Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

Surveyor General of Ordnance in Ireland from 1762. According to the notice of his death in the Freeman's Journal, Ralph Ward, who had previously held the post of 'second architect in the Tower of London', was brought to Ireland by James Fitzgerald, Marquess of Kildare (later first Duke of Leinster), while he was Master General of Ordnance.(1) Kildare had pressed successfully for the creation of a new independent ordnance department which would be fully and solely responsible for all forts, fortifications and ordnance buildngs in Ireland, and chose Ward to fill the new civilian post of Surveyor General of Ordnance which was established in 1762.(2) As he was a protégé of the marquess, Ward may be the 'Mr Ward' who is mentioned several times in the correspondence of the marchioness (later duchess). A 'Mr Ward' made the crossing to Ireland with the marquess in August 1761,(3) and a 'Mr Ward' was consulted about work for the duchess at Frascati, Blackrock, in 1775 and 1776.(4)

Ward died, apparently by his own hand(5) and in consequence of a scandal in 1788.(6) His will was proved in the Prerogative Court.(7) He was one of the early developers of the north side of Merrion Square,(8) He was responsible for bringing the painter William Ashford from England to work in the ordnance department in 1764,(9) and was a member of the Royal Irish Academy.(10) He was a subscriber to the First Volume of the Instructions given in the Drawing School established by the Dublin-Society (Dublin, 1769).


(1) Freeman's Journal, 2-4 Sep 1788 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44).
(2) See E. McParland, 'The office of the surveyor general in Ireland in the eighteenth century', Architectural History 38 (1995), 95-6, and Frederick O’Dwyer, ‘Architecture, Politics and the Board of Works, 1760-1860’, Irish Architectural and Decorative Studies 5 (2002), 113.
(3) Brian Fitzgerald, ed., Correspondence of Emily, Duchess of Leinster (Irish Manuscripts Commission, 1949-1957), I, 101.
(4) Fitzgerald, op.cit., II, 147-49,159,171; III, 145,149,158,182,192; 'Mr Ward' would appear to be a different person fom 'old Ward' who died in 1781 (II, 34).
(5) Freeman's Journal, 6-9 Sep 1888, which suggests 'when taken with earlier references that Ward committed suicide' (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44).
(6) JHCI 1789-90, appendix cxlvi (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44).
(7) Arthur Vicars, Index to the Prerogative Wills of Ireland 1536-1810 (1897), 477.
(8) According to the Georgian Society Records, IV, 80 Ward built No. 14 in 1764 and Nos. 23 and 24 in 1765.; Casey states, however, that Ward built Nos. 23-25 and that No.15 was built for him by his colleague Joseph Keane in 1765..
(9) T.S. Mulvany, ed., The Life of James Gandon (1846), 141.
(10) RIA minutes, 16 May 1785 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44).

2 work entries listed in chronological order for WARD, RALPH

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Date: 1765p
Nature: RW builder of Nos. 23-28.
Refs: Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 578,583..

Date: 1770ca
Nature: Terrace of 6 houses on site of Speaker Conolly's house on W side of street by Little Britain Street.
Refs: Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 105,106.