[Sir] Richard Griffith (1784-1878)

Notes


Life
[first baronet;] b. 20 Sept., Hume St., Dublin, son of Richard Griffith (1752-1820); lieut. in Royal Irish Artillery, 1799; resigned at Act of Union; ed. as engineer in London and Edinburgh; returned to Ireland, 1808; surveyed Leinster coalfields for RDS, 1808; engineer to Commissioner on Bogs of Ireland, 1809-1812 [var. to 1810]; appt. RDS Professor of Mining and Geology, 1812; Wollaston medal for geological map, 1815; appt. govt. inspector of mines; appt. Commissioner of Valuation on passage of Valuation Act, 1827;
 
superintendent of road construction in south, 1822-30; Commissioner of Valuation, 1828-68 (working with Patrick Ganly, 1809-99, who discovered cross stratification); held responsibility for valuations in conjunction with the projected 6-inch Irish map series of the Ordnance Survey Commission; prepared Geological Map of Ireland (finalised 1855); surveyed every parish and townland from 1830; issued The Valuation of Ireland, basing valuations on soil and subjacent rock, establishing yardstick of ‘Griffith’s valuation’;
 
deputy chairman of Board of Works, 1846; Chairman, 1850-64; Hon. LLD TCD, 1851; his Geological Map of Ireland adopted by Ordnance Board in 1855; created baronet, 1858; d. 22 Sept., Fitzwilliam Place; his valuations of Irish parishes and townlands are esteemed book collector’s items, generally printed by Thom; there is a marble bust by Sir Thomas Farrell in the RDS. ODNB CRO DIB DIH FDA

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Works
Instructions to Valuators [...] for the Uniform Valuation of Lands and Tenements (Dublin: Porter 1839), 98pp.,Valuation of the Several Tenements Situate in County of Antrim (Dublin: Thom 1859), 48pp. Valuation of [part of] Union of Ballymena (Thom 1862), folio, 306pp.; Valuation of [part of] Union of Ballymoney, Co. Londonderry (Thom 1863), folio, 45pp. Valuation of [part of] Union of Banbridge (Thom 1863), folio; Valuation of [part of] Union of Kilkeel, Co. Down [Kilcoo, Kilkeel, Kilbroney, &c.] (Thom 1863), folio; Valuation of [part of] Union of Limavady (Thom 1848), folio; Valuation of [part of] Union of Lisnakea, Co. Fermanagh (Thom 1862), folio, 177pp. Valuation of [part of] Union of Lurgan (Thom 1864), 84pp. [ &c.]

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Commentary
John O’Donovan: O’Donovan criticised the results of Griffith’s using what he called ‘meresmen’ in his survey: ‘One thing I have to say is that people do not agree with Mr Griffith in dividing the several parishes into townlands and that many of the divisions set down by him as distinct townlands are considered by the people as small divisions of real townlands.’ (Quoted in M. Flanagan, ed., Letters containing Information Relative to the Antiquities of the Country of Roscommon [ … &c.], 2 vols., Bray 1927; cited in Cathy Swift, ‘John O’Donovan and the Framing of early Medieval Ireland in the Nineteenth Century’, in Bullán, 1, 1, Spring 1994, p.94.)

Gordon Herries Davies, in ‘Irish Thought in Science’ (in Richard Kearney, ed. Irish Mind, 1984): ‘It needs to be emphasised that Griffith’s geological map of Ireland is just as much a manifestation of the Irish creative genius as is Orpen’s The Holy Well [and that] we see an Irish mind at work just as surely as we see de Valera’s mind at work in Ireland’s 1937 constitution’ (p.310).

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Kevin Whelan, ‘Physical Regions’, in Whelan et al., eds., Atlas of the Irish Rural Landscape: Richard Griffith, Esq. ‘Bogs of Ireland’, 1810-14, product of Bog Commission (p.109), undertaken with large-scale reclamation in mind; Geological Survey of Ireland, 1845-1887, produced one-inch maps based on six-inch sheets, with memoirs; Turf Development Board, 1934; Bord na Mona, 1947.

Kevin Whelan, ‘The other within: Ireland, Britain and the Act of Union’: Richard Griffith, Irish Whig MP saw disadvantages of Union but considered they would be ‘more than counterbalanced by the demolition of the most corrupt assembly that ever disgraced a nation.’ (Letter to T. Pelham, in Pelham Papers, BL Adds. MS 33,106, ff.169-72; Whelan, op. cit., in Dáire Keogh & Kevin Whelan, eds., Acts of Union: The Causes, Contexts and Consequences of the Act of Union, Dublin: Four Courts Press 2001, p.19.)

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References
Emerald Isle Books (Cat. 1995) lists Instructions to Valuators ... for the Uniform Valuation of Lands and Tenements (Dublin: Porter 1839), 98pp., with map of townlands of Parish of Moira, Co. Down and specimen listings of Moira area; Do. [another edn.], bound with add. instructions to valuators (Dublin: Thom 1844); Valuation of the Several Tenements Situate in County of Antrim (Dublin: Thom 1859), 48pp. [Ballywill, Lwr. Dunluce, Ballyrashane, Billy, Duluce]; Valuation of Clogher, situate in Counties Monaghan and Tyrone [Clogher, Carnteel, &c.] (n.d.); Valuation of Part of Coleraine [...] Co. Londonderry (Dublin: Thom 1859), 203pp. [Coleraine, Aghadowey, Errigal, Macosquin, Dunboe, Ballywillan, Ballyargran, &c.]; Valuation of [part of] Union of Ballymena (Thom 1862), folio, 306pp. [Parish Kirkinriola, Ahoghill, Portglenone, Craigs, Rasharkin, Grange, Dunaghy, Duneane, Skerry, Ballyclug, Connor, &c.]; Do., Valuation of [part of] Union of Ballymoney, Co. Londonderry (Thom 1863), folio, 45pp. [Ballymoney, Kilrea, Tamlaght O’Crilly, Aghadowey, &c.]; Do., Union of Banbridge (Thom 1863), folio [Ballymore, Kilmore, Mullaghbrack]; Do. Union of Kilkeel, Co. Down [Kilcoo, Kilkeel, Kilbroney, &c.] (Thom 1863), folio; Do., Union of Limavady (Thom 1848), folio, [Faughanvale, Banagher, Dungiven, Boveevagh, Tamlaght Finlagan, Dramachose, Magilligan, &c.]; Do., Union of Lisnakea, Co. Fermanagh (Thom 1862), folio, 177pp. [Aghalurcher, Aghavea, Kinawley, Barony of Knockninny, &c.]; Do., Union of Lurgan (Thom 1864), 84pp. [Tullylish, Donaghcloney, Magheralin, Moira, Shakill, &c.]

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Belfast Public Library holds Geological and Mining Survey [... &c] (1829); SEE ALSO Cathach Bks., Cat. 12, Geological and Mining Surveys of Coal Districts of Counties Tyone and Antrim in Ireland (Dublin 1829; rep. ed., Dublin 1980).

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