ROCQUE, JOHN (c.1704-1762). A Survey of Kilkea, one of the Manors of the Right Hon.ble James Earl of Kildare. MANUSCRIPT ESTATE SURVEY ON PAPER [Dublin], 1760
Large oblong 2° (530 x 730 mm). Title page with grey wash drawing by H.D. Hamilton of a grand gateway incorporating vignettes of a military encampment and a view of Kilkea Castle, the gateway framing an index of the 33 farms in the manor, their sizes in Irish and English acres, the foreground decorated with a cannon and soldiers, 33 elaborately decorated Estate plans, pencil, ink and wash on paper, detailing the various holdings of the Kilkea Manor, including Upper mahogany, Sheriffs Hill, Carigeen, Dollands Town, Blackcastle, each plan set within a double black ruled border, the estate survey detailing the fields, slopes, heaths, sheep pens, trees, rocks, ponds, roads, arable pasture, woods, farms and houses, and decorated with elaborate roccoco cartouches incorporating buccolic vignettes, North arrows supported or decorated by putti, scale bars in Irish and English miles, inset often set in a 'scroll' cartouche, reference indices of holdings listing acreages, the 16 plans annotated in pencil in a contemporary hand with field ownerships, and amended acreages. (Title page and plan of Beacons Town shaved at right margin with loss of ruled border, the plan of Kilkea torn and restored on lower centre fold, light spotting affecting a few sheets). Contemporary red morocco gilt, covers with gilt dentelle borders, central gilt cartouche lettered in gilt (spine neatly restored with old spine panels laid down, edges rubbed). Provenance: James Fitzgerald, 20th Earl of Kildare (Carton House armorial bookplate).
A HIGHLY FINISHED, BEAUTIFULLY EXECUTED SURVEY OF THE KILKEA ESTATE OF THE EARL OF KILDARE, SITUATED 40 MILES SOUTHEAST OF DUBLIN, DRAWN UP BY JOHN ROCQUE, ONE OF THE FINEST ENGLISH SURVEYORS OF THE MID- 18TH-CENTURY. John Rocque, a French Huguenot, came to London, around 1709, later training as a surveyor/engraver; from 1734 he worked alongside his brother, a landscape gardener, and started doing garden plans, many of them commissions from the crown or leading noblemen, including plans of Windsor Castle and Kensington Palace. By 1737 he moved on to mapping English towns, starting his survey of London in 1737, (completed 1744), as well as surveys of Bath (1743), Exeter (1744) Shrewsbury (1746). In 1751 his career developed rapidly with his appointment as Topographer to the Prince of Wales. Between 1754 and 1760 he set up his business in Dublin, firstly at Dame Street, then at Batchelors walk. Initially enticed to Ireland by the commission for his survey of Dublin (published 4 sheets, 1756), he also produced a survey of County Armagh, in 1760, and many other town surveys around Dublin and County Kildare including Thurles (1755) and Athy (1756). In Dublin he was assisted by Matthew Wren. In 1760 Rocque was appointed Topographer to the King on the accession of the Prince of Wales to the throne, and he returned to London to develop his business.
Kilkea Castle is one of the oldest continuously inhabited castles in Ireland, built in 1180 by a Norman Knight, Sir Walter de Riddlesford then passing on to the Fitzgeralds. In the late 18th-century it was in the hands of James Fitzgerald (1722-1773), 20th Earl of Kildare, who went on to become the 1st Duke of Leinster in 1766, and Lord Deputy of Ireland in 1756. The Earls of Kildare were an important family with their main family seat at Carton House, Maynooth, as well as Leinster House in Dublin and at Carlton House, Terrace, London, and large estates in County Kildare. John Rocque would have been the obvious choice for such a commission he was very well connected and an experienced sureyor, and this resulting survey shows his work at its finest. The decoration of the cartouches is very whimsical, the putti striking poses, trysting, kite flying, playing skittles, harvesting, bathing, and fighting, the buccolic vignettes showing river, field and village scenes, as well as views of Carigreen House, Bolton House and Kilkea Castle, these last three all signed by Matthew Wren, Rocque's assistant in Ireland. Wren went on to help John Andrews with his surveys 1766-68, returning to Dublin in 1770. Bendall R225.