Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

English architect and writer on art and architecture, for biography and works of whom see Howard Colvin, A Biographical dictionary of British architects 1600-1840 (3rd edn., 1995), 343. One of James Elmes's earliest publications was Hints for the Improvement of Prisons (1817), and it was as an authority on prisons that he had dealings with Ireland. He designed the House of Correction at Waterford in 1819,(1) but his hopes to do the same for Naas, Co. Kildare,(2) were disappointed. He also suggested plans for a convict prison in Cork, reporting in 1821 on the fitness of Spike Island for such a purpose, and proposed Lambay Island as a suitable site for a penitentiary in the Dublin area.(3)   On a visit to Ireland in 1820 he made a tour of parts the country 'interesting for architectural antiquities, incorporating his observations in lectures given at the Russell Institution in London the following winter.(4)  In 1821 he also published a plan to make a navigable canal between Lough Foyle with Lough Erne, to be called the North West of Ireland Canal.(5)  In September 1822, following the death of JOHN BOWDEN [2] JOHN BOWDEN [2] , architect to the Board of First Fruits, Elmes requested the Prime Minister, Lord Liverpool, to support him as a candidate for the post,(6) but without success.



(1) Letter from Commissioners of Board of Works to Charles Grant,3 Nov 1819, in NA/CSO/RP/1819/990;  letters from JE to Charles Grant, 23 Sep 1820-27 Jul 1821, in NA/CSO/RP/1820/432.
(2) Letter from Elmes to Charles Grant, 16 Nov 1821, in NA CSO/RP/1821/110 (formerly CSORP1821/114).
(3) Letter from Elmes of 1823 in NA/SPO CSORP 1823/7065 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44); the letter is signed by Elmes as a member of the RIA, but he does not appear in the list of members in Pettigrew & Oulton's Dublin Almanac of 1841.
(4) James Elmes, Lectures on Architecture (London, 1821), v.
(5) Two copies of prospectus, 1821, in PRONI, D207/27/32 (see PRONI e-catalogue, where name is given as James Elmer).
(6) Letter from James Elmes to Lord Liverpool, 25 Sep 1822, in NA/CSO/RP/2883.

1 work entries listed in chronological order for ELMES, JAMES #

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Date: 1820-21
Nature: New penitentiary.  Builder: Thomas Anthony.   'the penitentiary, or house of correction, built in the south-western suburbs in 1820 at an expense of £4990 occupies a spacious quadrangular area enclosed with a wall;  at one extremity is the governor's house, round which are ranged the various cells in a semicircular form ...there are in all 41 cells, with day rooms and airing yards...' (Lewis)
Refs: Letters re same, 1-3 Nov 1819, 5 letters from JE to Charles Grant , Sep 1820-Jul 1821, with elevation and ground plan, 23 Sep 1820, further correspondence re same, 1 Nov 1819-11 Feb 1820, in  NA/CSO/RP/1819/990, CSO/RP/1820/432 , CSO/RP/1820/1328 (formerly CSORP1819/W127, CSORP1820/E38 and CSORP1820/W3);  NA/SPO CSORP 1823/7065 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc.2008/44); Howard Colvin, A Biographical dictionary of British architects 1600-1840 (3rd edn., 1995), 344, citing Annals of the Fine Arts 5 (1820), 438-9