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Daniel Robertson, an American Architect in Ireland

A miniature portrait of Daniel Robertson, painted in Charleston in 1793 by Peter Henry, or Pierre Henri. Daniel must have been a very young man at this time, given that he designed Lisnavagh House over half a century later and died in Howth in 1849. The image was published on the back-page of The Scottish Genealogist, Vol. LX No. 1 (March 2013), which includes an article by Stephen W. Massil on Daniel’s father, Andrew Robertson. Indeed, I am indebted to the research of Stephen Massil for much of the information on this page, particularly in relation to Daniel Robertson’s descendants. [1]



Daniel Robertson, the eccentric and prolific architect who built Lisnavagh House (1846-49) near Rathvilly in County Carlow, Ireland, was an American of Scots origin. Lisnavagh was his last commission before his death at Howth, County Dublin, in September 1849.

His grandfather, the Rev. Andrew Robertson, descended from William Robertson of Gladney and Brunton (near Cupar), in Fife, and his wife, Margaret Mitchell. Andrew’s brother is thought to have been William Robertson (1686–1745), Church of Scotland minister of the Greyfriars Kirk in Edinburgh.

Andrew was Rector of Gladsmuir in East Lothian, Scotland, in 1728. I suspect he was a staunch Presbyterian and Whig. In 1731, he married Janet Smith, the granddaughter of the architect James Smith (c. 1645–1731), pioneer of the Palladian style in Scotland, and his wife Janet Mylne. Geoff Robertson has since worked out that Janet was the daughter of Robert Mylne, the last Master Mason to the Crown of Scotland, a post he held from 1668 until his death in 1710. James Smith worked for Mylne at Holyrood Palace in the 1660s when Charles II ordered it to be converted into a palace for the use of the Earl of Lauderdale, the then Secretary of State. James Smith had an impressive libido – 18 children by his first wife (Janet Mylne) and 14 by his second.

When the Rev. Andrew Robertson died in 1743, he was succeeded in his ministry by his nephew William Robertson (1721-1793), the historian and later Principal of Edinburgh University for thirty years who is regarded as a significant figure in the Scottish Enlightenment. [2] At the height of the Jacobite Rising in 1745, William Robertson had volunteered to defend Edinburgh against Bonnie Prince Charlie’s men.

The Rev. Andrew Robertson’s son Andrew was Daniel’s father. Daniel’s kinship with the architectural Adam brothers of the Adelphi came through their mother Mary Robertson (1699-1761), a sister of the Rev. Andrew Robertson, who married their architect father William Adam (1689-1748).




Orphaned in 1743, Daniel’s father Andrew Robertson (1733-1791) was raised in Edinburgh by his uncle and aunt, William and Mary Adam. By 1756 he had crossed the Atlantic to Charles Town (aka Charleston) in South Carolina and set himself up as a merchant trader. He subsequently set up partnership with George Bailie, a ‘trader in dry goods’ from the Orkneys, based at the corner of Elliott Street at the Bay.  [3] The two men were both related to the architectural dynasty of Mylne. [4] The Georgia Historical Society holds a few letters related to a George Baillie from the period. They were principally financed by Charles Ogilvie, a Scotsman who had moved from Charles Town (sic) to London. [5]  In August 1758, they acquired a 470-acre tract on the Savannah River, east of Colerain, from Andrew Maxton (Marston), a Savannah merchant, although they appear to have sold this on in 1759. [6]

On 8 June 1761, Andrew Robertson was married in Charleston to Helen Crawford, daughter of a Glaswegian-born Charlestonian called Daniel Crawford and his wife, Sally Bellamy. Daniel was Treasurer of the South Carolina Society for the Advancement of Learning & the Diffusion of Knowledge from 1755-56 and also an early member of the Charleston Library Society, serving as its President in 1757-58. The family stories about Andrew suggest that he had ‘sixteen children’ – he only reported ‘numerous children’ – before Helen’s untimely demise in January 1778. [7] Stephen Massil has so far found reliable reference only to eight (including one girl; with names for six boys and one unnamed) – three of whom came to Britain: John, Alexander and Daniel.

In 1762 Andrew Robertson and George Baillie were joined in the partnership by John Jamieson, while Ogilvie continued to provide financial support. A series of advertisements in the Georgia Gazette reveal the grim nature of George Baillie and Co.’s commodities, aside from linens, Indian guns, flour and sugar.

21 July 1763: ‘A Small parcel of healthy NEW NEGROES to be sold by GEORGE BAILLIE and Co.’

21 February 1765: ‘GEORGE BAILLIE and CO. have just imported in the snow Leghorn Galley, from the West Indies, a parcel of PRIME GRAIN COAST SLAVES. Barreled pork or rice will be taken in payment.’

15 August 1765: ‘Just imported by GEORGE BAILLIE and VO., and to be sold, on Tuesday the 20th inst., A PARCEL of about SEVENTY PRIME HEALTHY GOLD COAST SLAVES. Also imported, a QUANTITY OF FLOUR.’

Slavery had initially been illegal in Georgia but this was overturned in 1751 and by the 1760s at least a third of Georgia’s population were slaves. Among those sold by Andrew Robertson’s firm was ‘a Negroe Fello named BAIN’ who ran away from Augusta on 9 July 1764. A man named James Gray placed a notice in the Georgia Gazette of 26 July 1764 describing Bain as:

‘… about five feet high, well made, has a bold look, speaks good English, about 30 years of age, had on a white negro cloth jacket, a blue flap (slap?), a spotted blue and white handkerchief about his head, a pair of white boots tied with Indian garters, shoes and buckles, and carried away a gun. Whoever takes up said negro, and delivers him to the subscriber [ie JAMES GRAY] at Augusta, or to Messrs. George Baillie and company in Savannah, shall receive 20s. sterl. reward, besides all reasonable charges.’

Andrew Robertson was evidently of the same mindset, placing a notice in the South Carolina and American General Gazette on 11 March 1768:

‘RUN AWAY – a Negro Man, named JOE, but calls himself DICK, or may take some other name, is about five feet six inches high, very black, a smooth face, one leg thicker than the other, and is about 25 years of age; he plays upon the fiddle, and sometimes affects to speak broad Scotch or Northumberland dialect, a plausible rascal, and has had the address to pass himself with several people as free. Whoever delivers him to the warden of the work-house, shall have TEN POUNDS reward. ANDREW ROBERTSON. All masters of vessels and others, are hereby forbidden to harbour, entertain, or carry off the said Negro, at their peril.’

On 14 March 1765, the Georgia Gazette advertised that:

‘GEORGE BAILLIE and COMPANY have just imported from the West Indies, A QUANTITY of MUSCOVADO SUGARS, which they will sell chap for ready money by the tierce.’ On 3 September 1766 the same paper announced: ‘FOR LONDON, THE SHIP MARQUIS OF GRANBY, GEORGE RONNALD, Master, will sail about the 20th September. For freight or passage apply to GEORGE BAILLIE and Co.’

However, a letter sent by Andrew Robertson and the influential Henry Laurents to Andrew’s brother-in-law Bellamy Crawford (1738-1784) – Helen’s only brother – on 14 December 1765 indicates that all was not well. [8] Bellamy later fought for the Patriots but died young on 20 February 1784; George Washington personally urged the Treasury to look after his destitute widow.

The co-partnership of George Baillie and Co. had ‘expired’ by 1768, at which point the trio placed a notice in the Georgia Gazette (18 May 1868) alerting their customers that all debts would be settled. A similar notice on 11 January 1769 advised that all debts would need to be settled by 25 February 1869.

On Wednesday 1 March 1769, the Georgia Gazette carried the following:

‘TO BE SOLD AT PUBLICK VENUE, on Wednesday the 8th of March inst., at the Stores in Savannah belonging to George Baillie and Co, ALL THEIR REMAINING STOCK OF GOODS, consisting of a Quantity of Printed Linens, some Strouds, Indian Trading Guns and other articles. Also, THE SAID LOT AND STORES: The lot contains 120 feet in length and 60 feet in front, is as well situated for trade as any in Savannah; the stores are large and commodious, and stand independent of other buildings, the lot being surrounded by a street every way.
Also, at the same time and place, WILL BE SOLD, THE HOUSE in which George Baillie now lives, in the Market Square; the lot contains 90 feet in depth and 60 feet in front; the house is small but commodious, and has as good out-houses (all new) as any in Savannah, with a bricked well in the yard. Likewise, THREE TRACTS OF LAND upon the River Alatamaha, one containing 500 acres of river swamp, adjoining land of his Excellency the Governor; an Island in the River Alatamaha, containing 150 acres, opposite to Col. Lawrence’s settlement; another Tract, containing 800 aces of back swamp, fit for corn, rice or indico [sic]. Also, A TRACT, containing of five lots, at Vernonburgh, containing 250 aces of good oak and hickory land, being the nearest part of that township to Savannah, distant about seven miles. Likewise, TWO VALUABLE NEGROE MEN, one of which is well acquainted with packing of deer-skins, and is a piece of a cooper.
For the houses and lands 12 months credit will be given, upon approved security.
N.B. Any person inclined to purchase at private sale may apply to GEORGE BAILLIE and CO.’

In May 1771, a notice appeared in the South Carolina and American General Gazette stating:

‘ALL Persons who have any Demands against Mr. ANDREW ROBERTSON, are desired to give in Accounts thereof immediately to HELEN ROBERTSON.’ [9]

In 1773, Andrew was granted 2000 acres on the Broad River in South Carolina by the Governor and Council of Georgia as a reward for his part in resolving the claims brought by creditors of the Indians against the ceded land.’ [10] Two years later he purchased a plantation on the Savannah River, seven miles below Charlotte and 180 miles from the sea coast. When the American Revolution broke out, Andrew Robertson, George Baillie and John Jamieson all declared for the Loyalists. [11] Andrew removed to the back country with his large family; his eldest child was then less than ten years old. They managed to live ‘totally isolated from the disorders of the times’ while he assigned his interests in the partnership to Jamieson.

As a magistrate, Andrew was obliged in 1777 to sign a declaration of association with the Patriots and to take an oath to act as a magistrate under their government. He did not take an oath of allegiance to them. Andrew is also known to have gone south into Florida in the late 1770s. Andrew was appointed a justice by Colonel Balfour in 1780 but after the reduction of Charleston that October, he was apparently forced to flee his estate by ‘flying parties’ and went to Charleston where he aided the British police [?]. In November 1780, he returned to his plantation 10 miles below Augusta, Georgia. In April 1781 he was obliged to take his family and slaves into Fort Cornwallis in Augusta, but he was captured by rebels and all his papers were destroyed.

Following the evacuation of Charleston, he sailed for England where he was allowed £100 a year pension until his death nine years later. He also received significant compensation of £1,200 on an estate [estimated at £4.139] of 2,500 acres in 5 tracts on Broad River, a 500-acre plantation on the Savannah River, 96 District, ‘950 acres in 3 tracts on Enoree River; 16 negroes.’

In poor health and unable to travel, John Jamieson, a member of the abolished royal assembly, was obliged to stay in Georgia and took an oath of neutrality in June 1776. George Baillie also returned to England, circa 1783-84, with his wife and children; his wife died ‘of exhaustion’ soon after their arrival in Portsmouth. His subsequent fate is, as yet, unknown. [12]

The corner of State and Bull Street, Savannah, where Daniel Robertson’s childhood home stood. (2018)


Sir John Perceval, 1st Earl of Egmont (1683–1748), a founder of the state of Georgia, painted by Henrietta Dering Johnston. The Robertsons formerly lived at Percival Square, Savannah.



When Andrew Robertson left the USA in 1782, he traveled with just three of his sons, John, Alexander and young Daniel. The rest of his children remained in the US. His eldest son William Robertson (1763-1832) was a lawyer and family man in Charleston; his son Alexander Robertson (1804-1888) built a house in North Carolina called “Struan” at Fletcher near Asheville and his last descendants died thereabouts in the 1950s. William’s last granddaughter died in Charleston in 1932; her bequest of portraits is at the Gibbes Art Museum there. The two other Robertson brothers who were in America after 1790 both died in Savannah 1803; the children of James had died by the late 1850s. James may have had a child with a slave while in Jamaica.

The Robertson house was on the corner (or so) of State Street and Bull Street at the edge of downtown ‘historic’ Savannah. It survived the fire of 1820 but whether it survived the likely destructions of 1854-65 (or subsequent fires) is not yet known. I personally visited the corner of State and Bull Street with Austin Sullivan in March 2018 and I can conclusively say that the site is now either a CVS Pharmacy or a clothes shop called Harper, both buildings being modern constructs. Wright Square on which the house stood was known back then as Percival Square after John Percival, 1st Earl of Egmont, a founding father of Georgia.

Back in England, Andrew Robertson and his two sons settled on a farm in Streatham in Surrey. He had a Loyalist pension until his death in Streatham, recorded in the Gentleman’s Magazine, on 18 February 1791. It is also to be noted that the name ‘Andrew Robertson’ is listed in the Adam & Co. accounts at the Drummond Bank archives in Edinburgh as a recipient of funds in 1784, just when the American returnees would have required such funds.

Streatham was also home to William Adam (1738-1822), the youngest son of the eminent Scottish architect William Adam (1689-1748) and his wife Mary (née Robertson). In 1758, young William started a decoration and furnishing business in Lower Grosvenor Street, London, with his older brothers Robert Adam and James Adam. As well as pioneering a new style, the Adam brothers dev eloped a reputation for excellent attention to detail. After Robert’s death in 1792, James came into his own, designing a number of important buildings in Glasgow, as well as Portland Place in London. However, following James’s death in 1794, William became the last of the firm of Robert Adam & Co. Both James and Alexander practiced cattle farming – James in Hertfordshire and William in Streatham. During the difficult summer of 1798, William became an Ensign in the Streatham Volunteers. In 1804 he was promoted to captain and Daniel was, in turn, appointed Ensign.

In 1817, Alexander Robertson would recall how ‘Miss Adam mothered him at Streatham thirty years ago.’ In 1800, William Adam went into partnership with ‘my young friends’ Alexander and Daniel Robertosn. ‘William Adam, Alexander Robertson and Daniel Robertson, [of] 27 Old Bond Street, timber merchants and builders’ are identified in the Sun Fire Office documents of November 1810. Sadly things do not appear to have fared well for Alexander Robertson who (like William Adam in earlier years) was a contributing member to the Society for Encouragement of Arts &c. He continued to fall into insolvency and bankruptcy after 1817 when, in the correspondence with William Adam, he refers to his ‘starving children’. His last traced address to date was Grosvenor Place, Pimlico, and he disappears in about 1820.

[Stephen Massil advises that Daniel’s brother John Robertson figured in the Adam Brothers world more prominently than Daniel, but I have not yet explored details of his career and place in the family.]




During the early 1800s, Daniel seemingly had five illegitimate children with Harriott Hilary. She appears to have died about the time of the birth of her fifth baby in December 1807. The five children were:

  1. Ann – thought to have died unmarried by 1841.
  2. John – thought to have died unmarried by 1841.
  3. Henry Robertson (1802-1881) was born in Lambeth, London and baptised in Saint Mary’s Lambert, on 6 April 1804. In 1832, Henry Robertson – known as Harry – moved to Australia where he too became an architect, designing Sydney’s iconic Royal Victorian Theatre (1838) and Christ Church St Laurence (184-45), as well as many schools in his capacity as architect to the National Schools Board (1850-66). As his descendant Geoff Robertson had worked out, he was also a valuer to the New South Wales Department of Railways, nor his time as an elected alderman for the Stanmore Ward in the Borough of Marrickville
  4. Elizabeth – born in Lambeth, died in Nov 1808. Her funeral took place in St George Hanover Square where Daniel and Amelia were married five months ago.
  5. Frederick – born in Lambeth and baptised in August 1808. He may be the Frederick Robertson who married Matilda Ann Baker on 4 March 1829 in St Mary Battersea. An Anne Robertson was one of the witnesses. This Frederick turns up in the 1841 and 1851 censuses as Frederick Robinson (Geoff suggests this may be as Robertson had some odour attached to it), married to Matilda and they produced seven children. Frederick Robertson turns up in the 1861 and 1871 censuses although by this time, Matilda had presumably died, and he remarried twice. His son John provides a constant member of his family aged 8, 19 and 28, respectively, in the 1851, 1861 & 1871 censuses provides a verifying family member. While details such as age and place of birth are sometimes inconsistent, Frederick’s birth is about 1807 and his place of birth is Lambeth, according to 1871 census. Frederick’s descendants are Robertsons. Frederick is recorded as a labourer and on one occasion, a waterman. Re-adopting the name Robinson, Henry’s father-in-law and uncle (same person) referred to Henry as Robinson in in his will read in 1829. Frederick does not appear in the 1881 census.




On 24 June 1808, Daniel Robertson was married at St. George’s Church, Hanover Square, London, to Amelia Helen Clarke (1791/92?-1869), ‘… a minor with consent of her father,’ the Rev. Thomas Brooke Clarke (1757-1833). The witnesses were William Adam, Alexander Robertson, and Marian Irving. Marian Irving (née Corbet) was the widow of Thomas Irving (1738-1800), inspector general of the exports and imports. Like Daniel’s late father, Thomas Irving was a Loyalist pensioner who had been living in Charleston at the time of the American War of Independence. Upon his death in 1800, Thomas’s son William Irving, Esq. (1777-1856) of 4 Great George Street, succeeded him as inspector general.

Dr. T. B. Clarke, Amelia’s father, was an Irishman who became Domestic Chaplain to the Duke of Cumberland and tutor and governor to George FitzErnest, the duke’s illegitimate son. His father Nathaniel Clarke was a merchant from Dublin. Dr. Clarke obtained his MA from Trinity College Dublin and became Rector of Inish Macsaint in County Fermanagh. He cannot have done much for his Fermanagh parishoners as he spent most of his time in London, at various addresses in Mayfair and Quebec Street, Portman Square. In 1805, he secured the position as Auditor of the Royal Naval Asylum, of which the Duke of Cumberland was Patron, at Greenwich. The position included residential accommodation in situ and all other perks. He held the position until the reorganisation of the Asylum and School at Greenwich in 1821 which, as Stephen Massil notes, was much “to the embarrassment of the various ministries over the period, including that of Prime Minister Spencer Percival whom Clarke addressed in 1811 when questions had been asked in the House (for a second time) as to the legitimacy of Clarke’s appointment, as a non-naval man, and also as a ‘non-resident’, in respect of his Irish benefice.” Clarke was one of the Chaplains in Ordinary to the Prince Regent’s Household and Secretary to the Library at Carlton House. On removal from Greenwich Park in 1821 he moved to Upper Phillimore Place, Kensington. He subsequently became Vicar of Dinton, Bucks, in 1823, maintaining his habit of absenteeism by residence in Kensington until his death in 1833.

Amelia’s mother Helen Clarke (nee Johnson) was a daughter of Dr. Thomas Johnson, M.D. of Dublin, and a sister of Robert Johnson (1745-1833) and William Johnson (1761-1845), both Judges of the Common Pleas in Dublin, who sat as one-time MPs for Hillsborough and Roscommon respectively prior to the Act of Union. One of Helen’s sisters married Dr. Francis Hodgkinson, Vice-provost of Trinity College in the 1830s. [In his memoirs ‘Personal Sketches of His Own Times’ Sir Jonah Barrington recalled the Johnson brothers thus: “(Robert) was a well-read entertaining man, extremely acute, an excellent writer, and a trusty agreeable companion. But there was something tart in his look and address, and he was neither good natured in his manner nor gentlemanly in his appearance, which circumstances, altogether, combined with his public habits to render him extremely unpopular. He did not affect to be a great pleader, but he would have made a first class attorney: he was very superior to his brother William in everything except law and arrogance, in which accomplishments William, when a barrister, certainly was entitled to a pre-eminence which, I believe, none of his contemporaries refused to concede him.”]

Dr. Clarke’s only son – and Amelia Robertson’s younger brother – was the ponderously named Loftus Longueville Tottenham Clarke (1795-1863), Cambridge M.A., F.R.S., Barrister of Lincoln’s Inn and from 1822 an advocate at the Supreme Court in Calcutta. In June 1822, he was married in London to Maria Hart Myers (1794-1868). She was a daughter of Dr Joseph Hart Myers (1758-1823), a colleague of John Coakley Lettsom and amongst the leading physicians of the day. Longueville and Maria Clarke set sail for Bengal almost immediately after their wedding. While Maria made several visits back to England between 1827 and 1840 to see family, sometimes with one or other of her children, Longueville did not return until 1843 by which time he and Maria were estranged. During his 1843 visit, he may also have visited his two sons, both at school in England (one, at least, at Harrow) and perhaps he went to help his sister Amelia as both her husband and her son, Daniel Brooke Robertson (1810-1881), a recently-fledged barrister, were both in separate ways going through the bankruptcy courts. Longueville returned to Calcutta, probably in late 1844, and was certainly there for the wedding of his daughter Maria Rebecca and Captain Alexander G. Mackenzie in May 1845.

Daniel and Amelia Robertson had twelve children. Their firstborn son William Edward Adam Robertson was born in July 1809. His death in Calcutta at Christmas 1846 is later referred to in Robertson’s correspondence at Lisnavagh and his names emphasise something of the longstanding Robertson connection with William Adam.

Lisnavagh House in County Carlow was Daniel Robertson’s final commission before his death. The first brick was laid on 23 January 1847. It took 130 men approximately two and a half years to complete the building. The house was substantially reduced in 1952.




Daniel Robertson, who died in 1849, became a talented designer of country houses both in the Gothic and Classical Styles. [13] But it was by no means an easy ride for him. ‘Daniel Robertson, Bolton-row, builders’ in Piccadilly is the address which appears around 1816-17, including a baptismal record at St. George’s, Hanover Square. However, he vanishes thereafter amongst the bankruptcies. His father-in-law may have tried to help as, in May 1816, Dr Clarke offered Lord Liverpool ‘two plans relative to the building of churches’ and these may have been drawn up by Daniel.

Lawrence Kinney has established that Robertson may have started work in Oxford as early as 1815. Frederick O’Dwyer also suggests Robertson was in practice in Oxford for ten years before receiving his first major commission, the New Clarendon Press building (1826-29).

Howard Colvin found a reference in the National Archives of Scotland from 1817, in which Dr Clarke attempted to persuade Robertson to take a position in Dublin.

Prince Ernest, Duke of Cumberland, was among Robertson’s Royal patrons. The duke’s mistress was connected to the Bunburys of Killerrig.

In 2020, Eileen Wickham deduced that Daniel Robertson was official architect to HRH Duke of Sussex, the sixth son of George III, as is listed in the 1818, 1833, 1837 and 1840 editions of the ‘Royal Kalendar and Court and City Register’. He was also listed in the 1818 Register as architect to HRH Duke of Kent, Queen Victoria’s father, who died soon afterwards. Dr Clarke, his father-in-law, served as chaplain to the Duke of Sussex from 1818 to 1837, and was Auditor of the Royal Naval Asylum at Greenwich until 1822. The Duke of Cumberland was Patron of the Greenwich Asylum. Robertson also did some works for the duke at Kew Gardens, close to the king’s residence, starting on 15 August 1822 when the Vestry Committee noted that “the beautiful chancel of the Royal Chapel at Kew, which has lately been altered and embellished, was executed after the designs, and under the direction of Daniel Robertson, the architect.” However, while Robertson built the chapel on time, the Vestry appear to have been slower to pay up.

Such royal patronage presumably helped secure his first recorded executed architectural commission, namely the alteration of premises at 49 Pall Mall for the Traveller’s Club in 1821.

There appears to have been a dispute over Robertson’s role in refacing the facade of Oxford’s All Souls in 1825.  Kinney believes these troubles were at least part of the reason for Robertson’s relocation to Ireland while O’Dwyer notes that in 1829, The Crypt‘s cryptic comment that: ‘The reason for his departure is no subject for public discussion’.

Another building attributed to Robertson in Oxford is the west range of St. Mary’s Hall (now St. Mary’s Quad, Oriel College), 1826. There were also some works at Dinton, Bucks in 1827.

There is some confusion as to Robertson’s whereabouts in England and in Ireland from 1829 onwards. In his petitions for Bankruptcy in the London Gazette of October 1830, and again in 1843-44, he gives a whole series of addresses in England: Kew and Oxford, Clifton (Bristol), Tenby and  Monmouthshire (where his son Clement Robertson (1831-1854) was baptised). He also lists various places along the south coast from Devon to Sussex, as well as a period in Boulogne-sur-Mer, where Eliza Lynch also spent time. From 1841, he appears to have been based in both Dublin (his earliest known Irish address) and London.



The front entrance to Wells House, Gorey, County Wexford, is remarkably similar to that of the original Lisnavagh. Robertson certainly had a few distinctive traits, a la door surrounds. The Lisnavagh lintel or top is now of course in the library on half of its original uprights; I think it has M and B in the corners of the carving, representing McClintock and Bunbury. The remainder of the side pillars support the plain top in the flat sitting room at Lisnavagh while the doors themselves are now at Kinsellagh’s Hill. In 2016 the timber infill that sat over the doors was placed over the door between the bar and dance floor in the Garden Wing.


Daniel is said to have practised in Ireland from 1830 until his death in 1849, during which time he became well-known for his design of the famous Italian gardens on the Upper Terrace at Powerscourt (1843). However, before he found fame as a landscaper, Robertson was best known as a designer of country houses.

Between 1833-49 Robertson built eight country houses, including Lisnavagh, three of which were classical, and it is thought that he was responsible for re-casings and alterations to at least another six. His designs were in the Tudor style, ‘perhaps chosen by Robertson as it was grand enough for the types of houses that his clients wished.

His houses or manors were Victorian before they even touched the drawing board as they were expressions of the aspirations of the client’. As H.S. Goodhart Rendel commented, ‘for old English Gentlemen and for those whose antiquity and gentility were being sedulously cultivated, manors or granges made more appropriate habitations.’ [14]

Three fleets operated out of Wexford and Gorey in the 1840s, heading direct to Savannah. They brought ballast out, which formed the foundations for much of the land on which the Irish built their Georgia homes, and they returned to Ireland laden with timber, primarily oak and pine. It is notable that the attic of Lisnavagh House is filled with pine rafters. Did they come from the architect’s hometown across the Atlantic?! The Smithwick’s brewery in Kilkenny also reputedly used Savannah timber …

Fuller details of Daniel Robertson’s work at Lisnavagh can be found here, including a letter of 30 May 1847 in which Robertson wrote to Captain McClintock Bunbury:

I brought over Blanche’s paraquet with me for company as the bird was too noisy for her sick mother and it has astonished the natives vastly; but no more so than your fat cattle. I was up as usual before 6 this morning and took the Bird out of doors & the 30 Bullocks were round the House, and I went up the Buildings, on my return they had surrounded the Cage and appeared to enjoy the infernal screaming of my saucy [?] bird who cared not for a dozen pair of Horns within a yard of his habitation – their gravity was amusing enough.’


Letter from Daniel Robertson to Captain McClintock Bunbury, 1848


Lisnavagh, Tuesday
15th of August 1848
Dear Sir,
I am very glad that I’ve got a letter from you today, for it enables me to write the proceedings here.
Yesterday to my great surprise the [W. Eastons?] man, Hill, made his appearance & to my great joy, for it enabled me to build the Great Reservoir, to it’s true level, without mistake. There is no account yet of the pipes, although I wrote to [Fishbournes?] in Dublin about them, but in the meantime Hill is to mark out his line for laying them down, in order that Malone may make the trenches, against their coming.  So that no delay shall occur for this purpose I have handed Hill over to Malone, and tomorrow they go to work in earnest. Hill says that his business will be done in 3 weeks. I wish it might, but I will take care to give him every facility till you come.
I found that a lodging could not be had in Rathvilly or at any of the farm houses near there. So he went to Tullow last night, and I arranged with Malone that he was to procure two sets of bedding in if possible at Moyle or at Carlow.   One for Stuart, on the farm, and another for Hill, here. And I shall put Hill into the large bedroom over the footman’s room until further orders from you, for the present.   This will do service in two ways – air that room until you come, and a few days before, Burgess must turn out his quarters in the stable yard, to put Hill in, till his work is done. When he leaves, that side of the stables can be taken in hand to receive your horses. I think it would be a very good plan to put Stuart in the other large room to air that in like manner till you come. When he can be [shifted?] with Hill.  [Now?] by Monday next, I shall have fires in all the rooms right and left in the staircase passage and in the Colonel’s Room, if you like it, but pray let me know what rooms Mrs Bunbury would wish to have fires in. I think not of myself, but I do feel deeply anxious about her and the children. I know the most prudent course is to take the rooms I occupy, because by the time they come, the rooms will be satisfactory dry and within a fortnight after she comes there will be many bedrooms fit for use, as fires are put in them now. The grates for the Colonel’s Room and for your study are not come but I have written to [Scotts?] to forward them immediately.
As to myself, it is of no consequence, for I cannot afford the fleecing at [Beaumaris?[1]], and it would cost me as much to send the family back to Chester or to get them over to Dublin, so I think of so doing, if she can bear the voyage. They’re coming over for this winter would be very convenient for me in many respects so I am striving to coax her over.
If you approve of my arrangements, in providing quarters for Hill and Stuart, pray let me know. Because a few days before you come I should beg you to write to Kingsmill yourself, to clear Burgess out, but if you do not approve of it, pray right to Kingsmill at once, that you want Burgess’s rooms for these two people immediately, for lodgings cannot be got for them anywhere else. Only for Goodness sake don’t let me be the medium, for I am in awful disgrace with Kingsmill because I decline the honour of his being quartered in [here?}, having had quantum suff[2]. of it in the old house.  I [know?] his great annoyance at being turned out of these rooms by me, just as he was going into possession, and therefore giving him notice for Burgess to quit, would come with better grace from you, than through me. Stuart says he must be here for three months to come. Hill says he will finish off in three weeks.
The weather here is miserable rain, the place again in bog. No carting can be done to the Terrace. I am getting on with the drains at the Farm, although the place is a mass of mud. Stuart is steady at his engine work. Pray remember me [most?] kindly to Mrs Bunbury and to all at Tynan.
From your most grateful […..?]
D Robertson

[1] If this does read Beaumaris, Beaumaris is a community, and the former county town, of Anglesey, Wales, at the eastern entrance to the Menai Strait
[2] quantum sufficit: as much as suffices : a sufficient quantity


Carlow Structures by Daniel Robertson


As well as Lisnavagh, the houses he designed in County Carlow included two Tudor villas, Ballydarton, near Fenagh, (1833/1834) and Castletown near Carlow (c. 1835/1836), as well as Dunleckney Manor outside Bagenalstown for the Newtons (1835-1845) and Upton House (c. 1840) near Fenagh for John Gray. He may have designed the ‘ice cold Grecian with a frothy Itallianate’ dower house of Broomville, near Ardattin (c. 1835), for William Paul Butler, a son-in-law of John Gray from the Butler family of Ballintemple; if so, it is curious to think that Robertson had perhaps rubbed shoulders with Senator Pierce Butler in Savannah in his youth! Robertson also oversaw considerable work on St Mary’s Church, Rathvilly; his architectural drawings are part of the Lisnavagh archive and I believe it is the only Robertson church still standing. [15] He may also have designed the former Bagenalstown Courthouse (c. 1835).

In the mid-1830s, Robertson also created the new castellated facade of Wilton Castle (7km south-west of Enniscorthy), County Wexford, for Harry Alcock, whose brother William Congreve Alcock killed John Colclough, MP, of Tintern Abbey in the last duel fought in Wexford in 1807. Wilton Castle is the subject of ‘Pasteboard Gothic Part IV’ by Robert O’Byrne. The detailing over the Tudor-style door-case at Wilton resembles that which Robertson installed at Lisnavagh. Wilton Castle was burned to the ground in March 1923 but the service wing has been renovated by a local dairy farmer in recent years.

Above: Robert O’Byrne looks at Wilton Castle.

Sticking with County Wexford, Robertson also remodelled Wells House & Gardens in Wexford (1830s), [16], modernised Bellvue House, Enniscorthy (for the Cliffe family [17]), built a new west wing for Castleboro House (after the original burned down in 1840) and worked extensively on Johnstown Castle, including its landscape. [18] He also designed the nicely scaled Ballinkeele House in Enniscorthy for John Maher, complete with large porte cochère, and designed an altarpiece for nearby Ballymurn Church (1841). It seems he admired the pre-existing farmyard at Ballinkeele so much that he wove its courtyard-style into his design of the Lisnavagh farmyard. (See images of Ballinkeele farmyard in Robert O’Byrne’s article here). His last Wexford project was to design the Tudor mansion of Cahore House by the seaside at Ballygarrett, County Wexford, for John George, QC, complete with ‘terraces and grounds laid out by Maine’. [18a] Stephen Spielberg filmed many scenes of ‘Saving Private Ryan’ on the long strand of Cahore beach just beneath the house.

In County Wicklow, he designed Glendalough House for the Barton family (1830), built the forecourt at Kilruddery for the Earls of Meath and excelled as a landscaper for Viscount Powerscourt at Powerscourt near Enniskerry. Edward Byrne, who was called in to dismantle Glendalough House (year), recalls how he and the late David Robertson re-erected the house’s porch at Corke Lodge for Alfred Cochrane.

In County Kilkenny, he is also said to have designed the new wing and stable yard for Shankhill Castle. [Both Frederick O’Dwyer and Jeremy Williams proposed that Daniel Robertson worked at Shankill. The gatelodge design is also said to be his. It is possible that he has been confused with his contemporary William Robertson (1770-1850) of Rose Hill House, Kilkenny, who castellated and designed the gates at Kilkenny Castle, as well as building Jenkinstown, Rose Hill and Gowran Castle. This is further complicated by the fact that Daniel Robertson died in Sept 1849 (no record in any newspapers I’ve seen) and William Robertson in May 1850. [At Rose Hill , county Kilkenny, aged 80, William Robertson, Limerick Chronicle, 29 May 1850] See here for more]

Daniel Robertson from the 2021 ‘Past Tracks’ project with Irish Rail, illustrated by Derry Dillon.

He also designed Whitfield Court near Waterford for the Christmas family, the classical St. Matthias’s Church, Wellington Square, Dublin, 1842 (dem. c.1950) and the house and landscaped terraces of Carrigglas Manor, Co. Longford, for Thomas Lefroy, a cousin of the first Lady Rathdonnell. [19]

As of 2023, the Bunburys of Lisnavagh and the Mahers of Ballinkeele are the only remaining original families living in Robertson’s houses.

Other buildings which Modchick tentatively attributed to Robertson include:

  • Ballymacool, Co. Donegal, early to mid nineteenth century, arch. unknown;
  • Barnane, Co. Tipperary, nineteenth century additions, arch. unknown;
  • Belleek Manor, Co. Mayo, c. 1825, att. J. B. Keane;
  • Camlin , Co. Donegal by John B. Keane, c. 1840;
  • Quivey Lodge, Co. Fermanagh, nineteenth century, arch. unknown.
  • Lisadell Rectory, Co. Sligo, arch. and date unknown;
  • Lisnavagh Gate Lodge, Co. Carlow, arch. and date unknown.

Kitchen Lawn view of Lisnavagh in Victorian Age.


St Mary’s Church of Ireland in Rathvilly, Co Carlow



Close up of Griffith’s Survey showing Marine Villa, Howth, where Daniel Robertson lived.

Griffith’s Valuation, printed in about 1850, shows that Daniel Robertson was living on the Howth Demesne on the eve of his death in 1849. He held the property under a lease from the Earl of Howth. David Foley of Earslcliffe has identified this as No. 2 on the map.

Howth Cottage appears to have been called “Marine Villa (marked 2 on the map), a residence of Judge Perrin in 1840, and stands today (as Marine Villas) just south of Howth Train station. The property is also close to St. Mary’s church – did his funeral service take place there. The older parish records were transferred to the Representative Church Body Library for safe keeping and proper storage some time ago so St Mary’s does not hold the records. There is no graveyard at St Mary’s, Howth, so he was not buried there. [With thanks to Canon Robert Deane.]

Close up of Howth, via Google, showing Marine Villas where Daniel Robertson lived.

The architect had been unwell for some time before he died in Howth in September 1849. As early as 1835, he wrote to Henry Faulkner of Castletown Co. Carlow: ‘I have not been able to write until today – I have had the most violent and long attack of rheumatic gout that any poor devil need suffer under.’ [20]

According to Frederick O’Dwyer, the 7th Viscount Powerscourt‘s described him in 1843 as follows:

‘[Robertson] was always in debt, and the Sheriff’s officers were after him. Warning being given of their approach to arrest him, he used to hide in the domes on the roof of the House. He was much given to drink and was never able to design or draw so well as when his brain was excited by sherry. He suffered from gout and had to be wheeled out on the Terrace in a wheelbarrow with a bottle of sherry, and as long as that lasted he was able to design and direct his workmen, but when the sherry was finished, he collapsed and was incapable of working until the drunken fit evaporated.’

In fairness, while he complains of gout and accompanying asthma, there is no indication of drunkenness on Robertson’s behalf in the correspondence at Lisnavagh. As Stephen Massill notes, Robertson’s letters to Captain Bunbury refers repeatedly to problems he has with Germaine, the “gardener”, and Kingsmill the building contractor, but after his death they in their correspondence with the Captain do not take any opportunity to refer to Robertson’s shortcomings or any such shenanigans in a wheelbarrow that surfaced (in 1903! O’Dwyer suggests) about Robertson at Powerscourt.

There were considerable festivities at Cahore House over the 13-15 September 1849, a house which he had lately designed. An article published in the Wexford Independent on 19 September 1849, names him as the designer and details boat races, rowing races and a ‘superb dejeuner’ for ‘about 120 of the rank and fashion’, with the choicest champagne and dancing into the small hours. [21] However, the list of attendees does not include Daniel Robertson. (Or any Bunburys for that matter.) Was he already a-bed with a fatal illness?

His date of death is unknown. I erroneously had his date of burial as Thursday 13 September but perhaps that was the date he died? In October 2021, Dr Susan Hood, Librarian & Archivist, Church of Ireland RCB Library, informed me that her records stated:

“Daniel Robertson, aged 74, of Howth Cottage, was buried on 20 September 1849.”  [22]

He was buried in Howth churchyard. No plot markers are included in Church of Ireland burials and it is not know if he had a headstone.

Captain Bunbury was generous to Robertson’s widow (then also based at Howth Cottage) and children, sending money to pay the funeral expenses. This is revealed in two black-edged letters addressed to the Captain at Lisnavagh House, which were once again unearthed by Stephen Massil:

‘Dear Sir, I beg to offer my best thanks for the remittance of £5 which I received from you this day – My mother’s difficulties are great at this present time, to meet those painful expences but in a few months her income will be good – and making the request I did in my last letter it was a temporary assistance to meet the last sad returns to my poor father. We all feel that you have acted in a liberal and a handsome way to my poor father – he never mentioned his affairs to my mother and until you wrote to Mrs Dyer we did not know how his account stood with you. If my mother can arrange her money affairs my poor father will be interred on Thursday morning at 10 o’clock. When all is over I will look over the few papers he brought with him, and all the drawings for Lisnavagh I will immediately forward to you. We will feel obliged by you letting anything belonging to my poor father remain at your house until my dear mother arranges her future plans …’ and signed ‘HWRobertson’

This letter is counter-signed by Captain Bunbury: ‘Mr Hugh Robertson Receipt for £5. Sep. 1849’ and so is the first reference to the son of this name. A second letter from Howth, predating the first and dated Friday 7 Sept ember is countersigned: ‘Receipt for £10 sent by me to Mrs Dyer on account of Mr Robertson’ and written by one of the younger daughters since as she says:

‘My sister Mrs Dyer was obliged to go to England yesterday. She returns next week or the week after. During her absence she desired me to open all her letters. I therefore beg to —– with sincere thanks your kind letter with its most acceptable enclosure for my poor Father. He is still alive but only —– —- —– —- the —– affliction at losing/ him, but have the great consolation in knowing he suffers little [?pain] When my sister returns she will write to you. I am Sir Yours truly Mary Robertson

Stephen Massill notes, “the hand is difficult and the transcription falters but seems to suggest (despite the black-edge) that the patient was still alive.”

“It does not appear that Robertson maintained a practice as such; the extensive collection of his drawings at Lisnavagh include some 150 (out of 179) autograph drawings for the house and farm buildings all in his hand and with no sign of any apprentice-hand. Despite the gout and underlying sickness (and without any sense of debilitation through excess of drink) Robertson appears to have been hard-working and dedicated to the task in hand and over long periods of solitary working on the estate. The fee-income earned in his Irish years would have been ‘dissipated’ not in drink but in maintaining his wife in sickness and a family of twelve.”

According to Stephen,

“O’Dwyer and Kinney refer to Mrs Robertson’s efforts to salvage what remained of his estate and funds with application to his last and most generous recent client Captain William McClintock-Bunbury for support. My quotations from the Rathdonnell Papers confirm this support, and indeed, the Captain appears to have gone on to settle in February 1850 an outstanding bill raised by Batchelor Brothers of 33 Dawson Street [Dublin], Woollen Drapers & Military Merchant Tailors, for items delivered to Daniel Robertson in June and July 1848.”




For finer detail on the following, see Stephen Massil’s genealogical account, ‘The Family of Daniel Robertson, architect and bankrupt’, in Scottish Genealogist, 59, No. 1 (Mar 2012), pp. 3-18.

Daniel and Amelia Robertson had fourteen children, one of whom (probably a girl) died in infancy. The thirteen surviving children were:

1) William Edward Adam Robertson (1809-1846): recorded at the Merchant Taylors’ School in 1820[126]; died at Calcutta in December 1846, in whose will his father and his mother are remembered.

2) Daniel (Brooke) Robertson (1810-1881): his birth is recorded in the press; Coates refers to his entry into the East India Company’s mercantile naval service at age 16 [1826-7] with return to England following the death of his grandfather, his admission (Daniel Robertson (junior, aged 24) to Lincoln’s Inn in 1835; his marriage to Ellen Nutter Aingell on 15 October 1839; his bankruptcy: “Daniel Robertson the younger (commonly known as Daniel Brooke Robertson), late of No. 13½, Western-cottage, Maida-hill, Paddington, Middlesex, Barrister-at-law, part of the time having Chambers at No. 26, Chancery-lane in the said county. – In the Debtors Prison for London and Middlesex”; surfaced in the consular service in 1844 appointed Deputy Consul at Shanghai and from where his career burgeoned variously in postings in China over the next thirty years, through to a knighthood in 1872 and eminent retirement, dying on March 27th, 1881 at 15 Arlington Street, Piccadilly. His wife had died in 1852 at Shepherd’s Bush. Their son Russell Brooke Robertson (1843-1888) entered the consular service in Japan in 1860, becoming Consul at Yokohama in 1871; he was admitted to the Middle Temple in 1878 and was called to the Bar in May 1881. He was married to Annie Carruthers in 1863 but details of the dissolution of his marriage – ‘A Consul-General’s divorce case’ – was published in 1880; his obituary in 1888.

3) Amelia Helen Robertson 1813-1870): Her baptism is given at St. George’s Hanover Square on 27 March 1816; marriage of Robertson’s eldest daughter Amelia Helen to Richard Thos. Swinnerton Dyer, R.N. on 12 August 1834, at West Teignmouth Church; one daughter, Emily Mary Adam Dyer (born December 1844 but, baptised on 3 December1847 she died on the 9th) and a son, Gordon Swinnerton Dyer (baptised at St. Mary’s Marylebone on 21st June 1848). Amelia had a liaison with Captain William Adam (of the 72nd Highlanders, and then the 48th). She and R. T. S. were divorced at some point in 1851 as reported in The Times and documented in 1858. He died in March 1874 at 2 Elm Grove, Southsea, although his will was not proved until May 1880 (in favour then of his widow Susan née Crown whom he had married at St. Martin’s-in-the Fields in 1860).

4) Thomas Johnson Robertson, baptised at St. George’s Hanover Square on 23 March 1816, Daniel Robertson architect gives his address now as Bolton Row. He is mentioned in the will of Helen Clarke but died before he was 21, unmarried and without children.

5) Hugh Robertson: dates not found – so I place him as the fourth son because Arthur, the next is specifically cited as the ‘fifth’ – signatory of a letter to Captain Bunbury in September 1849

6) Arthur Robertson: (1817-1862): He was born during one of his father’s bankruptcy phases. On 27 October 1853, he married Louisa Margaret (1825-1872), youngest daughter of the Rev. Bartlet Goodrich Vicar Great Sailing, Essex. Marriage conducted by Rev. C.A. L’Oste. Two daughters: Margaret (1856-1879) and Mary Blanche (1857-1870). His death notice in the Gentleman’s magazine refers to him as ‘the fifth son of the late Daniel Robertson, esq., of Struan at his residence at Lyndhurst, Hants’, the residence being Bolton’s Bench remembered in Love Lane by Mrs G. Bowden-Smith of Vernalls Farm, Lyndhurst in her reminiscences of 1906. The family grave at Lyndhurst Church and the burial register confirm the dates. The census of 1871 records Mrs Robertson living at Laura Cottage, Pikes Hill, Lyndhurst with her surviving daughter and her unmarried niece, Rose H. Savage at 24, of Portsmouth. The census of 1861 records Arthur’ age as 42 and year of birth as 1819, in Dublin, but the grave records his birth as 1817 which fits him surely before the next-born sister. The question of Dublin at this time fits other speculations

7) Helen Robertson: (July 1819-1903) marriage 1838: of ‘Edward John Scott, Esq., M.D. (1812-1857) of St. George’s Square, Portsmouth, to Helen, second daughter of Daniel Robertson, Esq.’ His early death is recorded in the Lancet: ‘It is with great regret we announce the death of this distinguished provincial surgeon and senior medical officer of the Royal Portsmouth, Portsea, and Gosport Hospital. Dr. Scott commenced the study of the profession at a very early age, and was admitted a member of the Royal College of Surgeons of London in 1832, and in 1834 he graduated at Edinburgh. … He has left a widow (enceinte) and eight children to deplore his loss’. Their eldest daughter Blanche-Alice (1844-1936[148]) married Montolieu Fox Oliphant Murray (10th Lord Elibank and later 1st Viscount, 1840-1927) in 1868 and they had two sons and five daughters; the National Portrait Gallery has portrait photographs of her; their youngest son John Edward Scott, midshipman, died in a fall, aged 17 in March 1875.

Portrait of Captain William McClintock Bunbury, who commissioned Robertson to build Lisnavagh during the 1840s. His wife Pauline was related to the Savage family, with whom Robertson’s daughter Maria Rose intermarried. .

8) Maria Rose Robertson (1823-70): On 18 August 1842, Daniel Robertson’s daughter Maria Rose was married at Widley Church, Hants, to Andrew Roger Savage of the Royal Marine Artillery at Portsmouth in 1842. This carried a connection to the Savage and Nugent family of Portaferry House, on the Ards Peninsula, Co. Down, and also to Pauline McClintock Bunbury, the wife of Captain William McClintock-Bunbury at Lisnavagh and daughter of Sir James Matthew Stronge of Tynan Abbey, Co. Armagh. Andrew Savage was appointed Instructor of Fortifications and Mechanical Drawing at Portsmouth in 1847; promoted Captain, May 1848, he died aged 45 in Portsmouth aged 1857: Sept. 4. At the Royal Naval College, Portsmouth: “The deceased gentleman was well known in the town from his connection with the Royal Seaman and Marines’ Orphan School, of which he was Honorary Secretary for many years. He was devotedly attached to the school, and devoted his whole energies and abilities to the furtherance of its interests and the development of its resources”. The obituary notice in The Lancet of May 1857 records: ‘It is with great regret we announce the death of this distinguished provincial surgeon and senior medical officer of the Royal Portsmouth, Portsea, and Gosport Hospital. … He has left a widow (enceinte) and eight children to deplore his loss’. One of his daughters, Rose H., born in 1847 appears in the 1871 census at Lyndhurst, Hampshire (see above under Arthur)

9) Mary Scarlett Robertson (1825-1874): Mentioned in the will of Helen Clarke. She had a liaison with a married man – Robert King Piers (1818-1888), a Dublin lawyer, with whom she had four children; the youngest was Hope Theresa Piers (1859-1952) was the longest lived and had one daughter, Mary ‘Valery’ (1888-1975) born ‘fatherless’ at the St. Marylebone workhouse in 1888, who married the Revd William Keatinge Clay (1880-1961) in 1909 – two children eventually; Mary Scarlett did marry in 1868.

10) Flora Robertson (1829-1921): Fifth daughter of the Daniel Robertson. Married on 12 January 1850 at Collegiate Church of St. Paul’s, Valetta, Malta, to John Oldershaw Bathurst (1817-1863), Commander of HMS Medusa. He who died at Portsea. In 1868 she married General John Tatton Brown (1795-1880), later Grieve by change of name, with whom she had two daughters.

11) Hugh White Robertson (d. 1865)

12) Clement Nichol Robertson (1830-1855), the youngest son, whose birth and baptism were recorded at St. Arvans. He was “lost overboard from a heavy sea off the Cape of Good Hope” aged 24, while returning from Shanghai, China on the Sea Witch.

13) Blanche Alice Robertson (1833-1869) who married Irish lawyer, Henry O’Malley (d. 1867).






With thanks to Maria O’Brien, Stephen Massil, David Foley, Christy Crisp and Eileen Wickham.




  • H.M. Colvin, A biographical dictionary of British architects, 1600-1840, 4th edition, Yale University Press, 2008, pp. 873-5, plus brief entry on John Robertson (1770?-1806?) on p. 876.
  • Frederick O’Dwyer, ‘”Modelled Muscularity”: Daniel Robertson’s Tudor mansions’, Irish Arts Review Yearbook 15 (1999), 87-97.
  • Stephen W. Massil, ‘The family of Daniel Robertson, architect and bankrupt, Scottish Genealogist: Vol. 59, No. 1 (Mar 2012), pp3-18
  • Stephen W. Massil ‘Andrew Robertson of Gladsmuir in America 1756-1782, and his American family’, The Scottish Genealogist, Vol. 59 No. 4 (Dec 2012), p. 159-170.
  • Stephen W. Massil ‘Andrew Robertson of Gladsmuir in America 1756-1782, and his American family  – Part 2’, The Scottish Genealogist, Vol. LX No. 1 (March 2013), p. 31-38.
  • Geoff Robertson, ‘The Life & Times of Henry Robertson, a colonial architect, 1804-1881’ (2023)
  • The Rathdonnell Papers, which have been listed by the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, and I quote from these below: Architectural and Building Papers, L/1-3, etc.



[1] Stephen W. Massil ‘Andrew Robertson of Gladsmuir’, The Scottish Genealogist, Vol. LIX No. 4 (Dec 2012), p. 159; Stephen W. Massil ‘Andrew Robertson – Part 2’, The Scottish Genealogist, Vol. LX No. 1 (March 2013), p. 31. Stephen Massil’s research deals with the family of Naphtali Hart Myers and Anglo-Jewish society of the late eighteenth century and the Regency. The fact that his granddaughter Maria married Loftus Longueville Clarke in 1822 links this research to a study of the social and professional connections of the architect Daniel Robertson who married Longueville Clarke’s sister in 1808. Several publications on these and connected topics have now been published or are in process, including “’The Lady of Longueville Clarke’: Maria Hart Myers (1794-1868) and her Family”, in: Jewish Historical Studies: Transactions of the JHSE, 2007-9, XLII, pp.53-73; and ‘Naphtali Hart Myers: New Yorker and Londoner’, in: Jewish Historical Studies, XLIII, 2011.

[2] W.E. Gladstone’s mum was also a Robertson – Anne, daughter of Mr. Andrew Robertson, for many years provost of Dingwall, of the Ross-shire Robertsons.

[3] There’s more on the Bailie family in ‘Seekers of Truth: The Scottish Founders of Modern Public Accountancy’ by Thomas Alexander Lee but this article suggests that this George was too young to have been Andrew Robertson’s partner. In 1794 Archibald Robertson, the son of Charles Robertson of Kindeace (Ross-shire) died of yellow fever in Demerara, where he had been manager on the North Brook plantation, on the east sea coast, the property of James Baillie snr. [Essequebo en Demerarische Courant] so could this Archibald Robertson / Bailie slave-trading family also be connected: even if not mentioned here.

[4] William Mylne, ‘Travels in the colonies in 1773-1775 : described in the letters of William Mylne’, edited by Ted Ruddock (Athens, Ga; London : University of Georgia Press, 1993) confirms that both Robertson and Baillie were related to the Mylne family.

[5] ‘On the Rim of the Caribbean: Colonial Georgia and the British Atlantic World’ by Paul M. Pressly.

[6] The land had previously belonged to James Edward Powell who is thought to have maintained his lumber headquarters at the plantation until its milling timber was exhausted about 1757, ‘for after that date he began to petition for lands in more thickly forested sections of the country, presumably for sawmill purposes. In 1758, obviously preferring the sawmill business to that of agriculture, he conveyed his tract to Andrew Maxton, who in August of the same year transferred his interest in the lands to Andrew Robertson and George Baillie of Charleston. The following year, though the documents of conveyance have not been found in state archives, it is evident that these Charlestonians sold their interest …’ [Savannah River Plantations, Georgia Historical Society, 1947, p. 183]

[7] Many Robertsons of South Carolina/ Scotland origin are listed here.

[8] See ‘The Papers of Henry Laurens’ (Vol. 5, September 1, 1765-July 31, 1768′.

[9] South Carolina and American General Gazette (13-20 May 1771).

[10] Biographical Sketches of Loyalists, Palmer & Sabine, 1984.

[11] ‘American Loyalist Migrations 1765-1799’ by Peter Wilson Coldham (Genealogical Publishing Co. Inc.)

[12] ‘Land & Allegiance in Revolutionary Georgia’ by Leslie Hall (University of Georgia Press, 2001), p. 45.

[13] ‘Modelled Muscularity’: Daniel Robertson’s Tudor Manors’, Frederick O’ Dwyer, Irish Arts Review, Vo. 15 (1999). He is frequently confused with William Robertson, an architect based in Kilkenny at this time. In his Biographical Dictionary of British Architects 1600 – 1840, Colvin enters Robertson as being from Kilkenny, as do all other historians; there was a William Robertson of Kilkenny working at the same time and in the Tudor style, but both he and Daniel were Londoners of Scots ancestry, and there is no evidence to support that they were related. William Robertson did spend some time in London early in his career and may have had some connection with the Robertsons of Gladney or of Struan of a clan of both historic and extensive connections. H. Colvin, A Biographical Dictionary of British architects 1600 – 1840, third edition, pages 822 – 23.

[14] Modchick’s Thesis on Daniel Robertson.

Stained glass window in St Mary’s Church of Ireland in Rathvilly, Co Carlow.

[15] Mark Bence-Jones, ‘Burkes Guide to Country Houses’, Volume 1, Ireland. On December 15th 1849, the Carlow Sentinel reported on the ‘REOPENING OF RATHVILLY CHURCH’.

“On Sunday, the 2nd instant, the Parish Church of Rathvilly was reopened for divine service, having been closed for extension and improvement during several months when the Hon and Ven Archdeacon Stopford preached an appropriate sermon on the occasion. A lathe addition has been built to this chapel, principally in the ‘Tudor style’ of architecture, and is capable of affording ninety new sittings. It consists of transept and recessed chancel, with vestry entrance and porches. The external appearance of the edifices presents those peculiar features of English Church architecture, not only in the construction of the new work, but also by the introduction of suitable tracery windows into the old portion of the building, which gives the entire a finished appearance.
The interior is fitted up in a style corresponding with the exterior. The pulpit is made of old Irish oak, beautifully panelled and enriched with elaborately carved figures and foliage ornaments. The reading desk is also tastefully adorned with rich Gothic trancery, as are also the chancel, ceiling and walls, especially the ceiling which, after an elegant design, is formed of ribbed oak. The architect was the late Daniel Robertson, Esq, an eminent Scotchman, whose designs were chaste and original, and his views were ably carried out by Mr Kingsmill, the well-known and distinguished builder.
The funds for this enlargement so necessary to accommodate the increasing congregation of the parish was raised by subscription, through the active, and we may add, the unceasing effort of the worthy rector, the Rev. J.B. Magennis. Among the subscribers we may allude to Colonel Bunbury, whose munificent donations amounted to £500. The county members subscribed largely; also the Hon. Wingfield Stratford, the Messrs Duckett and Hutchinsons, and many others who must feel a pride in contemplating a work dedicated to the service of the Almighty, while affording a praiseworthy encouragement to the unprecedented exertions and well-directed zeal of the rector, who first proposed the enlargement of the church. Well might the venerable preacher, when addressing a crowded congregation on the auspicious occasion referred to, remark that Protestant zeal or feeling was not on the decline while such edifices exhibited the zeal and piety of those who assisted in its erections.”

An anonymous letter from Ricketstown, (the Rev. Whitty, perhaps?) published in the Dublin Evening Packet and Correspondent on 6 December 1849, added some more detail:

“THE CHURCH. (From our Correspondent.) ~ Ricketstown. Dec. 3. 1849. I feel assured that you will partake of the general satisfaction felt in this parish at the opening of our church in Rathvilly, after having undergone a complete alteration and received a very considerable addition, which affords ninety new sittings. The inside is in the Tudor style, with an elegant chaste ribbed ceiling, and there are nine new stone windows. The pulpit and reading-desk are particularly worthy of observation, and were designed by that able architect, the late Daniel Robertson, Esq , who introduced into this country a style of architecture hitherto unknown. They were carved by an inhabitant of this county. Well might the preacher, the Honourable the Archdeacon of Leighlin, remark that schism was not apparent in this part of the county, where such men as Colonel Bunbury, of Moyle, (who contributed five hundred pounds ) and where our two County Members, the Honourable Wingfield Stratford, Mr. Ducket and Mrs Hutchinson, and others of the country gentlemen, largely contributed to erect such a noble edifice. This ia a perfect contradiction to those who assert that the Protestant feeling and interest is on the decline in Ireland. It is on the increase in these parts, and likely to continue so, while our gentry thus countenance and forward the unprecedented exertions and well-directed zeal of our worthy and respected Rector, the Rev. J. B. Magenis.”

[16] Charles Mervyn Doyne of Wells House married Lady Frances Fitzwilliam, a daughter of one of England’s richest families, the Fitzwilliams, who amassed a fortune by mining coal on their 20,000 acre estate near Sheffield in Yorkshire, and who also owned nearly 90,000 acres around Coollattin, Co Wicklow. Lady Frances Doyne, who lived at Wells House for much of her married life, grew up in Wentworth Woodhouse in Yorkshire, one of Britain’s largest private stately homes – said to be inspiration for Pemberley, where Fitzwilliam Darcy lived.

Wells House and Gardens was run by Sabine and Uli Rosler from 2012 until 2022 when it was acquired by the Sean Doyle Group.

[17] Jane Cliffe, who married the 1st Lord Carew of Castleboro, lived to the great age of 103 years and witnessed three different centuries.

[18] Daniel Robertson, who was responsible for some of the building work on Johnstown Castle, is generally believed to have laid out and planted much of the grounds in the 1830s. This would have included the digging of the five-acre lake opposite the castle with Gothic towers rising from its waters and a terrace lined with statues on the opposite bank. Many fine trees and shrubs grow in the vicinity of the castle, including two lovely examples of Cryptomeriajaponica ‘Elegans’, several very fine redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens), a huge Rhododendron arboreum and some of the oldest and largest specimens of Monterey cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa) in Ireland. The variety of mixed planting around the lake, which includes noble firs, Japanese cedars, Atlantic blue cedars, copper beeches, golden Lawson cypresses and holm oaks, provides a very satisfying range of colour through much of the year. In the area to the west of the castle lake, a woodland garden was created around the ruined medieval castle of Rathlannon. Here the exotic foliage of a Magnolia wilsonii from China borders a large, elegant dogwood (Cornus kousa) from Japan and a Japanese snowball (Viburnum plicatum) with tiered spreading branches. Nearby lies a two-acre lake dug in the 1860s, while in the area to the north is a four-acre walled garden built between 1844 and 1851 and rehabilitated by the Department of Agriculture.

[18a] Wexford Independent, 19 September 1849, p. 2 (here).

[19] Jeremy Williams comments on Robertson’s genius by describing the Carrigglas scheme as ‘gracious to the south, where the main reception rooms overlook the [formal] gardens and the park beyond; to the east many rare conifers were planted by Robertson, in one of his pioneering American gardens.’ J. Williams, A Companion guide to Architecture in Ireland 1837 – 1921.

[20] From a letter now held at the Irish Architectural Archive.

[21] Wexford Independent, 19 September 1849, p. 2 (here).

[22] Representative Church Body Library combined register for Howth parish, RCB Library P373.1.2.