Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

Civil engineer, surveyor and artist. Henry Pelham, a son of Peter Pelham, mezzotint engraver, by his second wife, Mary Singleton, widow of Richard Copley and mother of the painter John Singleton Copley, was born on 14 February 1749 at Boston, Massachusetts, of which he was later to make a well-known plan. He had moved to London by 1777, when he exhibited two miniatures and a painting, 'The Finding of Moses', at the Royal Academy from the address 'At Mr. Copley's, Leicester Fields', and was still at the same address when he exhibited a group of four miniatures at the Academy the following year. Strickland's account of Pelham's life appears to imply that he went to Ireland on being appointed agent for the Co. Kerry estates of the Earl of Shelburne (created Marquess of Lansdowne in 1784) though Andrews places the appointment after 1786. Whatever his reason for going to Ireland, Pelham was there by 1779 when the Grand Jury of County Clare ordered him to make a map of the county. In 1780 he exhibited miniatures at the Society of Artists in Ireland from the address 48 College Green, Dublin. He also gave Dublin as his address when he married Catherine Butler of Co. Clare the the same year.(1) In April 1786 he made astronomical observations at Loop Head, Co. Clare, and later the same year boated up the Shannon in order to paint the scenery and antiquities. His map of Co. Clare was published in 12 sheets in 1787. He also prepared an unpublished map of Co. Kerry, which was ready for the engraver when he was drowned in a boating accident in September 1806.(2) A view of Limerick from the North Strand in John Ferrar's History of Limerick (1787) is taken from a drawing by Pelham as are three plates showing Quin Abbey, Clare Abbey and Ennis Abbey in Grose's Antiquities of Ireland(1791-95).


All information in this entry not otherwise accounted for is from the entry on Pelham in W.G. Strickland, A Dictionary of Irish Artists (1913), II, 225, and J.H. Andrews, Plantation Acres (1975), 355-6.

(1) Index of Irish Wills 1484-1858 (Eneclann CD-ROM), Document ID 9922 and 53324.
(2) Andrews, loc. cit., above, says the accident occurred in Bantry Bay, while Strickland says on the Kenmare River.