A relative of Vanbrugh, from whom he appears to have gained (probably 1716–23) some architectural knowledge, Pearce was one of the most important Palladian architects working in Ireland in C18. His first important commission seems to have been the interior and wings at Castletown, Co. Kildare (c. 1726–7), begun by Galilei. The handsome entrance-hall with columnar screen was the precedent for several later designs for Irish country-houses. In 1731 he was appointed Surveyor of Works and Fortifications in Ireland in succession to Burgh, and was knighted in 1732. Pearce designed Bellamont Forest, Co. Cavan, (c.1729—Ireland's first mature Palladian villa), Drumcondra House, Co. Dublin (1727), and the Archiepiscopal Palace, Cashel, Co. Tipperary (c. 1727–32), but his masterpiece is unquestionably the Parliament House (now Bank of Ireland), Dublin (from 1729—completed posthumously under the direction of Arthur Dobbs (1689–1765) ), with its massive Ionic portico and projecting wings. He designed the obelisk and grotto at Stillorgan, Co. Dublin (c.1733), derived from Bernini's fountain in the Piazza Navona, Rome. His German assistant, Cassels, took over his practice after his death.
Colvin (1995);Colvin & M. Craig (eds.) (1964);M. Craig (1969, 1982);F. Hall (1949);IAR, xvii (2001), 96–106;IARY, xii (1996), 27–34;McParland (2001);Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004);QBIGS, xvii/1–2 (Jan.–June 1974), 110–14