Cumann Seandalaiochta agus Staire Phort Lairge

Monday, August 16, 2021

Henry Jones’ 1751 plan of Dromana and its place in the cartographic history of Ireland by Anne Casement

ANNE CASEMENT enjoyed a long and varied career with the National Trust, leading to a doctoral thesis on the management of landed estates in Ulster in the mid-nineteenth century. Today she is a freelance historian specialising in the study of historic estates in Ireland, and their landscape, architectural and management history, particularly those associated with the Londonderry family. She is well-published author, her findings having appeared in several academic journals and her 2010 book An Admiral’s Eye View.

In 1994 a beautiful coloured plan of Dromana in County Waterford was discovered in a second-hand book shop in England by the architect James Howley. Shortly afterwards it was purchased by the Irish Architectural Archive with the aid of the Friends of the National Collections. This plan shows the demesne and adjacent village of Villierstown, together with illustrations of the most notable features within the demesne. It was produced by the surveyor Henry Jones in 1751 for John Fitzgerald Villiers (c.1684-1766), 1st Earl Grandison. The plan is highly unusual for Irish estate maps of this period in the quality of its draughtsmanship and composition, and the nature of its content and detail. A cartouche in the top left-hand corner describes it thus:

A Plan of Dromana The Seat of the Right Honorable John Earl of Grandison, and of Villiarstown,1 a new & neat Colony erected by his Lordship for the advancement of the Linen Manufacture. Both lying in the County of Waterford in the Kingdom of Ireland, the Area of each particular Denomination returned in English acres to the which the under Table doth Refer. Surveyed by Henry Jones Surveyor, July 31: 1751

The plan of Dromana measures 865mm x 145mm, and is paper backed by linen—originally a large sheet, but cut into smaller sheets along the fold lines to prevent wear and tear 

 It is drawn in black ink with red, blue, green, grey, brown and yellow colour washes, and with no obvious suggestion of underlying sketching or laying-out lines.2 It reveals Henry Jones to have been of a light-hearted and somewhat playful nature, in tune with the spirit of the rococo. He clearly had some artistic ability, being capable of rendering the notable buildings on the demesne in three dimensions and creating subtly coloured vignettes of human figures and animals, blended together to create a plan of great visual beauty, eminently suited to public display.3

Furthermore, if the plan is compared to the earliest [1837-1842] Ordnance Survey map it is clear that although it was intended primarily for public exhibition and not as a working tool, the accuracy with which the boundaries, features and landscape are drawn reveals Jones to have been a surveyor of significant competence. The most striking difference between the two is the unorthodox east-west orientation of the Jones plan. Occupying a central location towards the top of the 1751 plan is a compass indicator supported by cherubs, which reveals one its major inaccuracies, in that it appears to suggest, incorrectly, a south-north orientation. A key to one side of the plan lists the areas into which the demesne was divided, outlined in differing colours on the plan itself, together with their acreages in statute measure. The sum of these areas is about 1550 statute acres, similar to the approximately 1653 statute acres given on the OS map for the four townlands concerned namely:


Dromana demesne (the northern part of demesne in Affane parish, Decies without the Drum)*       759a 1r 26 p

Monyvroe in Affane parish, Decies without the Drum                                                                                361a 2r 12p

Dromana (the southern part of demesne in Aglish Parish, Decies within the Drum)*                            343a 2r 38p

Villierstown in Aglish Parish, Decies within the Drum                                                                   190a 1r 33p


* ‘Decies within the Drum’ and ‘Decies without the Drum’ were the two ancient baronies in the westernmost part of County Waterford, ‘Drum’ being the range of hills which separates them.

Each area included in the list is numbered in arabic numerals, with these numbers written out in full on each one on the plan. Around the border of the key are twelve compartments, each referring to a specific named feature within the demesne and also numbered individually by an arabic numeral, as they are on the plan itself. Images of most of these features are included around the perimeter of the plan (see fig.1).


1  Three of the vignettes depicting features of the estate, from the right-hand side of the Dromana map


Depicting the Dromana estate

The plan depicts a landscape with a formal garden in the late geometric style, popular in Britain from the 1690s until the 1750s. The design of such gardens was dominated by grass plats and gravel paths. For reasons of practicality complex box work had declined in popularity, and topiary been simplified and confined to the edges of lawns and paths. A greater proportion of their area came to be occupied by groves or wildernesses,4 dissected by complicated networks of paths and clearings, often focused on an embellishment, such as a wooden temple. Wildernesses had originally been located in peripheral positions, but increasingly they came to be situated close to the house. Perhaps the most novel feature of these gardens was that they were no longer divided into separate walled enclosures, and in many cases even the perimeter wall was replaced by a ha-ha. In the later 1740s and 1750s many elite gardens thus became less enclosed, opening them up to the surrounding landscape, but otherwise geometric layouts continued to dominate until they began to go out of fashion among the gentry in the late 1750s, and many of the finest parks in Britain were redeveloped along the naturalistic principles advocated by influential men such as Shaftesbury and Pope. Such new landscapes were deemed more appropriate as a setting for the classical style of architecture embodied in the designs of Colen Campbell, and taken up by leading Whig magnates.5 Geometric landscapes were also popular in Ireland where landowners were 

increasingly aware that the countryside around their houses could be ‘designed’ on a large scale. By reorganizing the demesne fields into regular grid-like patterns, and by extending the symmetry of the garden into the landscape through long perspectives, the new unfortified houses of the late Caroline period acquired an imposing setting that reflected their owner’s power, status and wealth. The remarkable popularity of avenues was the most striking characteristic of the period. By the 1730s, almost every house of consequence boasted at least one tree-lined approach, while some had complex avenues radiating across the landscape. Focused on the main façade, and sometimes stretching for miles, these avenues emphasized the centrality of the house in the landscape, whilst demonstrating ownership of all the land over which they passed ... Field boundaries were also lined with trees and woodland blocks were planted in most demesnes, though Irish landowners were slow to appreciate the value of timber production, and the plantations remained [relatively] small ... Garden elements ranged around the mansion normally included a flower yard, a bowling green, a kitchen garden and orchards. The layout was invariably dominated by a plain grass plat, bordered and dissected by gravel paths, while the ground below the main reception rooms was often ‘possessed’ by a box or flower parterre6

At Dromana, according to Jones, a long avenue, initially lined with rows of trees, led eastwards from the house. It would appear from his plan that this avenue did not culminate at the front of the house, and thus, somewhat extraordinarily, it may have been necessary to reach the house by other means, possibly via the great stairs in the front garden. The avenue was not aligned with the main front of the house, probably because the building stood on an escarpment adjacent to a bend in the river Blackwater. This precluded significant development immediately to the north, south and west, and presumably led to the formal grounds being located to the east. It may also explain the unorthodox orientation of the Jones plan: an east-west orientation enabled him to depict these formal grounds to best advantage.


2  A diagrammatic redrawing of the Dromana plan, numbered to show the different features marked on the original. On the original plan the features which are here identified by letters A-L are marked with roman numerals, while those here numbered 1-36 are shown with the numbers written out in text.


Key to numbers on figure 2


1    Front Garden Bowling-green &c                        13  Monivro                                            25  Listreagh Meadow

2    A Wood Cutt into Vistoes                                  14  Marshy Ground                                 26  The Rushy Field

3    The Mansion House & Wood N[orth] of it        15  Knockane Field                                  27  Wood and Ponds

4    Kitchen Gardens                                                16  Dairy House & Gardens                    28  Wood Orcherds & Cannals

5    An Oziery                                                          17  A Meadow                                         29  A Wood Planted by his Lordship

6    The Dear Park                                                    18  Killeagh Field                                     30  An Oak Wood

7    A paddock                                                         19  Park/Dark Goddin                               31  The Gardens belonging to the Green

8    A paddock                                                         20  Sgartne Kirkey                                   32  The Green of Dromana

9    A Marshy piece of ground                                 21  Wood orcherd & Cannals                  33  An Oak Wood

10  The Lime Kiln Field                                           22  Long-field                                          34  Callaghans Holding

11  The Long Meadow                                             23  The Wood-field                                   35  Land belonging to Villiars Town

12  Marshy Land                                                     24  Farm House & Orcherds                    36  Villiars Town and Gardens


The tree-lined section of the long avenue traversed the south-west corner of a ‘dear park’ (6), the quintessential symbol of wealth and status. At the two points where it met the park boundary Jones put the number 8 (H on fig,2), an ‘iron palasade finely wroug’t’. Deer parks were customarily surrounded by a park pale, a massive fenced or hedged bank, often with an internal ditch, presumably at Dromana replaced by an iron palisade at these two points. Where this avenue met the eastern deer park boundary in the north-west corner of Dromana Green, Jones shows somewhat indistinctly a group of structures (5: E on fig.2) identified as the ‘portridge’ [porterage, for use of the gatekeeper] and ‘park gate’. The accompanying drawing of these features includes a building named the rock house (4: D on fig.2), a folly of some sort, with an unusual concave roof, which Jones indicates lay on the banks of the river Blackwater to the south of the house.7 The avenue then continued eastwards, past woodland set with canals, towards a sizeable pool, numbered 9 on the plan (I on fig.2] and described as ‘a beautiful piece of water’, on which Jones playfully drew a rowing boat with a gay red flag, and an over-sized swan. It eventually left the demesne, via another tree-lined section, at a point which subsequently became the location of the Dungarvan gate lodge, and indeed Jones includes a handsome unnamed building in this vicinity. A branch from the avenue turned sharply to the south, following another tree-lined route, mainly through extensive oak plantations (30 and 33) to Villierstown. This was clearly also a means of access to the dwellings on Dromana Green, to the quay on the riverside and adjacent rock house and bastion (6: F on fig.2: 

 two characteristic features of late geometric gardens, bastions being commonly employed to command a fine prospect over the view beyond. It appears that the quay and its associated features were also accessible directly from the house via the gardens on the south side.

A drawing on the plan shows that Dromana house (2: B on fig.2) comprised a long central two-storey block dominated by a Jacobean doorcase, with projecting shorter two-storey wings or offices to each side.8 The house and attendant buildings or offices to the east were flanked by extensive formal gardens, divided into a series of compartments of differing size, some open, some planted. Those in front of the house to the south are described on the key as being ‘front garden [and] bowling green’ (1). Three open areas, presumably grass plats, bisected by a tree-lined avenue, lay on the raised ground immediately to the south-east of the house, one of them presumably being the bowling green. These were reached from the house via ‘the great stairs in the garden’ (7: G on fig.2). Beyond lay a series of variously shaped formally planted areas, culminating in a triangular area with serpentine beds above the bastion. The wood on the escarpment to the west is described on the key as being ‘a wood cutt into vistoes’(2), looking across the wider landscape and hills to the west, and reached by two parallel walks and flights of steps immediately in front of the house.

Northwards was an extensive area of twelve kitchen gardens (4), divided into lower and upper sections, and lined with trees along the east side where they adjoined the deer park. Beyond them was the osiery (5). The wooded area to the west is described on the key as ‘the mansion house and wood north of it’ (3), while to the east of the house were two wooded areas described as ‘wood orcherds and cannals’ and ‘wood and ponds’ (28 and 27) and set with canals (10: J on fig.2: 

South-east was an extensive area of ornamental woodland, predominantly of oak (30), dissected by a complex network of paths leading to or focused on internal features, shown to be rings or clumps of trees, typical of the late geometric style. A separate rectangular area to the north is numbered 29, ‘A wood planted by his Lordship’. Within the 350-acre deer park Jones depicts a two-storey building and attendant screen (3: C on fig.2) which was the lodge, complete with two smoking chimneys.9 Lodges provided shelter and refreshment for the huntsmen, and often accommodation for the park keeper.

Lively illustrations within the plan reveal that some of the fields on the eastern and northern outskirts of the demesne were used for grazing horses and domestic livestock; a dairy house and gardens are indicated (16); and two single-storey buildings depicted in a field in the north-east corner of the demesne.

It is most fortunate that the accuracy of the plan and the fact that it represented the situation on the ground rather than a proposed scheme can be corroborated by two written contemporary descriptions. In 1746 Charles Smith wrote that

The most remarkable place in the parish of Affane is Drumana, the seat of the Earl of Grandison. The house is built on the foundation of an antient castle, which is very boldly situated on a rock over the Black-water; the castle, with all its furniture, being burnt down by the Irish, the present house was erected to serve till a more commodious one could be built ... The gardens are situated on the side of a hill, which hangs over the river, where [there] is a noble Terras, affording a prospect up to Cappoquin. To the S the river is hemmed in with high hills covered with wood; at the foot of the garden is a neat bastion, the vaults under which serve for a boat house. The adjacent deer-park is a pleasant spot of ground, lying almost contiguous to the seat, at the N. end whereof is an handsome lodge erected for the keeper. Through this park is a noble avenue, and round the seat are abundance of other plantations all in a flourishing way. Last year his Lordship obtained from the Dublin Society the Praemium of 50l for planting out the greatest number of timber trees, having between Dec 1742, and the fifth of March 1744, planted out 63480 trees of oak, ash, chestnut, elm and beech, which Praemium his Lordship generously gave to the person employed by him in his plantations10

This vivid account is amplified further by Richard Pococke in his written description of a tour in 1752:

I crossed the Blackwater to Drumanna to the Earl of Grandisons, situated on a rock over the Blackwater, where there was formerly a Castle; the hanging ground and wood on it to the south of it is beautifully laid out in Terraces, slopes and walks down to the river which is navigable to Cappoquin for large vessels, and the tyde goes up near to Lismore. There is a handsom avenue to Drumanna house from the east: To the north of which is first a wood and several pieces of Water, and then a Park and fine enclosures down to the [river] Phinisk ... to the south is a new planted wood of many sorts of trees, with firrs on each side of the ridings, and near the house is a Green, on one side of which my Lord has built seven houses; that in the middle is a handsom edifice for an Inn, the other are for necessary tradesmen ... I went with Ld. Grandison in his chaise half a mile to see a New town he has built called Villers Town; the design is two streets crossing each other with a square in the middle for a market and chapel; There are 24 houses built with a garden to each of them and his Lordship is bringing in about eighty acres of Land at great expence for pasturage for the town for as they are all linnen weavers they are not to be diverted by farming: Here are above twenty of the Charter boys apprenticed to the weavers; and My Lord settles a Curate here and intends to build a Chapel; This Chapel is since built.11 One of the Streets is to be carryed down to the river, at a place where a small riv[u]let runs into it, on which, above the town, is a very good bleach yard. His Lordship is about to build a wall to enclose the land for a park between what is designed for this town and the other lands which he has cultivated. I walked in the afternoon about the garden improvements, and went to see the houses on the Green12


The context of the 1751 plan                                                     

Dromana lies near Cappoquin, perched above the steeply-sloping wooded side of the river Blackwater, whose valley is renowned for the high quality of its agricultural land. It has been described as the nearest thing in Munster to a castle on the Rhine, and owes much of its charm to the splendid isolation which was its safeguard in the past.13 Until the late seventeenth century it was the seat of the FitzGeralds, lords of the Decies, a junior branch of the earls of Desmond.14 In 1751 Dromana formed the nucleus of an estate which through marriage had become the property of John Fitzgerald Villiers, 1st Earl Grandison, the only son of Katherine Fitzgerald of the Decies and her second husband, the Hon. Edward Villiers, son of George Villiers, 4th Viscount Grandison of Limerick, whom she married in 1677. In 1664, aged three, Katherine had inherited the Dromana estate from her father Sir John Fitzgerald, Lord of the Decies, she being his only child. She was granted the rank of viscountess by royal warrant on 6 January 1700, and died in 1725. Her son John Fitzgerald Villiers then inherited Dromana. 

Although it is not stated on the plan, 1751 was a significant milestone in the history of the family.15 John Fitzgerald Villiers and his wife Frances Cary had two sons and a daughter, Elizabeth. Being a younger female child, in 1739 Elizabeth had been permitted to marry a commoner, Aland Mason, who had a respectable estate in County Waterford, and property in Waterford City itself, with a rental value in that year of £2500. Due to unexpected deaths, notably that of Elizabeth’s only surviving brother later in 1739, in 1746 she became sole heiress apparent to her father. Accordingly, a separate viscountcy of Grandison of Dromana (subsequently elevated to an earldom) was conferred on her, with remainder to the heirs male of her body. On 13 July1751, two weeks before the plan was dated, she gave birth to a son, christened George Mason Villiers, who after his mother’s death in 1782 became 2nd Earl Grandison of Dromana. This secured the Grandison family in its tenure of Dromana for another generation, and substantially elevated the social standing of the Mason family.16

At the time of his inheritance John Fitzgerald Villiers lived at his London residence in Grosvenor Street and not until the winter of 1730-1731 did he announce his intention to move to Dromana, perhaps to play a more active part in the management of the estate. Nonetheless improvements had already been taking place there. In 1729, for example, 42,000 trees were planted, including plum and pear, along with box and other hedging. A second nursery was created and over 107,000 fruit trees planted, presumably to serve the ‘wood orcherds’ surrounding the ‘beautiful piece of water’ and the canals, orchards beside the farmhouse to the west of the ‘beautiful piece of water’(24), and the kitchen gardens, depicted on the Jones plan.17 John Fitzgerald Villiers has acquired the soubriquet of ‘Good Earl John’, but the basis for such a reputation is somewhat hard to fathom. Although his estate management was in some respects innovative, he totally failed to live within his means, and so greatly exacerbated his inherited financial difficulties that he was forced to sell some £50,000 worth of land. His pride in his ancestry and somewhat limited intelligence caused him to be defrauded by unscrupulous agents who flattered and deferred to him; and his attempts at political manoeuvring were ‘lame and lamentable’.18

Nonetheless, a desire to encourage and promote a favourable perception of his character is reflected in the cartouche of the Dromana plan, which states that Villierstown was ‘a new & neat Colony erected by his Lordship for the advancement of the Linen Manufacture’. Celebrating and publicising to his acquaintance his record as an improving landlord was in keeping with the spirit of the times—progressive landlords were capturing their achievements for posterity by commissioning the finest cartographers to survey and map their estates. Protestant landlords were keen to show that they played a leading role as improvers, their ambition being not only to pass on an enhanced rental to their heirs but also to see a prosperous and peaceful Ireland that perhaps could be Protestant. Planting flax and developing a local linen industry was a means of achieving this ambition. The Dublin Society encouraged its members to establish villages as a vital element in the development of their estates, claiming that ‘If gentlemen could once be persuaded to build little towns on their land ... they would in the best manner possible improve the circumstances of their own fortunes. We should in time see those parts of the Kingdom well peopled, not only with Protestants, but weavers, spinners and bleachers like the North’.

The settlement named Villierstown is marked in the south-west corner of the plan (36), as Pococke suggests, comprising two streets set at right angles with a market house in the centre, and another sizeable building at the south-western end. Also shown is a neat row of houses for tradesmen and an inn on the green at Dromana, the latter presumably intended to accommodate the merchants who would flock to deal in the locally produced linen. The key includes entries (31and 32) for the ‘Green of Dromana’ and ‘Gardens belonging to ye Green’, these features being south-east of the house, so there were two distinct settlements for workers—one on the Green and the other at Villierstown. Pococke’s account does not state what types of tradesmen were accommodated on the Green but, like the inhabitants of Villierstown, they may have been employed in the linen trade, or possibly on the demesne itself and in crafts such as carpentry.19 One commentator has suggested that Dromana was an example of an estate unable to make up its mind where its estate village should be—within or without the demesne—and hence had both.20

When Dr Thomas Campbell visited the town of Tipperary in 1775 he wrote that ‘an effort was made to establish the linen manufacture in the locality and for this purpose a colony of northern weavers was settled there about forty years ago’, but this failed, ‘for the children of those weavers, like the other natives, neither weave nor spin, and in everything but religion are indistinguishable from the general mass’. The Villierstown linen industry appears to have ended in the late 1760s, perhaps for much the same reason. However, the failure of similar enterprises locally was also a result of the death of the landlord-promoter: John Fitzgerald Villiers died in 1766, which might have been a factor in the demise of the industry here.

Other reasons have been cited for the failure of the linen industry in the south and west of Ireland. There was considerable difficulty in obtaining good-quality flax seed outside  Ulster, and although the northern promoters of linen saw little concern in sending a few weavers south to educate the rest of Ireland, they were not prepared to allow the prosperity of the northern linen industry to be compromised. Outside Ulster, employment in the linen industry was unreliable and offered poor wages compared to worsted spinning, and it was imposed from the top down through the activities of the Linen Board and individual landlords. By contrast, in Ulster it was a long-established cottage industry providing vital income to landless labourers’ families, and evolved over time to meet changing market conditions and manufacturing techniques.21


The cartographic context and implications                                                   

From the beginnings of British cartography in the sixteenth century maps were made in distinct and separate civilian and military forms, the former favouring the bird’s eye view and the latter being constructed with a strict ‘ichnographic’ viewpoint from directly above. This distinction persisted into the eighteenth century.22 From about 1540 Ireland had its own distinctive cartographic identity, created by the many English military and political maps which were the contribution of surveyors and engineers to the Tudor settlement. The maps produced by John Speed in the early seventeenth century commanded particular respect, although by that time military campaigns were a less important cartographic influence than the confiscation of landed property. The emphasis was now on the measurement and plotting of numerous small territorial divisions at large scales. After 1607 land in six Ulster counties was confiscated and a hasty survey made by Josias Bodley. In County Londonderry land granted to the London companies was mapped in more detail by Thomas Raven in 1622, while the Down Survey, organised by Sir William Petty in the 1650s, was pre-eminent among these seventeenth-century surveys of confiscated land. Petty’s legacy included not only accurate printed maps of the outline and counties of Ireland, but also a flourishing class of land surveyors who specialised in the manuscript mapping of estates and farms on behalf of their new proprietors.23 However, such maps, produced for a purely utilitarian purpose, lacked the quality of artistry and refinement and level of detail which characterised those produced from the mid-eighteenth century onwards. In his study of land surveying in eighteenth-century and early-nineteenth-century Dublin, Finnian O’Cionnaith commented that until the mid-1750s ‘maps were relatively simple line drawings with limited artistic decoration or colouring which gave the impression of still being heavily influenced by the Down Survey or late seventeenth-century city maps’.24 Assessing the collection of estate maps held in the National Library of Ireland, and relating primarily to the three southern provinces, John Andrews concluded that

Inside the boundary, the typical early-eighteenth-century estate map is disappointingly uninformative. The only item that can almost always be relied upon is the acreage of the tenement ... For the rest, bold relief features may be represented by primitive mountain drawings (minor landforms being generally disregarded) with lakes and rivers coloured or penned in with stipple or water lines. Wood and bog may be given distinctive ornament, but it is rare to see the state of cultivation shown by the kind of ‘characteristics’ that had long been familiar in military map-making; instead the distinction between arable, pasture and meadow is either omitted altogether or given in writing, with the divisions between the different categories marked by dotted lines. Fences other than tenement boundaries are also unusual except where they formed improvements in a landowner’s demesne. The customary double line, solid or broken, is used for roads, while buildings appear in profile or perspective view with architectural details in various degrees of conventionalization. On the whole, coverage of physical and cultural landscape features is highly selective25

Andrews observes that ‘Many cartographers were as modestly sparing with decorative embellishment as they were with information, framing maps in a single band of colour and using words rather than drawings to express scale and orientation. Others added compass indicators, cartouches and scale bars in the contemporary idiom, but except where they were printed from plates these marginal features were generally crude in execution and unsophisticated in design’. He also notes that most old land surveys were signed and dated, which is helpful because ‘their style was widely distributed in both time and space. Its elements were common to the strictly functional maps attached to leases and other legal documents and to the elaborate albums intended for the landowner’s library’.

Furthermore, he argues, ‘such maps may be described as characteristically Irish. The method of making them was transmitted within the country and often inside the family by men who were generally without experience of land surveying as practiced across the channel ... Their national roots do not seem to go very deep, however, for one finds no major regional variants (such as might be expected to have developed in the course of a long period of evolution) and English personal names become more common as the history of the map-making profession is traced backwards, until a probable line of descent is picked up running through the official admeasurements carried out by important surveyors at various times before 1703’.

The quiet revolution in Irish map-making design, and the dramatic improvement in their artistic quality and detailing which took place in the second half of the eighteenth century, was largely due to the influence of cartographers who have been dubbed ‘the French School’, characterised  by the work of the Huguenot mapmaker John Rocque. The French style and mode of operation was passed down from Rocque to his apprentice and brother-in-law Peter Bernard Scalé, who in turn conveyed it to his apprentices.26 John [Jean] Rocque (c.1705-1762) was a French Huguenot émigré, who had settled in London by about 1709, presumably brought there by his parents. He became a cartographer and engraver of European repute, counting among his achievements maps of Paris, Berlin and Rome. From the mid-1730s his many projects in Britain included plans of great gardens, several county and provincial city maps and a great and highly innovative survey of London which resulted in a 16-sheet map of the city and its immediate hinterland (1746), together with an immense 24-sheet map of the city alone (also 1746, to a very large scale of almost 200 feet to an inch).

It is hard to overstate Rocque’s importance. While other mapmakers had issued such large-scale maps before then, no individual had attempted such a broad range.  Perhaps more importantly, he began work at a time when English mapmaking was at a low ebb, with much of the material being published being long out of date.  His work made an enormous contribution to the impetus for what has been termed the ‘Remapping of England’. Rocque spent six of the final nine years of his life in Ireland, beginning in autumn 1754 when he began work on his Exact survey of the city and suburbs of Dublin which was published in four sheets two years later. His subsequent work in Ireland included a remarkable series of about 170 manuscript estate maps, dating from between 1755 and 1760 and covering the Earl of Kildare’s holdings in Leinster, recording and celebrating the improvements the earl had undertaken, and post-dating Jones’s work at Dromana.27 Andrews characterises the output of Rocque and Scalé as

A flowing, asymmetrical style of marginal decoration, in which natural features and abstract rococo motifs formed improbable but harmonious combinations ... meant not to distract attention from the emptiness within but rather to provide an unobtrusive framework for a central mass of complex utilitarian detail and colour ... rococo shellwork [later] dwindled away from the map titles, and the cartouche came to look like what it was, a piece of paper [and eventually] it disappeared altogether. Where marginal designs survived, their effect was not to engross the reader’s attention but to complement the map-interior or to supplement its realism with views of local houses and scenery. In many of the new maps there was only a single overtly frivolous embellishment ... the Scalé north-point, a kind of visual pun ... Its underlying philosophy was a dislike of written explanations, its symbolism being either self-evidently realistic or easily interpreted on the basis of circumstantial evidence. The main innovation was to show relief by hachures drawn with pen or brush in brown or grey ... Water is greenish-blue, often darkened along the edge. Each wall is a single fine ink line, each earthen bank a row of green herringbone symbols, each tree a vivid green profile drawing. Field boundaries are shown planimetrically ... Meadow and pasture are green, with dark streaks and tussock-like blobs to mark patches of coarser vegetation28

As a member of the powerful Fitzgerald and Villiers families, John Fitzgerald Villiers cannot fail to have been aware of the respect which the work of Rocque and fellow members of the ‘French School’ enjoyed, particularly among improving landlords as John considered himself to be. However, the Dromana plan does not typify the topographical style of estate mapping introduced by Rocque, and which revolutionised mapmaking in Britain and Ireland. There is no attempt to show relief, or to distinguish between different types of land use. Jones was quite possibly aware of the work of Rocque and his colleagues in England, since the Dromana plan demonstrates certain characteristic elements of their style—the depictions of buildings, views of the local landscape, family coats of arms and cartouches in a simple Baroque style.

Such characteristic elements of the French School are, however also observable on early-eighteenth-century Irish town and county maps, such as Charles Brooking’s ‘A map of the city and suburbs of Dublin’, published in London in 1728, and Joseph Ravell’s 1749 map of the town and suburbs of Drogheda. Brooking was a Dublin carpenter and surveyor, but there is little other biographical information about him (even his proper name is uncertain—Charles, Thomas, Charles Thomas or Thomas Charles)—despite his map of Dublin being far superior to others produced in Ireland at the time.29 By 1749, Joseph Ravell had established himself as a surveyor and mathematics teacher in Drogheda. In her discussion of his map of Drogheda, Christine Casey postulates that he was influenced by Brooking’s map of Dublin, and that his surname suggests some connection with the circle of Huguenot land surveyors who exerted a significant influence on mid-eighteenth century Ireland, although she has not pinpointed the form such a connection might have taken, or whether Ravell had worked for or been apprenticed to Rocque in England.30 Contemporary Irish influences may thus have played a part in shaping the style and content of the Dromana plan.

Views of the local landscape and family coat of arms are generally absent from early-eighteenth-century Irish estate maps, but profile drawings of gentlemen’s residences, houses and cottages are quite common, albeit often in a very crude form. Some mapmakers even attempted to depict notable buildings in three dimensions, as Jones did at Dromana. Fine views of houses are found on estate maps produced by Rocque, Longfield31 and Barker, although these date from 1757, 1809 and 1762 respectively, after the Dromana map.32 A few seventeenth-century Irish examples exist, notably by the English cartographer Thomas Raven,33 such as his 1625 depiction of the manor house at Killyleagh, but they are far more common on British estate maps—for instance, the 1654 map of the manor of Albyns, Stapleford Abbots (Essex) by John Kersey.34 All this reflects Wyld’s statement in The Practical Surveyor of 1725, that if [one] would express a gentleman’s seat or manor house, ‘tis best done in some corner of the draught, or in the plan by itself, annexed to that of the estate to which it belongs. And the house must be drawn in perspective ... and if the gardens, walks and avenues to the house are expressed, it must be in the same manner’.35

Although lacking the high degree of artistry, imagination and allusion that characterises the work of Rocque and Scalé, the Dromana plan is clearly the work of a surveyor of some artistic talent and imagination, with a significant understanding of the elements of composition, and knowledge of some of the characteristic elements of the French School. Neither is it atypical or backward for its time. But the plan is notably distinguished from the work of Rocque and Scalé,36 and indeed other Irish surveyors of the time, by the inclusion of small, carefully composed and drawn vignettes of the agricultural use of specific areas of the demesne, including a herdsman with his cattle and sheep on the pasturage for the town mentioned by Pococke and what appear to be red deer grazing in the deer park. 

Such features were commonplace on British maps in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, frequently including lively depictions of agricultural husbandry and the productive use of smallholdings, with a populace seemingly happily engaged in many aspects of daily life.37 That Jones should have felt happy to produce, and Lord Grandison able to accept, a depiction of a contented and productive population [peasantry] on the Dromana estate is noteworthy. The general absence of such imagery on Irish maps is perhaps a tacit acknowledgement of the fractured and troubled nature of landlord-tenant relations in Ireland, where for generations an at best uneasy peace had prevailed, and where tenant agitation was an aspect of everyday existence. Its presence on the Dromana plan is interesting, and possibly reflects John Fitzgerald Villiers’ reputation as ‘Good Earl John’, an improving and benevolent landlord.

Also notable is a vignette entitled ‘A prospective View Of Dromana from the North from Wherry’, set in a cartouche at the bottom left of the plan. The use of the term ‘wherry’ is curious as this is commonly used to describe a type of craft associated with waterways in Britain.38 Here it may be referring to a ferry across the river at this point, perhaps the means by which Pococke ‘crossed the Blackwater to Drumanna’. It is known that the rock house at one time accommodated a ferry man.39 Although towards the end of the eighteenth century several artists of considerable calibre, such as Gabriel Beranger, produced views of the Irish countryside, including the activities and dwellings of the rural population,40 earlier eighteenth-century views of Irish scenes and houses are less common than might be supposed.41 This view, in monochrome with the exception of some of the flags of two craft on the river which are picked out in red, shows the house from the west, embowered in trees, and the pleasure grounds and tree-lined avenue to the south. The features within the pleasure grounds, such as the serpentine plantings, steps down to the bastion below, and rock house to the south, are directly comparable with the same features on the main plan, but the vignette goes further by confirming the presence of a wall along the southern perimeter. Of particular interest is the figure of a neatly dressed man driving a heavily laden pack animal along the further bank of the river, and the fishermen and sailing boats on the river.

The Blackwater was navigable for sizeable vessels as far as Cappoquin.42 As Jones clearly recognised, there was a thriving commercial traffic along it, merchandise being loaded and unloaded from quays on the riverside. Jones shows four large vessels sailing along the river, apparently two three-masted, full-rigged ships, a three-masted barque and a two-masted brigantine. The quay at Dromana was clearly a significant centre of riverine activity, with the adjacent bastion serving as a boathouse. On the plan itself, Jones shows two craft moored at the quay, and two pairs of rowing boats and their crew, with a seine net slung between each pair of boats, fishing, presumably for salmon, in the river. These small craft, so neatly illustrated by Jones, appear to be a type of ‘cot’, customarily associated with salmon fishing on the Blackwater.43

This cartouche is flanked by two allegorical figures. As they bear, or are depicted in association with, instruments of the surveyor’s trade, such as a globe, circumferentor, dividers and telescope, they are typical of the Baroque employment of allegorical allusion, as exemplified by the work of Rocque and Scalé, in this case to the art of surveying. On the bottom right of the plan is a pair of dividers outstretched above a graduated scale. The cartouche below notes that ‘the above scale is Graduated to Measure the Lands Or Buildings By’ but as far as can be ascertained the scale is not calibrated, making it impossible to determine at what scale the plan has been drawn.



An extensive search through the collection of estate and demesne maps held in the map collections of the National Library of Ireland, Trinity College Dublin, and the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland has revealed no early- to mid-eighteenth- century map which in any degree resembles, or compares in refinement, sophistication and quality of execution, with the Dromana plan, or which contains vignettes of agricultural practice.44 This strengthens the findings of both Andrews and O’Cionnaith, that ‘Before Rocque’s arrival in Ireland, maps were relatively simple line drawings with limited artistic decoration or colouring’. Among those in Irish collections, the most accomplished examples close to the date of the Jones map are the work of Charles Frizell junior (1738-1812) and his brother Richard, agent to Lord Ely at Rathfarnham, including a map of the estate of Edward Crofton in  Roscommon, drawn in December 1777.45 Charles Frizell was among the leading surveyors of his day in Ireland, most of his work being undertaken in County Kildare,46 but apart from the work of Rocque and Scalé,  maps of a comparable quality are not generally seen until around 1780 in the work of James Williamson, for whom what mattered most was ‘the beauty and clarity of the maps’.47

Why, therefore, is the Dromana plan so atypical of Irish estate maps of the period? The Villiers-Stuart papers in PRONI show that a range of surveyors was engaged to conduct surveys of landholdings on the family’s Irish estates. Their identity is uncertain, although some were Irishmen from Cork, Kildare and Queen’s County,48 but no other survey by Henry Jones was located among these papers. Given his name, Jones was perhaps English or Welsh, but Eden’s Dictionary does not mention him,49 and a search through literature referring to both Britain and Ireland, such as the works of Andrews and O’Cionnaith, reveals no clues to his identity. There is the slight possibility that he might have been the well-known British architect Henry Joynes, but he is not known to have worked in Ireland and would have been approaching seventy in 1751.50 Our surveyor was perhaps trained in Britain and thus versed in the practice of surveying there. His interest and skill in the depiction of sailing boats possibly even suggests he had trained as a naval surveyor. His skills might have been admired by, or he could have enjoyed the patronage of, a Grandison connection; or he may have been employed as a surveyor on the modest Grandison property in Hertfordshire. Joseph Dobbin managed these English estates until his death in 1753 and some of their rents helped fund the Dromana improvements.51 Alternatively, it is known that Rocque was accustomed to employing a team of assistants,52 and it is thus possible that Jones had been employed by him to complete some of his earlier major surveys in Britain, such as his survey of London.

The 1751 plan of Dromana has a special place in the history of Irish demesne cartography. Not only does it prefigure the work of Rocque and Scalé, thereby demonstrating that elements of their style of estate mapping were already manifesting themselves in Irish estate cartography some time before their arrival in Ireland, but it also provides an apparently unique Irish example of a cartographic embellishment that had been characteristic of estate mapmaking in Britain since the early Stuart period. The presence of indicators of both schools on the Dromana plan is most probably due to the identity of the mapmaker, Henry Jones, and his likely origins in Britain ... perhaps in due course the true identity of this elusive and talented individual will be discovered?




I would particularly like to thank Barbara and Nicholas Grubb for their support and encouragement of this study, and for supplying fascinating background information; Professors Tom Williamson, John Andrews and Patrick Duffy, Dr Sarah Rutherford, Dr Arnold Horner, and Willie Cumming for their invaluable help and insight, and Phillip Rush for his surveying expertise. The staff of the map library in Trinity College Library and the manuscript reading room of the National Library of Ireland, together with Glynn Kelso and Des McCabe of the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, aided my search for similar maps of the period. Colum O’Riordan and Dr Eve McAulay of the Irish Architectural Archive answered my many questions and queries relating to the Dromana plan itself; Dr Patricia McCarthy generously shared her knowledge of Dromana House; and George Gossip kindly drew my attention to Smith’s 1746 description of Dromana. Finally, I owe a huge debt to my husband, Patrick, for sharing this journey of discovery with me, and for his knowledge of naval matters.




1      The spelling of this settlement used consistently by Jones on the plan; abbreviations in this extract have been expanded.

2      The map is now framed and protected by glass. It is thus not possible to confirm whether it is on watermarked paper or if there is any inscription on the reverse. The staff of the IAA familiar with it have no knowledge of either being the case in this instance.

3      Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI), ‘Introduction to the Villiers-Stuart papers’, 54

4      Wildernesses supplied the need for an enclosed area in gardens which were increasingly open. Here the ‘explorer’ might seek their own spiritual origins and experience the sensation of being lost, albeit comforted by the knowledge that they would emerge safely in the end, see Jellicoe et al (eds), The Oxford Companion to Gardens (Oxford UP, 1991) 604.

5      Tom Williamson, Polite Landscapes: Gardens and Society in Eighteenth-Century England (Sutton, 1998) 35-36, 40, 49, 71-73, 78; Jellicoe et al, Oxford Companion to Gardens, 167.

6      F. Aalen et al (eds), Atlas of the Irish Rural Landscape (Cork UP, 1997) 200-201

7      The numeral 5 in fact occurs twice on the plan, secondly in the south-east corner of the deer park. No buildings are shown here, but perhaps a gate.

8      Jones’ limited ability to capture a building in perspective makes it uncertain whether the two wings/offices were linked to or adjoined the main block.

9      The lodge depicted within the deer park is somewhat at odds with that depicted (3) on the perimeter of the plan.

10    The likelihood that Jones was familiar with Dromana and its key features is strengthened by his depiction of the rock house complete with its unusual concave roof; Charles Smith, The Antient and Present State of the County and City of Waterford (Dublin, 1746) 76-77

11    Jones depicts Villierstown church at a point some distance north of the village on the west of the tree-lined avenue leading to Dromana, but it was in fact built (as Pococke stated) in the centre of the village, on the eastern side of the road. Pococke notes that the chapel had yet to be built at the time of his visit in 1752, which may explain the seeming inaccuracy of the Jones plan. The church was apparently constructed between 1748 and 1760. Among the Villiers-Stuart papers is a letter dated 22 June 1755 (PRONI T3131/B/7/36) from Christopher Musgrave of Tourin (agent of Earl Grandison) to an unknown recipient suggesting that construction had started by that time, ‘My Lord has not yet determined whether he will remove the well at the east end of the church, but says he will if he find it necessary. They have laid the foundations and the piers, and are settling the walk round the church’, see Niall C.E.J. O’Brien, ‘Villierstown and the linen industry’:

12    George T. Stokes (ed), Pococke’s Tour of Ireland in 1752 (Dublin,1891) 123-124



15    An inventory of the contents of the house was also prepared around this time (PRONI T3131/F/2/17, 1755): see Patricia McCarthy, Life in the Country House in Georgian Ireland (Yale UP, 2016) 244. The rationale behind it, and whether it was associated to any degree with the preparation of the Jones plan, are unclear: P. McCarthy pers. comm., April 2017.

16    PRONI, ‘Introduction to the Villiers-Stuart papers’, 10. In 1747, Mason, presumably in acknowledgement of the prestigious nature of the Grandison lineage, executed an ignominious resettlement whereby in gratitude for having the good fortune to match himself with Lady Grandison and her noble family he allowed his personal estate to pass to his son by Lady Grandison or any other children, male or female that she might bear, and should she fail to produce an heir, to her father Earl Grandison and his rightful heirs. In other words, he cut his own collateral relations out of the succession to the Mason estate: see A.P.W. Malcomson, The Pursuit of the Heiress: Aristocratic Marriage in Ireland 1740-1840 (Ulster Historical Foundation, 2006) 68.

17    O’Brien, ‘Villierstown and the linen industry’, n.49 

18    PRONI, ‘Introduction to the Villiers-Stuart papers’, 9

19    See Aalen et al, Atlas of the Irish Rural Landscape, 187.

20    Finola O’Kane, Ireland and the Picturesque: design, landscape painting and tourism 1700-1840 (Yale UP, 2013) 69

21    O’Brien, ‘Villierstown and the linen industry’

22    Dan MacCannell, ‘How the modern map came to be’, Oxford Today vol.29 no.2 (2017) 43-46 [43]

23    S.J. Connolly (ed), The Oxford Companion to Irish History (Oxford UP, 1998) 346

24    Finnian O’Cionnaith,  ‘Land Surveying in Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth-Century Dublin’ (PhD thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth, 2011) 43

25    J.H. Andrews, ‘The French School of Land Surveyors’, Irish Geography vol.5 no.4 (1967) 275-292 [275-277]

26    O’Cionnaith, ‘Land Surveying’, 43

27    ‘John Rocque’,; Colm Lennon and John Montague, John Rocque’s Dublin: A Guide to the Georgian City (Royal Irish Academy, 2010) xi-xvi; Anne Hodge, ‘The practical and the decorative: the Kildare Estate Maps of John Rocque’, Irish Arts Review vol.17 (2001) 133-140, 133-134

28    J.H. Andrews, Plantation Acres: an historical study of the Irish land surveyor and his maps (Ulster Historical Foundation, 1985) 162-166

29    O’Cionnaith, ‘Land Surveying’, 263, 269

30    Christine Casey, ‘Joseph Ravell’s “A Map of the Town and Suburbs of Drogheda 1749” ’, Journal of the County Louth Archaeological and Historical Society vol.22 no.4 (1992) 361-363 [361-362]

31    Another member of the French School; see Andrews, Plantation Acres, 170.

32    O’Cionnaith, ‘Land Surveying’, 246-250


34    F.G. Emmison (ed), Catalogue of maps in the Essex Record Office, 1566-1860 (Essex County Council, 1947) plate XI

35    Samuel Wyld, The Practical Surveyor (London, 1725) 113

36    Presumably because the French School considered them to be inappropriate or unworthy of inclusion.

37    Edward Lynam, The Mapmaker’s Art: essays on the history of maps (Batchworth Press, 1953) 15, 19; Andrews, Plantation Acres, 156; Susanna Wade Martins, Farmers, landlords and landscapes: rural Britain, 1720 to 1870 (Windgather, 2004) fig.10

38    This might further suggest that Henry Jones was an Englishman, see p.9.


40    They are also evident on some of the Scalé surveys.

41    Arnold Horner, ‘Cartouches and vignettes on the Kildare estate maps of John Rocque’, Quarterly Bulletin of Irish Georgian Society vol.14 no.4 (Oct-Dec 1971) 57-76 [62]

42    See


44    John Andrews, Arnold Horner (TCD), Patrick Duffy (NUIM), Glynn Kelso (PRONI) and Colum O’Riordan (IAA) were all contacted personally and none could suggest any other Irish estate map that contains vignettes of agricultural practice.

45    Charles Frizell (National Library of Ireland, MS 19,672)

46    James Robinson, ‘Charles Frizell (1738-1812): a surveyor in Co. Kildare’, Dublin Historical Record vol.58 no.1 (Spring, 2005) 2-11 [3,7]

47    J.H. Andrews, ‘Surveyors and surveying in James Williamson’s autobiography’, Familia vol.2 no.7 (1991) 7-16 [9]

48    PRONI T3131/F/1/1-19 maps, surveys, valuations, etc., of parts of the Grandison estate in Co. Waterford, and the Mason estate in Co. Kildare, [c 1708] -1795; biographical information in Andrews, Plantation Acres.

49    Peter Eden (ed), Dictionary of land surveyors and local cartographers of Great Britain and Ireland 1550-1850 (Dawson, 1975)

50    Howard Colvin, A biographical dictionary of British architects1600-1840, 3rd edition (Paul Mellon Center for Studies in British Art, 1995) 565-566

51    O’Brien, ‘Villierstown’

52    Hodge, ‘The Practical and the Decorative’, 133




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