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Descendants of Joshua Dawson Welcomed Back to Mansion House


The 300th Anniversary of Mansion House will be celebrated on the 18th May 2015. It will be 300 years since the day that the deed of sale was signed between Joshua Dawson and Dublin Corporation. The descendants of Joshua Dawson will be met by the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Christy Burke, at the Mansion House, as they return to their ancestor’s home.

In 1715 Joshua Dawson sold the Mansion House to Dublin Corporation for £3,500 and an annual rent of 40 shillings. It was also agreed that he would receive on Christmas Day, two fat capons (male hens) and a loaf of double refined sugar weighing six pounds. At the time the deed of sale was agreed on, the Dawson’s decided not to take the sugar. Lady Moyol, the widow of direct descendant Major Dawson Chichester-Clark, will be presented with this luxury item and will be joined by her daughter Tara Whitely on May 18th.

Joshua Dawson also agreed as part of the sale to build on a wainscoted oak-panelled, civic reception room, now known as the Oak Room. The Oak Room is still used for civic gatherings and receptions to this day. Tara Whitely said: “It is 300 years since my direct ancestor, Joshua Dawson and family, left the mansion House to live in Castledawson. I feel very honoured to be invited by the Lord Mayor of Dublin to return on this very special day.”

Lord Mayor, Christy Burke, said, “The mansion House has been at the centre of Dublin life for 300 years and sits proudly here on Dawson Street. I am honoured and delighted to welcome Joshua Dawson’s direct descendants back to their ancestor’s home. I look forward to presenting them with a loaf of double refined sugar which was one of the original conditions of sales,”

The land where the Mansion house stands today used to be a tract of land to the east of Grafton Street and was purchased from Henry Temple in 1705, when Dawson decided to expand Dublin eastwards from its medieval core. A map dating back as far as 1685 described the land before its present development as, ‘A piece of marshy land without even a lane crossing it’.

The Mansion House will be displaying the original 300 year old deed of sale, a copy of a portrait of Joshua Dawson and a silver cup he used dating back 1715. Mary Clarke, archivist with Dublin City Council said, “Dublin’s Mansion House is special for many reasons, not least of which is it’s continuity – it has been the Lord Mayor’s home for 300 years, since the deed of sale was signed on 18th May 1715. It is wonderful to have Joshua Dawson’s descendants with us to mark this anniversary.”

History behind the house and deed of sale

Dawson Deed  (1)

Joshua Dawson’s family came from Dawson’s Bridge in Co. Derry and he was a member of the guild of merchants and also helped to develop the village Castledawson. He was secretary to the Lords Justices of Ireland and a civil servant by profession who concentrated on the development of the city. When Dawson bought the land in 1705 he started work on it in 1707. He drained the marsh land and laid out a wide and straight road, parallel to Grafton Street and named it after himself, Dawson Street.

St. Ann’s Parish was built in 1707 by Act of Parliament and a large site was provided ‘for erecting a church and vicarage house with garden and for enclosing a churchyard and garden for Vicar’s use’, and this site was later linked to Molesworth Street for easier access to the church grounds. Two years later in 1709, Dawson issued leases to allow for the building of houses along Dawson Street. The neighbouring Duke Street and Anne Street were developed hereafter linking Dawson Street to Grafton Street.

Dublin City Assembly formed a committee in 1714 that had to search for a suitable residence for the Lord Mayor and offered to purchase the 1705 residence from Joshua Dawson. The sale was agreed on in 1715. In 1991 a small street to the south of Dawson Street was named Joshua Lane as a tribute to the original landowner.

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