LARCOM, THOMAS (MAJOR-GENERAL SIR)
- Born: 1801 Died: 1879
English-born engineer and administrator, for a full account of whose life and career, see Oxford DNB. Thomas Larcom came to Ireland in 1826, as a second lieutenant in the Royal Engineers, to work on the Ordnance Survey of Ireland under THOMAS FREDERICK COLBY . In 1828 he took chargeof the project and was responsible for the excellent quality of the maps which were produced. He was a keen promoter of the idea that, while geographical data was being collected for the maps, statistical memoirs about the topography, economy and customs of the country should be compiled and then published as part of the survey. The Government gave its approval such a scheme, and a statistical memoir of the parish of Templemore in Co. Derry was published in Dublin in 1837. However, for a variety of reasons, no further funding was made available by the Treasury to extend the project to other parishes. In 1846 Larcom was appointed a commissioner of Public Works, and given charge of famine relief schemes. He headed a commission of enquiry into the Irish poor-law system and another into the reform of Dublin corporation. In 1850 he was appointed deputy chairman of the Board of Works and in 1853 the first permanent Under Secretary for Ireland. With a unique knowledge of the country as a whole, he proved an energetic, dedicated and enlightened official, and during his period of office as Under Secretary prosperity in Ireland steadily increased. He retired to England in 1868.
Larcom was an active member of numerous learned societies in Dublin: the Geological Society of Dublin, the Royal Zoological Society, the Irish Archaeological Society, the Royal Irish Academy, the Dublin Statistical Society and the Institution of Civil Engineers. He was a member of the Commission for the Publication of Ancient Laws and Institutions of Ireland, of the Board of Governors of the National Gallery of Ireland and of the Senate of the Queen's University in Ireland. He formed large collections of material relating to the cultural history of Ireland and to events during his own period of office; a large part of this material was given to the societies in Ireland with which he was connected.
ICEI: vice-president, 1846, 1852-54; council member, 1848-1851.
All information in this entry is from DNB, from Jones's transcripts from Thom's directoriesand from J.H. Andrews, A Paper Landscape: the Ordnance Survey in nineteenth-century Ireland (Oxford, 1975). A portrait of Larcom by Leslie Ward (1858) is in the Royal Irish Academy.
(1) See IB 22, 15 Jul 1880, 197-8, for his bequest of books to the Statistical and Socieal Enquiry Society.