Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

Architect, of London. John Woolfe is said to have been a member 'of a family of high respectability in the county of Kildare', presumably the Wolfe family of Oughterard and Forenaghts, Co. Kildare.(1) The whole of his recorded career was in England. He was clerk to JAMES PAINE  JAMES PAINE in London in the 1750s, and it was probably through Paine, that he subsequently entered the employment of the Office of Works as a 'labourer in trust'. During the ensuing years he was given positions of increasing responsibility until he was promoted to the senior post of examining clerk in 1790. He died in London on 13 November 1793.

Woolfe collaborated with JAMES GANDON  JAMES GANDON on the fourth and fifth volumes of Vitruvius Britannicus, published in 1767 and 1771. Although the volumes were published under both men's names, Mulvany's Life of Gandon asserts that 'the whole labour of preparing and bringing out the book rested with Mr Gandon'.(2)


All information in this entry not otherwise accounted for is from Howard Colvin, A Biographical dictionary of British architects 1600-1840 (3rd edn., 1995), 1081-2.

(1) For this family see Burke's Irish Family Records (1976), 1219-1222. There is no mention of John Woolfe in this account; possibly he was illegitimate.
(2) T.S. Mulvany, ed., The Life of James Gandon (1846), 18.