Ivory, Thomas (1732?–1786), architect, was born in Cork city and initially worked as an apprentice carpenter. Moving to Dublin, he worked as a gunstock carver in the workshop of the gunsmith Alderman Thomas Truelock. He later took lessons in architectural drawing from a Mr Bell Mires (probably Jonas Blaymire (d. 1763)), and in 1759 was appointed master of the Dublin Society's Architectural School. Among his pupils were John Taylor and Henry A. Baker (qv), who later worked in partnership with James Gandon (qv). He was later appointed as the official architect of the revenue board. He held both these positions until his death.
While an architect of some talent, he was frustrated in many of his projects. In 1765 he designed a series of buildings which were intended to extend the Dublin Society's premises in Shaw's Court, but these were never built. In 1768 he won the competition to design the new market house in Oxmantown Green, but this too was never built. He later submitted designs for the Four Courts, Newgate prison, and the Royal Exchange, but saw the contracts for these buildings go to other architects such as Gandon and Thomas Cooley (qv). In 1773, however, he won the competition to design the King's Hospital, more commonly known as the Blue Coat School, in Blackhall Place, with an impressive plan that incorporated baroque and Palladian elements. Construction of this building began in 1773, but parliament did not vote the necessary funds to complete the work. In an effort to obtain royal assistance, in 1776 the board of governors presented George III with a bound set of Ivory's drawings (later donated by George IV to the British Museum, where they remain). Despite these efforts no further funds were forthcoming, and Ivory resigned from the commission before the building's completion in 1780. The completed building differed considerably from Ivory's original designs. The central tower was not completed and was not replaced with a cupola until 1894. Ivory also had to abandon his plans for an arcaded quadrangle to the rear of the school. The building was later acquired by the Incorporated Law Society of Ireland.
Ivory also supervised the development of the area around the school and laid out Blackhall Place and Blackhall St., where some fine houses were built. Around 1774 he designed the bridge at Lismore, Co. Waterford, and in April 1775 he was appointed architect to the revenue commissioners. In 1781 he won the contract to design a new premises for the banker Sir William Newcomen (d. 1807) in Castle St., Dublin, usually referred to as Newcomen's Bank and latterly owned by Dublin city council. His design for this building shows that he was influenced by the work of the Scottish architect Robert Adam (1728–92), and includes some very delicate mouldings. Ivory was one of the most prolific architects of private houses and designed houses in Co. Dublin, Co. Meath, and Co. Kildare. The house he designed for Dr Cleghorn in Kilcarty, Co. Meath, is an early example of his domestic work.
He married (1 January 1764) Ellinor Lyons, at St Werburgh's church, Dublin. For the last years of his life he suffered from ill-health, and when his 12-year-old son died in December 1786 he took a dramatic turn for the worse, and died on 27 December 1786 at his house at Mount Pleasant, Ranelagh, Co. Dublin. He was survived by his wife and two unmarried daughters, Elizabeth and Sophia. He also made provision in his will for his nephew, William Ivory McCullough. After his death the Dublin Society purchased some of the contents of his library from his widow. He is said to be the central seated figure in a group portrait by John Trotter (d. 1792) in the boardroom of the Blue Coat Hospital.