Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

Military engineer. John Corneille, a son of the Huguenot military engineer Rudolph Corneille, said to have been a native of Orange,(1) succeeded his father as second engineer in the Irish Ordnance on 15 September 1716.(2) In 1730 he unsuccessfully petitioned the Government that he might succeed THOMAS BURGH  THOMAS BURGH as first engineer,(3) but it appears that he later achieved his aim.(4)  He designed a powder magazine in the Phoenix Park in 1734,(5) and supervised repairs at Charles Fort, Kinsale, Co. Cork, in 1738.(6) He was a member of the vestry of St Peter's church, Dublin, in 1750.(7) In 1756 he is mentioned by Thomas Eyre in a letter to General Conway as one of the four engineers on the Irish establishment who might be sent to Scotland to take charge of the building or reconstruction of forts in the Highlands: 'I believe that the second Engineer on this Establishmt, Capt. Corneille, is too far advanc'd in years to undergoe much fatigue and wishes to be permitted to attend the Duty of the Ordnance Board of wch he is a member, & where he seems to be really wanted.'(8)   He died in 1761, having married twice:  by his first wife, Jeanne Charlotte de Ravenell, whom he married in 1710, he had two sons and a daughter, and by his second wife, Marie Magdalene d'Escury, whom he married five years later, four sons and six daughters.

There were several persons of this name who were active in Ireland in the eighteenth century. The subject of this entry is referred to as 'John Corneille, senior' by Loeber, while Casey mentions 'his son John Corneille, jun.' in connection with the magazine in Phoenix Park.(9)  At some point before 1779, a Major John Corneille made a drawing of Boyle Abbey, Co. Roscommon, which was copied by Gabriel Beranger.(10) The 'J. Corneille' who signed an undated sketch of the Governor's country seat in St Helena, in the Guinness Collection in the Irish Architectural Archive (Acc. 96/98) was probably John Corneille (b.1771), son of Daniel Corneille of St Helena. Daniel Corneille was Lieutenant Governor of the island, during the 1770s and Governor from 1782 until 1788, after which he returned to Ireland.(11)


All information in this entry not otherwise attributed is from the entry on Rudolph Corneille by Richard Hawkins in Dictionary of Irish Biography, ed. by James McGuire and James Quinn, 9 vols. (Cambridge University Press, 2009), 861. 

(1) BL Add. MS 38,712 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44).  He is also referred to as a Dutchman (BL Add.MS. 34148 (McParland, as above) perhaps through a confusion with the House of Orange.
(2) NA/PRO M2537 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44).
(3) PRONI T3019/54 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44).
(4) See Hawkins, loc. cit., above.
(5) NA/PRO (Kew) SO 1/18/fol.190v; T14/12 p.40; JHCI 4, lviii, lxxvi, cxiii, cxxxvi (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44).
(6) NA/PRO (Kew) T14/12/127; SO 1/18/285 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44).
(7) Information from Kenneth Severens (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44).
(8) Letter to General Conway, Dublin, 27 July 1756, in letter book of Thomas Eyre, IAA 86/149.1, p.20. Another ref. to Corneille's age and infirmity is in Chatsworth MS. 424/3 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44).
(9) Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 306.
(10) See Peter Harbison, ed., Beranger's Antique Buildings of Ireland (1998), 12,18,19,122; according to Harbison he was later appointed a member of the Commission for paving the streets of Dublin.
(11) T.H. Brooke, A History of the Island of St. Helena, from its Discovery by the Portuguese to the Year 1806 (London, 1808), ?.

3 work entries listed in chronological order for CORNEILLE, JOHN (CAPT.)

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Date: 1734-1736
Nature: Warrant issued for building same, 1734. Completed, 1736. 'Officially, the designer of the magazine was the Second Engineer John Corneille, though its actual design has been attributed to his son John Corneille Jun.'(Casey)
Refs: NA/PRO (Kew) SO 1/18/fol. 190v and T14/12, p.40 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc.2008/44); JHCI 4, lviii, lxxvi,cxiii,cxxxvi (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc.2008/44); E. McParland, Public Architecture in Ireland: 1680-1760 (2001), 140;  Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 306.

Date: 1737
Nature: 'Unusual plan with closets between the front and rear rooms.'(Casey).
Refs: Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 545.

Date: 1745
Nature: Could JC be the Mr Connell or Conriell who offered a model for new roof of church in 1745?
Refs: TCD MS. 2062, 19v (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc.2008/44)