Cresy, Edward (DNB00)

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CRESY, EDWARD (1792–1858), architect and civil engineer, was born at Dartford, Kent, on 7 May 1792, and was educated at Rawes's academy at Bromley in the same county. He became a pupil of Mr. James T. Parkinson, architect, of Ely Place, who, in addition to a moderate private practice, was entrusted at that time with the laying out of the Portman estate. After the termination of his articles, with the object of perfecting himself in the financial branches of his profession, he served two years with Mr. George Smith of Mercers' Hall, and in 1816, accompanied by his friend and colleague George Ledwell Taylor, he undertook a walking tour through England for the purpose of studying, measuring, and drawing the cathedrals and most interesting buildings. The next three years found Cresy and his friend engaged in similar pursuits on the continent; chiefly on foot, they journeyed through France, Switzerland, Italy, and Greece, to Malta and Sicily, and back again by Italy and France home. The chief aim of their studies was to present the dimensions of each building in English measurements, and the foliage and ornaments one quarter of the real size. Arrived again in England the two friends issued as some result of their labours, ‘The Architectural Antiquities of Rome, measured and delineated by G. L. Taylor and E. Cresy,’ 2 vols. fol., London, 1821–2 (new edition, including the more recent discoveries [edited by A. Taylor], fol., London, 1874); and a few years afterwards ‘Architecture of the Middle Ages in Italy illustrated by views … of the Cathedral, &c. of Pisa,’ fol., London, 1829. A third work on the architecture of the Renaissance was to have followed, but after the publication of two parts, was abandoned from want of encouragement.

Cresy hastily accepted an engagement in Paris, which although successful interfered with his professional prospects at home. His practice was almost exclusively private, as he considered the system of open competition to be injurious to art. In his capacity of a superintending inspector under the general board of health Cresy did good work in a branch of engineering then all but unknown. He gave evidence before the Health of Towns and Metropolitan Sanitary Commission, furnished materials for the ‘Appendix to Report on Drainage of Potteries,’ 1849, &c., and wrote the ‘Report as to the Fall of the Extension of the Main Sewer from the Ravensbourne to the Outlet,’ 1855, both of which were embodied in the reports of the Metropolitan Commission of Sewers. Among his other works are:

  1. ‘A Practical Treatise on Bridge Building,’ fol., London, 1839.
  2. ‘Illustrations of Stone Church, Kent, with an historical account,’ fol., published for the London Topographical Society, London, 1840.
  3. ‘An Encyclopædia of Civil Engineering,’ 8vo, London, 1847 (2nd ed. 8vo, London, 1856).
  4. [With C. W. Johnson] ‘On the Cottages of Agricultural Labourers,’ 12mo, London [1847].

Cresy became a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1820, and was also a member of the British Archæological Association. He died at South Darenth, Kent, on 12 Nov. 1858 (Gent. Mag. 1858, v. 654). By his marriage, on 17 March 1824, to Eliza, daughter of W. Taylor of Ludgate Street (ib. xciv. pt. i. p. 367), he left issue two sons and two daughters. His eldest son, Edward, followed his father's profession, and became principal assistant clerk at the Metropolitan Board of Works, and architect to the fire brigade. He died at Alleyn Road, Dulwich, on 13 Oct. 1870, in his forty-seventh year (Times, 14 Oct. 1870; obituary). Mrs. Cresy is known by her translation, ‘with Notes and Additional Lives,’ of Milizia's ‘Memorie degli Architetti antichi e moderni,’ 2 vols. 8vo, London, 1826.

[Taylor's Autobiography of an Octogenarian Architect; Builder, xvi. 793, xvii. 166, xxviii. 854; Will reg. in the Principal Registry, 746, 1858.]

G. G.