Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

Architect, of Ireland and Tasmania. John Lee Archer, only son of John Archer of Cooliney, Co. Tipperary, and Dublin, resident engineer to the Revenue Commissioners in Ireland, by his wife, Charlotte Lee, of Kent, was born in Chatham, Kent,(1) on 26 April 1791. He became a pupil of CHARLES BEAZLEY  CHARLES BEAZLEY in London on 3 April 1809, his three-year apprenticeship ending on 1 April 1812. The following year, on 4 May 1813, he entered the office of JOHN RENNIE  JOHN RENNIE as a drawing clerk, an engagement which was terminated by Rennie on 22 July 1818. In November 1818 Archer returned to Ireland, where for the next eight years he was engaged in various works. Papers which formerly belonged to his grand-daughter include signed drawings for churches to be built at Tipperary and Kilcooley, Co. Tipperary,(2) and also indicate that he was involved in some way with the Royal Canal in Dublin. At the Royal Academy in 1827 he exhibited a geometrical elevation of 'a cathedral church proposed to be erected in Ireland'.(3)

At the end of 1826 Archer received the Government appointment of civil engineer and architect in Van Diemen's Land. He sailed from Portsmouth on 5 April 1827 and arrived in Hobart on 2 August. The remainder of his life was spent in Tasmania, where he died in December, 1852. For the fullest account of his life and works in Tasmania, see Roy S. Smith, op. cit., below, and the same author's entry on Archer in Australian Dictionary of Biography.



All information in this entry not otherwise accounted for is from Roy S. Smith, John Lee Archer: Tasmanian Architect and Engineer (Tasmanian Historical Research Association, 1962), 4-5,8. (Photocopy kindly supplied by Margaret Cormack, Moyne-Templetuohy Parish History project.)

(1) Information from Anne Lee-Archer, Tasmania, great-great-granddaughter of John Lee Archer.
(2) Whether they were actually built to Archer's design or not is not clear; Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of Ireland (1837) says that the parish church at Tipperary was built in 1830, after Archer had left Ireland, and describes the parish church of Kilcooly as 'a handsome modern structure'.
(3) RA Exhibition catalogue 1827, No.956.

Author Title Date Details
Smith, Roy S. John Lee Archer: Tasmanian Architect and Engineer 1962 Tasmanian Historical Research Association, 1962.