Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

Carpenter and builder, of Dublin. Samuel Roberts, born in 1799, was the sixth son of Francis Roberts, a Quaker grocer in Youghal, Co. Cork, and his wife Anne. In 1814 he was indentured for 20 guineas to THOMAS HOWARD  THOMAS HOWARD of Cork. On completing his apprenticeship in 1821, he walked to Dublin, where his first job was as night watchman at the Friends Burial Ground in Cork Street. He may be the Samuel Roberts who was admitted to the Dublin Society's School of Drawing in Architecture on 1 November 1821.(1) He had set up in business as a builder by the following year and first appears in Wilson's Dublin Directory in 1828 with an address at 1 South Richmond Street. He remained at this address until at least 1839, but by 1844 he had moved his home and business to Tivoli Place (later Tivoli House), a house set in a substantial plot of land off the west side of Upper Leeson Street. Roberts developed and extended Tivoli Avenue, as the roadway to the house became known, to form a throughfare between Upper Leeson Street and Ranelagh named the Appian Way.(2) His own address is given as No. 1 Appian Way in Pettigrew and Oulton's Almanack for 1847.(3) By 1863 he had been joined in business by his sons, but within the next year or so the sons, William and Alfred, had set up their own firm, W. & A. Roberts, at 7 Grand Canal Street Lower. In 1875 Samuel and James F. Roberts, founder and engineer, are named as the occupants of No. 1, Appian Way.

Samuel Roberts died in 1875, leaving a Mrs Sarah Roberts in occupation of Nos. 1 and 2 and William R. Roberts, senior partner in the firm of W. & A. Roberts, in No. 3. The firm of W. & A. Roberts was active until the later 1930s. According to Harrison, Samuel Roberts, who always sported a white beaver hat, was a dedicated teetotaller and non-smoker; any workman he caught drinking or smoking was instantly dismissed.

A collection of papers relating to Samuel Roberts's business, dating from 1822, is in the Archives Department, University College Dublin (P 174).



All information in this entry is, unless otherwise noted, from Richard S. Harrison, A Biographical Dictionary of Irish Quakers(1997), 89, from the Post Office directories for 1839, 1844, and 1875 and from Thom's directories for 1863 and 1883.

(1) MS. transcript from Royal Dublin Society minutes of School of Drawing in Architecture admissions and prizewinners (in IAA); according to Gitta Willemson, The Dublin Society Drawing Schools 1746-1876 (2000), 83, he also studied in the schools of Figure Drawing and Landscape & Ornament.
(2) Deirdre Kelly, Four Roads to Dublin (1995), 150.
(3) It is unclear from the directories whether Tivoli House was sometimes also referred to as No. 1 Appian Way.

1 work entries listed in chronological order for ROBERTS, SAMUEL *

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Date: 1852
Nature: Casey gives SR as architect for conversion of Royal Exchange into City Hall, but he was more probably the builder.
Refs: Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 363