News from Nelson: Joshua Dawson

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Joshua Dawson portraitDear Friends and Fellow-Sailors!

From my vantage point on top of my Pillar I had a great view of Dublin and often wondered what was going on behind the hall door.  One of my favourite buildings was the Mansion House, the residence of Dublin’s Lord Mayor.  This was built between 1705-10 outside the city in lovely country parkland by Joshua Dawson, a civil servant who was also a property developer (nothing new under the sun, then!). 

Portrait of Joshua Dawson

Joshua also laid out a new street, calling it Dawson Street after himself (there’s also a Joshua Lane) and built a church for a new Church of Ireland parish, to be called ‘St. Ann’s’ after his lady wife, Ann Carr. 

Lord Mayor's House

In 1715, Dawson decided that he was going to return to rescue his run-down family estates near the sleepy village of Moyola, County Derry – which he re-named Castledawson (something of a pattern emerging here!) and he decided to sell his large house in Dublin to pay for the renovation needed to the estate.  In the meantime, the Dublin City Assembly was looking to buy a large house for the Lord Mayor to live in during his term of office and they agreed to buy it from Dawson for the sum of Sterling £3,500.  There were a number of conditions: Dawson was to leave wall-hangings and locks behind him; he was also to build an additional room, large enough for civic receptions (this became the famous Oak Room); and the City Assembly agreed to pay him a loaf weighing six pounds of double-refined sugar, if demanded.  As far as we know, the Dawsons of Castledawson never demanded the loaf of sugar but when the present family called to the Mansion House in May 2015 to mark the 300th anniversary of the building’s life as the Lord Mayor’s home – he formally presented a sugar loaf to the head of the family, Lady Moyola.

Descendants of Joshua Dawson

'Lady Moyola (left) and her daughter Tara receive a loaf of sugar from Lord Mayor Christy Burke'

Nelson's HeadAbout Nelson's Head

The Head from Nelson’s Pillar is on display in the Reading Room of Dublin City Library & Archive.  As Admiral Nelson is a valued member of staff, we have invited him to write his own monthly blog.

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