Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

Land surveyor, of Dublin and Edenderry, Co. Offaly. John Brownrigg was probably, like THOMAS SHERRARD THOMAS SHERRARD , a pupil of BERNARD SCAL BERNARD SCAL É. At the Society of Artists in Ireland in 1770 he exhibited a survey drawing of Passage, Co. Waterford, and in 1771 a survey drawing of the demesne of Wentworth Thewles at Harristown, Co. Kildare. His address at this time is given as 'At Mr Jones's Cabinet maker in Charles-Street'. In about 1773 Scalé took Sherrard and Brownrigg into partnership at 123 Lower Abbey Street; later Sherrard and Brownrigg formed a partnership of their own,(1) which was dissolved in 1778,(2) when Brownrigg set up independently in Grafton Street. Brownrigg is listed in Wilson's Dublin Directory for 1779 at 63 Grafton Street and in the directories for 1780-1809 at 64 Grafton Street, from 1801 until 1809 as 'John Brownrigg & Co.'  From 1799 he was in partnership with JOHN LONGFIELD [1]  JOHN LONGFIELD [1] and Thomas Murray.   The partnership came to an end in 1805.

From the 1780s or earlier Brownrigg worked for the Grand Canal Company. He supervised the laying out of the Barrow Branch of the canal(3) and in 1788 prepared a map and section of 'that part of the Grand Canal now perfected',(4) which he published the following year.(5) He also produced a plan for linking the canal with the Liffey at Dublin in about 1785.(6) In 1789 he was engaged by the Directors of the Royal Canal Company to make a survey of the proposed route for the Royal Canal. He prepared another survey of the Royal Canal in 1801 including the proposed extension to Coolnahay, Co. Westmeath.(7) He also appears to have designed the Company's hotel at Moyvalley in 1805-6.(8) Around 1803, together with JOHN KILLALY JOHN KILLALY , he was appointed engineer to the Directors-General of Inland Navigation; in 1833 he applied for a pension, stating that he had held the post for thirty years.(9)

Brownrigg's connection with Edenderry appears to have begun when he surveyed parts of  the Earl (later Marquess) of Downshire's property there (perhaps in connection with the development of the Grand Canal) and became a tenant of Clonlack townland on the estate.   He was appointed Downshire's agent on a temporary basis in 1799 and handed the post over to his son JAMES BROWNRIGG  JAMES BROWNRIGG about a year later.  Following his son's premature death in 1817, he again became temporary agent, holding the post until the appointment of Matthew Lyne the following year.(10)   By the end of his long life he had become a magistrate for Co. Offaly.

Brownrigg was admitted a freeman of the city of Dublin in 1794 as a member of the Carpenters' Guild by Grace Extraordinary,(11) which suggests that he was not a native Dubliner, and from circa 1799 until circa 1806 was Surveyor of the Dublin Paving Board, a post which had previously been held by Thomas Brownrigg.(12) His plan for a road linking Kevin Street and Portobello is mentioned in the Wide Streets Commissioners minutes of 13 June 1806.(13)    In the 1820s he was the government's examiner of surveys of Crown lands.

John Brownrigg died on 29 September 1838 at the age of ninety-one.   He had married Elizabeth Campbell (1757?-1827) and was the father of JAMES BROWNRIGG. JAMES BROWNRIGG. (14)   'J. Brownrigg, Esq., Edenderry', was a subscriber to Edward Barwick's A Treatise on the Church (1813) which set out to prove that the 'reformed Episcopal church' was 'a sound and orthodox part of the Catholic Church'.

Letters from John and James Brownrigg and James Brownrigg's wife to Lord Downshire and others, 1810-1837, are in PRONI, Downshire Papers, D671/C/232.  The National Library of Ireland has a large collection of maps produced by the firm of Brownrigg, Murray & Longfield, which was presented by William Longfield's nephew in 1908.(15)



All information in this entry not otherwise accounted for is from V.T.H. & D.R. Delany, The Canals of the South of Ireland (1966), 46, 47, 50, 81-3, 107, 197, from J.H. Andrews, Plantation Acres (Ulster Historical Foundation, 1985), 133, 143, 170, 181, 199, 264, 265, 278, 279, 282, 365,443, and from the entry by C.J. Woods in Dictionary of Irish Biography, ed. by James McGuire and James Quinn, 9 vols. (Cambridge University Press, 2009), 941, which see for a fuller account of Brownrigg's life.

(1) Andrews, op. cit, 279 says they did so in 1777; Wilson's Dublin Directory for 1777 lists both Scale & Brownrigg, surveyors, and Sherrard & Brownrigg, land surveyors, at 123 Lower Abbey St.
(2) Faulkner's Dublin Journal, 27-29 Sep 1774, 3-5 Nov 1778. 
(3) According to Andrews, op. cit., 220, his manuscript survey of the Grand Canal from Dublin to the Barrow at Monasterevan, 1787, is in the collection of CIE, Pearse Station.
(4) Castletown House drawings collection, no. 19.
(5) Faulkner's Dublin Journal, 21-23 Apr 1789.
(6) Map in National Archives, Pembroke Estate Papers, 2011/2/4.
(7) For Brownrigg's association with the Royal Canal Company, see Peter Clarke, The Royal Canal (1992),23, 25, 27-35, 44, 46-7, 49, 52-56, 65,89,90.
(8) 11 sheets of designs from the Henry, Mullins & McMahon collection, sold at auction by Allen & Townsend, 8 July 1865, Lot 1278.
(9) NA/SPO CSORP 1832/Treas 81 (IAA, Edward McParland files, Acc. 2008/44).  He gives his age as eighty-four, but, if he was ninety-one when he died in 1838, as stated by Woods, loc. cit., he was even older.  Woods also states  that he had been engineer to the Directors-General since 1793 or earlier.
(10) W.A. Maguire, 'Missing Persons:  Edenderry under the Blundells and the Downshires, 1707-1922', in Offaly: History and Society (Dublin: Geography Publications, 1998), 526,531. 
(11) 'An alphabetical list of the Freemen of the City of Dublin, 1774-1824', The Irish Ancestor XV (1983), Nos. 1 & 2, 18.
(12) Watson's Almanack 1797,1799, 1803,1806.
(13) NA/PRO, Wide Streets Commissioners minutes, 13 Jun 1806.
(14) R. Refaussé, Register of the parish of St Thomas, Dublin (1994), 64.
(15) Longfield Map Collection, NLI MSS 21 F 32-21 F 49 (for list by Karen de Lacey, 2009) see http://www.nli.ie/pdfs/mss%20lists/158_Longfield_Map_Collection.pdf (last visited Nov 2010).

2 work entries listed in chronological order for BROWNRIGG, JOHN

Sort by date | Sort alphabetically

Date: 1805-7
Nature: Designed by JB. Contractor: ?David Henry.
Refs: 11 sheets of designs, signed 'J. Brownrigg' and dated 1806-7, from the Henry, Mullins & McMahon collection, sold at auction by Allen & Townsend, 8 July 1865, Lot 1278.

Date: 1808ca
Nature: New bridge on Newry canal. Builder: John Chebsey.
Refs: Kevin V. Mulligan, The Buildings of Ireland: South Ulster (2013),360.