Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

Civil engineer, clergyman, author and eccentric, of Dublin and elsewhere. John Irwine Whitty, a son of the Rev. John Whitty, rector of Rathvilly, Co. Carlow, and his wife Anne, née Groome, was born in Co. Limerick circa 1823 and admitted to Trinity College, Dublin, in 1841 at the age of nineteen, graduating with a BA degree in 1846. He received the Bachelor of Laws degree in 1851 and the Doctor of Laws degree the following year.(1) By this time he was already in business as a civil engineer at 8 Richmond Place, Limerick, the address given on the first of his many views of incumbered estates which were used to illustrate the rentals of properties which were to be sold under the provisions of the Incumbered Estates Act of 1849.(2) Initially the lithographs, which were apparently prepared by himself or on his premises, had elaborate inscriptions which give some idea of his expanding initiatives and pretensions: by 1851 he had opened an office in Dublin and added 'valuator' to his description of himself; by 1852 he was also an 'agriculturalist'; by 1854 he had added an address in Trafalgar Square, London, to that of his Henrietta Street office; by 1856 his description has changed to that of civil and mining engineer. The Dublin directories of the later 1850s describe his business premises as 'General Engineering, Geological Survey and Valuation Office and Printing and Lithographing Establishment'.(3)

Whitty was still in business as a civil engineer and architect in Dublin in 1863, the year in which he published a proposal for the water supply and sewerage of Jerusalem, with an introduction by Arthur Stanley, Dean of Westminster, one of the founders in 1865 of the Palestine Exploration Fund. Possibly Whitty received money from the fund or participated in an archaeological expedition under its auspices; it would appear, in any case, that he made a visit to Jerusalem at some point, which resulted in the publication in 1895 of his Discovery of "Whitty's Wall" at Jerusalem, King Solomon's Rampart (1895).

In 1872 Whitty took holy orders and became curate at St Andrew's, Belfast. From 1874 to 1877 he was curate at Rathfarnham, Dublin. Not long afterwards he moved to England. In the English census of 1881, he is recorded as a fifty-seven-year-old bachelor lodging with a greengrocer in London, along with a young actress and a woodcarver, and is described as 'Landed Proprietor' and 'Doctor of Law'. At some point after this he reverted to his clerical role and by the time of the census of 1901 was a Church of England clergyman in Ramsgate, Kent. He died in Margate on 11 March 1911.(4) By the time of his death he had married and had a son, Robert.

Eight publications by Whitty are listed in the British Library catalogue; these are mainly concerned with Jerusalem and the Palestine Fund but include Semi-Political Statires and Enigmas, respecting Ireland, Afghanistan, and the Transvaal (1881) and a translation of Schiller's 'Gods of Greece…with the celebrated suppressed stanzas restored' (1892).

Addresses: 8 Richmond Place, Limerick, 1850; 1 Henrietta Street and 8 Richmond Place, Limerick, 1851; 1 & 16 Henrietta Street, 1852-1853; 1 & 16 Henrietta Street and 4 Trafalgar Square, London, 1854; 15 Henrietta Street & 4 Trafalgar Square, London, 1857; 15 Henrietta Street, 20 Fitzwilliam Street Upper and Ricketstown Hall, Co. Carlow, 1858; 2 Frederick Street South, 1863; 94 Baggot Street Lower, 1875; 26 Grafton Place, London, 1881; Ramsgate, 1901; The Marina, Margate, 1911.


All information in this entry not otherwise accounted for is from Clergy of Dublin and Glendalough (Ulster Historical Foundation, 2001), 1178, www.familysearch.org and Thom's and Post Office directories.

(1) G.D. Burtchaell & T.U. Sadleir, eds., Alumni Dublinenses (1935), 878.
(2) For reproductions of Whitty's incumbered estates rental illustrations, see Mary Cecilia Lyons, Illustrated Incumbered Estates Ireland, 1850-1905 (1993), 5,22,20,38,54,61,87,92,93,96,,100,105,107,117,127,128,132,163,183, Pl.III.
(3) Sarah Bendall, ed., Dictionary of Land Surveyors and Local Map-Makers of Great Britain and Ireland 1530-1850 (2nd edition, 1997), II, 552.