Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Halfpenny, William

1248470Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 24 — Halfpenny, William1890Bertha Porter

HALFPENNY, WILLIAM, alias Michael Hoare (fl. 1752), who styles himself architect and carpenter on the title-page of some of his works, appears to have resided at Richmond, Surrey, and in London during the first half of the eighteenth century. Batty Langley describes him in his ‘Ancient Masonry’ (1736), p. 147, as ‘Mr. William Halfpeny, alias Hoare, lately of Richmond in Surrey, carpenter,’ and seems to call him indifferently William Halfpenny and Michael Hoare. His published works were written with a view to being useful to ‘those who are engaged in ye noble art of building,’ and are mainly devoted to domestic architecture. He prepared estimates as well as designs for the construction of buildings as economically as possible. His more ambitious designs for country seats are in the classical architecture of the period. De Morgan speaks of his ‘Arithmetic’ as a ‘surveyor's and artisan's book of application.’ He has been credited with the invention of the method of drawing arches by the intersection of straight lines (B. Langley, Ancient Masonry, p. 147), and his system for the formation of twisted hand-rails was well thought of in his time. He published:

  1. ‘Magnum in Parvo, or the Marrow of Architecture,’ 1722; 1728 (containing instructions in the setting out of pillars and arches).
  2. ‘Practical Architecture,’ 1st edit. n.d., 1724, 1730, 1736 (5th edit.), 1748, 1751.
  3. ‘The Art of Sound Building demonstrated in Geometrical Problems,’ 1725 (containing a design for a church in Leeds).
  4. ‘Perspective made Easy,’ 1731.
  5. ‘The Modern Builder's Assistant’ (with John Halfpenny, Robert Morris, and T. Lightoler), 1742, 1757.
  6. ‘Arithmetic and Measurement Improved by Examples,’ 1748.
  7. ‘A Perspective View of the sunk Pier and the two adjoining Arches at Westminster’ (one folio plate), 1748.
  8. ‘A New and Complete System of Architecture,’ 1749 (the British Museum copy is in French).
  9. ‘Twelve Beautiful Designs for Farm Houses,’ 1749, 1750, 1774.
  10. ‘A Plan and Elevation of the Royal Fire Works in St. James's Park’ (one folio sheet), 1749.
  11. ‘New Designs for Chinese Temples,’ four parts (parts ii. iii. and iv. with John Halfpenny), 1750, 1752.
  12. ‘Six New Designs for Farm Houses,’ 1751.
  13. ‘Useful Architecture,’ 1751, 1755, 1760 (in which the preceding work is incorporated and new matter added, including designs for bridges).
  14. ‘Thirteen New Designs for Parsonages and Farm Houses,’ 1752.
  15. ‘Rural Architecture in the Gothic Taste’ (with John Halfpenny), 1752.
  16. ‘Chinese and Gothic Architecture properly ornamented' (with John Halfpenny), 1752.
  17. 'Geometry, Theoretical and Practical,' 1752.
  18. 'Rural Architecture in the Chinese Taste,' 1750, 1752.
  19. 'The Country Gentleman's Pocket Companion and Builder's Assistant,' n.d.
  20. 'Twenty-six New Designs of Geometrical Paling' (one folio sheet).

[Works of W. Halfpenny; Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Gent. Mag. 1752, pp. 194, 586; Brit. Mus. Cat. of Printed Books; Dict. of Architecture; Universal Cat. of Books on Art; Cat. of Library of Royal Institute of British Architects; De Morgan's Arithmetic Books, p. 70; Brit. Mus. Print Room Cat.; Salmon's Palladio Londinensis (edit. Hoppus), 1755, preface; Batty Langley's Ancient Masonry, 1736, pp. 147, 391.]

B. P.