Architect, of Dublin. Information about Ivory's early life relies on an article which appeared in Anthologia Hibernica in May 1793. According to this source, Ivory was born in Cork and was apprenticed to a carpenter there before completing his apprenticeship in Dublin. He then spent some time in the workshop of Thomas Trulock, the leading gunsmith in the city. 'This did not long suit his turn of mind, which was of a studious and persevering cast: he resolved on something more eligible to claim attention, and was threrefore determined to pursue the study of architecture.' To this end he took drawing lessons from a from a 'Mr Bell Mires', who has been identified by Frederick O'Dwyer as the surveyor, measurer and topographical draughtsman Jonas Blaymire (d.1763). According to the Anthologia Hibernica, Ivory 'soon eclipsed his master, so as to be considered by far the best draughtsman in architecture at that time in Dublin'.
On 1 March 1764 the Dublin Society opened a drawing school for twenty boys from indigent backgrounds to teach the 'the principles of geometry, the elements of architecture and the rules of perspective'. Ivory was appointed the teacher, with the freedom 'also to take in scholars for his own benefit'. One of his duties was to produce a design for a farm house every month. He was a conscientious master; in February 1765 his salary was increased to £40 per annum, and in the Society's minutes for the years 1765-6 he is regularly thanked for his serious attention to the School. Later, on 21 May 1772, the Society issued a statement registering its approval 'of the care which he takes and of the extraordinary Trouble which it appears he is at, in instructing the boys committed to him by the Society to attain a knowledge in architecture'. In the 1780s his health deteriorated, and he was permitted to retire to the country for the winter months of 1782, 1784 and 1785. His teaching duties were increasingly taken over by his apprentice HENRY AARON BAKER , who succeeded him as master of the school in 1787. J.D. Herbert, who attended the Society's schools in the early 1780s, found Ivory 'a gentle urbane character', who 'appeared to be in a delicate state of health' and consigned much of the teaching to Baker.
After entering two designs in the Royal Exchange competition of 1768-69, for which he won one of the three consolation prizes awarded to Irish entrants, in 1773 Ivory won the Blue Coat School competition. The execution of his design was curtailed through lack of funds, and he resigned from the commission in 1780 before the building was finished. He received several commissions for work outside Dublin. He was asked by Waterford Corporation to prepare a report on the Protestant cathedral; the report, in which he recommended that the cathedral be rebuilt, was accepted on 13 July 1773. The following year he designed a bridge over the River Blackwater at Lismore, Co. Waterford, for the Duke of Devonshire. In April 1775 he was appointed architect to the Revenue Commissioners after the death of the incumbent, JOHN SMYTH. As a consequence he designed the Custom House at Coleraine, Co. Derry.
Ivory died on 27 December 1786 at his house at Mount Pleasant, Ranelagh. He had married on 1 January 1764 at St Werburgh's Church, Dublin, Elinor Lyons 'of the Castle', who O'Connor suggests may have been the daughter of Henry Lyons, commissioner of the Barracks and Public Works. She and two unmarried daughters, Elizabeth and Sophia, survived him. His twelve-year-old son died only about two weeks before him. He mentions a nephew, William Ivory McCullogh, in his will. After his death the Dublin Society purchased some of his architectural books from his widow. Apart from the magnificent set of designs for the Blue Coat School which were presented to George III and are now in the British Library, very few architectural designs by Ivory can now be traced. Even in his own day, despite the esteem in which he was held as a draughtsman, he exhibited relatively little. In 1767 he showed three designs at the Society of Artists in Ireland: 'A design for a new exchange, proposed for the city of Dublin', Ditto for a temple, proposed with eight walks[walls?]', Ditto for a nobleman's house in the Dorick order, with four fronts'. In 1772 he exhibited a view of Lord Charlemont's Casino at Marino. This is presumably the view which was engraved by Rooker in 1775; the prints were sold by Ivory for half a guinea each.
Whether Thomas Ivory was connected with JOHN IVORY has not been established, nor whether he was related in any way to WILLIAM IVORY of Norwich. There seems to have been another, younger Thomas Ivory in Dublin, who was admitted to the Dublin Society's School of Drawing in architecture on 12 November 1767. Possibly it was this Thomas Ivory who was clerk to the Surveyor General in the 1770s. A Thomas Ivory was registered in Dublin Lodge No. 64 in 1775 and another in Dublin Lodge 190 - the Royal Arch Lodge, which tended to have members of some standing - in 1777.
'Mr Thomas Ivory, architect' was one of the subscribers to Robert Pool & John Cash, Views…of Buildings…city of Dublin (Dublin, 1780).
Addresses: Dame Street, 1767; Park Place (office), 1768; South Cumberland Street, <=1772-1775; 8 South Cumberland Street, 1775-77; Harcourt Street, 1778-83; Ranelagh Road, 1784-86; Mount Pleasant, Ranelagh, 1787.
See WORKS and BIBLIOGRAPHY.
All information in this entry not otherwise accounted for is from E. McParland, 'Thomas Ivory', Bulletin of the Irish Georgian Society 17, Jan-June 1974, 15-18, and David O'Connor, 'Thomas Ivory', RIAI Year Book (1992), 68-73. O'Connor's article is based on his thesis, 'Thomas Ivory, Architect' submitted for the MUBC degree, University College Dublin, 1990. An article on Ivory in Anthologia Hibernica, May 1793, 334-5, forms the basis of both McParland's and O'Connor's accounts of Ivory's life and works. A short item in DB 1, 1 Sep 1859, 115, and the expanded versions of this in APSD and DNB derive from an inadequate entry on Ivory in Whitelaw, Warburton & Walsh, History of Dublin (1818), II, 1187. Ivory is said to be the central seated figure in a painting by John Trotter in the Kings's Hospital, Palmerston; this painting, said to represent a meeting held in connection with the planning of the Blue Coat School, is reproduced in S. O'Reilly, New Lease of Life: the Law Society's Building at Blackhall Place (1990), Pl. 1.
Faulkner's Dublin Journal, 7-11 Feb 1864.
Royal Dublin Society Premiums Vol 14 (1777) (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44).
IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44.
Information about Ivory's years as Master of the School of Architectural Drawing is from John Turpin, A School of Art in Dublin since the Eighteenth Century (1995), 49-52.
J.D. Herbert, Irish Varieties for the Last Fifty Years (1836), 57.
Faulkner's Dublin Journal, 21-23 Mar 1769.
Waterford Council Minute Book, I, 28 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44).
Ivory supplied Beranger with drawings of Lismore Castle and Cathedral in 1776 in Beranger Collection, RIA 3C 30 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44).
Faulkner's Dublin Journal, 22-25 Apr 1775; for his work in this capacity see NA/PRO Custom House minutes (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44).
Faulkner's Dublin Journal, 26-28 Dec 1768. Ivory's house has been identified as the present No. 6, Old Mount Pleasant; see Deirdre Kelly, Four Roads to Dublin: a history of Rathmines, Ranelagh and Leeson Street (1995), 82-83.
Registers of St Werburgh's Church in RCB.
See Turpin, op. cit., 52.
Faulkner's Dublin Journal, 17-20 Jun 1775. The print, which is dedicated to the Earl of Charlemont, shows the Casino as originally designed, rather than the slightly modified version which was executed. (Might this insider knowledge suggest a connection with John Ivory, who had worked for Charlemont on the construction of Charlemont House and the Casino?).
MS. transcript from Royal Dublin Society minutes of School of Architectural Drawing admissions and prizewinners (in IAA).
JHCI 1773-1778, Vol. I, App. cxxvii; XII, part 2, Appendix dlxxxiv (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44).
Information from Alex Ward, GLFI archives.
From Wilson's Dublin Direcoty unless otherwise stated.
IALE I, 358.
Faulkner's Dublin Journal 23-25 Aug 1768.
IALE, I, 358; Faulkner's Dublin Journal, 17-20 Jun (?or 16-18 Mar) 1775.
See note 14, above.