Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

Land surveyor, of Armagh and Belfast. Although he was born in London on 7 May 1756, James Williamson appears to have had his roots in Armagh, where his mother died in 1784. He was admitted to the Dublin Society's school of figure drawing in 1771. He trained as a surveyor with John McClatchey of Co. Down, claiming later that he was 'forced to be a land surveyor and draughtsman in spite of myself'. During the 1770s and 1780s he worked for a number of different surveyors, moving from Armagh to Ballymena and eventually to Belfast, where - apparently after a brief residence in London - he settled circa 1792. He had been placing advertisements in the Belfast News letter from 1782 onwards.(1) The rest of his career was spent in Belfast, where he established a successful practice and built himself a large house. In July 1797 he married a milliner named Barbara Corry.(2) He died in Belfast on 11 May 1832 and was buried in the Clifton Street cemetery. His widow died in 1840.

Address: Grove Hill, Ballymena, 1788;(3) Lilliput Hill, near Belfast, <=1807->=1808;(4) 5 James Place, Belfast.


All information in this entry is from J.H. Andrews, Plantation Acres (Ulster Historical Foundation, 1985), 284-6, Sarah Bendall, ed., Dictionary of Land Surveyors and Local Map-Makers of Great Britain and Ireland 1530-1850 (2nd edition, 1997), 558-9, which see for further details and references, and A.C.W. Merrick & R.S.J. Clarke, Old Belfast families and the New Burying Ground (Ulster Historical Foundation, 1991), 300.

(1) See Belfast News Letter index (www.ucs.louisiana.edu).
(2) Belfast News Letter 17 Jul 1797.
(3) Belfast News Letter, 29 Apr-2 May 1788.
(4) Belfast Directory for 1807; Belfast Directory for 1808.

1 work entries listed in chronological order for WILLIAMSON, JAMES

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Date: 1785-86
Nature: New building with 90 ft stone front and containing 12 rooms.Architect: James Williamson. Chiefly funded by Lord Pery's family. (Hospital was formerly an army building, instituted as hospital 23 Feb 1781.)
Refs: J. Ferrar, The History of Limerickā€¦to the year 1787 (1787), ?.