WILLIAMSON, JOHN 
- Born: - Died: 1838?
Architect, of Dublin. John Williamson was a brother of MATTHEW WILLIAMSON and ARTHUR WILLIAMSON. T he Williamson brothers had connections with Armagh, where they possibly spent their early lives,(1) and had family ties both with FRANCIS JOHNSTON , to whom they were related by marriage, and with WILLIAM MURRAY , who was their nephew.(2) John Williamson is said to have worked as a drawing clerk for Francis Johnston before setting up in practice as an architect.(3) In about 1819 he and his brother Arthur were commissioned by Walter McGeough to design The Argory, Co. Armagh, which was built between 1820 and 1824 under the supervision of THOMAS DUFF. (4) Arthur and John Williamson were also among the various architects employed at Emo Court, Co. Laois; between 1822 and 1831 they prepared designs for the north and south porticos, for the north front, for the drawing room ceiling and for various out-offices including an ice-house.(5)
John Williamson and his brothers were active as developers in Dublin, first in Paradise Row and the Mountjoy Street area, and later (by which time Matthew Williamson was dead) in Rathmines in partnership with JOHN BUTLER. O n the land which they leased in 1830 and 1837 the Williamsons and Butler built the present Leinster Square, consisting of three terraces and two larger houses named Ormond Villa, where Butler lived, and Berlin Cottage, which belonged to the Williamsons. In 1830 Arthur and John also acquired land on what became Albany Avenue, Monkstown, and built two houses for themselves named Albany House and Melbeach House respectively.
John Williamson retired to Melbeach House circa 1838-1840. He had died by 1847, survived by his widow Jane, the English-born sister of JOHN MALLET , whom he had married in 1807.(6) The couple had two sons and two daughters. The elder son Andrew, who was admitted to Trinity College, Dublin, on 1 July 1833 at the age of seventeen,(7) became a clergyman and was living with his mother at Melbeach House in 1847. The younger, John Mallet Williamson, was a lawyer and a churchwarden of Monkstown church.(8) One of John Williamson's daughters, Henrietta, married Francis Johnston's nephew George.
John Williamson exhibited a design for The Argory at the Royal Hibernian Academy (No. 250) along with a 'Design for a Metropolitan Church in the Egyptian Style' (No. 262) in 1826. The following year he exhibited a design for a Wellington Monument (No. 213), presumably an entry in the competition for the Dublin monument held in 1814-15. A portrait of him with his dividers poised above an architectural design, which was exhibited at the Royal Hibernian Academy by Martin Cregan in 1826 (No. 151), is now in the National Gallery of Ireland. Williamson was a subscriber to WILLIAM STITT' s The Practical Architect's Ready Assistant; or Builder's Complete Companion (1819).
The Irish Architectural Archive holds a number of drawings by Arthur and John Williamson for Emo Court.(9)
RHA: elected associate, 1824; resigned, 3 November 1829.(7)
Addresses: 33 Paradise Row (alias Wellington Street), 1814-1831; 20 Mountjoy Street, 1835; 25 Upper Dominick Street, 1838; Albany Place, Monkstown, 1841.
All information in this entry not otherwise accounted for is from Anne Lavin's detailed study 'Leinster Square (with Prince Arthur Terrace) Rathmines: an early suburban speculative terraced housing development 1830-1852', MUBC thesis, University College, Dublin, 1995, 33-67.
(1) A John Williamson was admitted a freeman of the city of Dublin as a member of the Plasterers' Guild at Midummer 1806 by Grace Especial, which normally indicates that the freeman in question was not a Dubliner.
(2) Johnston and Murray's aunt Anne Johnston had married a Matthew Williamson, the Williamsons' sister Elizabeth was Murray's mother, and later John Williamson's daughter Henrietta was to marry a son of Francis Johnston's half-brother Andrew.
(3) NLI MS. 2722, cited by B. Goslin, 'History and descriptive catalogue of the Murray Collection', MA thesis submitted to NUI, Jan 1990, 10,35n55.
(4) See Gervase Jackson-Stops, 'The Argory, Co. Armagh', Country Life 173, 30 Jun 1983, 1768-1771; 174, 7 Jul 1983, 20-24, and The Argory (National Trust, 1984).
(5) Signed and dated drawings in IAA, Emo Court Collection, Acc. 91/101.41-52.
(6) Lavin, op.cit., 47n22.
(7) Alumni Dublinenses, 883, where he is described as the son of John 'architectus'. The John Williamson who was admitted on 6 July 1835 at the age of 15½ may have been his brother; if so, his father is now described as 'generosus' (gentleman).
(8) Étain Murphy, A Glorious Extravaganza: the history of Monkstown Parish Church (2003), 182.
(9) See note 5, above.
(10) W.G. Strickland, A Dictionary of Irish Artists (1913), II, 636.
4 work entries listed in chronological order for WILLIAMSON, JOHN 
|Building:||CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, PHOENIX PARK, WELLINGTON TESTIMONIAL|
|Nature:||Competition entrant? Exhibits 'Design for Wellington Monument' at RHA 1827.|
|Refs:||RHA 1827, No. 213|
|Building:||CO. ARMAGH, THE ARGORY|
|Nature:||Designed by Arthur and John Williamson, for William McGeough.|
Design for house 'now erecting' exh. RHA 1826, No. 250; Gervase Jackson-Stops, 'The Argory, Co. Armagh', Country Life 173, 30 Jun 1983, 1768-1771; 174, 7 Jul 1983, 20-24, and The Argory (National Trust, 1984); Kevin V. Mulligan, The Buildings of Ireland: South Ulster (2013), 85-7.
|Building:||CO. LAOIS, EMO COURT|
|Nature:||Designs for works at same by A. & J. Williamson, including: north and south porticos, north front, drawing room ceiling, out-offices, ice-house, sluice..|
|Refs:||Signed and dated drawings in IAA, Emo Court Collection, Acc. 91/101.41-52|
|Building:||CO. DUBLIN, MONKSTOWN, ALBANY AVENUE, MELBEACH HOUSE|
|Nature:||New house for himself adjoining that of his brother Arthur (Albany House).|
|Refs:||Anne Lavin, 'Leinster Square (with Prince Arthur Terrace) Rathmines: an early suburban speculative terraced housing development 1830-1852', MUBC thesis, University College, Dublin, 1995, 33-67; Mary Cecilia Lyons, Illustrated Incumbered Estates Ireland, 1850-1905 (1993), 210(illus.)|