Spreading the word in the Irish midlands: bookselling and printing in the late eighteenth century.

The main centres of printing and book production outside Dublin in the eighteenth century and earlier tended to be the major ports: Cork, Belfast, Waterford, Limerick and Derry, with Kilkenny on the river Nore also an important centre. Surprisingly Galway, a major port from medieval times, was slow to develop a printing and bookselling trade.[2] For book distribution too the seaport towns had the advantage of better channels of communication, both overseas and inland. The raw materials for book and newspaper production were more easily available in the ports. News to form the content of newspapers arrived on packets from abroad or via the Post Office network linking Dublin with the major cities and towns. Books, paper, leather for binding, and stationery from Great Britain and the continent were imported directly through the secondary ports although Dublin continued to monopolise book imports throughout the century. Inland towns had greater costs in production and distribution, as transport costs eroded profit margins. Edmund Finn of Kilkenny must have been prepared to accept lesser profits when he advertised books ‘at Dublin prices’.[3]

There has been very little research into the book trade and readership in the Irish midlands. In the early decades of this century some important, but piecemeal, work was carried out in identifying printers working in the area in the eighteenth and particularly in the nineteenth centuries. In this paper I propose to draw together earlier work on bookselling and printing in the region during the eighteenth century, expanding it with new research.

Recent studies show that increased literacy in English created a demand for reading matter in the cities and towns from at least mid-century. Schoolbooks were printed in large quantities and distributed widely. The aristocracy and gentry ordered their books from Dublin booksellers or alternatively purchased them while staying at their Dublin houses, or while on visits to London or the continent. Bishop Edward Synge ordered books from William Ross and George Ewing in Dublin for his townhouse in Kevin Street, Dublin, and for the bishop’s palace at Elphin, County Roscommon.[4] Charles O’Conor of Belanagare, County Roscommon, received many of his books through George Faulkner in Dublin.[5] The Edgeworth family from County Longford purchased books from John Archer, bookseller in Dame Street, in 1802.[6]

Readers from outside elite circles were more dependant on local supply. Local shops stocked books from the early years of the eighteenth century, but in many towns they were not specialist bookshops, but shops which stocked luxury imported goods such as stationery, musical instruments, patent medicines, groceries, teas, wines etc. The absence of specialist bookshops in the provincial towns until well into the nineteenth century is not an indication of the unavailability of reading matter, although some nineteenth-century travellers drew this conclusion, as the situation differed from that pertaining in England and elsewhere.


Richard Brookes, The general gazetteer: or, compendious geographical dictionary (Dublin, printed by P. Wogan, 1791). Image courtesy of Dublin City Library & Archive (www.dublincitypubliclibraries.ie )

The midlands, centred on counties Westmeath, Longford and Offaly, and extending into Cavan, Roscommon, South Leitrim, Meath, Laois and North Tipperary, form a cohesive block. Sufficiently far from Dublin not to be part of its hinterland, and yet not so remote as to form a different world, the midland towns were connected by stage coach and postal networks to the capital from the first half of the eighteenth century. By 1775 stage coaches linked Dublin with Cootehill, Cavan, Athlone (2 coaches), Mullingar (2 coaches), Birr, Roscrea and Banagher.[7] The presence of shops or agents selling books or willing to order them from Dublin allowed a localised readership to develop. By the last quarter of the century local printing became viable in Birr, Mullingar, Athlone, Cavan and Roscrea, and regional newspapers were published to serve local readership.

It is difficult to estimate the percentage of reading ability in the late eighteenth century. The earliest indication of literacy levels among the whole population is from the 1841 census. The figures point to high levels of illiteracy in the region: 43% in Offaly, 45% in Longford and 46% in Westmeath. Even among those who were able to read, or to read and write, their proficiency in reading and familiarity with printed texts may have been slight. The reading public, those who wished to have access to books and periodicals, was well under 50% of the whole population of the midlands in the late eighteenth century.

Although printing did not commence in the midlands until the last quarter of the century the ordinary reading public did have access to books, periodicals and newspapers through local suppliers. As well as the shops which stocked a range of luxury items supplied from Dublin or imported from abroad, local printers also acted as outlets for Dublin-printed and imported books. For example, in 1787 and again in 1795 and 1796, William Kidd of Mullingar advertised his own publications and a selection of titles which he stocked, as well as paper, stationery, account books, music books and fiddle strings.[8] In addition, chapmen and pedlars carried a range of cheaper reading material in their packs which they purveyed through the countryside and at fairs, the assizes and other public assemblies. In 1787 William Kidd was supplying country chapmen with ‘small books on the best terms’.[9] Maria Edgeworth mentions a blind bookseller, a pedlar, in 1796, who got books for her.[10]

A number of individual booksellers are known, but the extent of their trade, their customers, and whether they dealt exclusively in books remains unknown. Book subscription lists are a valuable source for the book trade and they also give an indication of readership. Subscription agents are often named in newspaper advertisements. These individuals acted as local agents to take in subscriptions for the publisher and to supply subscribers with the published book; they often held a sample of the printed sheets to show intending purchasers what the finished article would look like. Subscription agents also existed for newspapers, taking names of intending subscribers, taking in advertisements, gathering monies due and acting as supply points for a local area. Caution is required here, however, as these persons were not always fully part of the book trade, but may have been recruited to act only for a single book subscription list.

Abraham Fynla in Cavan and John Webster in Longford were subscription agents in 1710 for the Dublin edition of The tryal of Doctor Henry Sacheverell.[11] This volume, bound in calf, was selling to subscribers at 6s. or to non-subscribers at 7s. Specimen pages of the work, showing the quality of paper and print, could be inspected at the places of subscription. Mr Giles of the Leap, Co. Offaly, acted as agent for Increase Mather’s Sixteen sermons in 1720.[12] In 1738 four agents in the midlands are named for the sale of Fénelon’s Dissertation on pure love: Erasmus Jackson in Moate, John Atkinson in Edenderry, George Pope in Mountrath and William Ridgway in Mountmellick.[13]

The London Magazine, a monthly periodical reprinted from the English edition with some material of Irish interest included, was widely distributed throughout the country. In the 1740s a number of sales agents were named for the midlands: Mr J. Brogan, Athlone (1746-47), Mr M. Bruen, Boyle, Co. Roscommon (1746-47), Mr Thomas Cuff (or Guff), Roscommon (1746-48), Mr D. Mahan, Strokestown, Co. Roscommon (1746-47), Mrs Ursula Mason, Maryborough (1747-48) and Mr Roe in Mountmellick (1746-50).[14] During the same period Mrs Roe of Mountmellick and Thomas Guff of Roscommon were subscription agents for A new life of William III, indicating more than a passing trade in books.[15] This work was sold to subscribers as a part book, issued in 12 parts from the autumn of 1746 to late February 1747. Costing one British 6d. per part, the whole volume came to 6s. This method of sale was common for country booksellers, where subscribers could acquire the book by spreading the cost over six months. In 1757 James Connor termed himself bookseller in Mullingar in the subscription list to Robert Manning’s A single combat; he subscribed to 50 copies of the book.[16]

John Wilkinson, an apothecary in Birr, was agent for the Limerick Chronicle in 1769. Five years later, in 1774, he was still involved in the book trade, when he was the subscription agent for Bowen’s Spelling book, published by John Ferrar, printer of the Limerick Chronicle.[17] In 1775 Patrick Brenan of Maryborough collected subscriptions for a pamphlet entitled A vindication of the new oath of allegiance, and the following year for Edward Ledwich’s Report on the sturdy beggars in the Queen’s County.[18] Nathaniel Jackson of Mountmellick was sales agent for Grant’s Almanack for 1775.[19] A ladies’ magazine in French, the Magazin à la mode, had as sales agent in Athlone in 1777 and 1778, one Mr Pennington.[20]

Finn’s Leinster Journal, published in Kilkenny, was distributed throughout the south midlands in the late 1760s and 1770s. It was delivered twice weekly to Bryan Cassin, Mountrath, from 1769 to 1773, James Duigan, Maryborough, in 1772 and 1773, Edward Fox, Roscrea, and Thomas Lee, Mountmellick in 1773, for subscribers in these areas.[21] A New Historical Map of England, published by subscription in 1779, was sold by Thomas Russell in Mountmellick, Joseph Menliff in Tullamore, Ephraim Proctor in Athlone, and Robert Atkinson in Edenderry, presumably a relative of John Atkinson who was in business in 1738.[22] In 1793 and 1794 Mr Hunter and Mr La Cam in Portarlington and Sylvester Nolan in Athlone were agents for the sale of the Anthologia Hibernica, a periodical devoted to Irish literary and historical topics.[23] Mrs Ryan was the agent in Birr and Edward Dudley the agent in Roscrea for the first issue of the Roscrea Southern Star in 1795.[24] While all of these newspaper and book subscription agents may not have carried on a regular trade in books it is likely that most of them did so. The presence of a bookbinder in Portarlington in 1773, James Tomlin, suggests that he had enough business to make a living.[25]

Dublin and London newspapers and monthly periodicals [Hibernian Magazine, Ladies’ Magazine, Gentleman’s and London Magazine] could be ordered through the Post Office. By the 1770s it is known that quantities of Faulkner’s Dublin Journal and the Freeman’s Journal were distributed throughout the country.[26] The Post Office clerks of the four roads, Leinster, Munster, Connaught and Ulster, administered the distribution of periodicals. In the last quarter of the eighteenth century the office of the Connaught, or west road, serving the midlands, was held successively by Thomas Lee, Thomas Jones and Henry Harrison.[27] In February 1777, giving his address as Newgate [prison], presumably as a bankrupt, Thomas Lee ‘late of the Post Office’ requested payment of his newspaper accounts ‘as he is in the greatest Want of Money to pay his Lawyers’.[28] In 1793 Henry Harrison complained in the Connaught Journal of the difficulty of collecting his newspaper money from subscribers and he decided that in future all newspapers were to be paid for in advance.[29] The collection of debts was a perennial problem for each of the Post Office clerks.

From as early as the 1770s and 1780s a number of printers were at work in Birr, Athlone, Mullingar, Cavan and Roscrea.[30] They mainly provided the reading public with newspapers, religious and educational works and ephemeral items such as notices, broadsheets, visiting cards etc. The newspapers produced locally were The Westmeath Journal (William Kidd), possibly from as early as 1773, but certainly from 1780-81 to about 1834, The Athlone Herald (Denis Daly) from 1785 to 1802, The Athlone Chronicle (Ephraim Proctor) possibly from as early as 1770 to about 1793,[31] and The Roscrea Southern Star (William and Thomas Henry Lord) from 1795. Local newspaper publishing was commercially viable in several Irish towns from mid-century, yet it was a precarious business demanding a capital outlay and depending on subscribers and advertising to make it a success.[32] Eighteenth-century local newspapers were often short-lived and because of the poor survival rate of issues it can be difficult to determine the frequency and the life of a title. In this way while it is known that Alex M’Cullogh gave a Crown Bond to pay stamp duty for the Birr Weekly Journal in 1774 it is not certain if the paper actually appeared.[33]

Three of the midlands printers of this period had been in business elsewhere before setting up in the area. Alex M’Cullogh had a printing office in Dublin from 1754, first at Skinner Row and later in Henry Street where he printed a number of different newspapers. His book production consisted mainly of pamphlets, reprints of London publications, comic operas for Smock Alley Theatre, in English and Italian parallel texts, and mathematical treatises. In 1772 he set up as printer in New Bridge Street, Birr, where he seems to have remained until about 1785. During this time he continued to pay his guild dues and he is listed in the records as being ‘in the country’.[34] His only known book printed in Birr, The young arithmetician’s guide, was printed by subscription in 1775.

Secondly William Kidd produced several books from his shop at 29 Skinner Row, Dublin, between 1771 and 1779 before transferring his trade to Mullingar, County Westmeath, in the early 1780s. Here he remained in business until the early nineteenth century and was succeeded by William Thomas Kidd and Francis Kidd, probably sons.[35] Kidd published about 15 titles from his printing offices in the Main Street, Mullingar, near the Post Office. These books were chiefly religious: what E.R. McClintock Dix referred to as ‘Puritan theology’.[36] Kidd’s work also included broadsides and jobbing work such as A list of the poll for 1800 and Co. Meath abstract of presentments (1803).[37] Kidd remained in contact with the Dublin book trade and he took subscriptions for Dublin publications such as Guthrie’s Modern geography in 1788, and Kennicott’s Family Bible in 1793-5, and in 1803 he printed a work by William Penn for John Gough of Dublin.[38] It was common for members of the book trade to sell patent medicines, many of which were distributed by the well-known Newbery booksellers from London. Provincial networks for printed materials and patent medicines were shared throughout the eighteenth century and into the nineteenth. In 1820 Kidd in Mullingar was agent for a range of medicines imported from London.[39]

T107873_Mary-Wells-ECCOImage from ECCO

Thirdly Thomas Lord, a roving printer in the Munster region in the 1770s and 1780s when he set up printing presses successively in Cork, Cashel, Youghal, Clonmel, Carlow and  Waterford, finally settled in Roscrea about 1790. The Roscrea Southern Star was begun by William and Thomas Henry Lord in 1795, probably sons of Thomas. In 1798 the Roscrea Star Printing Office in Limerick Street was destroyed by the Birr Yeomanry Corps on suspicion of printing seditious ballads.[40]

Ephraim Proctor, proprietor of the Athlone Chronicle was apprenticed to Samuel Powell in Dublin in 1743, but did not complete his service.[41] He became Athlone’s first printer about 1770. He issued a single sheet notice for letting lands for Thomas Mahon of Strokestown in 1778,[42] and is likely to have carried out other work of a similar nature. Henry Ireland was printing in Cavan in 1790. His only surviving item from the eighteenth century, a pamphlet entitled A list of the several baronies and parishes, in the County of Cavan, is of local appeal and was not meant for wider circulation. J. Hennessey is listed as a printer in Birr in the subscription list to James Hendrick’s System of natural philosophy in 1795.[43]

In all, the examples of printing from the midlands in the late eighteenth century that have survived, point to the supply of local needs, with an emphasis on local newspaper production, jobbing work, school books and religious works. Several of the larger items were printed by subscription; in this way the printer offset the initial cost of production and had an assured market for the book. The quality of presswork was not of a very high standard generally. At a time when many Dublin printers, such as James Williams, were priding themselves on the quality of production, the aspirations of provincial printers were more modest.[44]

Who were the readers in the midlands in the last quarter of the eighteenth century? Aristocratic and gentry families ordered their books from Dublin or London, and many fine libraries were established by families such as the Edgeworths at Edgeworthstown, County Longford, the Pakenhams at Pakenham Hall (now Tullynally Castle), County Westmeath, Charles O’Conor at Belanagare, County Roscommon, the Mahons at Strokestown, County Roscommon, the Earls of Rosse at Birr Castle, County Offaly, Lord Dunsany at Dunsany Castle, County Meath, Lord and Lady Portarlington at Dawson’s Court, County Laois, the Coote family at Bellamont Forest, County Cavan, and Lord Trimlestown at Trimlestown Castle, County Meath. These families were sufficiently wealthy and possessed a degree of cultivation which ensured the presence of a library in their homes. The existence of these ‘big house’ libraries gave neighbouring families and friends the opportunity of reading borrowed books, or being read to in company, thereby extending their access to books. It is known from the Edgeworth letters that the borrowing and lending of books was a common occurrence, and reading aloud from books was a regular pastime at Edgeworthstown.

Ordinary readers who might have assembled a small personal collection of books in their lifetime, are  harder to identify. Their libraries have not survived in physical form, or in printed catalogues, and most traces of book purchase and use are obliterated. Household inventories often point to the presence of a family Bible or prayer book. For example, when William Collins, a farmer from Shinrone, Co. Offaly, died in 1749 he left a Bible valued at 2s.8d.[45] These sources, however, are not complete and offer only glimpses of book ownership.

During the eighteenth century books were frequently published by subscription. When this method of publication was used and the subscription list printed as part of the book we are able to get a window on a certain segment of the book-buying public. Publishing by subscription indicates an uncertainty about the market, either on the part of author or publisher, whichever was financing the production. The gathering of a set of interested buyers ensures the viability of a publication. Readers/purchasers supported an author not only by subscribing to the book themselves, but by encouraging others to do so as well. A subscription list, therefore, is not just a list of persons interested in a particular work, but also a network of friends, acquaintances, people from the area, or linked together by some element, which may or may not be known to a modern researcher. In this way the subscription list to Mary Barber’s Poems on several occasions, published in London in 1734, reflects the wide acquaintance in Ireland and England of Dr Jonathan Swift, who was the prime activist in the subscription campaign.[46]

Subscription lists vary considerably in the amount of information which they provide. The most useful furnish full name, occupation and address. Some give only the surname, with or without an initial for the first name, and title (Mr, Mrs, Lord, Lady &c.). In the case of books published in Dublin addresses may be given only for those from outside Dublin. However, there is no consistency in the format of these lists. In general the printing of a subscription list was done with less care than the body of a work and mistakes are common.

To identify bookbuyers in the midlands a small number of books published by subscription in the last quarter of the eighteenth century can be used. Three of William Kidd’s publications are important in this regard: one published in Dublin in 1775 and two in Mullingar, in 1787 and 1796. Alex M’Culloh, in Birr, published a volume by subscription in 1775 which found a market in the region. In addition a number of Dublin-printed books also found support in the midlands at this period.

In 1775 William Kidd, while still in Dublin, published Thomas Digby Brooke’s translation from the French of The exemplary life of the pious Lady Guion.[47] A subscription list of 126 names provided 61 addresses. A surprising number of addresses were in the midlands: 41 from Athlone, two from Moate and one from Mullingar. To those may be added Mr John Black from Lessyvallen (near Athlone), Mrs Letitia Drew of Hyde Park (Kilucan), Revd. Dean Handcock, Willbrook (3 miles from Athlone), Samuel Owens Esq. of Dundermott, near Roscommon, Mr Thomas Pearson of Glassin (north of Athlone), as well as many others whose addresses are not given, such as Mrs Fetherston, from a Westmeath family.

Thomas Digby Brooke, the translator, was a cousin of Henry Brooke, poet and dramatist, and of Charlotte Brooke, author of The reliques of Irish poetry (1789).[48] Brooke would have had a network of family and friends in the midlands who encouraged others to support the work. His marriage to Susannah (or Agnes) Kirchhoffer of Marlborough Street, Dublin, in June 1769 ensured the support of Mr Francis Kirckhoffer, his wife’s relative, and possibly others of his acquaintance.[49] William Kidd may also have had contacts in the area at this period before his move to Mullingar. One of the subscribers is Ephraim Proctor, printer of Athlone, mentioned earlier, who may have intended the volume for resale.

From his Mullingar base William Kidd produced a subscription edition of A treatise on health and long life by George Cheyne in 1787. It attracted 95 names but only 6 addresses are supplied. However, several well-known local families can be identified.[50] The National Library’s copy of the book was the property of Alexander Murray Esq., Mount Murray, Co. Westmeath; he is listed in the volume as a subscriber and we know that he subscribed to books from the 1770s.[51] In 1796 Kidd again published a volume by subscription, Mary Wells’ The Triumph of Faith. One of the National Library’s copies of this work was also owned by Alexander Murray of Mount Murray. No addresses are given in this list, but once again representatives of local families can be identified.[52]

Alex M’Culloh issued one book by subscription in Birr in 1775, The young arithmetician’s guide by James Parr and Thomas Walsh.[53] It has a subscription list of 133 names, revealing a strong local support. Birr is given as the address in 23 cases, with at least a further 5 names from Co. Offaly. One person from Athlone, Bart. Whiskins, subscribed to both this work and William Kidd’s Lady Guion. One subscriber is listed with an address in Mullingar, while Cork [21], Dublin [19] and Galway [10] are well represented.

From an examination of a range of books published by subscription in Dublin in the last quarter of the century a pattern emerges of the regular subscribers from the midlands who were certainly forming libraries at this period. Inevitably the well-known county families are to the fore in supporting local publications. However, many other bookbuyers are also in evidence, some of whom may never be fully identified. The aristocracy and higher clergy come as no surprise: the Earls of Bective, Belvedere, Bellamont, Farnham, Granard, Lanesborough, Portarlington, Rosse, and Westmeath; Lords Longford and Trimlestown, and their respective wives, the Church of Ireland bishops of Elphin, Kilmore and Meath.[54] Of more interest are the individuals who appear in several lists and are therefore making a collection of books for their own intellectual and cultural needs: Henry Brooke, George Rochfort, William Steuart, M.P. of Bailieborough, County Cavan, Robert Hodson of Westmeath (this family was connected to the Goldsmiths by marriage), Dr Donnelly of Ballymahon, county Longford, Arthur French of Roscommon, Charles Henry Coote, M.P. for Maryborough, Charles O’Conor of Belanagare, Richard Levinge and Cuthbert Fetherston of Westmeath, Daniel Bagot of Offaly, Dean Richard Handcock of Willbrook, Dr Edward Naghten of Mullingar, Revd. Daniel Augustus Beaufort, Revd. Robert Bligh, Dean of Elphin, Dean Dudley-Charles Ryder of Longford, and Revd. William Digby, Dean of Clonfert.

In conclusion: The midlands supported a moderate trade in books in the second half of the eighteenth century, with printers in the main towns catering for local needs by the production of newspapers, a small range of books, mainly of local interest, and an amount of jobbing work. The region’s readers, however, were not confined to the output from these printing houses. Books, periodicals and newspapers could be got from Dublin and from abroad. Readers could get their supply of books while in Dublin or London, or they could ask friends to bring them. Reading matter could be purchased locally from shops stocking a range of luxury items. Specialist bookshops, however, were not the norm either in the midlands or elsewhere in the country outside the major cities and towns. The distribution of printed matter was small-scale, but it was able to penetrate deeply into the countryside, giving readers much greater access to the printed word than has previously been supposed. Cheaper books, pamphlets and song sheets could be obtained from travelling chapmen, or at local fairs. Monthly magazines and newspapers could be ordered through the Post Office by applying to the clerk of the Connaught Road. Books could be borrowed from friends and acquaintances. Guests were entertained in country houses by the reading aloud of books and plays by a member of the company.

The intellectual life indicated by the presence of large and important libraries in country houses at one end of the scale, and the popular interest in chapbooks, song sheets and religious works sold by the chapmen who visited local fairs, show that the midlands region had an expanding print-based culture from at least mid-century. Thus we can observe a pattern of cultural energy in the region in the second half of the eighteenth century. In this climate writers such as Charles O’Conor, Henry and Charlotte Brooke and Maria Edgeworth were able to develop and flourish. Their historical and literary interests should be seen as part of a more widespread intellectual activity in their milieu and not as emerging from a cultural vacuum.

Towns in the Irish midlands connected to the book trade:

County Cavan: Cavan

County Laois (Queen’s County): Maryborough (Portlaoise); Mountmellick; Mountrath; Portarlington.

County Offaly (King’s County): Birr (Parsonstown); Edenderry; Tullamore.

County Roscommon: Boyle; Strokestown.

County Tipperary: Roscrea.

County Westmeath: Athlone; Moate; Mullingar.

[1] An earlier version of this paper was read at the joint conference of the Eighteenth-Century Ireland Society and the Goldsmith Summer School, Ballymahon, Co. Longford, 29-31 May 1998. ‘Spreading the word in the Irish midlands: bookselling and printing in the late eighteenth century’, Long Room, 43 (1998), pp 29-37.

[2] Vincent Kinane, ‘The early book trades in Galway’ in Gerard Long, ed., Books Beyond the Pale: aspects of the provincial book trade in Ireland before 1850 (Dublin, Rare Books Group of the Library Association of Ireland, 1996), pp 51-73.

[3] Finn’s Leinster Journal, 9-13 July 1768.

[4] Marie-Louise Legg, ed., The Synge letters: Bishop Edward Synge to his daughter Alicia Roscommon to Dublin 1746-1752 (Dublin, The Lilliput Press, 1996).

[5] Robert E. Ward, Prince of Dublin printers: the letters of George Faulkner (Lexington, University Press of Kentucky, 1972). Catherine Coogan Ward, and Robert E. Ward, eds., The letters of Charles O’Conor of Belanagare, 2 volumes (Ann Arbor, University Microfilms International, 1980).

[6] F.V. Barry, Maria Edgeworth: chosen letters (London, Cape, 1931), p.108.

[7] Watson’s Gentleman’s and citizen’s almanack 1775, p.41.

[8] George Cheyne, A treatise on health and long life (Mullingar, printed by William Kidd, 1787). Richard Baxter, A call to the unconverted to turn and live (Mullingar, printed by William Kidd, 1795). Mary Wells, The triumph of faith over the world, the flesh and the devil (Mullingar, printed by William Kidd, 1796).

[9] Cheyne, op. cit., final advertisement leaf.

[10] Augustus J.C. Hare, The life and letters of Maria Edgeworth, 2 volumes (London, Edward Arnold, 1894), 1, p.43.

[11] Dublin Intelligence, 24 June 1710. The tryal of Doctor Henry Sacheverell, before the House of Peers, for high crimes and misdemeanors (Dublin, printed by A. Rhames and F. Dickson, for E. Dobson [and 6 other booksellers], 1710).

[12] Dublin Courant, 4 July 1720.

[13] Faulkner’s Dublin Journal, 30 September – 3 October 1738.

[14] The London Magazine (Dublin, printed by Edward and John Exshaw, 1746-1750).

[15] Dublin Courant, 30 December 1746-3 January 1746/7; 10-13 January 1746/7; 20-24 January 1746/7; 3-7 February 1746/7; 17-21 February 1746/7.

[16] Robert Manning, A single combat, or personal dispute between Mr Trapp and his anonymous antagonist (Dublin, printed for Philip Bowes, 1757).

[17] Limerick Chronicle, 13 March 1769; 5 September 1774.

[18] Finn’s Leinster Journal, 15-18 November 1775; 27-31 July 1776.

[19] Nicholas Grant, An almanack for the year 1775 (Dublin, printed for the Author by R. Jackson, 1775).

[20] Charles Praval, Magazin à la mode (Dublin, William Whitestone, 1777-78).

[21] Finn’s Leinster Journal, 16-19 August 1769; 4-7 November 1772; 15-19 May 1773; 27-30 October 1773.

[22] Finn’s Leinster Journal, 18-22 September 1779.

[23] Anthologia Hibernica, 4 volumes (Dublin, R.E. Mercier & Co., 1793-94).

[24] Henry Bradshaw, A catalogue of the Bradshaw collection of Irish books in the University Library Cambridge, 3 volumes (Cambridge, printed for the University Library, 1916), ii, p. 892.

[25] Freeman’s Journal, 29 June – 1 July 1773. A provincial bookbinder’s main income would come from binding account books, ledgers, registers, etc. as well as books.

[26] Freeman’s Journal, 2-5 April 1774.

[27] Thomas Lee 1768-1776; Thomas Jones 1777-1781; Henry Harrison 1782-1800. Watson’s Gentleman’s and citizen’s almanack 1768-1800.

[28] Freeman’s Journal, 13-15 February 1777.

[29] Connaught Journal, 25 July 1793.

[30] Séamus Ó Casaide, A typographical gazetteer of Ireland (Dublin, M.H. Gill & Son, 1923).

[31] The survival rate for this newspaper is very poor, Dix saw an issue of 1788 in Lord Iveagh’s Library, Farmleigh, which was numbered Vol 19, no. 56. E.R. McClintock Dix, ‘Earliest printing in Athlone’, Irish Book Lover, 2, no. 6 (January 1911), pp 84-5.

[32] Máire Kennedy, ‘Eighteenth-century newspaper publishing in Munster and South Leinster’, Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, 103 (1998), pp 67-88.

[33] O Casaide, op. cit. Robert Munter, A dictionary of the print trade in Ireland 1550-1775 (New York, Fordham University Press, 1988).

[34] National Library of Ireland: Ms. 12,125 ‘Journal of Proceedings of the Guild of St Luke the Evangelist’, V (1766-1785). Ms. 12,132 ‘Quarterage Accounts 1787-1841’, 30 October 1787.

[35] William Kidd married Miss Kitty Parker of Limerick in 1773. Finn’s Leinster Journal, 4-8 September 1773.

[36] E.R. McClintock Dix, ‘Printing in Mullingar, 1773-1825’, Irish Book Lover, 2, no. 8 (1911), pp 120-2.

[37] Patk. Murphy Vs. Robt. Cooke, a broadside (William Kidd, 1788). At a meeting of the masters of the different Orange lodges [of] the province of Ulster … resolutions, single sheet (Mullingar, printed by William Kidd, 1797). A list of the poll (Mullingar, printed by William Kidd, 1800). Co. Meath abstract of presentments (Mullingar, printed by William Kidd, 1803).

[38] M. Pollard, A dictionary of members of the Dublin book trade 1550-1800 (London, Bibliographical Society, 2000). Dublin Chronicle, 16 December 1788.

[39] Freeman’s Journal, 3 November 1820.

[40] William P. Burke, History of Clonmel (Waterford, printed by N. Harvey & Co. for the Clonmel Library Committee, 1907), p.359.

[41] National Library of Ireland: Ms. 12,131, ‘List of apprentices of the Guild of St Luke the Evangelist 1740-1830’, p.9. Munter, op. cit. Pollard, Dictionary, op. cit.

[42] Co. Roscommon To be let … lands, part of the estate of Thomas Mahon, Esq of Strokestown (Athlone, Printed by Ephraim Proctor, [1778]).

[43] E.R. McClintock Dix. ‘Printing in Birr, or Parsonstown, 1775-1825’, Irish Book Lover, 3 (June 1912), pp 177-9.

[44] James Williams issued Oliver Goldsmith’s An history of the earth and animated nature, in 8 volumes, by subscription in 1776. Great pains were taken with its production to make it an example of the art of fine printing, using the best type, ink and paper. Williams claimed that his principal desire was to put ‘a work of merit, beautifully printed, into every one’s hands’. Oliver Goldsmith, An history of the earth and animated nature, 8 volumes (Dublin, James Williams, 1776-7), ‘Advertisement by the Printer of the Irish Edition of Goldsmith’s History of the Earth, to the Public’.

[45] British Museum: Add. Mss .31,882 ‘Killaloe Court Book’, given in Irish Ancestor, 4, no. 2, (1972), pp 104-5.

[46] Mary Barber, Poems on several occasions (London, printed for C. Rivington, 1734).

[47] The exemplary life of the pious Lady Guion, translated from the French by Thomas Digby Brooke (Dublin, William Kidd, 1775).

[48] D.J. O’Donoghue, The poets of Ireland (Dublin, Hodges Figgis & Co., 1912).

[49] Freeman’s Journal, 24-27 June 1769.

[50] Among the subscribers are the Countess of Longford and Lady Longford, and also from Longford Revd. Samuel Achmuty of Ballymahon and John Achmuty Esq., Mr Thomas Coffy of Brianstown and Mr James Hagarty. Co. Westmeath is represented by Francis D’Arcy, Robert Hodson, William Judge, Lady Dowager Levinge, John Lyons from Lady’s Town, near Kilpatrick, William Lennon of Great Down, Mrs Berry of Middleton, Kilbeggan, John Meares, Sir James Nugent, the Honourable Miss Pakenham, Dr Edward Naghten from Mullingar, Mrs Purdon from Curristown and George Rochfort. Mrs Low from Newtown, Co. Offaly, and Mr James Fleming from Co. Cavan, also subscribed.

[51] He subscribed to Taylor and Skinner’s Maps of the roads of Ireland (London, 1778) ten years before.

[52] Subscribers included George and Gustavus Rochfort, Samuel Handy of Kilbeggan, Peter Longworth, Mrs Meachum, Richard Handcock, Edward Purdon, all from Westmeath families, George Beatty of a Longford family, and George Moore of Cavan.

[53] James Parr and Thomas Walsh, The young arithmetician’s guide, being a course of practical arithmetick, both vulgar and decimal (Birr, Alex. M’Culloh, 1775).

[54] The Church of Ireland bishops of this period were: Elphin, Dr Jemmett Browne 1772-75; Dr Charles Dodgson 1775-95; Dr John Law 1795-1810. Kilmore, Dr George Lewis Jones 1774-90; Dr William Foster 1790-95; Hon. Dr Charles Broderick 1795-1800. Meath, Hon. Dr Henry Maxwell 1766-1798. Watson’s Gentleman’s and citizen’s almanack 1772-1800.



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