Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

County surveyor for Cos. Down, Donegal and Cavan. John Fraser (or Frazer), eldest son of James Fraser, of Portalla, Downpatrick, Co. Down,(1) and his wife Rachel (d. 1862)(2) and a brother of WILLIAM FRASER WILLIAM FRASER , was described as 'John Frazer, of Glasslough, Esq.' in the Newry Telegraph  when he was appointed county surveyor for Co. Down in May 1834,(3) a post which he held for eighteen years. During this time he was associated with the construction of the Albert and Queen's bridges in Belfast, the railway line from Newry to Enniskillen, the Belfast & Holywood Railway, the Newry & Warrenpoint and the County Down lines. In September 1852 he was transferred to the Northern division of Co. Donegal, where he was based in Ramelton. He was transferred again, to Co. Cavan, circa 1864, remaining in this, his last post until 1867, when he resigned for reasons of ill health.  In March 1870 he petitioned the House of Commons for a retiring allowance without success and In 1872 he wrote to the Earl of Dufferin asking him to advocate the introduction of pensions for long-serving and infirm county surveyors.   In his letter to Dufferin he described himself as suffering from rheumatism and paralysis and as being 'quite lame', adding that he had been supported by a subscription from 'a few of the more humane County Surveyors'.(4)

John Fraser died in 1874. 'During his long and successful career', his obituarist wrote in the Irish Builder, 'he gave evidence of high powers and corresponding industry, and the scenes of his labours present memorials of him of which any public official might be proud.' Brett, on the other hand, suggests that his record in Co. Down at least was not an altogether satisfactory one. In 1849 he was reprimanded by the Grand Jury for the terms on which he employed one of his younger brothers, Leslie Fraser, to superintend three contracts.(5) According to the Irish Builder obituary, Fraser was a freemason. He married Mary Anne (née   Dunlop?) (d.1855)(6) and had several children.(7)

Fraser's pupils and assistants included ANDREW OLIVER LYONS.  ANDREW OLIVER LYONS.

ICEI: founder member, 1835;(8)  council member, 1846;(9) no longer listed as a member by 1870.(10)

Addresses: Work: Commercial Buildings, Belfast, and Downpatrick, 1841.(11)
Home: Ray House, Co. Donegal, 1854.(12)



All information in this entry not otherwise accounted from is from the obituary of Fraser in IB 16, 1 Aug 1874, 218-19, and from the entry on Fraser in Brendan O'Donoghue, The Irish County Surveyors 1834-1944 (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2007), 174-175.  All genealogical references were supplied by Fraser's great-great-great granddaughter, Mrs Betty Crisp, Auckland, New Zealand, Aug 2012..

(1) Londonderry Sentinel, 7 Nov 1862.
(2) See note 1, above.
(3) Dublin Evening Post, 20 May 1834.
(4) Photocopy supplied by Mrs Betty Crisp in IAA, Jones File F73. 
(5) C.E.B. Brett, Court Houses and Market Houses of the Province of Ulster (UAHS, 1973), 18-19.
(6) Notice of death in Belfast News Letter, 7 22 Sep 1855, which states that she died at the home of her sister Miss Dunlop, Emyvale, Co. Monaghan.
(7) Local newspapers record the deaths of four of his children: Rachel (Belfast News Letter, 30 Dec 1842); William (Belfast News Letter, 8 Nov 1844); Jacob Owen (Belfast News Letter, 7 Jan 1845); Rebecca (Cavan Observer, 22 Oct 1864).  Confusingly they appear to have christened another daughter Rachel.
(8) Photocopy of transcript of minutes of first meeting of Engineers' Society of Ireland, 6 Aug 1835, supplied by Mrs Betty Crisp in IAA, Jones File F73.
(9) Jones, citing Pettigrew & Oulton's Dublin Almanac, 1846.
(7) IB 12, 15 Aug 1870, 197.
(11) Martin's Belfast Directory for 1841-42, 132.
(12) Belfast News Letter, 12 Apr 1854.

5 work entries listed in chronological order for FRASER, JOHN

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Date: 1831-1836
Nature: New bridge (replacing one of 1814? See APSD.B, 56). JF associated with construction. Grant of £3,000 from Commissioners of Public Works.
Refs: 4th Annual Report of Commissioners of Public Works (Ireland) (1836), 11; IB 16, 1 Aug 1874, 218; Marcus Patton, Central Belfast: an historical gazetteer (UAHS, 1993), 270.

Date: 1837-1843
Nature: Designed by JF with Charles Lanyon (initially with Thomas Jackson Woodhouse).
Refs: Civil Engineer and Architect's Journal I (1837-38), 173;  Brett, 29; Paul Larmour, Belfast: an illustrated architectural guide (1987), 52 (no. 117, illus.); Marcus Patton, Central Belfast: an historical gazetteer (UAHS, 1993), 270

Date: 1837ca
Nature: JF prepares plans but building erected to designs by Thomas Duff.
Refs: Newry Telegraph, 28 Sep 1837, 21 Apr 1838; NLI MS 2208 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc.2008/44); C.E.B. Brett, Court Houses and Market Houses of the Province of Ulster (UAHS, 1973), 72

Date: 1845
Nature: Monument to General Robert Rollo Gillespie in form of square pillar with statue on top, opened 24 Jun 1845. JF 'chosen by his brother Masons in conjunction with Mr Walker, architect, to carry out the testimonial'.
Refs: IB 16, 1 Aug 1874, 219 (but cf. B 3, 26 Jul 1845, 356, which says that 'Brother' Johnston was the architect)

Date: 1853
Nature: Only part of proposed development plan for Ballymacarrett for landowner, Henry Spencer Chichester, Baron Templemore, which was carried out.
Refs: Down History & Society (1997), 353 (ref. from Brendan O'Donoghue)