Gardiner, Luke (a. 1690–1755), MP, treasury official, and property developer, was a native of Dublin city, possibly son of James Gardiner of the Coombe. From humble beginnings, of which little is known, he became the founder of the family fortune; his combined career as banker, public servant enjoying high office, and speculative property developer made him an influential figure in the civic politics and in the development of Dublin. From early in the century until 1738 he owned a bank in Castle St. with his junior partner Arthur Hill-Trevor (qv) (c.1694–1771), later Viscount Dungannon. He amassed great wealth, and by 1717 was living on Cork Hill, having made a socially advantageous marriage (1711) to Anne, daughter of the Hon. Alexander Stewart, second son of William Stewart (qv), 1st Viscount Mountjoy of Co. Tyrone (d. 1692).
He began his public career as secretary of the Dublin ballast office on its establishment (1708), and after 1714 was appointed national examiner of the hearth tax, where he effectively reformed the tax collection system. Returned as MP for Tralee (1725–7) and subsequently for Thomastown (1727–55), he was appointed deputy vice-treasurer and also receiver general and paymaster general in 1725 to sort out the financial chaos left behind by John Pratt (qv). Responsible for the receipt, custody, and proper issue of the revenue, he exploited this in his business dealings, investing official balances temporarily on his own account. He became one of the most powerful members of the commons and was greatly esteemed by Primate Hugh Boulter (qv), archbishop of Armagh, who described him as ‘perhaps the best . . . deputy vice-treasurer that ever was in Ireland’ (Boulter, i, 163) and ‘as a thorough man of business and a great weight in this country’ (ibid., ii, 223). Boulter successfully canvassed for his elevation to the privy council (probably in 1737) for ‘we want such a one as Mr Gardiner there, to help to keep others in order’ (ibid., ii, 223). Gardiner's power and income were increased when he secured a three-life grant of the surveyor generalship of customs in 1745. He enjoyed extensive government patronage; was trustee of Barracks Chapel (1724) and keeper (‘ranger’) of the Phoenix Park (1728), where he built his country house (subsequently Mountjoy Barracks, headquarters of the ordnance survey), which included a private theatre; and became master of the revels (1736).
From the beginning Gardiner channelled his wealth into property development, making his first purchase from the corporation in 1712, with the land behind Sir John Rogerson's Quay. Between 1714 and 1729 he bought nearly the whole of St Mary's abbey estate; prime development land at the edge of the expanding city, it made him the greatest single influence on the development of the east side of the city during the eighteenth century, and the largest landowner on the north bank of the River Liffey. With his protégé Nathaniel Clements (qv), his first major development was Henrietta St. (begun in the 1720s), where he designed terraces of palatial townhouses facing each other across a broad street, an innovation that influenced later housing fashions and land values; employing distinguished architects, it became one of the most fashionable streets in Dublin and was known as ‘Primate's Hill’ – the first house (c.1724) was leased by Gardiner to Boulter, and remained the primate's official residence for the next seventy years; it was replaced (1827) by King's Inns Library. No. 10, (c.1731), became the Gardiner family townhouse and remained so until 1854 (subsequently owned by the Sisters of Charity). Though some of the houses have since been demolished, the street contains some of the oldest and grandest houses in north Dublin.
His greatest achievement was the imaginative development of Sackville (Upper O'Connell) St., begun c.1748–50. Ruthlessly demolishing houses in what was Drogheda St., he created a handsome thoroughfare (extending to the present Henry St.) and increased the breadth of the street to 150 ft (45.72 m) with a tree-lined walk, 48 ft (14.6 m) wide down the centre, marked with obelisks and known as Gardiner's Mall. It was the first large private development where a degree of uniformity was imposed by means of leases, specifying the alignment of buildings and their construction; he successfully attracted the prominent people of Dublin to the Mall, creating one of the most exclusive residential areas in the city. Gardiner was the original impetus for the new wave of urban planning; his vision probably influenced the wide streets commissioners when by the end of the century the breadth of Sackville St. was extended to the River Liffey. It became, and remains, Dublin's premier street, though only one house remains of the original development, 42 Upper O' Connell St. (built 1752). Gardiner had interests in properties throughout the city and developed Dorset St., parts of Great Britain (Parnell) St., and (with Bartholomew Mosse (qv)), Rutland (Parnell) Square.
A member of the governing bodies of many civic institutions including the King's Hospital School, Dr Steevens' Hospital, and the work house, he was a trustee of the linen board and was awarded an hon. LLD (1735) from Dublin University. Gardiner stipulated in his will that he should be buried in the most private manner and that funeral expenses were not to exceed £50. He died 25 September 1755. A portrait of Gardiner by Charles Jervas (qv), engraved by John Brooks (qv), is preserved in the NLI. Both his sons – Charles and the younger son, Sackville – and his grandson Luke Gardiner II (qv), Viscount Mountjoy, continued to develop the north inner city. Of his two daughters, Henrietta married Francis Macartney, MP for Blessington 1749–59.
Charles Gardiner (1720–69) was born 21 February 1720 and entered TCD 14 July 1733, graduating BA 1737; LLD (honoris causa) 1762; Mus D. 1764. He was keeper of the Phoenix Park (1728–56), master of the revels in Ireland (1736–56), MP for Taghmon, Co. Wexford (1742–60), privy councilor (1758), and surveyor general of the customs in Ireland (1756–69). Responsible for the development of Cavendish Row and the beginning of Rutland (now Parnell) Square, he also commissioned the façade of the since demolished St. Thomas Church in Marlborough Street, based on Palladio's Redentore in Venice. He lived with his cousin William Stewart, 3rd Viscount Mountjoy and 1st earl of Blessington at 12 Henrietta Street until his father's death in 1755; afterwards he lived at 10 Henrietta Street. He died 20 November 1769 at the Phoenix Park, Dublin. He married (1741) Florinda, daughter of Robert Norman of Lagore, Co. Meath. They had three sons and two daughters.