep 2009). 

(1)   NA/SPO CSORP 1826/14,908 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44).
(2) Dublin Evening Post, 20 May 1834.
(3) British Sessional Papers: House of Commons, 1840 (291) XLVIII, 165 ('Return of the number of County Surveyors, Deputies and Clerks in Ireland 1834-1839') (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44).
(4) Digitised by Google Books;  despite his very shaky sense of metre, Dubourdieu is included in James O'Donoghue's The poets of Ireland: a biographical dictionary with bibliographical particulars‎  (1893). (Information from Elisabeth Roeder-Voss).
(5) Printed testimonials to Matthew Moore Graham, 1856 (B.O'D.).  Lavinia Dubourdieu's first husband was Capt. William Graham.
(6) Photocopy of transcript of minutes of first meeting of Engineers' Society of Ireland, 6 Aug 1835, in IAA, Jones File F73.