Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

Scottish-born engineer to the Dublin Corporation Pipe Water Committee. William Mylne, the second son of Thomas Mylne of Edinburgh and a younger brother of ROBERT MYLNE ROBERT MYLNE , was born in 1734 in Edinburgh, where he took over his father's business as a mason in 1758. Finding himself in financial difficulties after the collapse of the uncompleted North Bridge in Edinburgh, for which he was the contractor, he emigrated to America in 1772 but did not flourish there. At the end of 1776, thanks to the intervention of his brother Robert, he was appointed engineer to the Dublin Corporation Pipe Water Committee at a salary of £140 per annum with a house.(1) His task was to design and lay out a new water supply network for the city, drawing water from the city basin, which was itself supplied by the Grand Canal. He was to prove himself an effective and indispensable official. In January 1778 the Pipe Water Committee, in consideration of his 'knowledge, capacity, great integrity, and persevering assiduity…in the execution and discharge of the complicated and important duties of his office', ordered that his salary be raised to 200 guineas per annum, 'with 25 guineas for lodging, as also £50, for his travelling expenses and past services'.(2) He was granted the freedom of the city in July 1780.(3) In April 1781 he announced his intention of resigning because he had to leave Ireland for some time, but the committee persuaded him not to do so and agreed that he could have a three-month leave of absence in the summer.(4) In October 1785 he reported that he had been in bad health and requested leave of absence to go to England to recuperate,(5) and in April 1786 he resigned. While his resignation was accepted, he was asked to continue to superintend the work until a replacement could be found; he was thanked for the 'upright and faithful discharge' of his duties and presented with piece of plate.(6) Despite these farewell formalities he was reinstated in the post in July 1786(7) and held it until his death in Dublin in March 1790.(8) He was succeeded by JAMES JOHNSTON [1] JAMES JOHNSTON [1] . His brother Robert erected a memorial tablet in St Catherine's Church, Dublin, 'to inform Posterity of the uncommon Zeal, Integrity and Skill with which he formed, enlarged, and established on a perfect system the water works of Dublin'.(9)

Two letters from William Mylne to Robert Mylne, dated 1784 and 1789, which mention problems and delays in connection with the job, are in the Scottish Record Office.(10)


All information in this entry not otherwise accounted for is from Colvin, which see for further details of Mylne's career in Scotland and America. Other accounts are in APSD, M, 152, and DNB. See also Ted Ruddock, Travels in the Colonies in 1773-1775 described in the letters of William Mylne (University of Georgia Press, 1993), 82-88 and Ruddock's entry on Mylne in A.W. Skempton et al., A Biographical Dictionary of Civil Engineers in Great Britain and Ireland I (2002).

(1) CARD XII, 432,436,463.
(2) CARD XII, 529.
(3) CARD XIII, 135; according to 'An alphabetical list of the Freemen of the City of Dublin, 1774-1824', The Irish Ancestor XV (1983), Nos. 1 & 2, 82, the freedom was not granted until Christmas 1782.
(4) CARD XIII, 178.
(5) CARD XIII, 442.
(6) CARD XIII, 475-6, 487; Dublin Journal, 8-11 Jul 1786 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44).  A copy of the inscription on the plate is in the Mylne papers in the Victoria & Albert Museum, Mylne Family Papers, MyFam\8\7\1, see British Architectural Library Catalogue, http://riba.sirsidynix.net.uk (last visited Jun 2009).  
(7) CARD XIII, 489.
(8) CARD XV, 144-5; A.E. Richardson, ed. Robert Mylne (1955), 156. His will was proved in the Prerogaitve Court in 1790 (Arthur Vicars, Index to the Prerogative Wills of Ireland 1536-1810 (1897), 344).
(9) For a photograph of the memorial, see Ruddock, op. cit., above, pl. facing p. 86.
(10) SRO GD1/51/100.