Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

There appear to have been land surveyors of this name, both of 34 Charlemont Street, Dublin.   It is not possible to establish their dates and biographies conclusively;  Bendall's entry on Duncan(1) is probably a conflation of both men, and the following account is only conjectural.   According to Bendall, the elder William Duncan was possibly a pupil of the Scottish land surveyor George Brown (1747-1816) and was active as a land surveyor from 1789 onwards, working in various counties in Ireland and also in Belgium.  It was probably he, rather than his son, who was the principal draughtsman in the Quartermaster General's department from 1815 or earlier (3) and who prepared the county map of Dublin, which was completed in 1821,(2) the year of his death.   He appears to have had at least two sons: James, who emigrated to Colombia circa 1820, and William, who was a land surveyor like himself.

The younger William Duncan appears to have been born in Dublin circa 1795 and married Frances, a daughter of GEORGE WILDRIDGE [2]  GEORGE WILDRIDGE [2] in Dublin 1826.(3)  A daughter, Isabella, was born in 1831.(4)   He appears to have practised as a land surveyor in Dublin for some years but in 1839 joined his brother James in Colombia, where the two men were involved in steam navigation and warehousing on the Magdalena River. He married for a second time in Barranquilla, Colombia, and had a second daughter, Juana.  He died in Barranquilla.  Confusingly a civil engineer named William Duncan of 34 Charlemont Street survives in the directories until at least 1858.

A William Duncan was admitted to the Royal Dublin Society's School of Landscape and Ornament in 1826 and was awarded a medal in 1829.(5)


Genealogical information in this entry not otherwise accounted for is from Alfonso P. Duncan, great-great-grandson of the younger William Duncan, Aug 2011. 

(1) Sarah Bendall, ed., Dictionary of Land Surveyors and Local Map-Makers of Great Britain and Ireland 1530-1850 (2nd edition, 1997), 157.
(2) J.H. Andrews, Plantation Acres (Ulster Historical Foundation, 1985), 351.
(3) http://churchrecords.irishgenealogy.ie .
(4) See note 3, above.
(5) Gitta Willemson, The Dublin Society Drawing Schools 1746-1876 (2000), 30.