Antoine D’Esca: first professor of French and German at Trinity College Dublin (1775-1784).

Two professorships of modern languages were established at Trinity College Dublin during the provostship of John Hely-Hutchinson (1774-1794), one to teach French and German, and the other Spanish and Italian, although a degree course was not instituted until 1873. Attendance at the lectures was optional and students paid an extra fee for them. In 1775 Antoine D’Esca was appointed to teach French and German, and R. Antonio Vieyra Transtagano, a Portuguese emigré from London and author of a Portuguese English dictionary, was appointed to teach Italian and Spanish.[1] The two professors were granted honorary degrees of LL.B. by the college on their appointment.[2]

Antoine D’Esca’s background is obscure: born c.1732, his burial record at the French non-conformist church of Peter Street states that he was from Berlin.[3] This suggests that D’Esca was descended from an exiled Huguenot family, as Berlin was the centre of Huguenot life in Prussia with the number of French exiles there put at c.6,600 in 1750.[4] It also suggests a reason for his having been chosen to teach the combination of French and German languages.

John Rocque, An exact survey of the city and suburbs of Dublin (London, 1756), Peter Street French Church is marked FC. Robert Pool and John Cash, Views of the most remarkable public buildings, monuments and other edifices in the city of Dublin (Dublin, 1780).

D’Esca’s main interest, however, seems to have been in French, to the neglect of his German studies. Monies were granted to him from time to time to purchase stock for the college library, which were mainly spent on French books. In 1781 he was awarded £11.7s.6d. to cover a subscription to an edition of Voltaire’s works.[5] This corresponds exactly to the price of the twelve volume quarto set of Voltaire’s Oeuvres with plates, advertised by Luke White, the Dublin bookseller, in November 1777.[6]

It has been claimed that D’Esca left no academic impression on the college. This might well have been the case, especially given the nature of the appointment, to teach French and German as an additional accomplishment to what were held to be the essentials of a solid education. McDowell and Webb considered the early professors of modern languages as no more  than ‘licensed grinders’ who had to ‘supplement their slender salary and the small income they derived from undergraduates’ fees by taking in other pupils from outside the college’; they saw them as ‘language teachers of no literary pretensions’.[7]

Hibernian-Jn-1-4-June-1781

Hibernian Journal, 1-4 June 1781.

However, a copy of Voltaire’s Letters curieuses et intéressantes in the British Library shows D’Esca to have been the compiler and editor.[8] The titlepage gives the editor as the cryptic ‘M.A.D.’ The volume was printed in Dublin by William Hallhead and advertised as a new book in June 1781 at 5s.5d. bound or 4s.10½d. sewed, rising by July 1781 to 5s.11½d. bound or 5s.5d. sewed.[9] The Avertissement in the book is dated ‘Trin.Col. 26me Mars’. The copy in the British Library was the property of Henry George Quin, presented to him ‘by the Editor Monsieur D’Esca’ and dated 1781 in manuscript on the flyleaf. It was Quin’s practice to sign all his books ‘Hen: Geo: Quin’ with the date of purchase, or in this case of presentation.[10]

Quin entered Trinity in 1776, graduating in 1781; he may well have attended D’Esca’s lectures while at college. He was a keen book collector and bequeathed his core collection of 110 treasures to the college.[11] The copy of Lettres curieuses et intéressantes was part of his larger library and therefore not part of the bequest. In 1891 the sale catalogues of the book auctions which he attended were presented to Trinity College Library and Veronica Morrow notes that Quin books turn up on the market from time to time.

In spite of his modest salary D’Esca himself was an avid collector of books, especially in French. After his death on 26 December 1784 they were sold at auction by James Vallance, the sale continuing from the 13 until at least the 25 February 1786. The sale consisted of the libraries of ‘Anthony Desca late professor of French and German in Trinity College Dublin, and another gentleman’. More than 5,000 volumes were involved, ‘being the best collection in that line ever offered to sale by auction in this kingdom.’[12] Unfortunately no copy of the auction catalogue seems to have survived.

D’Esca’s commitment to the French language is clear and his purchase of Voltaire’s works for the library in 1781 is testimony to his interest in Voltaire in the year of the publication of his own edition of the Lettres. He was also aware of forthcoming editions of Voltaire as he states in the Avertissement that he hopes ‘que l’on inserera celles [letters] de M. de Voltaire dans l’édition de ses Oeuvres que Mr Panckoucke fait imprimer.’ It is not known what his lectures were like nor how he influenced or encouraged his students in the learning of the French language and the appreciation of its literature.

This note was first published in Long Room, 38 (1993), pp 18-19.

Images courtesy of Dublin City Library & Archive (www.dublincitypubliclibraries.ie )

[1] Anthony Vieyra Transtagano, A dictionary of the Portuguese and English languages (London, printed for J. Nourse, 1773), ESTC T82137. R. Antonio Vieyra Transtagano (1712-1797) was teacher of Latin and Arabic in London before his appointment to Trinity College.

[2] G. D. Burtchaell and T. U. Sadleir eds, Alumni Dublinenses (Dublin, 1935); M M. Raraty, ‘The chair of German at Trinity College, Dublin, 1755-1866, Hermathena, 102-105 (1966-7), p. 54.

[3] T. P. Lefanu ed., Registers of the French non-conformist churches of Lucy Lane and Peter Street, Dublin (Aberdeen, Publications of the Huguenot Society of London, XIV, 1901), p.125.

[4] Stefi Jersch-Wenzel, ‘De l’importance des Huguenots dans l’économie: l’example de Magdebourg’ in M. Magdelaine et R. von Thadden, Le refuge Huguenot (Paris, 1985), p.186.

[5] Raraty, p. 54.

[6] Hibernian Journal, 3-5 November 1777.

[7] R. B. McDowell and D. A. Webb, Trinity College Dublin 1592-1952: an academic history (Cambridge, 1982), pp 57-8.

[8] Letters curieuses et intéressantes de Monsieur de Voltaire, et de plusieurs autres personnes, distinguées par leur rang & par leur mérite. Avec des reflexions & des notes par M.A.D. (à Dublin, chez W. Hallhead, 1781), ESTC T154631.

[9] Hibernian Journal, 1-4 June 1781. Saunder’s News Letter, 7 July 1781.

[10] Veronica Morrow, ‘Bibliotheca Quiniana: a description of the books and bindings in the Quin Collection in the library of Trinity College Dublin’, University of London thesis for Diploma in Librarianship 1970.

[11] Veronica Morrow, ‘Bibliotheca Quiniana’, in Peter Fox ed., Treasures of the library, Trinity College Dublin (Dublin, 1986), pp 184-96.

[12] Dublin Journal, 4-7 February 1786; 23-25 February 1786.

‘At the exchange’: the eighteenth-century book trade in Cork.

 

Introduction:

From its construction in the first decade of the eighteenth century the new exchange in Castle Street became the focal point of the Cork book trade. The concentration of public buildings housing the legal and civil administration in the Main Street/Castle Street area created a demand for stationery, books and newspapers. Over thirty booksellers can be identified trading here during the eighteenth century, some succeeding others in the same premises. The exchange acted as a central point for dissemination of information in the legal and commercial world. Bills, proclamations and printed addresses were ‘put on the Post within the new exchange for public view’.[2] Throughout the eighteenth century all city council orders were ‘posted up on the exchange’.[3] Sales by public cant were held at the exchange, or in the taverns and coffee houses nearby. In February 1754 a pleasure boat was sold at the exchange for the benefit of the infirmary, and in October of the same year the ship Lucy of Cork was sold there.[4] The exchange accommodated the town clock, where previously the clock on the steeple of Christchurch acted in this capacity.[5] The exchange was the hub of commercial and civic life until the establishment of the commercial buildings on the South Mall in 1813. Having outlived its use, and being considered an obstruction to traffic jutting out into Main Street, it was demolished in 1837.

Situation and commercial importance:

The medieval core of Cork city was contained within the divided channels of the river Lee. Main Street followed the central ridge from north to south, ending with the towers of the city walls at North Gate and South Gate bridges. Castle Street was situated in the centre of the walled city, running east-west from Queen’s castle to Roche’s castle. In the medieval period it fronted onto a water channel, the medieval ‘key’ of Cork, the street occupying the northern quay. This waterway was able to accommodate ships, as shown on the Pecata Hibernia map of 1595. By the eighteenth century the channel was arched over and the water culverted beneath the street.[6] In 1760 the corporation ordered that the exchange slip, which had lately been covered in, be converted into a shop, allowing access to the water by a trap door, in case of accidental fire.[7] Castle Street joined Main Street to the west, splitting it into North Main and South Main Streets. At its eastern end it met Tuckey’s Quay (later Grand Parade) to the south, and Cornmarket/Coal Quay to the north, and from the early eighteenth century had its continuation eastwards into Paul Street. This situation gave Castle Street its commercial importance, forming as it did the cross-axis of the old city.

Castle Street retained its economic ascendancy throughout the eighteenth century. The fine new exchange, begun in 1708 and opened in May 1710, celebrated the dominance of trade in the capital of the south. Located at the south-western corner of Castle Street at Main Street, it was built on the foundation of the medieval Paradise tower, later Roche’s castle. In 1732 Edward Lloyd considered the exchange more beautiful than the Dublin one and ‘exceeding that in Bristol, or the changes in any city or port in England excepting the magnificent building of the Royal Exchange in London’.[8] In 1750 Smith described it as:

an handsome regular structure of hewn stone. The front consists of five arches, with three others next the passage to the street. The middle arch or principal entrance is adorned with columns of the Doric order, over which are fluted ones of the Ionic order; … On the top is an elegant cupola covered with lead; a gilt ball, cross and dragon.[9]

Exchange-Cork-1750

Engraving of The Exchange, Cork, from Charles Smith, The antient and present state of the county and city of Cork, 1750.

The city court house was located south of the exchange, and the county court house south of King’s castle at the eastern end of Castle Street. Court Lane, running parallel to Castle Street, linked the two court houses. The exchange itself accommodated the council chamber on its upper floor and also provided space for the grand jury at the assizes and sessions, the mayor’s office, and an office for keeping the council records.[10] The grouping of offices dealing with city and county administration created demand for the services of bookseller, bookbinder, stationer and printer. Legal and administrative stationery and printed forms were staples of the trade. Information in book, pamphlet and newspaper form, was increasingly necessary for officials at all levels. Proclamations and notices were issued regularly, and local printers carried out these tasks for the corporation and the courts.

The concentrated central area continued to hold its commercial superiority until the last quarter of the eighteenth century, when the city was beginning to expand as the marshes to the east and west were drained and reclaimed, and the suburbs began to be developed.[11] Work continued in arching over the water channels, in the early 1780s the waterway at the Long Quay was covered and the new thoroughfare became St Patrick Street. At the same period the navigable channel at Tuckey’s Quay was covered in and Grand Parade formed. Newspaper advertising shows that the luxury trades were mainly located in the central areas of the city, first in the old core, and later in the eastern areas at George’s Street and Patrick Street: booksellers, stationers, confectioners, florists, perfumers, peruke makers, silversmiths, drapers, seed merchants, cabinet makers, cutlers and coach builders. In 1739 the mayor suggested that the post office be ‘kept near the exchange, being the centre of this city.’[12] William Flyn, printer and bookseller at the Shakespeare, ‘near the exchange’, pointed to the commercial advantages of the area when advertising his shop and apartments ‘under the exchange coffee house’ in 1775: ‘the situation for any kind of business is superior to most in the city’.[13] In the last two decades of the century bookselling businesses spread out from Castle Street, Main Street and Paul Street, into the newly formed Patrick Street, Grand Parade and Grattan Street.

From the early years of the century booksellers set up business in the vicinity of the exchange. From about 1715 Thomas Cotton, Andrew Welsh and John Redwood had bookshops in Castle Street, Welsh’s and Redwood’s located ‘near the exchange’. Thomas Pilkington was in Castle Street from 1729, succeeded by his widow, Martha, at the same address early in the 1740s. Cornelius Sullivan was ‘at the exchange coffee house’ in Castle Street in 1736. From the 1750s Castle Street was the address of Phineas and George Bagnell, ‘opposite the exchange coffee house’; Timothy Cronin ‘under the English coffee house’;[14] George and James Knight, and later Henry and John Knight. Eugene Swiney was on Main Street ‘near the exchange’ from 1754, having moved from Paul Street. John Bardin was at the Bible, Castle Street, in 1763, advertising imported paper and merchants’ account books, moving to Paul Street, where he died in 1773. William Flyn was at the Shakespeare, ‘near the exchange’, from 1764 to 1775, when he moved to ‘south-side of the exchange’. George Busteed, printer of the Cork Chronicle, was in Castle Street in the 1760s, moving to Paul Street in 1766. John Busteed, printer of the Hibernian Morning Post, was in Castle Street ‘near the exchange’ in the early 1770s, having moved from Paul Street. Thomas Lord had his bookshop and circulating library in Castle Street ‘under the exchange coffee house’ in 1770.[15]

Mary Edwards opened her new bookshop at 3 Castle Street, ‘next door to the exchange coffee house’ in June 1770, where she proposed to stock the ‘greatest variety of modern books’ from London and Dublin, as well as paper and stationery. She particularly targeted country dealers, offering to supply them ‘on the lowest terms’.[16] Her son and successor, Anthony Edwards, was at the same address from 1781, ‘opposite the new merchant’s coffee house’, until he moved to 6 Castle Street, where he remained until 1815, trading as Edwards and Savage from about 1806. Thomas Saunders Knox spent two years in Castle Street from 1776 to 1778, publishing the Cork General Advertiser, before moving to Ennis. In 1773 Michael Matthews had his bookshop in Castle Street, ‘opposite the exchange coffee house’, where he stocked books, pictures, stationery, ‘rare and curious pieces out of print and very scarce’.[17] From his bookshop and circulating library ‘under the exchange’ he offered the best prices for libraries and parcels of books in 1777.[18] In 1781 the bookshop in the ‘small house under part of the exchange’ was to be set by public cant.[19] Matthews continued to occupy the premises, paying an annual rent of £4.19s. until 1791, when his ‘shop and bulk’ was assigned to the trustees of the new coffee house, and he moved to North Main Street.[20]

Jeremiah Sullivan was ‘opposite the exchange’ from 1777. Thomas White carried on business at 55 the exchange, ‘opposite the west gate of the exchange’ on Main Street from 1770, occupying Eugene’s Swiney’s former bookshop, and moving to 4 Castle Street in 1793. Robert Dobbyn, printer of the Cork Weekly Journal, was at 9 Castle Street from 1779, moving to Bachelor’s Quay about 1787. The 1790s saw John Connor’s bookshop and circulating library established at 17 Castle Street, at the corner of Cornmarket, James Haly, son-in-law of William Flyn, at the King’s Arms, exchange, and Michael Harris at 6 Castle Street. In 1794 Thomas Boate’s ‘Stationary, music, map and print ware-house’ removed to 3 new buildings, Castle Street, under the Tontine coffee house. He advertised maps, prints, music and merchants’ account books, as well as children’s and school books, magazines and plays, and undertook ‘all manner of book-binding and printing work executed with neatness and dispatch’.[21] In 1797 Hugh Massey, bookbinder and stationer, conducted his business on Main Street ‘under the old mercantile coffee-house.’[22] In the first decade of the new century Castle Street accommodated the bookshops of William West, compiler of West’s Cork directory 1810, John Harris, at the Southern Reporter office, Jeremiah Geary at the Stanhope Press printing office, occupying Haly’s old premises at the King’s Arms, exchange, John Stephenson, printer of The Patriot, at 10 Castle Street, White and Shelborne, paper manufacturers, and Joseph and Robert McMullen, ‘at the exchange’.

Cork West

Castle Street, the bookshop of William West, printer, bookseller and stationer, and the shop of White and Company, paper manufacturers, near the exchange, c.1810.

Coffee houses and taverns clustered here also, frequented by the better-off citizens in search of news and gossip. At mid-century Cork had two coffee houses, the Exchange and English coffee houses, situated opposite each other on Castle Street, and a number of prominent taverns: the Cork Arms and Turk Head taverns in Castle Street, and the Raven opposite Christchurch. In 1750 Smith noted: ‘Here are only two coffee-houses, both near the exchange; they are much frequented, and besides the English news-papers, have most of the Dublin ones: the better sort are fond of news and politics, and are well versed in public affairs.’[23] By 1777 Thomas Campbell reported: ‘One of the coffee-houses is conducted somewhat like those in London. The taverns are pretty good, and very cheap…’[24] The merchant’s coffee house, situated at the corner of Castle Street and North Main Street, subscribed to Finn’s Leinster Journal from at least 1778.[25] In 1795 it was reopened by D. Manly, supplying newspapers from London and Dublin, three Cork papers, two each from Waterford and Limerick, Finn’s Leinster Journal, the Northern Star and Londonderry Chronicle.[26] The Tontine coffee house was opened in Castle Street in 1793, the charter to raise the fund for its establishment had among its shareholders two booksellers, Thomas White and Jeremiah Sullivan.[27]

Coffee houses traditionally occupied the first floor or parlour apartments, with shops or other commercial concerns at street level. In Cork, as in Dublin, there was a close relationship between coffee house and book trade, as both concerned themselves with the dissemination of information. A proposal to publish The mercantile assistant or, exchange pocket companion by subscription was advertised in 1781. This periodical was aimed at merchants and traders, giving lists of the imports and exports of the port of Cork, financial information from abroad, up-to-date prices of commodities, and accounts of trade hazards, such as seizure of ships by ‘the belligerent powers’ during the American war. The subscription cost of one-and-a-half guineas per annum was taken at the bar of both coffee houses. Likewise for subscribers to a new twice-weekly newspaper, the Cork Mercury, in March 1781, subscription books were available at the coffee houses.[28] When the Cork Herald, a loyalist newspaper, was established in 1798, subscriptions were taken by Thomas White, Michael Harris, Anthony Edwards, James Haly and John Connor, all booksellers in Castle Street, and the bar of each coffee house.[29] A notice in the New Cork Evening Post from November 1793 informed its readers that the only copy of the Saturday issue of the London Gazette had been received at the Tontine coffee house, forcing the paper to give an abstract, instead of a full account, of the news.[30]

The book trade and the administration of the city:

In the early decades of the eighteenth century the legal and civil administration of the city accounted for the bulk of booksellers’ business. Printed forms, parchment for official records, printed proclamations and hand bills, advertising in newspapers, the supply of a range of newspaper titles for official information, stationery, copies of Statutes, Acts of parliament, law books and other relevant works, were the mainstay of the city’s book trade. Scriveners and copyists, as well as printers, were employed by official bodies. Loyal addresses from the corporation to the king, queen or lord lieutenant were engrossed on parchment.[31] Bookbinders found work binding and repairing official ledgers and manuscript record books for the courts and corporation, as well as binding for the retail book trade. For example, the corporation ordered payment in 1776 for veal skins to cover the Tholsel office books.[32] In 1732 Thomas Pilkington advertised books, merchants’ account books, shop books, paper and stationery by wholesale and retail. ‘He writes every month to London for the newest books to accommodate gentlemen with’.[33] William Flyn, at the Shakespeare, sold promissory notes, processes and parchment.[34] In the 1790s ‘processes, with printed copies’, ‘presentments for roads, bridges &c.’, hearth money certificates, magistrates’ warrants and summonses, and police certificates were advertised by Anthony Edwards.[35] Processes were also offered by Thomas White, with a range of paper, account books, message cards and stationery.[36]

In the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries official newspapers and parliamentary votes were ordered from London for the mayor and common council, while the coffee houses provided a more varied fare. Official papers included the London Gazette, a twice-weekly paper which was the most widely circulated official publication, the News Letter and Votes of parliament, which appeared daily during the parliamentary session and provided an outline of parliamentary proceedings. An extant ledger showing the distribution of newspapers by one London supplier, Charles Delafaye, covering the period 1710 to 1714, shows that he supplied newspapers to the mayor of Cork.[37] In 1704 the mayor paid £4.19s. to Mr De-laffa for the ‘public news’, and in January 1713/14 Delafay was paid £36 for six years newspapers, with the proviso that ‘he desist sending any more’.[38] In 1714 the corporation received the Postman, Flying Post, Evening Post and votes of parliament from London.[39] In 1715 the mayor sent for ‘the news from London at the cheapest rate he could agree for’ and by 1716/17 the corporation expended six guineas for ‘the English news, four papers and the votes of parliament’.[40] English and Irish newspapers and Votes of both English and Irish parliaments were supplied to the corporation by Walter Pallisser in the 1740s and 1750s and by Edmond Browning in the 1760s and 1770s.[41] In 1776 William Maturin, clerk of the Munster road at the General Post Office, Dublin, began to supply Irish and English newspapers.[42] Local booksellers supplied the Cork newspapers to the corporation.

The corporation’s own resolutions, proclamations, orders, public notices, advertisements and the ‘assize of bread’ were printed in the local newspapers, first in the Cork Intelligence and later in Bagnell’s Cork Evening Post, Flyn’s Hibernian Chronicle, Knight’s New Cork Evening Post and the Cork Gazette. Extra printed copies were used as hand bills, to be posted on the exchange and around the city. Corporation lands and buildings for sale or lease, the publication of the city accounts, proposals for lighting, cleansing, repairing and paving the city streets, contracts for public works, notices offering rewards for the conviction of criminals, and notices of public meetings were regularly inserted in the papers. An advertisement for setting leases of stalls in the meat market was inserted in ‘Bagnall’s paper’ in 1772, and in addition 100 copies were printed to be posted up in the city.[43] The weekly assize of bread was published in the local papers and also posted up around the city. By giving the current price of wheat and the official weight and price of loaves, consumers were assured of the quality of this staple commodity; bread which did not meet the requirements was seized and the bakers fined. In 1738 the mayor issued a proclamation that the acts of parliament for weighing corn, potatoes and salt be put in force, George Bennett, alderman and one-time mayor of the city, got the contract to ‘print five quires of paper, in order said proclamation be duly published’.[44]

During a period of crisis in the spring of 1762, when the army regiments were withdrawn from the city, due to the continuing conflict of the seven years war, the corporation ordered arms to be distributed to the protestant inhabitants of the city. One thousand copies of the orders were printed, to be posted on the exchange, the north and south gates, the custom house, and distributed among the citizens.[45] The oath taken by citizens when becoming freemen was printed: in 1748 the council ordered ‘six quires’ of the oath to be printed for distribution, and in 1758 one thousand copies were printed.[46] The corporation ordered the printing of lists of the freemen at large from time to time.[47] An act of parliament concerning the city of Cork, passed in 1772, was ordered to be printed and thirty copies sent to the mayor.[48] William Flyn printed The by-laws of the city of Cork in 1776 by order of the council. In this way the regular business of the mayor and corporation required the expertise of local printers. This jobbing work was not complicated, nor large enough to tie up type for extended periods, probably just the kind of work that a printer found profitable.

In addition to its paper, stationery and binding requirements in the day-to-day administration of the city, books, pamphlets and acts of parliament were purchased by the corporation on a regular basis. In the 1720s and 1730s George Bennett supplied acts of parliament, abridgements of the statutes and prayer books from his bookshop on Main Street, opposite Broad Lane.[49] In 1754 Timothy Cronin was paid £3.18s.7d. for law books.[50] The current statutes affecting the administration of the city were essential reference works for the mayor and council. Cornelius Sullivan, opposite the Main Guard, supplied Bolingbroke’s Abridgement of the statutes, and five appendices in 1766.[51] The nine volumes of Vesey’s Acts of parliament and the statutes passed from 1769 to 1771 were purchased in 1772, and two years later Bolingbroke’s Abridgement, Vesey’s Appendix and Blackstone’s Commentaries were bought for the mayor’s office. Bolingbroke’s Abridgement and Vesey’s Appendix were again required in 1784.[52] Mary Edwards supplied two sets of acts from the previous session, bound, in 1780/81, one for the mayor’s office and the other for the corporation.[53] Thomas White provided the statutes at large for the Mansion House in 1791, and Anthony Edwards Vesey’s Appendices for the town clerk’s office.[54]

In the first half of the century Bibles and prayer books were purchased in quantity by the corporation for institutions within its authority. In 1708/9 ‘four dozen Bibles, unbound’ were ordered for the use of St Stephen’s (or Blue Coat) Hospital.[55] In 1718 the corporation ordered 300 Bibles, published in Dublin, again for the Blue Coat Hospital.[56] It is not clear which printing of the Bible was purchased, most likely the folio edition of The Holy Bible printed in Dublin in 1714.[57] In 1723, 243 Bibles in sheets were received from Dublin, and the contract for binding was awarded to George Bennett.[58] The following year each member of the council was given discretion to distribute the Bibles ‘to such charitable uses as they think fit.’[59] In 1738 and again twenty years later, in 1758, the city gaol was supplied with a Common prayer book and a Bible ‘for the use of the poor prisoners’, at the corporation’s expense.[60] Prayer books were purchased for the use of council members at official church ceremonies. In 1727 George Bennett was contracted to supply ‘seven folio prayer-books for the use of the corporation in the churches, three whereof to be gilt for the mayor’s cushion and the others for the other seats’.[61] Again in 1741 Bennett was ordered to ‘furnish the mayor’s gallery with four large prayer books’.[62]

Not all relations between the book trade and the administration were amicable. In 1732 the ballad sheet ‘Cork association, or the clothiers garland’ was ordered to be suppressed and the printer bound over to appear at the quarter sessions.[63] Tensions came to the fore in the lead-up to the 1798 rebellion as printers in Cork, as elsewhere in Ireland, printed hand bills, ballads, newspapers and pamphlets not approved of by government. The Cork Gazette was suppressed in 1797 and its printer, Denis Driscol, charged with publishing seditious matter.[64] The Harp of Erin, a radical newspaper advocating reform, founded in March 1798 ‘on the principles of freedom’, was printed by John Daly in Patrick Street. Its opponents, considering that ‘for treason and rebellion [it] will far surpass the Press itself’, had it suppressed after a few issues.[65] The Hibernian Chronicle records the paper’s demise: ‘Last Saturday some magistrates, with a party of the army, searched several houses to discover where the Harp of Erin was printing; at last they found out the place to be Carey’s Lane, where they seized on all the papers, part of which were printed, threw out the forms, and carried the entire to the Mansion House.’[66] John Daly was sentenced to stand one hour on the pillory, to six months imprisonment and to give securities for his good behaviour for seven years.[67] In April 1798 Cork corporation offered 100 guineas reward for the conviction of the author of an inflammatory hand bill, addressed ‘To militia men’, and twenty guineas for the prosecution of the printer.[68]

The printing and stationery requirements of the military were substantial, several regiments being stationed in Cork at any one time. Anthony Edwards styled himself ‘military stationer’ from the 1790s, catering for the requirements of the army and militia. He carried a variety of army stationery, such as muster rolls, review returns, orderly and memorandum books.[69] In an advertisement of 1793 he offered to ‘gentlemen of the militia … all kinds of books and stationery, made use of by the army’.[70] He reprinted Instructions for the yeomanry of England ‘for the use of the county corps of Ireland’ in 1796. His military printing work included rules, regulations, standing orders, manuals of exercises, relevant acts of parliament, and printed forms.[71] In the early 1800s he printed certificates for families of militiamen to apply for financial allowances, with the blank date 180-.[72] In 1801 Edwards’ daughter, Elizabeth, married Osborne Savage, stationer.[73] From about 1806 Edwards and his son-in-law went into business as Edwards and Savage at 6 Castle Street. Trading as military stationers, printers and booksellers, they advertised their stock of ‘brigade, regimental, hospital, barrack and recruiting returns’.[74]

The governors of the several charitable institutions in the city needed the services of the book trade in the administration of their societies. Advertising, printing of hand bills, stationery, and the publication of reports and accounts provided regular work for printers. An account of the dispensary was printed by William Flyn in 1788. The Cork Society for the relief and discharge of persons confined for small debts produced proceedings of its annual meetings.[75] Accounts of the Society for bettering the condition and increasing the comforts of the poor were printed by Anthony Edwards in 1799 and John Connor in 1800. The annual report of the House of Recovery for 1802/3 was printed by James Haly, at the King’s Arms, exchange. Among the annual expenses of the institution were substantial amounts for printing, stationery, and advertising: £26.4s.5½d. in 1801/2 and £10.4s.0½d. in 1802/3.[76]

The general book trade:

The general book trade in Cork was wide-ranging and varied, catering for an extensive market made up of country gentry, city professionals and the rising urban middle classes.[77] In the first half of the century Cork’s patrician families, persons associated with the civil and legal administration, and those involved in the commercial life of the city, continued to live in the mansion houses on Main Street, in the lanes running east and west from it, and in the newly constructed houses on the quays. Smith notes the newly built brick houses, with balcony windows in Spanish fashion, to be seen along Main Street in 1750.[78] It was not until the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries that professionals and merchants moved to the fine terraced houses being built east and west of the old walled city, and out to the suburbs at Sunday’s Well to the north and towards Blackrock to the south. The concentration of well-educated families within the city centre created a demand for information, professional and leisure reading. The country gentry came to town for the assizes, to do estate business, shopping, and to partake of the city’s assemblies, theatres and other entertainments. In 1781 William Flyn appealed to country gentlemen indebted to him for the Hibernian Chronicle, books and stationery, to settle their accounts at the assizes.[79]

Readers in the surrounding towns and villages, whose access to reading matter was likely to be more limited than city dwellers, nevertheless had remote access to the city bookshops through newspaper advertising and bookseller’s catalogues. From the second half of the century newspapers were distributed to the main towns in the county: Youghal, Cloyne, Midleton, Castlemartyr, Cobh, Passage, Rathcormack, Kilworth, Kinsale, Mallow, Buttevant, Charleville, and westwards to Macroom, Bandon, Clonakilty, Rosscarbery, Skibereen, Bantry, Berehaven and Skull.[80] Readers in these towns could keep up-to-date with the latest publications from newspaper advertising and could place orders for books and periodicals through the newspaper agents. When William Flyn published The modern monitor in 1770 he informed readers of the Hibernian Chronicle that it would be on sale ‘at all the country places where this paper is left.’[81] Catalogues, lists of books published in newspapers, and advertising leaves in local publications, helped inform a dispersed readership, some of whom may have been unable to visit the city bookshops.

Anthony Edwards issued a priced catalogue of his stock in 1785, and a supplementary short catalogue at the back of Edwards’s Cork remembrancer in 1792.[82] As well as books and periodicals in English and French, he stocked religious works, school books, plays, almanacs, directories, pocket ledgers, memorandum books, and ‘all public acts of parliament, as soon as printed’. School books included grammars and dictionaries in Greek, Latin, French, English, Irish, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese, and for the young ‘Newbery and Burton books, for the amusement of children’. He carried a range of devotional works and prayer books, many intended for the wholesale market. He printed editions of The new week’s preparation from 1793.[83] His own publication, a new edition of Mann’s Catechism, sold at 4d. each, or £1.4s. per hundred. Prayer books in various sizes and bindings ranged in price from 1s.6d. to £2.5s.6d. His wide-ranging stock included musical instruments and ruled music books, maps, stationery, paper and patent medicines. His printing work, encompassing books, pamphlets, and a newspaper, The Cork Courier (1793-94), was probably largely taken up with jobbing work for businesses and the administration. He lists such items as ‘shop-bills, hand-bills, leases, brewers permits, landlords receipts, tithe notes, manor-court processes and decrees; Free-Masons summonses, magistrates informations, warrants, recognizances, commitals and supercedeses, promissory notes, freeman’s passes &c.’, almost certainly the bread-and-butter trade of a bookseller outside the metropolis.

Because of the diversity of the market specialisation within the trade was not economically viable, most booksellers carried on an extensive range of activities. In addition to the sale of new and secondhand books, periodicals and pamphlets, a bookseller could be printer, stationer, bookbinder, newspaper proprietor, papermaker or importer, circulating library proprietor, patent medicine dealer, lottery office keeper, musical instrument seller, purveyor of fancy goods, and agent for loans or the sale of lands. Subscription editions of Dublin-printed books had Cork booksellers as agents from the first decades of the century, and lasting partnerships were established between members of the Dublin and Cork trades. The book trade in Cork did not wholly depend on Dublin printers and wholesalers. Books, periodicals and newspapers were imported directly from London. An inter-regional trade was in operation between the towns and cities in Munster and South Leinster, especially with Waterford, Limerick and Kilkenny, and to a lesser extent Clonmel, Ennis and Tralee. From the last quarter of the century some continental trading also occurred. In 1773 William Flyn imported foreign language books from Holland, where he had established a correspondence with ‘a principal bookseller’. Bookbuyers were offered ‘elegant and cheap editions’ in any language, which could be chosen from a catalogue.[84]

A cultured and sophisticated audience supported the summer theatre at Dunscomb’s Marsh, later George’s Street. The earliest theatrical performances took place in Cork from 1713, when players from the Smock Alley theatre in Dublin, and later from the Theatre Royal in Aungier Street, came south for a period in the summer to perform the season’s hit plays from London and Dublin.[85] Advertisements for performances and benefits were inserted in the local newspapers, and hand bills were printed and placed strategically around the city. A mild storm blew up in the summer of 1761 when the theatrical company posted its printed hand bills without asking the consent of the mayor, who then refused them permission to perform. The matter was resolved, though not without a certain rancour and the threat of legal proceedings on the part of the players.[86] Newspaper advertising was required to carry the unequivocal formula ‘by permission of the Right Worshipful …, mayor of Cork’.[87]

Plays were often locally printed to coincide with popular productions. Reprints of Dublin and London editions could be rushed out cheaply to satisfy demand. In 1741 George Harrison, at the corner of Meetinghouse Lane, printed a ballad opera which was in performance at the Theatre Royal, Dunscomb’s Marsh: A wonder, or, an honest Yorkshireman.[88] In the 1760s Eugene Swiney, and Phineas and George Bagnell, were prominent in reprinting popular plays, issuing such staples of the Cork theatre as The beggar’s opera (Gay), King Lear, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, Venice preserv’d (Otway) and Conscious lovers (Steele) in 1761, Douglas (Home) and All in the wrong (Murphy) in 1762, and Othello in 1763. Jeremiah Sullivan was active in reprinting plays in the 1780s and 1790s, while Anthony Edwards, John Connor and Michael Harris printed them in the 1790s. William Preston’s controversial Democratic rage; or, Louis the unfortunate, was printed by Anthony Edwards in 1793, the same year it was performed in Cork.[89] A large selection of plays, printed in Dublin and London, formed part of any good bookshop’s regular stock. In July 1775 John Busteed advertised a list of forty-four plays and twelve farces to coincide with the summer season at the Theatre Royal in George’s Street.[90] These plays corresponded with performances during the 1775 season, but also included perennial favourites at the Cork theatre.[91]

The reading public had varying budgets for the purchase of books and other print media. Instead of the wealthy patrons of literature encountered in the metropolis, or more especially in London and other European capitals, Cork booksellers were supported by the professional and middle classes, country gentry, and persons of lesser means. Thus, stocks reflected the differing means of potential purchasers. Subscription editions of the works of local authors, or reprints of more celebrated authors, were regularly offered by Cork booksellers. Books published in parts, where the cost could be spread out, allowing buyers to invest in an expensive work, popular reprints of plays, political pamphlets and trials which could be produced and sold cheaply, monthly magazines, children’s and school books, formed an important segment of the market. Small format religious works, often sold in bulk, were intended for distribution to the poor. Ballad sheets, cheaply printed, and celebrating or satirising local persons and events, were within the price range of all but the very poor. The secondhand market was also buoyant, as booksellers offered ready money for libraries and parcels of books. The more renowned libraries, such as that of Dr Joseph Fenn Sleigh, were put up for sale and priced catalogues issued.[92] Expensive editions from Dublin, London and the continent, were offered for sale side by side with the cheaper material.

Monthly periodicals, such as Walker’s Hibernian Magazine, Exshaw’s Gentleman and London Magazine, Ladies’ Magazine, Town and Country Magazine, and Monthly Review, were advertised regularly and could be sent with their newspapers to subscribers in the nearby towns and in the countryside. At a cost of 6d. to one shilling per month the magazines provided a varied diet of literary, social and political content. Accompanied by engravings of prominent contemporary or historical figures, places of interest, military or naval actions, sentimental prints, needlework patterns, music, etc., and carrying advertising on their blue paper wrappers, these productions were good value for money for the less wealthy reader. In 1777 and 1778 a French-language periodical, the Magazin à la mode, was published in Dublin by William Whitestone. Compiled by Charles Praval, writer and teacher of French, it aimed to replicate the Anglophone periodicals, while promoting French language and literature. It circulated in Cork through the bookshops of Mary Edwards, Daniel Hood, Jeremiah Sullivan and Thomas White.[93] Throughout the century locally-produced literary and general periodicals were a feature of the market, with a flowering in the last decade. The Medley and the Serio-Jocular Medley were rival publications, printed in the 1730s. The Weekly Repository, begun in 1779, covered a broad range of topics: history, philosophy, mathematics, poetry, ‘with several curious and entertaining originals’. Lord’s Cork Weekly Magazine from 1790, the Quiz (1794), the Medler (1795), the Tickler (1795), the Rover (1795-96), the Museum (1796), the Monthly Miscellany (1796), and the Casket (1797-98) were all short-lived literary periodicals in the closing years of the eighteenth century.[94]

Books published in parts, and selling for the price of a monthly magazine, were frequently advertised. The Corke Journal carried advertisements for A new and complete dictionary of arts and sciences in 1754. Published in London by W. Owen in seventy-four weekly numbers, priced at a British 6d. each, and stitched in blue paper, the whole work was to contain 300 copper plates. A four-page prospectus was issued in 1754 and subscriptions were taken by Richard James in Dublin and Eugene Swiney in Paul Street, Cork. The finished work came to four volumes octavo, with over 3,500 pages and 302 plates, and the cost of £1.17s. was spread over a year and a half.[95] In 1770 A new description of England and Wales was sold in sixty numbers at 6½d. each, complete with 240 copper plates.[96] In 1775 The exemplary life of the pious Lady Guion, translated from the French by Henry Brooke, was printed by subscription in ten numbers at 6½d. each, with John Busteed as Cork agent. The work was to come to one volume octavo of about 500 pages, costing 5s.5d. The only surviving edition was printed in Dublin by William Kidd in 1775, and contains a list of subscribers, and therefore is likely to have been the edition advertised.[97] A ‘new and improved edition’ of the Complete dictionary of arts and sciences was proposed in 1778. This would be a folio edition published in seventy-five weekly parts, costing one British shilling each. Subscribers could purchase the weekly parts, receive four numbers monthly to be delivered with their monthly magazines, receive each volume as published, or wait for the completed work in three volumes, ‘elegantly bound and lettered’. Booksellers in the main cities and towns around Ireland were agents for the publication, in Cork subscriptions were taken by Thomas White, Mary Edwards and William Flyn.[98]

Local publications consisted of books, newspapers, periodicals, pamphlets, and ephemera such as song sheets. Book production was mainly made up of reprints, concentrating especially on social and political tracts, religious works including sermons and works of controversy, plays, novels, poetry, school books, history, travels and literary miscellanies. Original works by local authors were also published, consisting mainly of tracts relating to political issues of the day, school books, poetry and novels. James Solas Dodd, naval surgeon turned schoolmaster, contributed to the literary life of the city in the 1770s on a number of levels. He published his Essay on education in 1770, setting out in detail his plan for a new academy on Hammond’s Marsh. The venture was supported by some of Cork’s leading cultural figures: Henry Sheares, Dr Joseph Fenn Sleigh, Dr John Longfield and others. An advertisement was placed in the Hibernian Chronicle for the Essay, which could be purchased from booksellers in Cork, Waterford and Limerick.[99] Dodd’s Essays and poems were published by Eugene Swiney in the same year, the work attracting 255 subscribers. The last leaf carried proposals for printing by subscription Dodd’s Satyrical and moral lecture upon hearts.[100] When the theatre came to town in the summer of 1770 Dodd performed his Satirical and moral lecture in the Theatre Royal, George’s Street, on 7 August. It was accompanied by his Comical dissertation on noses, and his recitation of Garrick’s Ode in honour of Shakespeare, written for the Shakespeare jubilee in 1769. The night’s performance was ordered by the deputy grand master of masons of Munster. The Hibernian Chronicle carried the advertisement, which also announced that Essays and poems would be ready for subscribers by 4 August.[101]

The last decade of the century saw a much increased level of literary activity in the city, and the publication of several original works. The locally-produced literary magazines, although short-lived, testify to this upsurge in literary interest. John Connor, James Haly and Michael Harris were to the fore in publishing original works of fiction and poetry, usually by subscription. Conor’s literary output was especially significant, publishing at least twenty-seven literary titles in the twenty year period from 1794, more than half of which were original works.[102] Women authors were prominent from the 1770s, when literary contributors of both sexes were encouraged by William Flyn and the Hibernian Chronicle.[103] A selection of pieces from the newspaper were published in a volume entitled The modern monitor, or Flyn’s speculations in 1770.[104] The contributors included Henry Sheares, Dr John Longfield, Dr Joseph Fenn Sleigh, Mrs Sheares, Mrs Elizabeth Gray, Mrs Stack, Miss Waterhouse and Mrs Therry. Flyn’s daughter, Eliza, who married James Haly in 1788, was a frequent contributor to the Hibernian Chronicle.[105] Anna Millikin’s novels and other writings began to be published in Cork from the 1790s. She and her brother Richard, lawyer and poet, founded the Casket, or Hesperian magazine, a literary periodical, in 1797, which lasted until the rebellion in 1798. Her first novel, Corfe castle, was published by James Haly in 1793, and later novels, Eva (1795), Plantagenet (1802), and The rival chiefs (1804) were published by John Connor. Her works attracted a popular audience as can be seen from the subscription lists, and in particular the number of copies taken by booksellers for resale.[106] As a teacher in the English academy for females in Cork, she also wrote textbooks ‘for the use of her pupils’.[107]

Circulating libraries catered for those wishing to read, rather than purchase or collect. In 1770 Thomas Lord’s new circulating library, ‘under the exchange coffee house’, was open to the public from six in the morning until nine at night, where he offered to lend ‘the most extensive variety of books’, including newly published books.[108] Michael Matthews ran his circulating library in conjunction with a secondhand and rare book trade. It is most likely, however, that only new and popular books were lent from the library.[109] Anthony Edwards announced his new circulating library in 1787, comprising 6,000 volumes from London and Dublin, with a promise to lend every new publication.[110] Not much is known about the actual operation of circulating libraries, it seems likely that books were chosen from catalogues or written lists, but readers may have taken pot luck, hoping to borrow whatever popular titles were available. A certain insight is forthcoming from a proposal to establish a circulating library ‘on a new and elegant plan’, carried in the Cork Gazette in February 1794. At a subscription fee of 11s.4½d. per year, the female proprietors targeted women and young persons, with the objective of blending amusement with instruction.[111] They intended to fit up the library in a neat manner for the reception of ladies, thus giving them an opportunity of ‘looking over the books’ instead of sending servants. This implies that it was the norm for library books to be chosen from catalogues, with readers not actually visiting the premises. It is not clear if the same conventions applied to male readers. John Connor’s circulating library at 17 Castle Street contained ‘upwards of 4,000 volumes’ in 1794 and he offered to hire out every new publication.[112] He imported new novels from London, ensuring that he carried the most up-to-date stock.[113] His own printing output was strong on novels, plays and poetry, as well as political pamphlets and trials. Dominick Jacotin, a teacher of French and Italian, embarked on a new venture at the end of the century, establishing a bookshop and circulating library for English, French and Italian books, in Patrick Street. The only remaining fragment of his 1803 catalogue lists a portion of his English novels, and gives no indication of his foreign language stock.[114]

Conclusion:

Because of its situation and topography Cork retained its medieval contours until the eighteenth century, resulting in the dominance of the intra-mural core until well into the century. The expense and difficulty of draining the marshes and arching over the water channels ensured that expansion was slow. Thus prime sites were reserved for public buildings, mansion houses for affluent citizens, and up-market businesses. The exchange, arguably Cork’s finest public building, exerted a major influence in the city. The custom house, situated by the river, east of the walled city, while the hub of the port, accommodating the collector of Cork and the customs and excise, did not dominate the administration of the city to the same extent. The book trade established itself where it was most needed: in the heart of the commercial and administrative centre, and close to the homes of the wealthy.

Bookselling enterprises in the city were long-lived, many staying in business for some decades, with succession by family members or other booksellers a feature of the trade. This stability resulted from a guaranteed market for the goods and services offered. The range of business activities engaged in by booksellers was impressive, covering every aspect of production, distribution and marketing, and extending to ancillary profit-making concerns: conducting circulating libraries, acting as agents for the sale of patent medicines and lottery tickets, leasing lands and hiring servants. Expansion is evident from about mid-century when towns in the county were brought within the distribution network of the city booksellers, thanks to the contacts set up for newspaper sales and the supply of stationery. Booksellers catered for the luxury trade, creating an audience for their works among the population through extensive advertising. Their products and services had become essential in the practice of local government, legal and commercial affairs. Throughout the century the newspaper had become indispensable to corporate bodies for information, advertising and the publication of notices. The reading public, too, came to depend on the newspaper for news, advertising, and contact with the outside world.

Images courtesy of Dublin City Library & Archive (www.dublincitypubliclibraries.ie )

[1] This article was published in Charles Benson and Siobhán Fitzpatrick eds, That woman! studies in Irish bibliography. A festschrift for Mary ‘Paul’ Pollard (Dublin, The Lilliput Press for the Library Association of Ireland, Rare Books Group, 2005), pp 139-61.

[2] Richard Caulfield, The council book of the corporation of the city of Cork (Guildford, Surrey, J. Billing and Sons, 1876), p. 343.

[3] Council book, pp 617, 644.

[4] Corke Journal, 14 January 1754; 21 October 1754.

[5] Council book, p. 296.

[6] Maurice Hurley, ‘Below sea-level in the city of Cork’, Howard B. Clarke ed., Irish cities (Cork, Mercier Press, 1995), p. 47.

[7] Council book, p. 734.

[8] Edward Lloyd, A description of the flourishing city of Corke (Cork, printed by Andrew Welsh, 1732), pp 5-6.

[9] Charles Smith, The antient and present state of the county and city of Cork (Dublin, printed by A. Reilly for the author, 1750), pp 401-2.

[10] Lloyd, Description of Corke, p. 6. Council book, pp 340, 497, 907.

[11] Maura Cronin, ‘From the “flat o’ the city” to the top of the hill: Cork since 1700’, Clarke, Irish Cities, pp 55-68. W. O’Sullivan, The economic history of Cork city, from the earliest times to the act of union (Cork, Cork University Press, 1937). For the county context in the 1790s see David Dickson, ‘The South Munster region in the 1790s’, John A. Murphy ed., The French are in the bay: the expedition to Bantry Bay 1796 (Cork, Mercier Press, 1997), pp 85-94.

[12] Council book, p. 588.

[13] Hibernian Chronicle, 31 August – 4 September 1775.

[14] Corke Journal, 22 August 1754.

[15] James de la Cour, A prospect of poetry (Cork, T. Lord, 1770), last leaf.

[16] Hibernian Chronicle, 28 June 1770, 30 August 1770.

[17] Hibernian Chronicle, 15 March 1773.

[18] Cork Evening Post, 24 April 1777.

[19] Council book, pp .968, 1066.

[20] Council book, pp 1066-7. The new Cork directory for the year 1795 (Cork, printed and sold by James Haly, 1795).

[21] Cork Gazette, 7 June 1794.

[22] Cork Gazette, 23 August 1797.

[23] Smith, Antient and present state of Cork, p. 407.

[24] Thomas Campbell, A philosophical survey of the south of Ireland (London, printed for W. Strahan and T. Cadell, 1777), p.184.

[25] Finn’s Leinster Journal, 31 December 1777-3 January 1778. Richard Lucas, The Cork directory for the year 1787 (Cork, printed for the author by J. Cronin, 1787).

[26] Cork Gazette, 31 October 1795.

[27] Copy of the deed or charter entered into by the associated society to raise a fund for erecting a coffee-house … in the city of Cork (Cork, printed by Anthony Edwards, 1794).

[28] Hibernian Chronicle, 1 March 1781, 5 March 1781.

[29] National Archives of Ireland: Rebellion Papers 620/35/85, no. 5, single sheet flyer.

[30] New Cork Evening Post, 28 November 1793.

[31] Council book, pp 287-8.

[32] Council book, p. 905.

[33] Lloyd, Description  of Corke, p. 12.

[34] Hibernian Chronicle, 8 March 1770; 2 August 1770.

[35] New Cork Evening Post, 28 February 1793. Hibernian Chronicle, 8 August 1793.

[36] New Cork Evening Post, 28 February 1793.

[37] Michael Harris, ‘Newspaper distribution during Queen Anne’s reign’ in Studies in the book trade in honour of Graham Pollard (Oxford, Oxford Bibliographical Society, 1975), pp 139-51.

[38] Council book, pp 306, 363.

[39] Council book, p  368.

[40] Council book, pp 379, 388.

[41] Council book, Walter Pallisser 1746-1760: pp 640, 648, 650, 666, 680, 684, 690, 697, 704, 719, 724, 740. Edmond Browning 1761-1774: pp 747, 764, 772, 791, 810, 819, 831, 839, 849, 860, 870, 885, 896.

[42] Council book, William Maturin 1776-1799: pp 911, 922, 933, 944, 949, 952, 956, 1000-1, 1091, 1132.

[43] Council book, p. 867.

[44] Council book, p. 579.

[45] Council book, p. 757.

[46] Council book, pp 649, 715.

[47] An exact list of the freemen, Cork, 1783, advertised in Volunteer Journal, 1 September 1783. List of the freemen at large, of the city of Cork (Cork, printed by James Haly, [1789]). A ‘correct list of the freemen at large’ was appended to The new Cork directory 1795.

[48] Council book, pp 869, 876.

[49] Council book, pp 477, 521, 581, 612, 616.

[50] Council book, p. 682.

[51] Council book, p. 812.

[52] Council book, pp 875, 893, 988.

[53] Council book, p. 962.

[54] Council book, pp 1071, 1080.

[55] Council book, p. 334.

[56] Council book, p. 404.

[57] The Holy Bible (Dublin, printed by A. Rhames for Eliphal Dobson and William Binauld, 1714).

[58] Council book, p. 433.

[59] Council book, p. 449.

[60] Council book, pp 575, 713.

[61] Council book, p. 474.

[62] Council book, p. 612.

[63] Council book, p. 520.

[64] National Archives of Ireland: Rebellion Papers 620/32/136, three letters. Michael Durie, ‘Irish deism and Jefferson’s republic: Denis Driscol in Ireland and America 1793-1810, Éire-Ireland, xv, 4 (Winter 1990), pp 58-61.

[65] The Harp of Erin, 10 March 1798. National Archives of Ireland: Rebellion Papers 620/35/85 (1) Letter from Nathaniel Massey to the Rt. Hon. Thomas Pelham, 30 January 1798.

[66] Hibernian Chronicle, 17 March 1798.

[67] National Library of Ireland: Seamus Ó Casaide, A history of the periodical literature of Cork from the beginning up to A.D. 1900, typescript, p.58, quoting from The Crown Book of Cork 1798 (Royal Irish Academy, Ms 12.I.4, pp 146-58.)

[68] Council book, p.1123.

[69] Edwards’s Cork remembrancer, by Anthony Edwards, printer, bookseller and stationer, Castle Street (Cork, 1792), final 5 leaves of bookseller’s advertising.

[70] New Cork Evening Post, 14 October 1793.

[71] Rules and regulations for the discipline of His Majesty’s forces (Cork, A. Edwards, 1797). Standing orders for His Majesty’s 30th regiment of foot (Cork, printed by A. Edwards, 1797). The manual and platoon exercises (Cork, printed and sold by A. Edwards, military stationer, 1805).

[72] Certificate to apply for financial allowances for families of militiamen (Cork, A. Edwards, n.d.)

[73] Representative Church Body Library: 331/1/1 Parish register of Douglas, p. 74.

[74] Booksellers’ label pasted inside front cover of General regulations and orders (Cork, printed and sold by Edwards and Savage, military stationers, 1811).

[75] Surviving examples printed by William Flyn in 1774, 1777, 1784, 1787, 1797.

[76] Annual report of the House of Recovery of the city of Cork from November 8th 1802, to November 8th 1803 (Cork, James Haly, 1803), second appendix.

[77] For a discussion of book collecting in the Cork region see J.P. McCarthy, ‘In search of Cork’s collecting traditions: from Kilcrea’s library to the Boole library of today’, Journal of Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, 100 (1995), pp 29-46.

[78] Smith, Antient and present state of Cork, pp 407-8.

[79] Hibernian Chronicle, 9 April 1781.

[80] Máire Kennedy, ‘Eighteenth-century newspaper publishing in Munster and South Leinster’, Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, 103 (1998), pp 67-88. Corke Journal, 8 April 1754. Hibernian Chronicle, 30 April 1770, 14 May 1770, 26 June 1770, 2 January 1772.

[81] Hibernian Chronicle, 20 August 1770.

[82] A catalogue of books in most branches of literature and music, now selling by Anthony Edwards, 3 Castle Street (Cork, 1785). Edwards’s Cork remembrancer, 1792, final 5 leaves.

[83] New Cork Evening Post, 7 October 1793. The new week’s preparation, 17th ed. (Cork, printed and sold by A. Edwards, 1793); 18th ed. (Cork, printed by A. Edwards, 1801).

[84] Hibernian Chronicle, 25 October 1773.

[85] William Smith Clark, The Irish stage in the country towns 1720-1800 (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1965), pp 69-145.

[86] Council book, pp 747, 752.

[87] Hibernian Chronicle, 2 August 1770.

[88] Clark, Irish stage, p. 73.

[89] Hibernian Chronicle, 12 August 1793.

[90] Hibernian Morning Post, 24-27 July 1775; 21-24 August 1775.

[91] Clark, Irish stage, pp 293-347.

[92] Hibernian Chronicle, 23 August 1770.

[93] Máire Kennedy, ‘The distribution of a locally produced French periodical in provincial Ireland: the Magazin à la mode, 1777-1778’, Eighteenth-Century Ireland, 9 (1994), pp 83-98.

[94] Ó Casaide, Periodical literature, pp 50-1.

[95] Corke Journal, 6 May 1754. English short title catalogue (ESTC) N32424; T138158. A British 6d. was equal to 6½d. Irish, and one British shilling to 1s.1d. Irish.

[96] Hibernian Chronicle, 12 July 1770.

[97] Hibernian Morning Post, 23-26 October 1775. ESTC T105810.

[98] Freeman’s Journal, 15-17 January 1778.

[99] J. S. Dodd, An essay on education. With a new plan of an academy (Cork, printed for the author by Eugene Swiney, [1770]). Hibernian Chronicle, 17 May 1770.

[100] J. S. Dodd, Essays and poems, satirical, moral, political and entertaining (Cork, printed by Eugene Swiney for the author, 1770).

[101] Hibernian Chronicle, 26 July 1770, 2 August 1770.

[102] Rolf Loeber and Magda Stouthamer-Loeber, ‘John Connor: a maverick Cork publisher of literature’, 18th and 19th century Irish fiction newsletter, no. 5 (May 1998), pp 1-4.

[103] Hibernian Chronicle, 2 January 1772.

[104] Hibernian Chronicle 30 July 1770.

[105] Ó Casaide, Periodical literature, p.33.

[106] Máire Kennedy, ‘Women and reading in eighteenth-century Ireland’, in Bernadette Cunningham and Máire Kennedy eds The experience of reading: Irish historical perspectives (Dublin, Economic and Social History Society / Rare Books Group (LAI), 1999, pp 78-98).

[107] Anna Millikin, An epitome of ancient history, designed for the use of her pupils (Cork, printed by Edwards and Savage, 1808).

[108] De la Cour, Prospect of poetry, last leaf.

[109] Hibernian Chronicle, 15 March 1773. Cork Evening Post, 24 April 1777.

[110] Hibernian Chronicle, 26 March 1787.

[111] Cork Gazette, 8 February 1794

[112] Edward Holland, Poetical miscellany (Cork, John Connor, 1794).

[113] Cork Gazette, 5 September 1795. Cork Advertiser, 3 May 1800.

[114] Catalogue of the English, French and Italian circulating library, St Patrick Street, Cork, where books are lent by D. Jacotin (Cork, 1803).

Disaster at the Music Hall, Fishamble Street, Dublin, 6 February 1782.

On Wednesday 6 February 1782 a meeting was organised by the Guild of St Luke the Evangelist, the corporation of cutlers, painters, paper-stainers and stationers, to nominate a candidate to represent the city of Dublin in parliament. The seat became vacant on the death of Dr William Clement, Vice-Provost of Trinity College Dublin, on 15 January.[2] The meeting, held in the grove room of the Music Hall in Fishamble Street at 1.30 pm, was well attended. The assembled company, amounting to between three and four hundred people, depending on the report, came to support their choice of three candidates: Travers Hartley Esq., Alderman Nathaniel Warren and Councillor Joseph Pemberton.[3] The guild was well represented and many others also came to hear the addresses.

The guild held their meetings in the Music Hall from at least 1765. Stationers’ Hall on Cork Hill, where they assembled from 1732, had been purchased by the Wide Streets Commission in 1761 and demolished.[4] Other venues were used by the guild for election meetings, for example in March 1764 the meeting to elect the parliamentary representative, to replace William Carr, was held in The White Hart in Charles Street.[5]

John Rocque, An exact survey of the city and suburbs of Dublin (London, 1756), the Music Hall is in the elbow of Fishamble Street, marked MH. Image of the Music Hall in Lady of the House (Christmas 1915).

The Music Hall was a multi-functional space, built under the supervision of Richard Castells, architect of Leinster House, and opened in October 1741.[6] Here George Frederick Handel had performed his oratorios in the early 1740s, most famously Messiah in April 1742. The grove rooms were situated to the left of the music hall stage. They did not form part of the music hall, theatre, and supper-room complex, but an ‘appartment fitted up in an old house adjoining, on account of the late Masquerades’.[7] The upper grove room was used as a wardrobe or dressing-room when the building became a theatre. The main grove room was large, and was used for balls and masquerades. A ball had been held there the night before when signs of trouble were already apparent. Many of the company and some of the musicians left the ball early due to the ‘frequent cracking and giving way of the flooring’.[8] Even after these warning signs it appears that no inspection was made prior to the meeting held the following afternoon.

The speeches began, with Travers Hartley opening the meeting. His speech, followed by that of Alderman Warren, were greeted with applause and the stamping of feet, which shook the room. Ten minutes into Councillor Pemberton’s speech the main beam, which was rotten, gave way, crashing the assembled crowd more than 20 feet into the ‘proper hall’ of the guild. The ensuing scene of blood, broken limbs and fractured skulls, and the sound of cries and groans, was terrible; the report, based on an eye-witness account in the Hibernian Magazine, makes for chilling reading. The Hibernian Chronicle tells us that no language could give an idea of the horror of the scene, with more than fifty people having received fractures in their limbs and in the head.[9]

Nobody seems to have been killed outright, but at least eleven people died shortly afterwards of their injuries. Many were carried to their homes stretched on doors, or taken in sedan chairs. Dublin’s medical personnel must have been under severe strain that afternoon and evening with so many casualties. Faulkner’s Dublin Journal reports that the sight of the maimed being carried through the streets caused the greatest consternation in the city.[10] Finn’s Leinster Journal informs us that few escaped without severe injury and many were in a ‘situation that made death desirable’.[11] The Hibernian Magazine predicted that many of the injured ‘will exhibit melancholy monuments, to perpetuate the memory of this dreadful event, by the loss of their legs and arms’.[12]

The reports carried in the newspapers were primarily concerned with naming the injured: all well-known businessmen in the city, whose condition was of public interest. The Transactions of the Guild of St Luke, however, make no reference to the disaster, nor offer any condolences to the families of the casualties.[13] The disaster was widely reported by the Dublin newspapers and taken up very quickly by the provincial press. Finn’s Leinster Journal of 6-9 February and 9-13 February listed 58 prominent figures injured in the accident. The Belfast News Letter carried the story, as well as the Cork newspapers, the Hibernian Chronicle and the Cork Evening Post, all giving lists of the injured.

The candidates themselves put advertisements in the newspapers, sympathizing with their fellow citizens on their injuries, and assuring the public that they would soon be able to continue the election campaign. Alderman Warren expressed the wish that ‘had he been the only sufferer it would afford him very great consolation’.[14]

The collapse of the floor of the grove room led to the cancellation or postponement of forthcoming events. The ball for Mr Carrolan’s benefit, due to be held in the grove room on the evening of the disaster, was postponed until Friday 15 February. The ball would then take place in the great room, which Mr Carrolan assured his public: ‘is entirely separate from the other part of the house, and perfectly secure’.[15]

The popularity of the entertainments held at the Rotunda had begun to rival those of the Music Hall. This factor, in addition to the accident, led to the rapid decline in the use of the Music Hall for public assemblies. It was taken over by the Society of the King’s Inns and in 1793 it became a private theatre.[16] Following the accident at Fishamble Street the Guild of St Luke the Evangelist held their meetings in Capel Street. From July 1782 the guild began the preparation of their new hall, installing a chimney piece of Kilkenny marble and a Bath stove grate fixed with Scotch stone.[17] On 1 October 1782 the Transactions of the guild extended the thanks of the corporation to Joseph Pemberton ‘one of our worthy representatives on the Common Council’ for his ‘great care and attention in building our Hall’.[18] The guild continued to meet at their hall in Capel Street, the entrance to which was at no. 154, until 1841.[19]

What do these reports convey to the modern reader? At a most superficial level it is a news story, albeit over 200 years old. The shock of the event remains vivid and the reader gets taken up with the horror of the scene as the story unfolds and the death toll rises. We are given a detailed description of the layout of the Music Hall, one of Dublin’s most interesting buildings, where Handel’s Messiah had first been performed forty years earlier in 1742. By 1782 it was largely given over to balls and masquerades, providing a meeting hall for the Guild of St Luke the Evangelist, and had extended into the house next door to provide extra space for public gatherings. It is also clear that the fabric of the building had very much decayed.

We get a certain insight into the way in which elections meetings were held in the city of Dublin, and the necessity for candidates of winning the support of each of the guilds in turn. The press coverage of the event is interesting, with similar reports, often word for word, appearing in several newspapers, indicating the usual practice of the period of copying news from other newspapers. Thus the provincial newspapers carry reports which were very close to each other, and also to the Freeman’s Journal accounts. However, differences in the lists of injured were apparent, with some different names appearing, and different numbers of names listed from one report to another.

Most important of all, perhaps, is the list of 71 names of prominent Dublin businessmen with their addresses. As it was a meeting of the guild the majority of those who attended represented cutlers, painters, booksellers, printers and associated trades. Many of these individuals do not appear in Wilson’s Dublin Directories of 1780 to 1784, and many do not feature in the Transactions of the guild. We are, therefore, afforded a glimpse of a section of the Dublin business world about its ordinary business as citizens, when this ‘melancholy accident’ took place.

The appended list is compiled from reports in the Freeman’s Journal [FJ], Faulkner’s Dublin Journal [FDJ], Finn’s Leinster Journal [FLJ], Belfast News Letter [BNL], Hibernian Chronicle [HC], Cork Evening Post [CEP] and the monthly publication, the Hibernian Magazine [HM]. All reports carry the core list of about 53 names; the remainder of the injured are mentioned in one or more reports, while some are only named in death notices afterwards. The Common Council members, whose names appear on the list, were elected for three years from 24 December 1780,[20] except for William Sleater, who was elected on 10 January 1782 to succeed William Hallhead, who had died in office.[21] The members of the Council of the House for 1782 are extracted from the Transactions.

Additional information (such as exact street number, variations on surname spelling, guild office held, etc.) is taken from Watson’s Gentleman’s and Citizen’s Almanacks, Wilson’s Dublin Directories, and the Transactions of the Guild of St Luke. Dates of business activity are taken from M. Pollard, A dictionary of members of the Dublin book trade 1550-1800 (London, Bibliographical Society, 2000).

Images courtesy of Dublin City Library & Archive (www.dublincitypubliclibraries.ie )

List of casualties.

Aiken [or Atken], Mr, Hoey’s Court. Both legs broken.

The Beadle of the Corporation. Arm broken.

Booker, George, painter, 56 North King Street. Arm broken.

Bracken, Mr, attorney, Abbey Street. Severely bruised.

Burnet, George, bookseller, 197 Abbey Street. Slightly hurt.

Byrn, Mr T., Crow Street. Dangerously bruised.

Byrne, Richard, cutler. Both legs broken. Died [FLJ 9-13 Feb.].

Byron, Christopher, card-maker, 13 Eustace Street. Council of the House 1782. Badly bruised [FLJ]. Collar bone broken [FJ].

Byron, Edward, son of Christopher, 13 Eustace Street. Skull fractured and leg broken.

Byron, Samuel, son of Christopher, land surveyor, 13 Eustace Street. Thigh broken.

Clare, Ben, Green Street. Broken thigh.

Clare [or Clear], John, painter, 14 Dorset Street. Skull dangerously fractured.

Deey, Mr Robert, attorney, Chancery Lane. Broken leg. Died [BNL 12-15 Feb.; HC 14 Feb.].

Dobson, Richard, tea merchant and grocer, 38 Capel Street. Leg broken. Died [FLJ 27 Feb.-2 Mar.].

Dugdale, Bennett, bookseller and printer, 150 Capel Street. Dangerously bruised.

Dunn, Mr, Crane Lane, Essex Street. Arm broken.

Fisher, John [or Edward (FDJ)], attorney. Terribly hurt.

Fletcher, Edward, merchant, 39 Strand Street. Severely bruised.

Gilbert, William, bookseller, 26 South Great George’s Street. One rib broken.

Graisberry, Daniel, printer, Back Lane. Very ill bruised.

Gunston, Mr T., coach maker. Dangerously bruised.

Hamilton, Mr, attorney.

Hamilton, his son.

Hamilton, Joseph, bookseller and bookbinder, Kennedy’s Lane. Clerk of the guild. Severely bruised.

Hartley, Travers, 89 Bride Street. One of the 3 candidates for election to parliament. Later elected as member for Dublin city. Severely bruised.

Haughton, John, cutler, 31 Charles Street. Warden of the cutlers. Arm broken.

Husband, John Abbott, printer, 28 Abbey Street. Arm broken.

Jackson, Mr, Townshend Street. Severely bruised.

Jackson, Luke, engraver and copper-plate printer, 19 Abbey Street. Arm broken.

Jenkin, Caleb, bookseller, 58 Dame Street. Much bruised.

Johnston, John, sadler, 9 Abbey Street. Skull fractured.

Johnstone, David, shoe maker, Cut-Purse Row. Thigh broken. Died [FJ 12-14 Feb.; FLJ 13-16 Feb.].

Jones, Robert, attorney, William Street [or Big Ship Street (FDJ)]. Broken leg.

Joyce, Mr, printer, Clarendon Street. Dangerously bruised.

Keene [Keen], Arthur, goldsmith, 67 Dame Street. Slightly hurt.

Keightley, Benjamin, bookbinder, Dame Street. Leg broken.

Kelly, Mr, Hosier, Corn Market.

Leathley, Samuel, printer, Ormond Market. Very much bruised.

M’Kenzie, William, bookseller, at Mrs Hallhead’s, 63 Dame Street. Dangerous bruise on the back.

M’Mahon, Alexander, wine merchant, 180 Abbey Street. Life in danger. Died [BNL 12-15 Feb.; HC 14 Feb.].

Marchbank, Robert, printer, bookseller and bookbinder, 22 Cole Alley, Castle Street. Much bruised.

Marsh, John, cutler, 3 Capel Street. Council of the House 1782. Severely bruised.

Mathew, Mr, Hosier, Corn Market.

May, Frederick, watchmaker, 138 Capel Street. Two ribs broken.

Mills, Michael, bookseller, printer and bookbinder, 135 Capel Street. Council of the House 1782. A good deal hurt.

Moncrieffe, Richard Esq., Sheriffs-peer and bookseller, 16 Capel Street. Bruised in body and limbs.

Moore, Andrew, merchant, 46 Dorset Street. Much bruised.

Moreton [Morton], William, gun-maker, 31 Skinner Row. Arm broken [FLJ]. Thigh broken [FJ; BNL].

Myler, Thomas, glass seller, 1 College Green. Member of the Common Council 1780-83. Several contusions in the head.

Napper, Robert, printer, George’s Lane. Dangerously bruised.

Neil [Neill], Joseph, linen draper, 134 Capel Street. Severely bruised.

Newenham, Sir Edward, Belcamp, Co. Dublin. MP for Co. Dublin. Collar bone broken.

Patterson, Thomas, tailor, 16 Fishamble Street. Broken leg.

Pemberton, Benjamin, bricklayer, 9 Park Place. Slightly hurt.

Pemberton, Mr (junior). Severely bruised.

Pemberton, Joseph, cutler, 145 Capel Street. Council of the House 1782. Member of the Common Council 1780-83. One of the three candidates for election to parliament, not successful. Very much bruised.

Pemberton, Joseph (senior), 67 Fleet Street. Died of his injuries [BNL 12-15 Feb.; HC 14 Feb.].

Redmond, Mr Charles, woollen draper, Dame Street. Thigh broken.

Ross, Alexander, peruke maker, 8 Exchange Street. Member of the Common Council 1780-83. Two ribs broken.

Ruxton, John, cutler, Back Lane. Council of the House 1782. Much bruised.

Scot, Mr, Joseph’s Lane. Died [HM].

Shaw, Mr Richard, sword cutler, 7 Essex Bridge. Member of the Common Council 1780-83. Leg broken. Died [FLJ 13-16 Feb.].

Sleater, William, bookseller and printer, 51 Castle Street. Council of the House 1782. Master of the guild (elected on 21 Dec. 1781, in place of William Hallhead, deceased). Member of the Common Council 1782-83. Slightly hurt.

Stockdale, John, printer, 63 Abbey Street. Very much bruised.

Taylor, Mr, Custom House. Much bruised.

Taylor, Peter, shoemaker, 65 High Street. Member of the Common Council 1780-83. Mortally wounded, since dead [FJ 7-9 Feb.].

Thomas, Edwin, printer, Capel Street. Died in June [FLJ 5-8 June].

Tinkler, Mr, paper-stainer, George’s Street. Badly bruised.

Wallace, John, bookseller and stationer, 2 Bridge Street. Back broken. Died [FLJ 16-19 Feb.].

Warren, Alderman Nathaniel, brewer, 6 Mill Street. One of the 3 candidates for election to parliament, not successful. One of the Chief Magistrates 1782. Lord Mayor of Dublin 1782-83. Severely bruised.

White, John Esq., Stephen’s Green, late High Sheriff of Co. Dublin. Bruised, his life in danger. On the way to recovery [FJ 9-12 Feb.].

Book Trade members.

Burnet, George (1759-99), bookbinder, bookseller and stationer, Abbey Street. Slightly hurt. d.1803.

Clare, Benjamin (1773-1787), book auctioneer, Green Street. Broken thigh. d. 1787.

Dugdale, Bennett (1781-1826), printer, 150 Capel Street. Dangerously bruised.

Gilbert, William (1760-1815), bookbinder and bookseller, 26 South Great George’s Street. One rib broken.

Graisberry, Daniel (1765-85), printer, Back Lane. Very ill bruised. d. Dec. 1785.

Hamilton, Joseph (1749 -97), bookseller and bookbinder, Kennedy’s Lane. Severely bruised.

Husband, John Abbot (1765-85), printer, 28 Abbey Street. Arm broken. d.1794.

Jackson, Luke (1775-83), engraver and copper-plate printer, 19 Abbey Street. Arm broken.

Jenkin, Caleb (1771-92), bookseller, 58 Dame Street. Much bruised. d. Mar. 1792.

Joyce, Mr, printer, Clarendon Street. Dangerously bruised.

Keightley, Benjamin (1770-94), bookbinder, Dame Street. Leg broken. d. 1796.

Leathley, Samuel (1772-89), printer, Ormond Market. Very much bruised. Printed the Freeman’s Journal 1776-82.

M’Kenzie, William (1783-1810), printer, bookseller and bookbinder, at Mrs Sarah Hallhead’s in Dame Street. Dangerous bruise on the back.

Marchbank, Robert (1769-1801), printer and bookseller, Cole Alley, Castle Street. Much bruised. d.1803.

Mills, Michael (1768-95), printer and bookseller, Capel Street. A good deal hurt. d.1808.

Moncrieffe, Richard Esq. (1762-90), bookseller, Capel Street. Bruised in body and limbs. d.1798.

Napper, Robert (1791-1832), printer. Dangerously bruised.

Sleater, William (1754-89), bookseller and printer, 51 Castle Street. Slightly hurt.

Stockdale, John (1772-1812), printer and bookseller, 63 Abbey Street. Very much bruised. d.1813.

Wallace, John (1771-1782), bookseller and bookbinder, Bridge Street. Back broken. Reported dead [16-19 Feb.], but John Wallace, bookbinder, seems to be active until 1816.

[1] This paper was first published in Dublin Historical Record, L, no. 2 (Autumn 1997), pp 130-6.

[2] Freeman’s Journal, 15-17 January 1782.

[3] The Hibernian Magazine (February 1782), p.109; Freeman’s Journal (7-9 February 1782) and Hibernian Chronicle (11 February 1782) estimated 300 people, while Finn’s Leinster Journal (6-9 February 1782) and Belfast News Letter (7-12 February 1782) put the figure at 400.

[4] Freeman’s Journal, 24-28 December 1765. Mary Clark and Raymond Refaussé eds., Directory of historic Dublin guilds (Dublin, Dublin Public Libraries, 1993).

[5] Freeman’s Journal, 24-27 March 1764.

[6] John T. Gilbert, A history of the city of Dublin, 3 volumes (Dublin, reprint The Sackville Library Gill & Macmillan, 1978), i, pp 71-90.

[7] Belfast News Letter, 7-12 February 1782.

[8] Hibernian Magazine, February 1782, p.110.

[9] Hibernian Chronicle, 11 February 1782.

[10] Faulkner’s Dublin Journal, 5-7 February 1782.

[11] Finn’s Leinster Journal, 6-9 February 1782.

[12] Hibernian Magazine, February 1782, p.109.

[13] National Library of Ireland: Ms 12,125 ‘Transactions of the Guild of St Luke the Evangelist’ 1766-1785.

[14] Faulkner’s Dublin Journal, 5-7 February 1782.

[15] Freeman’s Journal, 5-7 February 1782.

[16] Gilbert, History, i, pp 85-6.

[17] ‘Transactions of the Guild’, 2 July 1782, 8 July 1782, 24 August 1782, 7 September 1782.

[18] Ibid., 1 October 1782.

[19] Charles T. Keatinge, ‘The Guild of Cutlers, Painter-Stainers and Stationers, better known as the Guild of St Luke the Evangelist, Dublin’, Journal of the Royal Societyof Antiquaries of Ireland, XXX (1900), pp 136-47. Henry S. Guinness, ‘Dublin Trade Gilds’, Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, 6th ser., XII (1922), p.158. Pettigrew and Oulton’s The Dublin almanac 1841.

[20] Watson’s Gentleman’s and Citizen’s Almanack 1782, pp 120-2.

[21] ‘Transactions of the Guild’., f.283, 10 January 1782.

 

The Encyclopédie in Eighteenth-Century Ireland.

The eighteenth century was a period of considerable contact between Ireland and continental Europe. Well-to-do Catholic families sent their children to the continent to be educated. Catholics remained in Europe to join the church, or the continental armies, or returned to Ireland as doctors, or to take up a career in trade. Both Protestant and Catholic merchants had trade links with the continent, especially the Atlantic ports of France and Spain. Younger sons often joined an Irish trading house in one of these ports and daughters frequently went to the continent to be educated and to marry Irishmen there. Young men of fortune visited the continent on their Grand Tour, especially in the second half of the century. Intellectual currents were not slow to reach Ireland either as scholars throughout Europe corresponded with each other and shared news and information in their fields of interest.

Because of this contact with Europe Ireland became quite cosmopolitan in outlook, particularly from mid-century. French was the language of culture and scholarship in eighteenth-century Europe, replacing Latin as the lingua franca of educated people. The Mentor Universel of 1785 claimed that French was spoken: ‘de Volga à Dublin et des campagnes d’Enna aux glaces d’Islande’.[2] French was taught in schools in Ireland throughout the eighteenth century, and in 1776 Trinity College Dublin introduced university courses in French, German, Italian and Spanish. French books were imported into Ireland from the late seventeenth century, and those imports increased during the eighteenth century. Some titles in French were even printed in Ireland, mostly in Dublin, but also in Cork and Belfast, to cater for local demand.

In the early years of the century the main French language imports were literary works of French Classicism, scholarly works in literature and the sciences, Protestant religious works, French language periodical works, and newspapers. As authors of the French Enlightenment began to publish, their works found a market in Ireland, as elsewhere in Europe. The most widely owned authors of the French Enlightenment among Irish readers were Voltaire, Montesquieu, Rousseau, Crébillon fils, Marmontel, Raynal and Mercier.[3] To cater for this growing demand Irish booksellers increased their stocks of foreign language works. Several Dublin booksellers specialized in continental imports, establishing contacts in France, Switzerland, and the Netherlands, and even going abroad in person to fulfill orders.[4] By the 1780s an extensive entrepreneurial wholesale trade was carried on by Dublin booksellers with publishing centres in Europe, and their imports were distributed to booksellers in Cork, Belfast, Limerick, Waterford, Kilkenny, and other major towns.

Among the most notable importations of French books to Ireland from the 1750s were the various editions of the Encyclopédie, the quintessential work of the French Enlightenment, an expensive multi-volume set which could only be acquired by the prosperous reader. The first Encyclopédie was inspired by Chambers’ Cyclopaedia, published in London in 1728. Initially the Encyclopédie was intended to be a translation of Chambers, but under the editorship of Denis Diderot and Jean d’Alembert it became a forum for the leading intellectuals of the French Enlightenment to rethink their world rationally. The original plan was for a shorter, and less expensive work, amounting to 10 volumes folio, including plates. The plates published in Chambers’ Cyclopaedia were considered too few, and their quality too poor, by the French editors, who decided to include up to 600 copper-plate engravings to illustrate the techniques and processes described in the text.[5] The resulting volumes of plates contained engravings derived from Chambers and from published technical works, which were verified and corrected before publication.

Volume one of the Encyclopédie appeared on 1 July 1751, preceded by a Discours préliminaire by d’Alembert. An Irish literary journal, The Compendious Library or Literary Journal Revived, carried news of its publication in the issue of January-February 1752, noting that it: ‘is now in the press and is to consist of 10 volumes folio’.[6] Irish readers were thus aware of the publication from its earliest days. The folio editions were luxurious works aimed at the wealthy reader, and were well outside the range of most book buyers of the period. In the 1770s and 1780s, however, cut-price editions were published outside the borders of France. Folio editions were issued from Geneva in Switzerland (1771-1776), Lucca (1758-1776) and Leghorn (1770-1779) in Italy. Smaller format quarto editions were published in Geneva (1777-1779), Neuchâtel (1778-1779), and Yverdon (1770-1780) in Switzerland, and octavo editions were published by the Sociétés typographiques of Lausanne and Berne in partnership (1778-1782).[7] The sets produced outside the frontiers of France were not only cheaper editions, but the texts were substantially changed. The Italian editions needed to appease the Vatican, while the Swiss editions sought to give an orthodox Protestant view, both eschewing the heretical tendencies of the original. The Yverdon quarto edition, in particular, is significantly different in content and tone to be considered less a reprint, and more an independent reworking based on the original Paris edition.[8]

Plates from the Encyclopédie showing the processes of composing type and printing.

When the first volume of the Encyclopédie appeared in 1751 it inspired a group of London booksellers to publish a pirated reprint in London in quarto format, which could be sold for half the price of the Paris edition. It was reprinted verbatim from the Paris edition and was offered for sale at 18 shillings in half binding. Their reprinting of the remaining projected nine volumes was dependent on the reception of the first, and no subsequent volumes appear to have been issued.[9]  As there is no surviving copy of the London reprint its existence has often been doubted, however, contemporary notices appeared for it in the Gentleman’s Magazine of January 1752 and the London Magazine of April 1752 .[10] The London Magazine names ‘Innys &c.’ as the source of the volume. William Innys, of St Paul’s Churchyard, was in business until at least 1756; he had been master of the Stationers’ Company in 1747-8.[11] He may have been one of a group of London booksellers responsible for the reprinting; Lough suggests that Nourse and Vaillant were also possibly associated with the project.[12]

To date there is evidence for the importation of different editions of the Encyclopédie by five separate Dublin booksellers, John Smith prior to 1758; William Watson from 1769-1780; Laurence Flin in 1770; William Wilson in March 1779 and Luke White in 1779/80. John Smith (1719-1758), printer and bookseller on the Blind Quay, Dublin, with his cousin William Bruce, had been an importer of French books since 1726, when he established contacts in Amsterdam through his uncle, William Smith. Smith and Bruce issued catalogues of their imported material in 1726 and 1728.[13] The 1726 Catalogue comprises 78 pages, of these 28 list books in Latin,  and 17 list books in French. The range of books listed in the 1728 catalogue is very similar; the French books occupying 20 of the 86 pages. 1728 also saw the publication by Smith and Bruce of a French language book, Gaspar Caillard’s Sermons sur divers textes.[14] John Smith, whose ‘Shop and Warehouse are furnished with an excellent Collection of Foreign Books, in most Languages and Faculties’,[15] continued in business until 1758 when he retired and his stock was auctioned. Two copies of the first volume of the Diderot and d’Alembert Encyclopédie were auctioned as part of his bookstock.[16] They were copies of the 1752 London pirated edition in quarto, showing that volume one was published, as indicated by contemporary accounts, and for sale in bookshops.

William Watson (1768-1801) was bookseller and printer at the Poet’s Head in Capel Street, Dublin, and printer to Trinity College. There is little evidence to show that he had a particular specialization in imported foreign literature, but like many other Dublin booksellers he reprinted translations of French works. In November 1769, however, he advertised in French for the forthcoming Encyclopédie of Yverdon.[17] The Encyclopédie: ou dictionnaire universel raisonné des connoissances humaines was published by Fortuné-Barthélemy de Félice at Yverdon in Switzerland between 1770 and 1780. This was a quarto edition of the Encyclopédie, completely rewritten to conform with Protestant views, with contributions from savants all over Europe. It had a good reputation in the eighteenth century, especially in Protestant states, and even among the intellectual community it was considered a superior text to the original. The projected set was to amount to 34 volumes of text and 6 volumes of plates. Irish subscribers to the work would receive the volumes as they were printed. Watson held the prospectus which was available free to intending purchasers. The set finally came to 48 volumes of text and 10 volumes of plates, in all 58 volumes against the 40 volumes originally advertised. One subscriber to the set was the Hon. Thomas Conolly of Castletown House, County Kildare, whose household accounts show that Watson was paid £2.14s.2d. in March 1779 for volumes 6 and 7 of the plates and £4.1s.3d. in July 1780 for volumes 8, 9 and 10.[18] The cost amounted to £1.7s.1d. per volume of plates, although the volumes of text would have been cheaper. The cost to the original subscribers was 12 French livres per letterpress volume, and 24 livres per volume of plates.[19]

Laurence Flin (1754-1771) was bookbinder, bookseller and publisher at the Bible in Castle Street, Dublin. From 1758 he held auctions at the Golden Ball on College Green. In 1759 he published an edition of The new testament in Irish, using roman letter. During the 1760s he issued annual catalogues of his imported stock; this method of sale by yearly or twice yearly priced catalogue was employed by many booksellers, especially those who wished to appeal to a dispersed clientele. Flin issued his main catalogue in October or November of the year with a supplementary volume in January; the sale of stock from the catalogue covered the period November to May. The titles were in English, Latin and Greek, French, Italian and a small number in Dutch; the works in English included translations of continental works. His catalogue of 1770 offered L’Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire universel des arts et des sciences in 2 volumes quarto (London 1761) for £1.2s.9d.[20] This was almost certainly the Encyclopédie françoise, a down-market imitation of the Encyclopédie, which was printed at Lyons in a 2 volume quarto edition in 1761, using London as a false imprint.[21]

William Wilson (1768-1801), of Dame Street, Dublin, was the son of Peter Wilson, whose wide-ranging activities in the book trade included the publication of Wilson’s Dublin directory from 1751. Peter Wilson retired in 1771, handing the entire business over to his son. William, however, went bankrupt in 1781, but was rescued by his father who declared that William ‘was possessed of a spirit beyond his income, and of abilities superior to the common ranks of tradesmen’.[22] Peter Wilson had published editions of Les aventures de Télémaque c.1747 and in 1756,[23] as well as translations of French authors. William published another edition of Les avantures de Télémaque in 1775, followed by Raynal’s Révolutions de l’Amérique in 1781.[24] He was one of four publishers undertaking Madame de Genlis’ Théâtre de société in 1783. In March 1779 he advertised 44 French titles ‘importé et vendue par Guill. Wilson’.[25] From this list he offered 55 volumes of de Félice’s Encyclopédie of Yverdon, in quarto including plates at £34.2s.6d. sewed, noting that: ‘Toutes les Livres sont bien relié, excepte l’Encyclopédie qui n’est que broché’.

Luke White (1776-1803), bookseller, printer and importer of foreign language books at 86 Dame Street, Dublin, was listed in the Dublin directories as a wholesale bookseller from 1793 to 1803, when he appears to have given up retail bookselling.[26] He printed many popular French language books, especially those of Madame de Genlis. His earliest title printed in French is from 1777, Les lettres de Mademoiselle Ninon de l’Enclos au Marquis de Sévigné, in two volumes duodecimo. He imported foreign language literature from at least 1777, when he informed the nobility and gentry that: ‘he will be regularly supplied with the new publications from France, Italy and London’.[27] By 1784 he could claim to be: ‘constantly supplied with every Book of Merit in the English, French and Italian Languages’.[28] He issued an annual sale catalogue, concentrating on French and Italian literature. White began trading with the Société Typographique de Neuchâtel (STN) late in 1779.[29] That year he was supplied with the 39 volume quarto edition of the Encyclopédie by the STN, availing himself of the Société’s offer of a 25% price reduction on the set. He subscribed to 12 copies which entitled him to a 13th copy free. The STN reprinted the Encyclopédie in quarto format from 1777 to 1779, the set consisting of 36 volumes of text, and 3 volumes of plates. The Encyclopédies were shipped from Ostend in 1779/80 with works by Rousseau, Voltaire, and Buffon, and copies of La vie privée de Louis XV.[30] They took eight months to arrive as the shippers were forced to wait for a safe neutral ship to transport them, due to French involvement in the American War of Independence. White may have had subscribers for some of the sets, but he seems to have ordered at least some for stock, as a set was advertised in his sale catalogue of 1784, priced at £30.[31]

Several editions of the Encyclopédie were present in Irish libraries, but it is not known if they were purchased from Irish booksellers or imported especially for the library. To date thirty-one sets of the Encyclopédie have been traced to contemporary purchasers, twenty-nine in private libraries, one in the Dublin Library Society and one in Trinity College Dublin. This figure must be regarded as a minimum level. Fourteen sets of the Yverdon quarto edition have been traced, making it the most popular edition in Irish libraries. Seven sets of the first Paris folio edition, five sets of the Encyclopédie méthodique, three sets of the Geneva quarto edition in 39 volumes, and two unidentified sets have also been traced. None of the thirteen sets of the Neuchâtel quarto edition imported by Luke White has been located in contemporary collections.[32]

Sets of the quarto editions of the Encyclopédie cost from £30 to £35, making it available only to a minority of readers. In the 1770s, when the Encyclopédie was offered for sale, the penny loaf weighed six or seven ounces; butter was selling at 32s. to 40s. per hundredweight and beef at 17s. to 20s. per hundredweight.[33] Book prices can be best compared with other luxury items where the scales are comparable; tea was priced from 2s.2d. to 12s. per pound, brandy from 5s.to 6s.6d. per gallon and claret from 14s. to 22s.9d. per dozen.[34] In the late 1770s and early 1780s when the Conollys of Castletown House paid £2.14s.2d. for two volumes of plates for the Encyclopédie, they expended £2.5s.6d. for eight dancing lessons, and £2.5s.6d. to the tutor for writing, accounts and geography for one month.[35] For the thirtieth anniversary performance of Handel’s Messiah held in the Smock Alley theatre in April 1772 places in the boxes and lattices were 5s.5d., in the pit 3s.3d., in the middle gallery 2s.2d. and the upper gallery 1s.1d.; corresponding to a small format book in plain binding priced at 2s.2d. to 3s.3d., or to one issue of a monthly periodical at 1s.1d.[36] In 1784 when Luke White was charging £30 for the Neuchâtel quarto edition of the Encyclopédie the yearly rent on a house in Grafton Street was £27.6s.[37] These comparable prices show the luxury nature of the books acquired for some of the country’s finest libraries. It is not surprising that the market was limited for such works.

The Irish purchasers of the Encyclopédie correspond to their continental counterparts, as identified by Darnton. The folio editions appealed to the luxury market in Paris and Versailles, while the quarto editions fell more within the range of provincial book buyers. In France it was the administrators, lawyers and professionals who subscribed to the Encyclopédie, with clergy and businessmen also significant.[38] In Ireland the higher level Anglican clergy [8 examples], represented by such figures as Dr William Newcome (1729-1800), Archbishop of Armagh; Dr William Knox (1762-1831), Bishop of Derry; Dr William Hales (1747-1831) and Dr Richard Murray (1727-1799), both of Trinity College Dublin; and those in the administrative and parliamentary professions [8], such as William Burton Conyngham (1733-1796), antiquarian and officer of the Treasury Department; Judge Robert Hellen (1725-1792); and Andrew Caldwell (1733-1808), barrister and one of the Wide Streets Commissioners, formed the main categories of buyer for the Encyclopédie.[39] They were followed by aristocracy and landowners [6], represented by Lord Charlemont (1728-1799); the Marquess of Downshire (1718-1793), Benjamin Franklin’s host in Ireland; and Thomas Wogan Browne (d.1812); intellectuals and scholars [5], such as Horace Hone (1756-1825), the portrait painter, who moved to London after the Union; and Richard Kirwan (1733-1812), the chemist.[40] A preference for the Yverdon quarto edition was shown by the clergy, and for the Paris folio by the landowners. Three individuals each possessed two sets of the Encyclopédie. Rev. Dr Thomas Wilson (1727-1799), Fellow of Trinity College and professor of Natural Philosophy, owned 7 volumes of the first Paris folio edition and the 39 volume Geneva quarto edition.[41] John Claudius Beresford (1766->1832), banker, M.P., alderman and Lord Mayor of Dublin (1814), held the 58 volume Yverdon quarto edition and 20 volumes of the Encyclopédie méthodique.[42] Horace Hone held the 39 volumes Geneva quarto edition, and 178 volumes of the Encyclopédie méthodique.[43]

In 1759 the Encyclopédie was placed on the Index librorum prohibitorum and Catholics were warned to have it burned by a priest, or face excommunication. Nevertheless Catholics purchased the various editions of the Encyclopédie in France and elsewhere. In Ireland evidence for book ownership among Catholics is slight before the end of the eighteenth century due to the low profile adopted by well-off Catholics because of the Penal laws. Two of the Encyclopédie owners were practising Catholics, and a number of others had Catholic backgrounds, but they or their families had conformed to the established church during the eighteenth century in order to retain their status and lands, or to advance in their careers. Richard Kirwan, the renowned chemist, exemplifies this situation. He was born a Catholic and educated for the priesthood at the Jesuit novitiate at St Omer. When his brother was killed in a duel he succeeded to the family estates, and converted in order to retain them. Kirwan held 94 volumes of the Encyclopédie méthodique.[44] The two Catholic purchasers were Dr John Fergus (1700-1761) and Christopher Dillon Bellew (fl.1790-1815). Dr John Fergus was considered ‘the most eminent Roman Catholic Physician in Dublin in his time and a great collector of books and manuscripts’. He was a patron of Gaelic scribal work and possessed a celebrated collection of Irish language manuscripts. His library and that of his only son, Dr Macarius Fergus (d.1763), were sold by auction in 1766; the catalogue lists the first seven volumes of the Paris folio Encyclopédie.[45] The Bellews were one of the few Catholic gentry families to retain their lands during the eighteenth century. Christopher and his brothers were educated in France, and the family fortunes were maintained through trade, especially flour milling. From about 1790 Bellew began to build up the library at Mount Bellew in Galway. In an inventory of 1813 the ten volumes of plates to the Yverdon Encyclopédie were present in the library, but there is no mention of the volumes of text.[46]

Two of Ireland’s most celebrated book collectors held sets of the first Paris folio edition, Lord Charlemont and the Hon. Denis Daly. Charlemont’s library at Charlemont House in Dublin was one of the sights to be seen by visitors to Dublin; it was also frequented by scholars and other interested readers.[47] The Hon. Denis Daly was M.P. for Galway; he lived at Athenry, County Galway and in Dublin. His library was famous throughout Ireland and Britain; when it was put up for auction in 1792 catalogues were available from booksellers in Ireland, Britain and the continent.[48]

At the highest social level there was no distinction between metropolitan and provincial in Ireland; those who could afford to do so had a house in Dublin and an estate in the country. At least part of each year was spent in Dublin, for the parliamentary season and the social life connected with it, for the sessions of court, university terms etc. Travel abroad to London, Bath and the continent was also a feature of life at this level. Several of those in the parliamentary and other professions divided their time between Ireland and London. Most of the Encyclopédie owners belonged to this privileged group, with a townhouse and a country estate, or in the case of the clergy a townhouse and a residence in their diocese. The counties in which they had their seats include Kildare, Meath, Wicklow and Longford in Leinster; Armagh, Down, Tyrone, Derry, Donegal and Cavan in Ulster; Cork and Waterford in Munster; and Galway in Connacht. The spread of ownership was countrywide, but all purchases of the Encyclopédie would have been made in Dublin, if not imported personally from London. The audience for the Encyclopédie in Ireland was a conservative one, limited to the wealthy book buyer with an interest in current, fashionable works of the Enlightenment. These readers formed part of the mainstream cosmopolitan European elite of the eighteenth century.

Considering the diffusion of the Encyclopédie outside France, Darnton has shown that the European market was supplied mainly by the first two folio editions and the octavo edition from Paris, while the other editions had a more concentrated market in certain areas. The Encyclopédie d’Yverdon, which current evidence indicates was the most widely owned edition in Ireland, sold mainly in the Low Countries; the bookseller Pierre Gosse of The Hague purchased most of the edition from de Félice in the 1770s.[49] This distributive pattern is significant, as the Irish book trade was supplied with a large percentage of its continental works from Amsterdam, The Hague and other centres in the Netherlands. It is very likely that these Encyclopédies were imported by Dublin booksellers from their suppliers in the Netherlands. Given the nature of Irish ownership for the Encyclopédie, wealthy, largely Anglican, and upholders of the status quo, the more conservative approach of the Encyclopédie of Yverdon, compared with the original Paris folio, was of greater appeal, and it was perhaps a more toned-down Enlightenment with a distinctly Protestant viewpoint, which was supported by this readership.

[1] An earlier version of this article was published in The Book Collector, 45, no. 2 (Summer 1996), pp 201-13.

[2] Le Mentor Universel, 4 (1785), p.61.

[3] Máire Kennedy, ‘The Top 20 French authors in eighteenth-century Irish private libraries’, Linen Hall Review, 12, no. 1 (Spring 1995), pp 4-8.

[4] Gough, Hugh ‘Book imports from continental Europe in late eighteenth-century Ireland: Luke White and the Société Typographique de Neuchâtel’, Long Room, 38 (1993), pp 35-48. Máire Kennedy, ‘The domestic and international trade of an eighteenth-century Dublin bookseller: John Archer (1782-1810)’, Dublin Historical Record, XLIX, no. 2 (Autumn 1996), pp 94-105.

[5] Lael Ely Bradshaw, ‘Ephraim Chambers’ Cyclopaedia’ in Frank A. Kafker, ed. Notable encyclopedias of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries: nine predecessors of the Encyclopédie (Oxford, The Voltaire Foundation, 1981), pp 123-40.

[6] The Compendious Library or Literary Journal Revived (Dublin: printed by S. Powell and sold by J. Leathley, G. and A. Ewing, W. Smith, J. Smith, G. Faulkner and H. Bradley, Booksellers, Jan.-Feb. 1752), pp 178-9.

[7] Robert Darnton, The business of Enlightenment: a publishing history of the Encyclopédie 1775-1800 (Cambridge, Mass., The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1797). Kathleen Hardesty Doig, ‘The Yverdon Encyclopédie’ in Frank A. Kafker, Notable encyclopedias of the late eighteenth century: eleven successors of the Encyclopédie (Oxford, The Voltaire Foundation, 1994), pp 85-116; Kathleen Hardesty Doig, ‘The quarto and octavo editions of the Encyclopédie’ in Kafker (1994), op. cit., pp 117-42.

[8] John Lough, Essays on the Encyclopédie of Diderot and d’Alembert (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1968), pp 48-51.

[9] Monthly Review, VII (July 1752), pp 69-70. Eighteenth-Century Short Title Catalogue (ESTC).

[10] John Lough, The Encyclopédie in eighteenth-century England and other studies (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Oriel Press, 1970), pp 3-6; Gentleman’s Magazine, XXII (Jan. 1752), pp 46-7; London Magazine, 48 (Apr. 1752), p.194.

[11] H.R. Plomer et al. A dictionary of the printers and booksellers who were at work in England Scotland and Ireland from 1726 to 1775 (Oxford, Printed for the Bibliographical Society at the Oxford University Press, 1932 (for 1930)). D.F. McKenzie, ed., Stationers’ Company apprentices 1701-1800 (Oxford, Oxford Bibliographical Society, 1978).

[12] Lough (1970), op. cit., pp 4-5.

[13] A catalogue of books newly arrived from England, Holland and France. To be sold by Smiths and Bruce (Dublin, printed by S. Powell, 1726). A catalogue of books. Sold by John Smith and William Bruce (Dublin, Printed by S. Powell, 1728).

[14] Gaspar Caillard, Sermons sur divers textes de l’Ecriture Sainte (Dublin, pour J. Smith and W. Bruce, 1728).

[15] Faulkner’s Dublin Journal, 1 March 1755.

[16] Catalogue of books being the bound stock of John Smith, bookseller on the Blind-Quay, which will begin to be sold by auction by William Ross at the Rt Hon. the Lord’s Coffee-Room in the Parliament House on Thursday 13 April 1758. Remainder of the stock of John Smith will be sold by auction at his late house on the Blind-Quay by William Ross, 7 Dec. 1758. Lot 2092 in the catalogue of April 1758 and lots 1031       and 1320 in the catalogue of December 1758, ‘remainder of stock, left-overs from the first sale’. Universal Advertiser, 16-19 December 1758.

[17] Freeman’s Journal, 14-16 November 1769.

[18] Trinity College Dublin: Ms. 3939-3940, Tradesmen’s Receipts, Thomas Conolly, 2 volumes (1778-1795).

[19] Doig, loc. cit., p. 91.

[20] Flin’s sale catalogue for the year 1770, the sale begins on Wednesday 1st November 1769, lot 3722.

[21] Encyclopédie françoise, latine et angloise, ou dictionnaire universel des arts et des sciences françois (Londres: et se trouve à Lyon chez Jean-Marie Bruyset, imprimeur-libraire, 1761).

[22] Wilson’s Dublin directory 1802, p.4.

[23] There is no surviving copy of the earlier edition, but it was advertised in 1747. Dublin Courant, 21-24 November 1747.

[24] Freeman’s Journal, 28-30 August 1781. His ordinary edition was published at 2s.2d. or 2s.8½d. bound, but ‘some copies were printed in superfine paper, large octavo, to match the Author’s other works’.

[25] Freeman’s Journal, 20-23 March 1779.

[26] Wilson’s Dublin directories 1793-1803.

[27] Independent Chronicle, 3-5 November 1777.

[28] Volunteer’s Journal, 4 October 1784.

[29] Gough, loc. cit.

[30] Darnton, op. cit., p. 309; Appendix B, p. 592.

[31] General Evening Post, 15 July 1784.

[32] Máire Kennedy, French books in eighteenth-century Ireland (Oxford, Voltaire Foundation, SVEC – 7, July 2001). A sample of 193 catalogues of Irish private libraries, dating from 1715 to 1830 has been used to assess ownership of French language books. The catalogues were mainly issued as auction catalogues for the sale of libraries, though in some cases an inventory of a library was made by the owner. Only catalogues of named private owners were used. As the catalogues are mainly of libraries which were auctioned after the owner’s death, this indicates a certain value accorded to the collection.

[33] Darnton uses the price of bread to give an indication of the price range of the Encyclopédies. Calculating at 8 sous for a four-pound loaf, a first folio was worth 2,450 loaves, a quarto 960 loaves, and an octavo 563 loaves; the folio equaling 4 years’ bread supply for a labourer and his family. Darnton, op. cit., p. 275. In Ireland a four-pound loaf would have cost about 8d., in equivalent terms this makes the cost of the Yverdon quarto edition the same as 900 to 1,050 four-pound loaves of bread.

[34] Prices are taken from contemporary newspaper advertisements.

[35] Trinity College Dublin: Ms 3939, Tradesmen’s Receipts, Thomas Conolly (1778-1785).

[36] Freeman’s Journal, 14-16 April 1772.

[37] Dublin Public Libraries Gilbert Collection: Ms lease, William and Mary Rainsford to Thomas Williams, 29 September 1782.

[38] Darnton, op. cit., pp 295-8.

[39] Catalogue of books, being the library of the late Most Rev. Dr William Newcome, Archbishop of Armagh, and Primate of All Ireland (Dublin, James Vallance, 31 March 1800), lot 2679. Catalogue of a choice and extensive collection of books forming the library of the late Hon and Right Rev William Knox, Bishop of Derry (Dublin, Edward Maguire, 11 April 1832), lot 2341. Catalogue of a valuable and select collection of books, forming the Library of Rev. Dr Hales, deceased, Rector of Killeshandra (Dublin, Charles Sharpe, 1 February 1826; 2 June 1831), lot 413. Catalogue of the library of the late Rev. Richard Murray, D.D., Provost of T.C.D. (Dublin, Richard Edward Mercier & Co, 26 May 1800), lot 2483. Catalogue of the extensive and valuable collection of books, antiquities, books of prints and manuscripts, being the family library of a gentleman of distinction, deceased, [Burton Conyngham] (Dublin, Thomas Jones, 16 April 1810), lot 1833. Catalogue of books, prints and drawings, being the collection of the late Hon. Judge Hellen (Dublin, James Vallance, 10 February 1794), lot 368. Catalogue of books, being the library of the late Andrew Caldwell, Esq. (Dublin, Thomas Jones, 3 May 1809), lot 1055.

[40] Royal Irish Academy: Ms. 12.R.8, Catalogue of the important, extensive and valuable library of a deceased nobleman, of great literary and artistic taste, [Lord Charlemont] (11 August 1865; 27 September 1865), lot 896. Public Record Office of Northern Ireland: Ms. D.671/A38/1A, Catalogue of the library at Hillsborough [c.1800]. Bibliotheca Browniana. Catalogue of the valuable and extensive library of the late Wogan Browne Esq., of Castle Browne, in the County of Kildare (Dublin, Thomas Jones, 3 August 1812), lot 856. Catalogue of books, prints, drawings, mathematical and philosophical Instruments &c., being the collections of two gentlemen and H. Hone Esq., miniature painter to His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales, going to reside in England (Dublin, James Vallance, [1798]), lots 671 and 672. Catalogue of a large and valuable collection of miscellaneous books, the library of the celebrated Richard Kirwan, Esq., deceased, LLD, FRS, PRIA and member of most of the Literary Societies of Europe (Dublin, Thomas Jones, 12 April 1813), lot 1778.

[41] Catalogue of books, being the library of the late Rev. Dr Wilson (Dublin, James Vallance, 27 October 1800), lots 1105 and 1177.

[42] Catalogue of a valuable and excellent collection of miscellaneous books and capital books of prints, the library of John Claudius Beresford, Esq. (Dublin, Thomas Jones, 28 February 1811), lots 764 and 765.

[43] Catalogue of … H. Hone, op. cit., lots 671 and 672.

[44] Catalogue of … Richard Kirwan, op. cit. Royal Irish Academy: Ms. 3.A.6., Catalogue of books bequeathed to the Royal Irish Academy by Richard Kirwan, 1813.

[45] Catalogue of the library of John Fergus M.D. and his son [Macarius Fergus] (Dublin, L. Flin, 3 February 1766), lot 162. Diarmaid Ó Catháin, ‘John Fergus MD eighteenth-century doctor, book collector and Irish scholar’, Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, 118 (1988), pp 139-62.

[46] National Library of Ireland: Ms. 5514, Catalogue of the library of Mount Bellew (Galway, printed by Geo. Conolly, 1813). Karen J. Harvey, ‘The family experience: the Bellews of Mount Bellew’ in T.P. Power, and Kevin Whelan, eds., Endurance and emergence: Catholics in Ireland in the eighteenth century (Dublin, Irish Academic Press, 1990), pp 171-97.

[47] Maurice James Craig, The Volunteer Earl: being the life and times of James Caulfeild, First Earl of Charlemont (London, The Cresset Press, 1958), pp 198-223.

[48] Catalogue of the library of the late Rt Hon. Denis Daly which will be sold by auction by James Vallance on 1 May 1792 (Dublin, printed for the proprietors John Archer and William Jones, 1792), lot 684. Dublin Chronicle, 24 March 1792. Thomas U. Sadleir, ‘An eighteenth-century Irish gentleman’s library’, Book Collector, 2 (1953), pp 173-6.

[49] Darnton, op. cit., pp 299-300; Doig, loc. cit., pp 88-91.

 

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.

General-Gazetteer-Ireland

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.

 

The Top 20 French Authors in Eighteenth-Century Irish Private Libraries.

Throughout Europe in the eighteenth century French began to replace Latin as the scholarly and cultural language of the educated. Ireland was no exception to this general trend. From the late seventeenth century French was a significant language among certain sections of the population, most notably the scholarly community and the upper levels of the Catholic and Protestant aristocracies. From the middle of the eighteenth century the use of the French language as a cultural, and indeed fashionable, accomplishment, was spreading to the metropolitan and provincial middle classes. French was taught in private schools and academies to both boys and girls, not only as a social accomplishment, but as a desirable skill for business, the army and navy.

French language books were imported into Ireland from the late seventeenth century. Importation of continental literature in French from Paris, Amsterdam, The Hague and London characterized the foreign language book market in Ireland. French language titles were printed in Dublin and other Irish cities also. In the early decades of the eighteenth century they were mainly produced for the Huguenot population in Dublin, Portarlington, Lisburn, Cork, and other areas of settlement. In the last three decades of the century French language reprints of more popular works for a general audience were issued by Dublin booksellers.

Specialization in the foreign language booktrade in the last quarter of the century provides evidence of a sufficient demand for such literature among bookbuyers. It also points to the diversity on offer to the Irish reading public as booksellers sought to import the latest and best publications from the continent. Expanded importation from printing centres in Europe, through personal and business contacts, was initiated by Dublin wholesale booksellers, who in turn distributed their imports to centres around the country. Thus the importation of French language books developed from the direct importation by major booksellers for their own clientele, to a more streamlined entrepreneurial wholesale trade by the 1780s. Luke White had an account with the Société Typographique de Neuchâtel, while R.E. Mercier traded with Wild and Altheer at Utrecht, and John Archer and Antoine Gerna travelled abroad to purchase books and negotiate terms in person.[2]

A sample of 193 catalogues of Irish private libraries has been used to compile the Top 20 list.[3] The catalogues date from 1715 to 1830. They were mainly issued as auction catalogues for the sale of the library, though in some cases a listing of a library was made as an inventory by the owner. Only catalogues of named private owners were used, as anonymous sale catalogues do not necessarily represent the holdings of a single individual library. The readers represented by the book sale catalogues are the nobility and landowners, clergy and professionals, whose libraries were mainly auctioned after the owner’s death, thus indicating a certain value accorded to the collection. Full coverage of all relevant readers is not possible in this situation, as the less well off segment of the population is not represented. All inferences concerning the diffusion of books drawn from auction catalogues must be tempered by the knowledge that the source is limited, unevenly representative, and weighted in favour of the more prestigious collections. By their nature book sale catalogues are oriented in their descriptions towards saleable books, lots of lesser value are often not described or itemized. Thus, bundles of pamphlets or plays, schoolbooks and cheap quality books are not included in the sale, or else are sold together as a lot. This results in a gap in our knowledge of ephemeral or cheap material and an over-emphasis on special editions and fine bindings.

Top-20-tableThe level of education of readers is significant for the ownership of foreign language books. Only those with a good level of post-elementary education, or those privately educated to a certain standard could read French or Italian. 40% of the library owners in the sample were educated at Trinity College Dublin or the King’s Inns in Dublin, and a further 6% at Oxford or Cambridge. The 16% with a continental education comprised Catholic clergy trained in the Irish colleges in France, Spain and Italy; doctors and Catholic gentry educated in continental universities. Several of the library owners, especially the nobility, did not attend university, but were privately educated by tutors and often went on the Grand Tour to complete their education. The readership under consideration therefore is that of the higher socio-economic groups, the educated segment of the population, those who were highly literate and had the financial means necessary to assemble a collection of books.he French books most widely held in the private libraries examined were French Dictionaries, in 73% of libraries, and French Grammars, in 64% of libraries. They were written and compiled by a wide range of authors, and published in France, the Netherlands, London or Dublin. In the majority of cases French was an acquired and not a native language for book purchasers in Ireland, especially in the second half of the century, therefore dictionaries and grammars were not discarded, but retained as working tools in a library. Similarly, many of the most frequently occurring French titles were those chosen by readers wishing to perfect their French by reading works renowned for the style and quality of the language or for their appeal to younger readers. Henry Joy McCracken, the United Irishman, and his family learned French from an old weaver, a native French speaker in Belfast. Henry’s French however must never have been perfected, as his sister, Mary Ann, advises him in a letter: ‘Do not neglect the use of your French dictionary and grammar – John Templeton keeps his always either in his hand or in his pocket’. While in jail in Dublin he read Fénélon’s Les Avantures de Télémaque but he had to receive assistance from a French prisoner, arrested for spying.[4] Mrs Mary Delany of Delville, in a letter to her niece Mary Dewes, in September 1760, advised: ‘I shall be very glad to receive your French performances, and if you write or translate but six lines every day it will improve you very much, and at least keep what you have learnt’.[5]

The Top 20 list shows a strong preference on the part of library owners for French Classicism. The French language gained prestige across Europe during the reign of Louis XIV, both for the style of the language and its literature, and this reputation persisted into the eighteenth century. Works of French Classicism were present in private libraries throughout the century. These works were not superseded by Enlightenment authors in the course of the century, but retained their popularity, and co-existed with them. The reading of Enlightenment literature did not occur in Ireland as a new radical introduction, it developed and grew out of the existing tradition of reading French authors. French texts found in Jonathan Swift’s library of 1715 remained an integral part of a cultured library of the 1790s.

The four works of literature most in evidence in the sample examined were the Oeuvres of Boileau in 81 collections, the Oeuvres of Molière in 80 collections, Les avantures de Télémaque by Fénélon in 78 collections, and Les avantures de Gil Blas de Santillane by Le Sage in 55 collections. Boileau was among the great representatives of French Classicism, who published widely as a poet. Eighty five of the libraries examined held at least one work by him, and many held several. Copies of the Oeuvres were beautifully illustrated by Picart or Moreau, and in fine bindings. Henry Grattan’s copy of the Oeuvres in four volumes, (Amsterdam 1729), was awarded to him by Trinity College Dublin as a premium in 1765.

Molière became famous for his comedies of manners, the style of his writing was esteemed and considered worth imitating in speech and reading. Extracts from his plays appeared in anthologies and in textbooks. His plays were not printed in French in Ireland but were imported from the continent and from London. In September 1782 Le medecin malgré lui was one of six French language plays performed at a public reading in the Exhibition Room in William Street, Dublin.[6] The Oeuvres were present in handsome and costly editions in Irish libraries with plates after Boucher (Paris 1734), Coypel (Paris 1734), and Moreau (Paris 1773).

The two individual titles most notably present in libraries throughout the century were Fénélon’s Les avantures de Télémaque, (1699), and Le Sage’s Les avantures de Gil Blas de Santillane, (1715-35). Both books were used as readers by those learning French, and both appear in multiple copies in private libraries. Fénélon, Archbishop of Cambray, was well known for his spiritual writings, but in Irish libraries his importance lies primarily in the authorship of Les avantures de Télémaque. It was favoured reading in most European countries and was the standard text for teaching manners and language. It worked for readers on several levels, closely paralleling Virgil’s Aeneid and fulfilling readers’ classical expectations in its imitation of the ancients; the fineness of the writing also appealed to those improving or perfecting their French. Its appeal spanned the denominational divisions in Ireland, appearing in both Protestant and Catholic libraries. It remained popular until the end of the century, being published in a parallel text in Cork in 1800.

Le Sage drew his inspiration from the Spanish picaresque novel, adapting it to mirror the manners of the French society of his day. Gil Blas earned him his fame, it was considered suitable for the instruction of children in the French language, though later in the century it was thought a little too colourful. Its success in Ireland can be measured by the number of local printings in French, several Dublin editions of 1763 and later, and a Belfast edition of 1798. Le Sage’s other novels also had a following, especially Le Diable boiteux, (1707), but none had the mass appeal of Gil Blas.

Racine and Pierre Corneille, writers of tragedies, are often considered the precursors of Classicism. Their works are derived from classical models, but they were in advance of the main age of Classicism, which reached its apogee during the personal reign of Louis XIV (1661-1715). Racine achieved success as a tragic poet with his plays Andromaque (1667), Iphigenie (1674), and Phèdre (1677). Maria Edgeworth went to a performance of Andromaque in Brussels in 1802, with Madame and Monsieur Talma in the leading roles, she writes: ‘we read the play in the morning, an excellent precaution otherwise the novelty of the French mode of declamation would have set my comprehension at defiance’.[7]

Pierre Corneille, the elder of the Corneille brothers, was more prolific and achieved greater success than Thomas, and his works were more numerous in Irish libraries. Though he began his career by writing comedies, it is as a tragic poet that he was best known, with plays in the classical style such as Medée (1635), Le Cid (1636-7), and Polyeucte (1642). Henry Grattan’s son writes that Grattan:

‘laid aside the cultivation of the language [French] for a considerable time, but in the latter part of his life he amused himself translating into French Miss Edgeworth’s Tales and other light works. He admired Racine and Corneille, and used to read them with much pleasure’.[8]

La Bruyère’s Les caractères de Théophraste (1688-1696), originally translated from the Greek of Theophrastus, mirrored the foibles and vanities of his own time, with portraits of many living people, under disguised names. It was popular in England, having been translated into English in 1699. It retained its popularity in Ireland throughout the eighteenth century, and was printed in French by William and Henry Whitestone in 1778, to supply their extensive wholesale market in Dublin and the provinces.

The Abbé Vertot, the French historian, is probably best known for his History of the Knights of Malta. His main works present in the libraries examined were Les révolutions de la république romaine (1719), Histoire des révolutions de Suède (1696), and Histoire des révolutions de Portugal (1689).

La Fontaine made his reputation with his Fables, the first collection of which appeared in 1668, and his Contes et nouvelles en vers, (1664-1666), based on the tales of Boccaccio and Ariosto. Even though La Fontaine produced a great variety of work it is the Fables and Contes that were purchased and produced in very many editions, often beautifully illustrated. One of the most lavish editions was the 4 volume set of Fables with 246 plates by Oudry offered to the public by Luke White in 1777 at the remaindered price of £9.2.6. The presence of so many luxury editions, illustrated and in fine bindings, in the private libraries examined, points to the perception that these works were of lasting quality, to be read and re-read, given as gifts and school premiums.

The French Enlightenment is well represented in the libraries in the sample. Irish printers responded to the demand for Enlightenment literature in the last quarter of the century by the domestic printing of some of the more popular titles. The catalogues, however, show that a great number of Enlightenment works were imported from the early years of the century. Continental imprints, led by Paris and Amsterdam as centres of publication, were by far the most numerous.

Two of the authors on the list mark the early phase of the Enlightenment, Bayle and Fontenelle. Bayle, with his critical and scientific approach, a belief in reason, political reform and religious toleration, is considered one of the earliest exponents of the philosophical writing which characterized the French Enlightenment. His Dictionnaire historique et critique, (1695-1697), was the most widely held in Irish libraries, but his Oeuvres were also present. Fontenelle’s Oeuvres were the most commonly held, followed by Entretiens sur la pluralité des mondes, (1686), a popular non-specialist introduction to astronomy, and Dialogues des morts, (1683), an attack on preconceived ideas.

Voltaire was the most owned author in Irish libraries, but no one single work predominated. Several editions of Oeuvres and Oeuvres complètes were present in 35 collections, many of them illustrated and in costly editions. One of the most prized sets was the 70 volume octavo edition of the Oeuvres complètes, published at Kehl in 1785-89 by the playwright Beaumarchais, using the printing equipment purchased especially for the purpose from the widow of John Baskerville, the celebrated English typographer. This work was also printed in a 90 volume duodecimo edition by Beaumarchais. Several editions of Voltaire’s works, sold in sets or in separate volumes, were on sale in Dublin from the late 1770s. Voltaire’s epic La Henriade, first published in Rouen in 1723 under the title La ligue, began to be published under the new title in 1728. The French language London edition of 1728 was published by subscription, and in December 1727 Voltaire wrote to Jonathan Swift from London requesting him to solicit subscriptions in Ireland:

‘In the mean time can j make bold to intreat you to make some use of yr interest in irland about some subscriptions for the henriade, which is almost ready and does not come out yet for want of little help the subscriptions will be but one guinea in hand’.[9]

After its publication in March 1728 Voltaire wrote that he had sent ‘a cargo of French dulness (sic.)’ to the Lord Lieutenant, Lord Carteret. Swift retained a copy of La Henriade in his library, and it appears in the sale catalogue of his library in 1745.

Candide ou l’optimisme by Dr Ralph was first published surreptitiously in Geneva in January 1759. In February 1759 Voltaire wrote to Gabriel Cramer, his Genevan publisher, informing him that: ‘il s’est vendu six mille Candide’. By mid March it was available in French in London from John Nourse, and two weeks later the English translation appeared. English booksellers, such as Nourse, would purchase a holding edition in French of a book likely to be popular and reprint it in England, as this was cheaper than importing in bulk. This was the case with Candide which was immediately reprinted in French in London. For all its popularity at the time of publication Candide was held as an individual title in only five of the libraries, though it was also present in most Oeuvres and in the Romans et contes. Individual titles by Voltaire and Rousseau, known to have been purchased, are present in very small numbers and are greatly outnumbered by sets of Oeuvres. This can be attributed to the more lasting quality of a set of Oeuvres, but also to the saleability factor in an auction catalogue.

Three titles by Voltaire were printed in French in Dublin, La Tragédie de Sémiramis in 1750, Lettres curieuses et intéressantes de M. de Voltaire in 1781, and Mémoires de M. de Voltaire écrites par lui même in 1785, and very many appeared in translation. While these three titles were printed for the home market there is little evidence for them in the private libraries examined. Voltaire’s works were present in private libraries of both Anglican and Catholic owners and clergy of both denominations. However, it is clear that the historical and dramatic works were often held when the anti-religious works were absent, and a number of those works which denounced his anti-religious beliefs occur in the libraries. For instance, both Les erreurs de Voltaire, written by the Abbé Nonotte, and Lettres de quelques Juifs à M. de Voltaire, attributed to the Abbé Guenée, were held in Irish libraries, and a subscription edition of Claude Duplain’s La réligion vengée des blasphèmes de Voltaire was published in Dublin in 1783, attracting 154 subscribers.

Montesquieu was well represented in Irish libraries, with four of his works occurring frequently in the sample. De l’esprit des lois (1748), was the most widely owned of his works, followed by sets of Oeuvres, Les causes de la grandeur des Romains (1734), and Lettres Persanes (1721). In De l’esprit des lois Montesquieu examined the nature of human and natural laws in the widest sense including different forms of government, questions of major interest to eighteenth-century thinkers. This broad philosophical treatment appealed to a wide readership, and De l’esprit des lois was translated into English as The spirit of laws and published in Dublin in 1751 and later years. Henry Grattan owned a copy in French which he received as a premium from Trinity College Dublin in 1765. De l’esprit des lois was the most widely owned of the French language works on jurisprudence. Significant reading for professional career purposes is of particular interest as it shows that the reading of works in French was not simply a fashionable pastime for the dilettante, but also a serious activity necessary for those wishing to be to the fore in their professional knowledge.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s novel La Nouvelle Heloïse (1761), is considered by Robert Darnton to have been the ‘biggest best-seller’ of the century:

‘the demand for copies outran the supply so badly that booksellers rented it out by the day and even by the hour, charging twelve sous for the sixty minutes with one volume, according to L-S Mercier. At least seventy editions were published before 1800 – probably more than for any other novel in the previous history of publishing’.[10]

In Irish libraries La nouvelle Heloïse was marginally more popular than Émile ou l’éducation (1762), while 67% of readers of Rousseau had a set of Oeuvres. There was no Irish edition in French of either title, however, suggesting that they were not so popular in Ireland. Rousseau was very much admired by certain circles in Ireland, in fact most of his readers held several titles by him. Emily, Duchess of Leinster, and her family were among his readers. In her library at Carton, however, only the Collection complète des oeuvres in the four volume London edition of 1774, with 2 plates after Moreau, remained, while initially individual copies of the separate titles were present. Émile had been purchased in London from Mrs Dunoyer in 1762 and read immediately.

The works of Crébillon fils are far more evident in Irish libraries than those of his dramatist father, the latter represented only by his Oeuvres. The erotic novel had immense popularity during the eighteenth century, and Crébillon fils was one of the most successful writers in this genre. His novel Le Sopha, a licentious tale which satirized contemporary manners and morals, was much imitated in his day. His Oeuvres were most commonly found in the Irish libraries examined, followed by Les égarements du coeur et de l’esprit, ou Mémoires de M. de Meilcour (1736), L’écumoire ou Tanzaï et Néaderné, histoire japonaise (1734), and Le sopha, conte moral (1740).

Marmontel’s Contes moraux (1761), and Nouveau contes moraux (1789-92), first published individually in the Mercure, were the most popular of his works in Irish libraries, followed by Bélisaire (1766), and Les Incas (1777). One of his tragedies, Aristomène, was published in French in Dublin in 1750. His moral tales were sufficiently popular to be reprinted in translation in the Freeman’s Journal in the spring and early summer of 1788.

The Abbé Raynal is best known for his Histoire philosophique et politique des deux Indes (1770), which was very successful when it was first published, and went into several editions during the eighteenth century. It is Raynal’s most frequently occurring title in Irish libraries, although his other works are also present, most notably La révolution de l’Amérique (1781), and Anecdotes historiques, militaires et politiques de l’Europe (1753). La révolution de l’Amérique was printed in French in Dublin in 1781. Several translations of The philosophical and political history appeared from Dublin printers, and a copy in French was possibly also printed, but there are no extant copies.

Evidence of reading in the realm of literature is extremely difficult to determine, the use of correspondence and diaries is valuable but it only gives evidence of reading among certain groups and anecdotal information is not transferable to the wider reading public. The correspondence of Emily, Duchess of Leinster, Maria Edgeworth, Jonathan Swift, and Mrs Mary Delany, in which they discuss books and reading gives a clue as to the books read by those in their circle and their opinions on authors read. This perspective is by its nature narrow and weighted in favour of certain groups, who may not be at all representative. However, it does show that the French books present in Irish private libraries could be read by their owners, and in some cases at least, were read, understood, discussed and quoted. Evidence exists for reading in French among professional and middle class readers, showing that it was not confined to the more rarified Carton-Castletown circle. The provenance of surviving eighteenth-century editions of French books shows signatures or bookplates of readers who were not major collectors, and for whom we have no evidence of a private library. Contemporary signatures on French language books also indicate readership among women, which is not reflected in the book sale catalogues. This points to a more widespread diffusion among the general reading public which is suggested by the booksellers’ stocks.

The later years of the eighteenth century saw a movement away from the dominance of religious works in private libraries. The large number of clerical libraries in the sample, (30.5%), however, ensured the popularity of a wide range of religious works, and it can be seen that throughout the century a place, albeit less prominent, was given to religious material in all private libraries. A number of authors had cross-denominational appeal while others appealed only to their co-religionists. Huguenot exiles in Ireland carried on their public worship in the French language until the early nineteenth century, Protestant religious works in French were to be found in Irish bookshops, and were published by Irish printers for this market. Among the wider Anglican educated readership too the works of Protestant religious writers were owned in French. Up to 1795 Catholic clergy were trained on the continent, books of continental origin in Latin, French, Italian and Spanish were a prominent feature of these clerical libraries, especially in the areas of divinity and Catholic devotional literature. Copies of La Sainte Bible and separate editions of Le Nouveau Testament were present in 81 of the libraries in the sample. Both Protestant and Catholic Bibles and Nouveau Testaments were present, the Protestant Bibles were more common, Martin’s, Diodati’s, Ostervald’s and Des Marets’; while the Catholic versions, the Vulgate and De Carrière’s Bible were less common. Most of the Protestant Bibles in Irish libraries originated in Amsterdam and most Catholic Bibles in Paris.

Bossuet, Bishop of Meaux and preceptor to the Dauphin, was probably the most celebrated pulpit orator of his time. In Ireland his books were owned by all denominations, though as a theologian his doctrinaire Catholic views did not endear him to Protestants. However, his works such as Discours sur l’histoire universelle (1681), written for the instruction of the Dauphin, gained a wide readership, 62% of readers of Bossuet in Ireland. He was appreciated for his Sermons and especially for his Oraisons funèbres. Also present were his Histoire des variations des églises protestantes (1688), and Exposition de la doctrine de l’église catholique (1671).

Blaise Pascal, who also wrote under the pseudonym Louis de Montalte, is most widely represented by his literary works. Other than his scientific and mathematical works his main published work during his lifetime consisted of a series of 18 letters, supposedly written to a friend in the provinces, Les Lettres provinciales (1656-7). At the time of his death he was working on a defence of the Catholic religion entitled Apologie de la religion catholique. It was not far enough advanced, however, to be fit for publication, but his fragmentary notes were published under the title Pensées de M. Pascal sur la religion (1670). Voltaire dates the commencement of the modern French language to the prose style of Les provinciales. Pascal’s works were held by all denominations in Ireland, Les lettres provinciales was the most widely held, in 40 libraries, while Les pensées was held in 36 libraries.

The book sale catalogues reveal a fairly homogeneous, cultured, well-educated segment of the population, comprising Protestant and Catholic readers of the middle and higher socio-economic levels. This is clearly a very limited profile, denying the complexities and variety of the multi-layered society that was eighteenth-century Ireland. Yet, as the most comprehensive source available to the researcher of the history of the book in Ireland, the evidence they produce has to be considered seriously, while acknowledging the major deficiencies which they present.

The bulk of French language reading matter evident in the catalogues is imported, Paris provides the greatest frequency of imprints, closely followed by Amsterdam, with London and The Hague also significant. Ireland’s situation on the periphery of western Europe allowed its book importers a choice of several centres of production. Centres in the Netherlands rivalled those in France for cost and availability of titles, and London and Dublin printers also figured in the reprint trade. The catalogues point to an interest in French Classicism among private library owners, developing to include works of the French Enlightenment as they were published. By the end of the century works of Classicism and the Enlightenment shared an important place in Irish libraries. The French Enlightenment in Ireland was represented not just by the publications issued with a privilege from Paris, but by the broader cosmopolitan publications of the philosophes scattered across Europe, purveying a more diverse Enlightenment. Religious works were evident in all libraries examined, and one of the most noteworthy features of these works was the cross-denominational appeal of many religious authors.

All images courtesy of Dublin City Library & Archive (www.dublincitypubliclibraries.ie )

[1] This article was first published in Linen Hall Review, 12, no. 1 (Spring 1995), pp 4-8.

[2] Máire Kennedy, ‘The domestic and international trade of an eighteenth-century Dublin bookseller: John Archer (1782-1810)’, Dublin Historical Record, XLIX, no.2 (Autumn 1996), pp 94-105. Also available as a post on WordPress.com.

[3] See Máire Kennedy, French books in eighteenth-century Ireland (Oxford, Voltaire Foundation, 2001) for the complete list of catalogues.

[4] Mary McNeill, The life and times of Mary Ann McCracken 1770-1866: a Belfast panorama (Dublin, Allen Figgis & Company Ltd, 1960), pp 40, 128, 139.

[5] Mary Delany, Letters from Georgian Ireland: the correspondence of Mary Delany, 1731-1768, ed. by Angélique Day (Belfast, The Friar’s Bush Press, 1991), p.285.

[6] Freeman’s Journal, 5-7 September 1782; 12-14 September 1782; 19-21 September 1782.

[7] F.V. Barry, Maria Edgeworth: chosen letters (London, Jonathan Cape, 1931), pp 103-4.

[8] Henry Grattan, Memoirs of the life and times of the Rt. Hon. Henry Grattan. By his son Henry Grattan, Esq., M.P. 2 vols (London, Henry Colburn, 1839), i, p.248.

[9] Harold Williams, ed. The correspondence of Jonathan Swift, 5 vols (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1963).

[10] Robert Darnton, ‘Readers Respond to Rousseau: the fabrication of Romantic sensitivity’ in The great cat massacre and other episodes in French cultural history (Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1985), pp 209-49.

 

The Domestic and International Trade of an Eighteenth-Century Dublin Bookseller: John Archer (1782-1810).

 

Throughout the eighteenth century Dublin was the second city of the three kingdoms, it was the seat of parliament, with a university and law school, a centre of trade and commerce, with particular emphasis on trade with Europe and America. Dublin was renowned for its bookshops, whose main income came from the reprints of London editions sold on the local market. Trade restrictions and the English Copyright Act meant that exports of illicitly reprinted books to Great Britain were prohibited from 1739 and exports to America were not legal until 1778.[2]

From the late seventeenth century Dublin printers and booksellers became prominent in the commercial life of the city. The establishment of the Guild of St Luke the Evangelist in 1670, as the guild of cutlers, painters, paper-stainers and stationers, gave Dublin printers and booksellers certain trading privileges and a place in the economic development of the city.[3] In the course of the eighteenth century a large number of booksellers carried on an extensive trade based on locally reprinted books, original printings and imported stock. Many of the large Dublin booksellers of the last quarter of the eighteenth century were wholesale dealers, supplying Dublin and provincial booksellers with stock. The scale of this wholesale trade in books meant a substantial financial investment, but large fortunes could be made in this way.

London was the main centre for the importation of books, periodicals and stationery in the eighteenth century, with a sharp increase in imports after the Act of Union in 1801. The extension of the Copyright Act to Ireland, as part of the Union, ended the lucrative trade in reprints, and demand for modern literature was satisfied from then on by the London book trade.

The importation of foreign language books, especially French and Italian, was a component of the book trade of most major Dublin booksellers throughout the eighteenth century. There was a perceptible shift in the market from the early to the later century, in the first half of the century continental imports were made up of expensive scholarly works in literature and the sciences, aimed at the wealthy intellectual. In the second half of the century a broader-based readership demanding the fashionable works of the Enlightenment developed, though the demand for serious works of literature, scientific and scholarly publications did not cease to be an important part of the market.

The major book importers of the last quarter of the century traded with London suppliers and directly with continental publishing centres in France, Switzerland and the Netherlands. Luke White had an account with the Société Typographique de Neuchâtel,[4] while Richard Edward Mercier traded with Wild and Altheer at Utrecht,[5] and John Archer and Antoine Gerna travelled abroad to purchase books and negotiate terms in person.[6]

By the late eighteenth century foreign language books could be purchased in most Dublin bookshops, smaller retailers purchased their stock from a Dublin importer, or through importers in London. A system of sale-or-return operated with London suppliers, but in practical terms such a system could not be carried on with continental suppliers. This system operated in favour of the smaller bookseller by cutting down on the risk factor. This emphasises all the more the entrepreneurial nature of the large-scale importation of continental editions and the level of financial risk involved. The specialists in the field of foreign language imports in the last quarter of the century could boast of a large turnover and could display a breadth of stock not equalled at any other time during the century. They could tap into a market of educated readers with a cosmopolitan taste in literature.

The career of John Archer, one of the more prominent Dublin booksellers of the late eighteenth century, illustrates the range and scale of bookselling during this period. His trade centred around bookselling, publishing and importation, he does not appear to have been a printer. He operated in the Dame Street area for his entire career, first at Crampton Court from 1782 to 1787, then at 80 Dame Street from 1788 to 1800, and finally, from 1801, at the Commercial Buildings, erected in 1798 on the site now occupied by the Central Bank.[7] Archer’s name appears on over 100 titles in the period 1782-1800, as the sole publisher of a work, as one of a group of publishers, or as a selling agent for London-printed works.[8]

He began his career in Dublin about 1782 in the firm of Archer and Cawthorne, booksellers, stationers and lottery office keepers, buying, selling, valuing and exchanging books.[9] Their shop, the Established Book-Shop, at 18 Crampton Court, at the ‘Corner of the Narrow Passage leading into Essex Street’, was the premises formerly occupied by the bookseller, Luke White. It is likely that Archer came to Dublin from the London trade, George Cawthorne was a bookseller in the Strand, and he may have been Archer’s partner in the Dublin venture.[10] It is not clear where he served his apprenticeship, the ledgers of the leading London based bookselling firm of William Strahan, note on 7 July 1761 that they took on an apprentice called John Archer, who was freed in 1768.[11]

Archer’s business quickly expanded and he began to produce an annual sale catalogue of his stock, with prices affixed. One of his earliest catalogues, that of 1785, contained 10,000 volumes. This catalogue is not extant, but an advertisement was carried in the Volunteer’s Journal in January 1785 listing a selection of the larger format books, in folio and quarto. Catalogues cost 6d. which ‘was allowed in the smallest purchase’. He described his stock as ‘the First Variety of Scarce and Valuable Books in Dublin; including every New Publication, at Reduced Prices’.[12] The titles listed included volumes of the Irish Statutes, Bibles, Dictionaries, and books on history and antiquities.

In the early years of his business Archer had imported stock from England, in 1786 he went to London and Oxford where he purchased ‘an extensive variety in all Branches of Literature’ for which he intended to issue a sale catalogue.[13] Archer and other Dublin booksellers met and socialized with their English and Scottish counterparts in both Dublin and London, in this way facilitating trade and leading to co-operation on reprints.[14] Expansion of his business is evident in 1788 with the move to a more prominent location at 80, Dame Street. The area of Dublin from Skinner Row along Dame Street to the gate of Trinity College, with the alleys and courts off Dame Street included, contained a notable density of bookshops. This was the fashionable centre of the retail book trade in the late century which had extended from its original centre around Skinner Row. Those booksellers whose businesses were in the ascendant moved to properties in this area as their next step towards greater commercial success.

Archer’s catalogue of 1788 of ‘the most elegant editions in the English language, with a few valuable French, Latin and Greek Authors’ formed only part of his extensive stock. The books were ‘all in boards, uncut, and in proper condition for binding’. Books were often offered for sale in boards, as private library owners frequently opted for uniform bindings to adorn their bookshelves. Certain collectors had their own crests and symbols stamped on the binding, for example the Putland family used the symbol of the elephant, stamped in gilt, on the spines of their books. Archer addressed himself to ‘those Gentlemen who may wish to have their favourite Authors bound agreeable to their own taste, or to match particular sets of books’.[15]

Archer offered a variety of bindings to the buyer of The young lady’s pocket library, or parental monitor in 1790 and 1791, ranging from a plain binding at 3s.3d. to ‘Red Morocco leather, gilt over, with silk strings’ for 6s.6d. These volumes, advertised in November and December of the year, were considered ‘A proper Present for the Ladies’.[16] Archer also undertook binding work for his customers, but it is not clear if this work was carried out in a bindery of his own, or contracted out to commercial bookbinders in the city.

Young-Lady's-Pocket-Library

Several Dublin booksellers dealt in secondhand books, some were imported from abroad, while others were purchased in parcels or as a complete library. Secondhand books were offered for sale as part of a regular bookshop stock, or sold by auction. Archer was involved in this aspect of the business from his earliest years, when he offered to buy and exchange books. In 1785 he advertised for secondhand stock, offering ‘the highest prices for Parcels of Old Books, or will give Books in Exchange’. By 1788 he continued to appeal to the public, stating that ‘being desirous to enlarge his Library, will give the utmost value, in ready money, for any parcel of Books’.[17] By the end of the decade Archer had certainly enlarged his bookstock, his catalogue for 1789, priced at 6½d., contained over 20,000 volumes ‘in most languages and parts of Literature’.[18]

After the death of the Hon. Denis Daly, M.P. in 1791 Archer and William Jones purchased his renowned library from the family for £2,300. They ‘hoped to derive both reputation and profit from their purchase’.[19] Auction catalogues were printed for the proprietors, Archer and Jones, and went on sale for 2s.8½d. in March 1792 for the May sale. The catalogues were distributed to booksellers in Cork. Belfast, Britain and the continent.[20] The collection was auctioned in Dublin by James Vallance on 1 May 1792 and following days. Lord Charlemont described the sale to his correspondent, Edmond Malone in London, as follows:

you judged right respecting the sale of our poor friend’s books. They have, I believe, sold for almost the double of what the family got for them. During the week of the auction the Dublin world was book mad. All men bought, they who could and they who could not read, and the prices were more than London would have afforded. I am glad of it for two reasons, because Archer is an honest man, and deserved success for the more than Irish spirit of his enterprise, and because four Scotch and two English booksellers were disappointed in their impudent expectation of finding Ireland a land of ignorance, where the best books might be purchased for a trifle.[21]

The proprietors, Archer and Jones, made a clear profit of nearly £1,200 on the sale.

Archer acted as publisher on several occasions, either on his own, or with a group of other Dublin booksellers. The large printing firm, Graisberry and Campbell, printed several of his publications during the 1790s.[22] Archer also acted as selling agent for a number of works printed in London, and his name appears in the imprint on the title pages. He was the Dublin agent for an edition of Oliver Goldsmith’s The vicar of Wakefield, printed in London in 1800, and sold by booksellers in England and Scotland. He was involved with the sale of a series of publications, under the title General View of Agriculture of various English counties, printed in London, and sold by regional booksellers in England and Scotland.

Many of Archer’s own editions were published by subscription, for example, his edition of Pennant’s Some account of London, published in 1791.[23] It was a reprint of the London edition, selling at a much more moderate cost, the price to subscribers was 11s.4½d. in boards, or 13s. ‘neatly bound’, compared with the London price of £1.9s.3d. in boards, Archer added that ‘his edition shall in every respect be superior’. This work was accompanied by engraved plates, which Archer was careful to draw to the attention of intending purchasers. The volume, in royal octavo, was ‘printed on fine paper, and enriched with all the Plates of the Author’s last edition’. This engraving work was to be carried out in Dublin, and Archer sought the approval of his customers for this project, ‘It is needless to point out the utility of an effort to improve the arts of printing and engraving in this kingdom, the public sensible of their importance, will not, it is presumed, hesitate to give it an effectual support’. Specimens of the engraved plates could be viewed at Archer’s bookshop.[24] Several of the engravings were done by Henry Brocas, and his name appears as one of the subscribers to the volume.[25] Archer’s edition attracted 388 subscribers, including 16 booksellers in Dublin, Cork and Belfast, taking multiple copies, ranging from five to twenty-five.

It was at Archer’s bookshop in 1791 that a group of intellectuals met ‘to read the newspapers, new publications, and the memoirs of transactions of the Philosophic Societies, both foreign and domestic’. On 10 May of that year the group, under the chairmanship of Richard Kirwan, the renowned chemist, decided to form a ‘Society having a Library and a Reading room of its own’.[26] This became the Dublin Library Society, which was to continue until 1881. The first committee of the society met at Archer’s until June 1791, when they rented rooms for the new library at 6, Eustace Street, the shop of James Vallance, the book auctioneer. The fact that Archer’s was the resort of such literary people suggests the range and quality of his stock, which would be of interest to them, and the accommodation which his premises could provide for gatherings of this type.

The Irish aristocracy and landed gentry spent much of the year in their townhouses in Dublin, or travelling to London, Bath or the continent, but those who were resident in Ireland spent a substantial amount of time at their country estates. Books and other luxuries were purchased throughout the year. Archer’s catalogues were aimed at this dispersed bookbuying public. In his catalogue of 1793 he addressed himself to ‘Persons residing in the Country, or elsewhere, who may favour the Proprietor with Orders’, and requested them to order by quoting the number and the first word of the title, to ensure that they received the correct edition.[27] Country house accounts have a very poor survival rate, but from the existing evidence it can be shown that the wealthy bookbuyers were not expected to purchase ‘for ready money only’ but could instead charge purchases to their standing accounts and pay quarterly or half yearly.

Archer gave credit to these larger customers. This is illustrated by the Clonbrock Papers which contain nine booksellers’ accounts from 1800 to 1806.[28] They cover the purchase of books for the library of Lord Clonbrock of Ballinasloe, Co. Galway.[29] The accounts show a substantial expenditure on books in this short time span, Archer was paid £61.15s.1d. in June 1801; £46.3s.11d. in March 1802; £94.4s.8d. in March 1803; £45.10s. in February 1805 and £89.19s.9d. in September 1806. Credit on this scale suggests a large and prosperous business with a very large turnover. Lord Clonbrock’s account with John Archer covered both books and binding.

The Bellew family of Mount Bellew, Co. Galway, built up their library in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The Bellews were Catholic gentry who did not conform during the penal laws, yet managed to retain their status and estates throughout the eighteenth century. The sons of the family were educated in France, and many had careers on the continent, in the church, the army and as merchants. The Irish branch of the family was prominent in the flour trade.[30] Christopher Dillon Bellew dealt with John Archer where he had a book account from 1790 to 1810. Bellew paid all or a portion of his book account every three to six months, it was paid by ‘Draft at 61 Days’ or ‘by a note payable in three months’. Bellew’s expenditure on books increased during the period of the account from £11.15s.7d. in August 1790 to £210 in April 1802. In January 1804, 1805 and 1806 the account was paid with drafts of £200 for each year.

Archer kept what amounted to a reading profile of his customers and purchased books with this in mind. He wrote to Bellew that he had sent him books ‘I think within your reading’ and ‘I will immediately on receiving them make out a catalogue of such as strikes me to be within your line of reading, and send it to you’.[31] He also sent books on approbation, in September 1801 Bellew was sent a ‘selection from a valuable Collection of English, French and Latin Books which are just come to hand’ and subsequent invoices show that Bellew took many of them.[32] Archer acted as agent for Bellew, in 1799 he charged Bellew for ‘advertising Lanesboro in Dublin Evening Post’ and ‘advertising Maylough to Galway, ditto’. He also acted for Bellew at book auctions held by James Vallance and R.E. Mercier, bidding for agreed items, but only purchasing them if they were good value.[33] When Archer went abroad to purchase books in 1799 he took orders from Bellew, and on his return in December 1799 he promised to send Bellew a catalogue of some of the new French books purchased on the continent.[34] From as early as 1792 Archer wrote of books imported for Bellew which included Fleury’s Histoire ecclésiastique in 37 volumes quarto at £8.10s.7½d.[35] Archer bought for Bellew in London and arranged for binding the books.[36] Bellew also purchased books from R.E. Mercier in Dublin in 1800, but it is not clear if they were from one of his auctions, or from his bookstock. Archer wrote to Bellew in April 1800 apologising that ‘through mistake the parcel from Mercier was not packed’.[37]

Among his customers John Archer numbered the Edgeworth family of Edgeworthstown, Co. Longford. Maria Edgeworth, writing to her Aunt Mary from France in 1802, recommended her to purchase and read Madame de Genlis’ Petits romans ‘and those are to be found by Darcy, if he be not drunk, at Archer’s, Dublin’.[38] The Edgeworth family clearly kept an account at Archer’s and Darcy is likely to have been a servant or agent who was given the errand of collecting the books.

George Moore of Moore Hall, Co. Galway, was another account holder at John Archer’s. He was the son of an exiled merchant from Alicante who returned from Spain in 1790 and built Moore Hall. George was born in Spain where the family prospered in the manufacture of iodine, made from kelp shipped from Galway, and the export of wine to Ireland. He built up the library at Moore Hall in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.[39] In August 1806 Archer sent a case of books for George Moore with a consignment for C.D. Bellew.[40] Archer was bookseller to His Excellency, the Earl of Hardwicke, the Lord Lieutenant, in 1802-3, this suggests a hierarchy within the trade and places Archer towards the top of that hierarchy.

The 1790s saw Archer’s trade with the continent expand and develop, he went abroad in person to fulfill orders for his clientele. His catalogue of 1791, priced 6½d., contained over 20,000 volumes in various languages ‘including an uncommon variety of rare books and every new Work of approved Merit published here and abroad’.[41] In October 1791, after the purchase of books in London ‘the most capital collection of Books ever imported, at once, into this kingdom’, he went to Paris and other centres on the continent to procure ‘the most valuable, rare and expensive works’ and he expressed his willingness to take commissions from customers.[42]

In July 1792 he once again set out for London, Paris and Venice ‘for the purpose of enlarging his present extensive Collection of Books’, the books purchased would form his new ‘Catalogue of the Most Valuable and Curious Books ever offered for sale in this kingdom’ which he hoped to publish the following winter.[43] The fruits of this buying expedition are to be found in the extensive sale catalogue of 1793, which contained nearly 30,000 volumes to be sold in 5,418 lots.[44] Archer spent four months on the continent from August to November 1799 where he took commissions for books, purchasing French books for Christopher Dillon Bellew and probably also for other customers.[45] In 1801 he issued a priced catalogue devoted to French and Italian literature containing 564 titles in continental editions.[46]

Archer’s importation business was considerable at the commencement of the nineteenth century. In April 1802 he expected 2,000 volumes from London by the end of the week.[47] This period marked the high point of his bookselling career. He was expanding his business, especially in the area of book importation, and he advertised that he wished to make his shop ‘a Repository of the Literature of Europe’.[48] At this time, too, there is a notice of his second marriage, to Miss M. Priest of Salisbury St, London.[49] They had at least three sons, William (b.1805), Robert (1806-1820), and Edward (b.1808), all of whom attended Trinity College.[50]

The French Revolutionary Wars ended with the Peace of Amiens in March 1802, to the great relief of merchants whose business interests were affected by the state of war, and the consequent danger to shipping. In April 1802 Archer’s advertisement headed ‘Price of Books Reduced!’ appeared in the press, and he announced:

Peace having lowered the rates of Insurance, Freight, Carriage, and other Expenses attending the Importation of Books; and the Duty on Paper being in part taken off, by the Legislature, J. Archer, desirous that his Customers should benefit by the same, has determined to sell, in future, all Books he may import from Great Britain at the original prices, free of any advance or charge whatever.[51]

His last trip to the continent took place in the summer of 1802 when he went to France and Germany ‘for the purpose of collecting the choicest publications of the Continent and to form such connexions there as must in future secure to his customers every possible Accommodation in his line, on Terms the most advantageous to them’.[52]

Irish and British visitors had taken the opportunity of travelling to France after the peace was signed in March 1802. One report estimated that by September there were no fewer than 16,000 visitors in Paris from England and Ireland.[53] The peace came to a sudden end in May 1803, the outbreak of hostilities took many by surprise and they were detained in France as aliens until after the first Peace of Paris in 1814. Among those detained were Lovell Edgeworth, brother of Maria Edgeworth, and James Edward Devereux of Carrigmenan, a member of the Catholic Committee for Co. Wexford. In a letter of June 1803 to Lord Clonbrock Archer requested payment of his book account as he was ‘so unfortunate as to have books to the value of near £1500 in France, and all paid for’ as his books were impounded in France.[54] Some of his books were released and in August 1803 he wrote to C.D. Bellew ‘I have been unfortunate, only a part of the Books that I expected from France are arrived, the remainder to the value of near £700 paid, are detained in France’.[55] The state of war, accompanied by the detention of his books created a credit squeeze for Archer. In January 1804 in gratitude for the payment of his bill, he wrote to Bellew ‘nothing could be more timely than your recollection of me, for during the whole of my life, I never was so much in want of money – my french Books lie very heavy on my hands and as yet I have not recd. any acct. of those I expected from France, but, I hope they are safe’.[56]

Importation of continental books from this time until his retirement was through London and Archer charged for them as follows: ‘the foreign books are priced according to Mr Lunn’s Catalogue with 12 p.ct. advance – the English or London printed articles are at in general the publication prices’.[57] The steady decline of Archer’s importation business was apparent from this time, in June 1807 he stated: ‘there is very little novel in the book way … and business cannot be worse’ and by July he wrote: ‘Its my intention to visit London by the end of August to cloase accts. the greater part of them I shall never open again. Business is so very bad I am completely discovering my stock exceeding heavy’ and by December ‘the London Booksellers had drained me of the last shilling’.[58]

In 1809 and 1810 Archer’s business was conducted by his son from his first marriage, Charles Palmer Archer.[59] Charles had his own bookshop in Dame Street until 1827 when he was termed ‘His Majesty’s Bookseller in Ireland’.[60] Archer was clearly ill as Charles wrote to Bellew in August 1809 ‘there being no likelyhood at present of Mr Archer’s being able to attend to business’.[61] Archer retired from business in 1810 and died in July 1811.[62] His stock was sold by auction by Thomas Jones on 12 November and following days, presumably to raise money for his widow and young sons from his second marriage. The extant catalogue covers only part of his stock, amounting to 3,000 volumes, containing continental as well as Dublin and London imprints.[63]

The early years of the nineteenth century were bad ones for Dublin booksellers. As a result of the Union the reprint trade collapsed, putting many booksellers out of business, but more significantly for Archer, the readership declined as many prominent families closed up their Dublin houses and moved to London. The early nineteenth century saw a large number of private libraries coming up for auction as their owners left the city. In the eighteenth century the bookbuying public consisted of the nobility, gentry and emerging middle classes, after the Union the political and cultural focus for the gentry shifted to London, and the market for luxury goods declined. The professional and merchant middle classes now formed the core of the book market, with some large country house accounts still remaining. It was in the early nineteenth century that many Catholic families returned from the continent and began to assemble libraries at their country estates.

The importance of Archer’s bookselling business can be assessed in relation to that of Luke White, the leading Dublin book importer of the late eighteenth century. Both issued stock catalogues containing tens of thousands of volumes, White from 1777 and Archer from at least 1785.[64] Both carried an extensive stock of continental literature, especially in French and Italian, and both traded directly with continental suppliers, White with the Société Typographique de Neuchâtel and other suppliers, and Archer trading personally with continental publishing centres. White was active in reprinting popular titles from London and continental editions, as sole publisher or with a group of booksellers. His name occurs in the imprints of over 370 books between 1776 and 1797.[65] Archer’s publishing record was more modest, just over 100, and consisted mostly of reprinted English language editions. White, however, diversified his business interests, giving up the retail book trade in 1793 to concentrate on the wholesale book trade and book importation, he invested in property and became involved in finance, thus laying the foundations of a substantial personal fortune. Archer’s bookselling business suffered greatly in the early nineteenth century as a result of the Union and the Napoleonic wars.

Archer’s business interests in the book trade were substantial in the 30 years of his working life and point to the scale of bookselling in Dublin at this period. Archer was only one of many Dublin booksellers whose trade was international in scope, whose investment in the trade was considerable, and whose returns reflected that heavy investment. The speculative nature of the international trade is obvious, as fortunes were made, as in the case of Luke White, and lost, in Archer’s case.

Specialisation in the continental book trade, in the early eighteenth century, and more particularly in the last quarter of the century, provides evidence of a sufficient demand for imported continental literature among bookbuyers. It also points to the diversity on offer to the Irish reading public as booksellers sought to import the latest and best publications from the continent, through their contacts in Paris, Amsterdam, The Hague, Vienna, Neuchâtel and Utrecht. Irish bookbuyers were able to support the Dublin book trade in its publishing and bookselling activities. The foreign language book importers catered solely for the domestic market which was sufficient to keep several booksellers with extensive undertakings in business throughout the century.

All images courtesy of Dublin City Library & Archive (www.dublincitypubliclibraries.ie )

[1] An earlier version of this article was first published in Dublin Historical Record, XLIX, no. 2 (Autumn 1996), pp 94-105.

[2] British Copyright Act 1709 (8 Ann, c.19, Great Britain, in force 10 Apr. 1710); Importation Act 1739 (12 George II, c.36, Great Britain, in force 20 Sept. 1739). In 1778 some Irish goods, including books, were allowed to be exported directly to the colonies (18 George III, c.55, Great Britain). M. Pollard. Dublin’s trade in books 1550-1800 (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1989), pp 66-109.

[3] National Library of Ireland: Mss 12,121-12,125 Records of the Guild of St Luke the Evangelist, vols I-V, 1670-1785.

[4] Hugh Gough, Hugh ‘Book Imports from continental Europe in late eighteenth-century Ireland: Luke White and the Société Typographique de Neuchâtel’, Long Room, 38 (1993), pp 35-48.

[5] Anthologia Hibernica, 4 vols (Dublin, R.E. Mercier & Co., 1793-94), i, June 1793, p. 450.

[6] Dublin Chronicle 24 July 1788. Gerna offered to execute commands in Paris for ‘Gentlemen in the book line’.

[7] Wilson’s Dublin directories 1783-1809.

[8] The Eighteenth-Century Short Title Catalogue (ESTC) lists Archer in the imprint of 104 titles, but additional titles may be located in libraries which have not yet been added to the ESTC.

[9] Freeman’s Journal, 24-26 Oct. 1782.

[10] George Cawthorne, bookseller in the Strand, London, d. 24 June 1804.

[11] British Library: Add MSS 4800-48918, Strahan archive

[12] Volunteer’s Journal, 24 Jan. 1785; 18 Feb. 1785.

[13] Dublin Journal, 9-11 May 1786.

[14] Richard B. Sher, The Enlightenment and the book: Scottish authors and their publishers in eighteenth-century Britain, Ireland and America (Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 2006), p. 452.

[15] Freeman’s Journal, 29 Nov.-2 Dec. 1788.

[16] The young lady’s pocket library, or parental monitor (Dublin, printed by Graisberry & Campbell for John Archer, 1790). M. Pollard, ‘Plain calf for plain people’ in Agnes Bernelle, ed. Decantations: a tribute to Maurice Craig (Dublin, The Lilliput Press, 1992), pp 177-86; p.185. Dublin Chronicle, 27 Nov. 1790; 22 Dec. 1791.

[17] Freeman’s Journal, 29 Nov.-2 Dec. 1788.

[18] John Archer, A catalogue of books (for 1789) … the sale begins 11th Feb. 1789. At the shop of John Archer, no. 80, Dame-street (Dublin, 1789).

[19] J.S.C., ‘Bookbuyers in the Olden Time’, The Irish Book Lover, 3, no. 10 (1912), pp 159-60. T.U. Sadleir, ‘An eighteenth-century Irish gentleman’s library’, Book Collector, 2 (1953), pp 173-76.

[20] Catalogue of the library of the late Rt Hon. Denis Daly which will be sold by auction by James Vallance on 1 May 1792 (Dublin, printed for the proprietors John Archer and William Jones, 1792). Dublin Chronicle, 24 Mar. 1792.

[21] The manuscripts and correspondence of James, First Earl of Charlemont, 2 vols, Vol. II 1784-1799, Historical Manuscripts Commission (London, HMSO, 1894), pp 193-94.

[22] Trinity College Dublin: Mss 10,314-10,316, Graisberry ledgers (1777-1785; 1797-1806); cash book (1799).

Vincent Kinane and Charles Benson, ‘Some late 18th- and early 19th-century Dublin printers’ account books: the Graisberry ledgers, in Peter Isaac ed., Six centuries of the provincial book trade in Britain, papers presented at the Eighth seminar on the British book trade, Durham, July 1990 (Winchester, St Paul’s Bibliographies, 1990), pp 139-50.

[23] Thomas Pennant, Some account of London, third edition (Dublin, printed for John Archer, 1791).

[24] Dublin Chronicle, 22 Dec. 1791; 19 Jan. 1792.

[25] Henry Brocas (1762-1837) was a landscape painter and engraver. As an engraver he contributed to several Dublin periodicals. From 1801 to his death in 1837 he was master of the Landscape and Ornament School of the Royal Dublin Society. Walter George Strickland, A dictionary of Irish artists, 2 vols (Dublin, Maunsel, 1913).

[26] Alexander MacWilliam, ‘The Dublin Library Society 1791-1882’ Short papers of the Bibliographical Society of Ireland, 2, no. 6 (1925), pp 120-31. John T. Gilbert, A history of the city of Dublin, 3 vols (Dublin, Gill & Macmillan, The Sackville Library (reprint), 1978), ii, pp 314-5.

[27] Archer’s Catalogue of Books for 1793. The sale begins on Wednesday, the 3d of April 1793 (Dublin, 1793).

[28] National Library of Ireland: Ms. 22,177, Clonbrock Papers, Booksellers accounts c.1800-1806, 10 items.

[29] Five are book accounts of John Archer, two are duplicate bills from James Carpenter and Co., Old Bond Street, London, one is from J. White and one has no date or bookseller’s name. James Carpenter was paid £166.5s.3d. to cover books purchased between October 1800 and May 1801. J. White was paid £142 in April 1801: – this included £31.10s. for the 70 volumes of the Beaumarchais edition of the Oeuvres of Voltaire in elegant bindings. An unnamed bookseller was paid £101.2s.6d. for 111 volumes of books.

[30] Karen J. Harvey, ‘The family experience: the Bellews of Mount Bellew’ in T.P. Power, and Kevin Whelan, eds. Endurance and emergence: Catholics in Ireland in the eighteenth century (Dublin, Irish Academic Press, 1990), pp 171-197.

[31] National Library of Ireland: Ms. 27,293, Bellew Papers, Letters and accounts from John Archer, bookseller, to C.D. Bellew, 1790-1810; letters 8 Jan. 1805; 23 Jan. 1806.

[32] Ibid., letter 18 Sept. 1801.

[33] Archer purchased books for Bellew at the sale of the library of Dr William Newcome, Archbishop of Armagh, auctioned by Vallance from 31 March 1800 ‘almost every article of value in the Primate’s Collection, as yet, has sold above the value. I have purchased a few Books for you, but on reasonable terms’. Charles P. Archer, who conducted business during John Archer’s illness, mentioned that Thomas Jones, the auctioneer, had bought books for Bellew at the sale of Mr Caldwell’s library, which began on 3 May 1809. Bellew Papers, op. cit., letters 14 Apr. 1800; 13 May 1809.

[34] Ibid., letter 5 Dec. 1799.

[35] Ibid., account Sept. 1793-Apr. 1794.

[36] ‘I shall have a large Box of Books ready for you by the end of next week, consisting of Books from the list of Messrs Rivington London … which are now in the hand of the binder’. Ibid., letter 6 Apr. 1808.

[37] Ibid., letter 14 Apr. 1800.

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

[39] Joseph Hone, The life of George Moore (London, Gollancz, 1936); Joseph Hone, The Moores of Moore Hall (London, Cape), 1939.

[40] Bellew Papers, op. cit., letter 1 Aug. 1806.

[41] Dublin Chronicle, 31 Mar. 1791.

[42] Dublin Chronicle, 6 Oct. 1791.

[43] Dublin Chronicle, 28 July 1792.

[44] Archer’s Catalogue of Books for 1793, op. cit.

[45] Bellew Papers, op. cit., letters 20 July 1799; 5 Dec. 1799.

[46] A catalogue of French and Italian books, imported and sold by J. Archer, Bookseller, Commercial Buildings, Dublin, 1801.

[47] Hibernian Journal, 22 Apr. 1802.

[48] Hibernian Journal, 19 Apr. 1802.

[49] Freeman’s Journal, 21 Aug. 1802. Walker’s Hibernian Magazine (Sept. 1802). Henry Farrar, Irish marriages … in Walker’s Hibernian Magazine 1771-1812, 2 vols (London, Phillimore & Co., 1897).

[50] Alumni Dublinenses, ed. by G.D. Burtchaell and T.U. Sadleir (Dublin, Alex. Thom & Co., 1935). M. Pollard, A dictionary of members of the Dublin book trade 1550-1800 (London, Bibliographical Society, 2000).

[51] Hibernian Journal, 19 Apr. 1802.

[52] Hibernian Journal, 22 Apr. 1802.

[53] Freeman’s Journal, 7 Sept. 1802.

[54] Clonbrock Papers, op. cit., letter 15 June 1803.

[55] Bellew Papers, op. cit., letter 5 Aug. 1803.

[56] Ibid., letter 25 Jan. 1804.

[57] Ibid., letter 5 Mar. 1806.

[58] Ibid., letters 6 June 1807; 22 July 1807; 4 Dec. 1807.

[59] Charles Palmer Archer was freed by the guild in 1810, and later became Lord Mayor and M.P. for Dublin. Pollard, Dictionary.

[60] Wilson’s Dublin directories 1810-1827, first at 44, and later at 34 Dame Street.

[61] Bellew Papers, op. cit., letter 7 Aug. 1809.

[62] Pollard, Dictionary. Belfast News Letter, 19 July 1811.

[63] A catalogue of a valuable collection of books, being part of the stock of John Archer (lately retired from business) which will be sold by auction by Thomas Jones, 12 Nov. 1810.

[64] Independent Chronicle, 15 May 1777; Hibernian Journal, 3-5 Nov. 1777.

[65] ESTC online.

The Abecedarian Society: Dublin 1789.

As part of my research for a Ph.D. on the French language book trade, and readership of French books in Ireland in the eighteenth century, I tabulated the schools and teachers known to have taught French. When following the career of one of these teachers, Charles Praval, whose wife, Catherine, ran a French boarding school at Platanus, Donnybrook Road, I came across the Abecedarian Society. The society proved to be of great interest because I noticed that several prominent Dublin teachers were members, including Mrs Praval, and later, Charles Praval’s daughter, Eliza. Following its progress through various name changes in Watson’s Gentleman’s and citizen’s almanack and later in Thom’s Dublin directories, it became clear that the society was very long-lived. I contacted the Register of Friendly Societies, who informed me that the Literary Teachers Society was still in existence, and had its address at Sandford Park School, Dublin. The ledgers connected with the early years of the society are held at the school. Ledger 2 is the earliest extant, so the first has probably been lost over the years. Ledger 2, however, deals with the setting up of the society and gives a long list of its first members. The value of these records from the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries is immense for historians, educationalists, genealogists, and other interested persons.

History of the Society.

abecedarian-notice

On 26 March 1789 a group of teachers, clergy, booksellers and other interested persons instituted a new society. It was the first of its kind ‘for raising a Fund for the Relief of distressed School Masters, School Mistresses and their families’ called originally the Abecedarian Society, but later renamed the Society for the Relief of Reduced Literary Teachers. Its originator was John McCrea, principal of the Academy in Fade Street, Dublin, ‘who was the steady furtherer of the society’, remaining its ‘unalterable Friend and Parental Guardian’.[1] He became the society’s first secretary. The society issued a printed notice with a pamphlet setting out its resolutions, signed by its first president, Samuel Whyte.[2] Each year, on 26 March, a general meeting of subscribers was held, at which the officers and committee were elected for the coming year. An anniversary dinner was held for the membership ‘at their own private expense; not out of the fund of the society’.[3]

The society held its regular meetings at the Royal Exchange on alternate Saturday and Thursday evenings from 7 to 10 pm, to accommodate country as well as city members.[4] In 1799 it was incorporated by an Act of Parliament and received its definitive name: the Literary Teachers Society, which it has retained to the present day. The establishment of the society pointed to a concern for the profession in general which sought to take care of its more needy members, a society which has lasted for over 200 years. The plight of reduced school masters and mistresses in the eighteenth century is known because of their literate status and their consequent appeals for help in the newspapers. The society was initiated at a time when the death or illness of a breadwinner meant destitution for a family. Teachers were in a vulnerable position in this regard, especially those in subordinate situations. The entry for the society in Watson’s Almanack of 1791 is quite specific on this point and informs us that it ‘not only includes distressed Schoolmasters who have been in a reputable situation, their Widows and Children, private Teachers and Ushers as objects of relief, but also extends to Mistresses of Boarding schools, Tutoresses and Governesses in private Families’.[5] These women teachers in lowly situations were among the most vulnerable in the educational system of the time.

Any person applying for admission to the society had to be recommended by two members and their application voted on, an applicant was required to have at three years experience as an established teacher.[6] Membership of the society included such celebrated teachers as Samuel Whyte, its president, principal of the Grammar School in Grafton Street; Sisson P. Darling, who ran an academy at Mabbot Street and later at the North Strand; Mrs Catherine Praval, who ran a French boarding school at Platanus, Donnybrook Road; David Bates, who ran the Nautical Academy in Chequer Lane; John Coyne, Principal of St Wolstan’s Academy in Glasnevin; Elias M. Draffin, who ran the Académie Françoise; Rev. John Moore, who had a boarding school in Donnybrook; Rev. Thomas Willis who had a famous school at Portarlington and Francis Amyot, King’s Professor and teacher of modern languages at Trinity College, Dublin.

abecedarian-p7

Several well-known figures of late eighteenth-century Dublin were honorary, non-professional members: Rev. James Whitelaw (1789), one of the three authors of the two volume History of Dublin, published in 1818, and author of a treatise on the population of Dublin (1805); Arthur Guinness Jun. Esq. (1789); Joseph Cooper Walker Esq. (1790), the antiquarian scholar; Luke White Esq. (1790), a bookseller with a profitable international trade and later owner of Luttrellstown House; Alexander Jaffray Esq. (1792), a prominent merchant in Dublin; Peter La Touche Esq. (1794), of Bellevue, Co. Wicklow, of the famous banking family, and Rev. John Thomas Troy D.D. (1794), Catholic archbishop of Dublin.

abecedarian-p23

The original membership fees were 11s.4½d. or a half-guinea, paid twice a year on the first Monday of March, June, September, or December, as the subscription fell due, or 10 guineas for life membership. Professional and honorary members paid at the same rate. When the society’s funds were sufficient, relief not exceeding one guinea per week could be paid to a member or his/her family who were in distress. When a member died, a sum not exceeding £10 could be given towards the funeral expenses. While no member could benefit from the fund unless they had subscribed for at least three years, discretion could be applied: ‘unforeseen accidents and infirmity excepted.’[7] The society received no aid from government nor grant from parliament, and was supported entirely from membership fees.[8] In 1818, when Warburton, Whitelaw and Walsh’s History of Dublin was published, they noted that the society’s fund amounted to £2,780 vested in government stock, from which three pensioners were in receipt of 16s.3d.; 10s.; and 7s.6d. per week.

From an examination of the membership of the society it would seem that only the more prominent teachers were members. Perhaps the payment of one guinea a year was more than some could afford, even to guard against penury in sickness and old age. The Dublin society was the first such society to be established; the Literary Teachers Society in London was established several years later. It was an innovative and imaginative enterprise, based on a solid financial model. No payments were made until a sufficient sum was accumulated, and funds were invested in secure government stock. The fund was never used for the entertainment of officers or society members. Women were admitted from the beginning and their status within the society was equal to that of their male colleagues.

All images courtesy of Dublin City Library & Archive (www.dublincitypubliclibraries.ie )

[1] Sandford Park School, Dublin: Abecedarian Society Ledger 2.

[2] Dublin City Library and Archive: Abecedarian Society, instituted Thursday, March 26th, 1789 (Dublin, 1789). Abecedarian Society: Society Room, Royal Exchange, Saturday, November 14, 1789 (Dublin, 1789), ESTC T228595.

[3] Abecedarian Society, resolution 3, p. 2.

[4] Abecedarian Society, resolution 15, p. 5. Dublin Chronicle, 10 May 1791.

[5] Watson’s Gentleman’s and citizen’s almanack 1791-1800, sub Abecedarian Society, Society for the Relief of Reduced Literary Teachers, or Literary Teachers Society. Abecedarian Society, resolution 12, p. 4.

[6] Abecedarian Society, resolutions 7 and 8, p. 3.

[7] Abecedarian Society, resolution 10, p. 4.

[8] J. Warburton, J. Whitelaw, and Robert Walsh, History of the city of Dublin from the earliest accounts to the present time, 2 volumes (London, 1818), pp 884-5.

Charles Praval: eighteenth-century French teacher in Dublin.

French language and culture formed an essential component of civilised life in eighteenth-century Ireland. Cultivated men and women, irrespective of religious or political allegiance, displayed an awareness of French fashions and cultural trends. From the early years of the century French was taught in private schools in Ireland and in families by tutors and governesses. By the last quarter of the eighteenth century an education which included French was within the range of the sons and daughters of middle income families in Dublin and in the provincial cities and towns. In 1775-6 French was introduced, with German, Italian and Spanish, as an optional extra subject at Trinity College Dublin.

The Huguenot diaspora coincided with the desire of an increasing number of members of the higher socio-economic levels in Irish society to learn to read, write and speak French for social and scholarly purposes. The Huguenot emigrants who came to Ireland and England without skills, or with skills which were not in demand, were able to teach French until a more favourable situation presented itself. The first French schools in the Huguenot community in Portarlington were run by ex-soldiers and tradesmen, who were natives of France and therefore felt qualified to teach the language. Of most interest, however, are the men and women who taught French as a full-time career, some of whom wrote textbooks for their students and for the wider market. Many opened French schools, but the majority, perhaps lacking the capital, were employed as French teachers in general schools, some dividing their time between several schools, or teaching private students in their homes in addition to teaching in a school. Not all taught in schools, some French teachers became resident governesses or tutors with a family, or visited at appointed hours for lessons.

Charles Praval seems to typify the successful and energetic professional French teacher in the last quarter of the eighteenth century. Diversity was the key to a successful career. Clearly being in the right place at the right time with the right skills was a decided advantage. His career combines several elements of the teaching life; there was hardly an aspect of French language education in which he was not involved. Praval lived and worked in Dublin during the period 1773 to 1789. In his advertisements he describes himself as a Frenchman and claims to have a perfect knowledge of the English and Latin languages.

Strickland refers to him as a French artist and landscape draftsman who came to Dublin in 1773.[1] He exhibited three drawings at the Society of Artists Exhibition Rooms in William Street, one of which was an Indian fortification in New Zealand, another an arched rock in New Holland (Australia). In the catalogue to the exhibition he describes himself as ‘late draftsman to Mr Banks during his expedition around the world’.[2] Sir Joseph Banks’ expedition was the voyage of the Endeavour, commanded by Captain James Cook. Undertaken from 1768 to 1771, the Endeavour circumnavigated the world, exploring islands in the Pacific, ascertaining that New Zealand formed two islands, and discovering the eastern portion of Australia, New South Wales, and the infamous Botany Bay, named because of the amount of botanical specimens gathered there. Praval joined the expedition in 1770 at Batavia (now Jakarta) in the Dutch East Indies when two of the artists aboard the Endeavour fell ill and died. He made the six-month return journey to England as a supernumerary.[3] Sir Joseph’s chief draughtsman, Sydney Parkinson’s account of the voyage was published in London in 1773.[4]

In 1773 Praval taught French and drawing at the Dublin Academy in Abbey Street. In February 1774 he moved from the Dublin Academy to Mr Egan’s, opposite the White-Hart Inn, Phrapper Lane, where he advertised the French Evening School ‘the only one of its kind in this city’.[5] In an advertisement for his school text, The rudiments of the French tongue, just published in March 1775, Praval’s address is given as 10 Bull Lane.[6] He is first listed in Wilson’s Dublin directory as a teacher of the French language in 1776 at Great Strand Street, then at 5 White Friar Street from 1777 to 1785; this corresponds with his most active period both as a teacher and author. In 1786-7 his address is at George’s Court and finally, from 1788 until his death in June 1789, at Platanus, Donnybrook Road.[7] He seems to have had no involvement with Trinity College although The syntax of the French language (1779) is dedicated to the ‘Right Hon. the Provost and Fellows of Trinity College Dublin’.[8] This dedication occurs just four years after the foundation of the first professorships of modern languages at Trinity College, so perhaps he cherished some hopes of appointment.

The idea of a French evening school is an interesting one and apparently an innovation in Dublin at the period. It was open every evening from 5 until 9 pm and French was the only language spoken during school hours. The evening school was for young gentlemen who were not free to attend during the day either because they were working, were apprentices, or because they attended schools which did not teach French. The evening school, teaching French after hours, must have attracted sufficient interest as Praval continued with it until at least 1787, when he taught three evenings a week, on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at his lecture room in George’s Court, Great George’s Street.[9]

While he claimed the French evening school to be the first of its kind in the city it was soon followed by others in Dublin and other towns and cities. Mr Walenbergh, who arrived in Dublin ‘from abroad’ in January 1776, taught French and Italian from 7 until 8 pm at his lodgings in Capel Street, in addition to teaching ladies and gentlemen in their homes.[10] In 1798 Robert Lowther of the Royal Military and Marine Academy in Summerhill, Dublin, offered ‘private tuition in appartments separate from the Public School, or in the evening’ to young gentlemen ‘who are engaged in business, and wish to improve themselves in the Classics, French or English languages, Arithmetic, Book-keeping, or any branch of Science, preparatory to the University, Army, Navy or East India Company’.[11] Evening classes were not only confined to the metropolis, but took place in the provincial cities and towns. At Mawhinney’s Latin and French school in Pottinger’s Entry, Belfast, an extra class was organised from 7 until 9 pm ‘for the convenience of those who cannot attend his other Classes at an earlier part of the day’, commencing on 19 October 1789.[12] In Cork in the early years of the nineteenth century, Dominick Jacotin carried on his evening academy from 6 until 8 pm in Patrick Street, where he taught French and Italian.[13] Praval appears to have been one of the first teachers to see the potential of an evening academy in the context of French for those who wanted extra tuition, or for those hoping to improve themselves in order to get a better situation.

For those French teachers who had the capital, directing a boarding school often seems to have been the ultimate career aim. Several started their careers teaching in student’s houses or in schools and as soon as the opportunity arose they moved to a house large enough to accommodate boarders and set up a school. In several instances husband and wife teams were involved in the running of these schools. Rev Thomas Willis’ celebrated school in Portarlington was run by Mr and Mrs Willis in 1784.[14] At White’s Old Merrion Lodge Academy, Dublin, Mr White ran the school for young gentlemen while Mrs White took care of the boys under six years old.[15] In 1798 Mrs Gautier ran a boarding school for young ladies at James’s Street, Dublin, while Mr Gautier ‘taught in respectable schools’.[16] On 1 July 1785, twelve years after his move to Dublin, Charles Praval took a lease for 63 years on the house and two-acre demesne of Platanus, on the road leading to Donnybrook, now Upper Leeson Street, at £100 per year, to be paid quarterly.[17] He prepared the four-storey house as a boarding school for twenty young ladies. The school was opened on 1 September 1785 and was under the care of his wife, Catherine Praval, while he continued with his evening school in George’s Court.[18] The Pravals must have made a success of the boarding school as there is evidence for its continued existence after Praval’s death until at least 1811 under the direction of his wife, and his daughter, Eliza.[19]

duncan-1821-platanus

Praval promised that his students would learn French in a very short time by taking advantage of his method of teaching. For those who were already instructed in the principles of the language he offered that they would ‘speedily acquire Facility in Speaking and Elegancy in Discourse’. Indeed he was ready to compare students who had attended his lessons for four or five months with students who attended a private master for nine months. He felt that ‘this assertion would appear pompous, if Praval had any other way to recommend himself to Publick Favour, than by proving thus the Solidity of his Establishment’.[20] Praval’s method of teaching French involved the constant use of the French language during school hours. He believed that ‘this continual Practice, united to the Lessons of the Master, is the true means of enabling his Pupils to speak in shorter Time than they possibly could do under the care of a private Master’.[21] By this method he claimed that some of his pupils learned to speak, read and write French in six months. French was the language spoken during school hours at his evening academy, and at the boarding school at Platanus French was the language of the house.[22]

Many schools emphasised that they taught French grammatically and while this was very necessary it was also desirable that the spoken language should be taught. In the schools where French formed a major component of the curriculum, as distinct from schools where French was taught as an extra, it was frequently the case that French was the language in everyday use. Peter Chartier had a French school for gentlemen boarders at his home in Waterford from about 1774 to 1788. His students were given the opportunity of conversing with the family in French.[23] At Carey’s Classical School in Dorset Street, Dublin, French was spoken by the boarders at meals and at playtime.[24]

In addition to running his own evening academy and teaching at their French school at Platanus, Charles Praval was willing to take private students. This seems an excessive workload until the careers of other teachers are examined and it can be seen that certain teachers spread their talents very widely indeed. In terms of energy and diversity Praval is rivalled by Mr Lefebure in Cork in the 1790s. Lefebrure is first encountered in July 1789 when he was in charge of the French department at the Munster Academy, at 13 Grand Parade. In February 1792 he was employed as a French master at Mr Knowles’ Cork Academy of Languages in George’s Street.[25] In September of the same year Mr Lefebrure ‘at the particular request of his Friends’ opened an academy at his own house in George’s Street. It was called the Mercantile School and Academy of Languages and here he taught French while employing masters to teach Latin, Greek, English, Geography, Arithmetic and Mathematics. He stated that his private tuition was attended as usual.[26] In January 1793 Lefebure and his son taught French at Mrs Menzies’ boarding school, Cittadella, on the Blackrock Road. Mrs Menzies felt that ‘the Teachers attending that School require only to be named, to point out their excellence’. Even taking a little exaggeration into account for publicity, the Lefebures must have been highly thought of.[27] On 21 January 1794 Mr Lefebure’s own academy moved from George’s Street to Summerstown on the Kinsale Road, one mile from the city, where he accommodated twenty boarders. Mr Lefebure and his son continued with their private tuition in town.[28] Lefebure’s academy was still listed in Nixon’s Cork Almanack in 1798 at the Lough, although Mr Lefebure senior had died of apoplexy in 1797.[29]

Peter Chartier also showed a particular zeal for teaching in the 1770s and 1780s. In 1769 he taught French in Barrack Street, Limerick. He next appears in Waterford; he ran a boarding school for young gentlemen in his own house from about 1774, where he taught French and where French was the language of the house.[30] He was the French teacher at Mrs Long’s school in Waterford in 1777. Chartier is still listed as a French teacher in Goosegate Lane, Waterford in Lucas’ General Directory of 1788.[31] Plumb has identified a similar trend in England, displaying energy and diversity among teachers. He cites John Richardson who ran a school in Paradise Square, Sheffield, while his wife ran a girl’s school. Richardson operated a circulating library, conducted evening classes and a free Sunday school. He also draws attention to a dancing teacher and his sons who taught in 19 schools in East Anglia in 1784.[32]

praval-rudiments

Praval’s teaching was supplemented both financially and intellectually by the production of language learning texts and readers for his students and for the general market. In this endeavour he formed a working partnership with William and Henry Whitestone, printers and booksellers at 33 Skinner Row and 29 Capel Street, Dublin. The Whitestones published several books of French interest, such as La Bruyère’s Characters in an English translation in 1776 and in French in 1778, and the French textbooks of John Perrin. Praval’s first text, The rudiments of the French tongue was issued by them in 1775, followed by a second edition in 1779, The syntax of the French tongue in 1779 and The idioms of the French language in 1783.[33] (33)

The grammar books were well received and went into several subsequent editions around the country. The rudiments of the French tongue came out in a third edition, printed by George Burnett in 1802, and in a fourth edition, printed in Cork in 1809.[34] The syntax of the French tongue was reprinted in Dublin in 1802 and 1804 by George Burnett and his successor, Richard Burnet.[35] The idioms of the French language was reprinted in Dublin by George Burnett in 1794, and by William Porter in 1803 and 1810; it was reprinted in Cork by Anthony Edwards and Michael Harris in 1795.[36] In 1825 and 1833 respectively The idioms of the French language was ‘revised and augmented’ and The rudiments and syntax of the French language ‘improved and considerably enlarged’ by Adelbert Doisy, a teacher at the Belfast Academical Institution.[37] Two more textbooks by Praval are listed in the General catalogue of books 1791, French exercises (1770) and French grammar (n.d.), but no copies seem to be extant. Both were published in Dublin in duodecimo format at 3s.3d. and 2s.2d. respectively.[38] However, the date of 1770 for the publication of French exercises is puzzling as there is no evidence that Praval was in Dublin prior to 1773.

magazin-a-la-mode

For his more advanced students Praval issued a monthly periodical, the Magazin à la mode, in 1777-8, and in 1780 compiled a collection of extracts from the writings of ‘Voltaire, Racine, Corneille, Crébillon, Rousseau et autre auteurs célébres’, Le Parnasse François, for which he wrote an introductory treatise on French poetry.[39] Both were published by the Whitestones. The publication of the Magazin à la mode, issued between May 1777 and April 1778, was significant from a teaching point of view. Written entirely in French it claimed that ‘les personnes qui apprennent le François trouveront une source inépuisable d’instruction, & celles qui le savent y verront avec plaisir un receuil choisi de sujets intéressants’.[40] The Magazin was advertised in the Hibernian Journal and the Waterford Chronicle in May 1777 to tie in with the publication of the first issue.[41] It was distributed throughout Ireland to subscribers and to bookshops for general sale.[42] Praval included reviews and extracts from newly published books in the Magazin. In the issue of July 1777 he reviewed James Cook’s Voyage vers le pole du sud et autour du monde 1772-5, a book that must have been of particular interest to him in the light of his own participation in the earlier voyage, from 1768 to 1771.

Clearly there was a market for French language textbooks and in this endeavour as in his many others Praval epitomised the successful French teacher. From the early years of the century French teachers produced their own textbooks. The textbooks and readers for the use of their students served as an arena where the teachers could parade their own skills and also supplement their income. A number of teachers ‘improved’ the texts in new editions of best-sellers. John Astruc, a teacher of French in Grafton Street and Glover’s Alley, Dublin, from 1762 to 1783, ‘corrected and greatly improved’ Nugent’s French and English dictionary. It was published in Dublin as Astruc’s French and English dictionary by James Williams in 1770 in duodecimo format at 3s.3d., and by Thomas Ewing in 1774 at the same price. Porny’s Grammatical exercises in English and French was ‘considerably improved’ in its seventh edition by William C. Leech, a teacher of French in Dorset Street; it was printed in Dublin for Patrick Wogan in 1794.

Charles Praval lived a busy life teaching, running two schools, taking private pupils and writing textbooks. Not all teachers were so energetic or so fortunate in their endeavours. On 26 March 1789 a group of teachers, clergy, booksellers and other interested persons instituted a new society, the first of its kind ‘for raising a Fund for the Relief of Distressed School Masters, School Mistresses and their families’ called originally the Abecedarian Society, but later renamed the Society for the Relief of Reduced Literary Teachers. The Society met on the first and third Thursday of every month at the Royal Exchange.[43] In 1799 the Society was incorporated by an Act of Parliament and received its definitive name: the Literary Teacher’s Society, which it has retained to the present day. Among the earliest members of the society was Eliza, Praval’s daughter.[44] On the committee of the society were such celebrated teachers as John McCrea (its founder), Samuel Whyte, Sisson P. Darling, David Bates, John Coyne, John Farrell, John Dumoulin, Elias M. Draffin, Revd. John Moore, Revd. James Whitelaw, Revd. Thomas Willis of Portarlington and Francis Amyot, King’s Professor and teacher of modern languages at Trinity College, Dublin.[45] A number of prominent Dublin booksellers had places on the committee, they included William Gilbert, William Sleator, Luke White and Robert Marchbank.

Members of the society paid one guinea per annum and when the funds were sufficient relief not exceeding one guinea per week could be paid to a member or his/her family who were in distress. When a member died, a sum not exceeding £10 could be given towards the funeral expenses. The society received no aid from government nor grant from parliament, and was supported entirely from membership fees.[46] From an examination of the membership of the society it would seem that only the more prominent teachers were members. Perhaps the payment of one guinea a year was more than some could afford, even to guard against penury in sickness and old age.

The career of Charles Praval affords us a considerable insight into the working lives of the teachers of French in Ireland in the eighteenth century. A number of elements stand out as being progressive in the field of education, notably the provision of evening classes for those who were unable to attend school during the day and who wished to improve themselves. The existence of evening classes conducted by Praval and by teachers in Dublin and in other parts of the country signifies a desire on the part of parents that their children receive tuition in French even if the schools that they were attending did not provide it. Evening classes also offered an opportunity to those who had completed their schooling to learn and perfect the language. The emphasis on the oral method of language learning was a feature of the better schools. It is significant that teachers particularly advertised the fact that students would have an opportunity to speak French in normal everyday situations, in the playground, at meals etc., either with a native of France or with a person who had resided in France. This indicates that school French was not intended for reading only, but for conversation as well.

The provision of a French language periodical containing extracts from the latest French publications was an especially significant innovation. It went farther than a textbook or reader, and sought to encourage an advanced appreciation of the language and literature among learners. A market clearly existed for such a periodical as it was widely distributed by booksellers around the country. Diversity was the key to a successful career, combining private and school teaching and producing textbooks for the teacher’s own students and for the wider market. Elements of the teaching life were consistent in Dublin and in the provincial towns, although it is likely that there was more opportunity for teachers in the capital. The diversity of activities apparent among Irish teachers of French is paralleled by their counterparts in provincial England.

Eliza Praval’s involvement with the Literary Teacher’s Society pointed to a concern for the profession in general which sought to take care of its more needy members; a society which has lasted for over 200 years. The plight of reduced school masters and mistresses is known because of their literate status and their consequent appeals for help in the newspapers. The society was initiated at a time when the death or illness of a breadwinner meant destitution for a family. Teachers were in a vulnerable position in this regard, especially those in subordinate situations who owned no property. The Pravals were in a better financial position than most, with a boarding school in Donnybrook, yet they thought it prudent to subscribe to the society. After Charles Praval’s demise, his wife and daughter were able to continue to direct the boarding school for more than another two decades.

All images courtesy of Dublin City Library & Archive (www.dublincitypubliclibraries.ie )

This article was first published in Dublin Historical Record, LII, no.2 (Autumn 1999), pp 126-37.

[1] Walter G. Strickland, A dictionary of Irish artists, 2 volumes (Dublin and London, Maunsel and Co, 1913), ii, pp 260-1.

[2] Society of Artists in Ireland index of exhibits, 1765-80, compiled by George Breeze (Dublin, National Gallery of Ireland, 1985), p.23.

[3] I am very grateful to Julie Ann Godson for the reference to Charles Pravel in the Hakluyt Society archive, which she discovered during her research for The Water Gypsy: how a Thames fishergirl became a viscountess (FeedARead.com, 2014, new edition 2016).

[4] Sydney Parkinson, Journal of a voyage to the South Seas in HMS Endeavour (London, 1773; facsimile reprint London, Caliban Books, 1984).

[5] Freeman’s Journal, 5-8 Feb. 1784.

[6] Freeman’s Journal, 14-16 March 1785.

[7] Wilson’s Dublin directories (Dublin, William Wilson, 1776-1789). Freeman’s Journal, 6-9 June 1789.

[8] Charles Praval, The syntax of the French language (Dublin, W. & H. Whitestone, 1779).

[9] Volunteer’s Journal, 30 Dec. 1785. Wilson’s Dublin directories 1786-1787.

[10] Freeman’s Journal, 23-25 Jan. 1776.

[11] Dublin Evening Post, 27 Oct. 1798.

[12] Belfast News Letter, 13-16 Oct. 1789.

[13] Cork Courier, 20 Aug. 1794. D. Jacotin, Catalogue of the English, French and Italian Circulating Library (Cork, 1803). William West, Directory and picture of Cork and its environs (Cork, 1810). John Connor’s Cork directory for 1812 (Cork, 1812).

[14] Volunteer’s Journal, 9 July 1784.

[15] Dublin Evening Post, 25 May 1797.

[16] Hibernian Journal, 15 Aug. 1798. It is not clear if this Mr Gautier can be identified with the author of The idioms of the French language, published by subscription in Dublin in 1807, and supported by several of the leading French schools in the city.

[17] Registry of Deeds: 389/143/255914 (27 Mar. 1787); 464/27/293097 (18 Sept. 1792). Platanus is marked on William Duncan’s Map of the county of Dublin, 1821.

[18] Volunteer’s Journal, 5 Aug. 1785.

[19] Wilson’s Dublin directories 1787-1788. Dublin Evening Post, 9 Jan. 1798. Registry of Deeds: 637/304/438606 (27 Jul. 1811).

[20] Saunder’s News Letter, 17-19 Oct. 1774.

[21] Freeman’s Journal, 5-8 Feb. 1774.

[22] Volunteer’s Journal, 5 Aug. 1785.

[23] Waterford Chronicle, 12-16 Dec. 1777.

[24] Volunteer’s Journal, 5 Jan. 1784.

[25] Hibernian Chronicle, 27 Jul. 1789. Cork Gazette, 4 Feb. 1792.

[26] Cork Gazette, 8 Sept. 1792.

[27] Cork Gazette, 9 Jan. 1793.

[28] New Cork Evening Post, 17 Oct. 1793. Cork Gazette, 23 Oct. 1793; 18 Jan. 1794.

[29] Nixon’s gentleman’s and citizen’s Cork almanack 1798 (Cork, J. Haly, 1798). Hibernian Chronicle, 20 Nov. 1797.

[30] Limerick directory (Limerick, John Ferrar, 1769). Waterford Chronicle, 12-16 Dec. 1777.

[31] Richard Lucas, General directory of the kingdom of Ireland 1788 (1788).

[32] J. H. Plumb, ‘The new world of children in eighteenth-century England’, Past and Present, 67 (May, 1975), pp 75-7.

[33] Freeman’s Journal, 14-16 Mar. 1775. Charles Praval, The rudiments of the French tongue (Dublin, printed for the author and sold by W. and H. Whitestone, 1775, 2nd ed. 1779); The syntax of the French tongue (Dublin, printed for W. and H. Whitestone, 1779); The idioms of the French language (Dublin, printed for W. and H. Whitestone, 1783).

[34] Charles Praval, The rudiments of the French tongue (Dublin, 3rd ed., George Burnett, 1802; Cork, 4th ed., printed by Edwards and Savage, 1809).

[35] Charles Praval, The syntax of the French tongue (Dublin, George Burnett, 1802; R. Burnet, 1804).

[36] Charles Praval, The idioms of the French language (Dublin, George Burnett, 1794; Cork, printed by A. Edwards and M. Harris, 1795; Dublin, William Porter, 1803; c.1810).

[37] Charles Praval, The idioms of the French language, revised and augmented by Adelbert Doisy (Dublin, John cumming, 1825); Charles Praval, The rudiments and syntax of the French language, improved and considerably enlarged by Adelbert Doisy (Belfast, Simms and McIntyre, 1833).

[38] General catalogue of books in all languages, arts and sciences that have been printed in Ireland and published in Dublin, from the year 1799 to the present time, 1791 (Dublin, printed by John Jones, 1791).

[39] Charles Praval, Magazin à la mode (Dublin, chez Guillaume Whitestone, May 1777 – April 1778). Le Parnasse François precede d’un traité sur la poësie françoise, par M. Praval (Dublin, de l’imprimerie de Guillaume et Henri Whitestone, 1780).

[40] ‘Those learning French will find an inexhaustible source of instruction, and those who know [the language] will have the pleasure of seeing a choice selection of interesting subjects.’

[41] Hibernian Journal, 14-16 May 1777. Waterford Chronicle, 20-23 May 1777.

[42] Máire Kennedy, ‘The distribution of a locally produced French periodical in provincial Ireland: the Magazin à la mode, 1777-1778’, Eighteenth-Century Ireland, 9 (1994), pp 83-98.

[43] Dublin Chronicle, 10 May 1791.

[44] Watson’s Gentleman’s and citizen’s almanack 1791-1800, sub Abecedarian Society, Society for the Relief of Reduced Literary Teachers, or Literary Teacher’s Society.

[45] Watson’s Gentleman’s and citizen’s almanack 1791-1801. Sandford Park School: Abecedarian Society or Literary Teacher’s Society records, no. 2, ledger 1789-1808; no. 4, transaction book 2.

[46] J. Warburton, J. Whitelaw and Robert Walsh, History of the city of Dublin, 2 volumes (London, printed for T. Cadell and W. Davies, 1818), pp 884-5.

Huguenot congregations in 18th-century Dublin

Introduction:[1]

French Huguenot exiles flooded into Northern Europe following the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. The Edict of Nantes, enacted nearly 100 years earlier in 1598, granted French Protestant Huguenots the freedom to practise their religion within the Catholic state. Those who fled their homeland after 1685 sought a refuge where they could practise their religion without persecution, they often left all material goods behind and travelled to make a new life in the Protestant territories: Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany, Great Britain and Ireland. The Huguenot refuge was diverse, with all levels of society represented. Military pensioners, veterans of the Williamite Wars were given lands and encouraged to settle at Portarlington in Queen’s County (Co. Laois). Another strand of exiles were well educated, but without career prospects in the countries where they settled. Those who settled in Ireland took up careers in the military, the church, in business, and as craftsmen. In Dublin Huguenot families excelled in banking, bookselling, watch making, linen and silk weaving and sugar baking. Another segment turned their talents to the teaching of their native language, which was beginning to be appreciated as a social accomplishment among well-to-do English speakers. Young men and women, often without qualifications other than the ability to speak, read and write French, set themselves up as teachers. Some who had the means opened private schools, others hired out as tutors or governesses, or acted as freelance instructors, visiting homes and schools to give lessons in French, sometimes in combination with drawing, music or fencing.

Huguenot immigrants:

The Huguenot refuge was defined by religion, religious intolerance was the reason exiles left France, and their religion ensured a welcome in Protestant states. The process of settling into their new countries was made easier by sponsorship and patronage. The first Huguenot immigrants came to Dublin under the patronage of the Duke of Ormonde in the 1660s, but after 1685 they began to arrive in larger numbers. Veteran soldiers from the Huguenot regiments in the Williamite army swelled those numbers at the end of the wars after 1691, and they settled in Portarlington under the patronage of the Henri de Ruvigny, Viscount Galway. Most immigrants came to Ireland via Great Britain or the Netherlands. Many left France at short notice leaving everything behind them. Not all stayed in Ireland, there was constant movement between Britain and Ireland, some returned to the continent and others made the journey across the Atlantic to America, which also offered a refuge. Their movements can be traced through the use of church registers, letters of denization and acts of naturalisation[2], which have been compiled under the auspices of the Huguenot Society of Great Britain and Ireland. As ‘Protestant strangers’ they were permitted to join the guilds in Ireland and many can be found as merchants and in more specialised trades such as bookselling. Raymond Hylton has estimated the Huguenot population in Dublin as rising from over 2,000 in 1700 to about 3,600 by 1720, amounting to 5% of the city’s population.[3]

In the beginning Huguenot exiles remained distinct within their own communities. The main areas of Huguenot settlement in Ireland were in Dublin, Portarlington, where military pensioners were settled, with smaller settlements in Cork, Lisburn and Carlow. Two religious strands can be identified within the refuge, the reformed congregation, or non-conformists, and the conformed congregation which assimilated with the Church of Ireland, adopting the Anglican liturgy. In Dublin there were separate places of worship for the two congregations. The reformed congregation had meeting houses at Peter Street in the south city and Lucy Lane north of the Liffey, while the Episcopalian or conformed Huguenots attended the Lady Chapel of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and St Mary’s Church in Mary Street. Religious services were performed in French and Irish printers provided religious texts for the congregations. A variety of official service books and forms of prayer, as well as of sermons and other religious writings by Huguenot ministers, were printed in Dublin up to the middle of the 18th century.

 

Many of the early religious works printed in French were official publications produced by the Church of Ireland to facilitate conformity with Anglicanism, and to provide the Book of common prayer according to Anglican usage. Pressure was exerted on the reformed communities to conform to the Church of Ireland and some bitter disputes ensued. One of the most bitter occurred in Portarlington in 1702, when the Bishop of Kildare, through carrot and stick, tried to impose the Anglican liturgy on the community. Rev. Benjamin de Daillon, an internationally renowned scholar and pastor of the French church in Portarlington, was removed, and a minister more willing to move the congregation towards conformity replaced him. The effect on the Portarlington congregation was profound. Some families left for Dublin where they joined the reformed congregations at Lucy Lane and Peter Street. Rev. de Daillon remained as a rival minister at Portarlington until 1708 when he departed for Carlow.[4]

pseaumes-de-david

The process of integration into the local community was slower in Ireland than in London, and the Dublin Huguenots remained a distinct group until the middle of the 18th century. The reformed congregations in particular seemed to hold their distinctness, not only in religion but also in the wider social sphere. Members of the conformed congregations began to integrate with the Anglican social circle, but they continued to support books published by other exiles, as shown by book subscription lists. Books published by subscription were a feature of 18th-century publishing. Names of purchasers were gathered in advance of publication and a portion of the cost of the book paid. Lists of subscribers were printed and included in the book.

sermons

From subscription lists to a series of French language religious books published in Dublin in the first half of the 18th century we see a cross section of the Dublin Huguenot families and we can trace their origins to the south west coastal areas of France. One title, Trois sermons by Rev. Antoine Vinchon Desvoeux, printed in Dublin in 1745, gives a snapshot of Huguenot readers at mid century.[5] Desvoeux was chaplain to Lord George Sackville’s regiment and served the churches of Peter Street and Lucy Lane in Dublin from 1736 to 1760 when he left to join his regiment in Germany. On his return to Ireland in 1767 he became minister of the French congregation at Portarlington (1767–92). This work was aimed particularly at the French Huguenot community, and was supported by both Desvoeux’s congregation in the reformed churches of Lucy Lane and Peter Street, and the conformed congregations of St Mary’s and St Patrick’s. Of the 93 names on the list, 81 belong to Huguenot families. Each name is inextricably bound up with the others, displaying a wealth of family, business and religious connections. The list is composed primarily of Huguenot merchants, military, and clergy. Several of the most prominent Dublin Huguenot families on the list had their immediate origins in France or Switzerland and first generation immigrants were still widespread in 1745. This shows that a considerable number of the subscribers were native French speakers. Checking the names against the church registers it can be seen that the subscribers had a regional background predominantly in the south-west coastal area of France extending through the regions of Loire Atlantique, Maine et Loire, Charente Maritime, Gironde and Pyrénées Atlantiques. This shared background must have given them a greater sense of cohesion in a foreign country.

French language culture:

The main cultural influence of the Huguenot refuge on Irish society came through teaching and publishing. In the early years of the Huguenot refuge, francophone communities in Ireland, as elsewhere, had hopes of ending their exile and returning to France. Exiles were acutely aware of the need to educate their children in the French language for their eventual return to their homeland. Schools teaching French were established in areas of Huguenot settlement for the education of Huguenot children. The earliest known schools were established in Portarlington in the 1690s and Dublin from 1700. Soon, however, children from outside the communities were taught French, and the renown of Portarlington schools continued until the early 19th century, with many well-known figures in Irish politics and society receiving their education there.

Private schools teaching French expanded rapidly from the first decade of the 18th century. Academies run as private fee paying schools offered a new type of education to the children of middle income parents. Running in parallel with the grammar schools which taught the classics and prepared ‘young gentlemen’ for university, the private academies championed a more ‘useful education’ preparing students for non-university careers in trade and business. For this purpose foreign languages were an important part of the curriculum. French was the main language taught, with Italian as a secondary language towards the end of the century. The distribution of private academies teaching French can be seen around the country, with concentrations in Dublin and the larger towns. By the second half of the century grammar schools also adopted the teaching of French. The ready availability of native-speaking teachers made the teaching of French more widespread and of a higher quality. One of the early Huguenot teachers in Dublin that we know a lot about was Rev. Jacques Fontaine, whose Mémoires d’une famille huguenote gives a detailed account of his family’s journey from their origins in La Rochelle, to their picaresque adventures in West Cork, their boarding school in Dublin, and their emigration westwards to Virginia in America.[6] At his school in Stephen’s Green, Rev. Fontaine offered a good education to his own children and to the children of well-to-do Dubliners from 1709 to 1721 with French as an important part of the curriculum. His fees were £20 per annum for boarders, with an entrance fee of two guineas.[7]

As we have seen publishing in French in Dublin in the first half of the 18th century was made up largely of religious works aimed at the Huguenot communities. As more of the population became literate in French and interested in French culture the book trade became involved in the importation of French language books from France and the Netherlands as well as from London. Literary and scholarly books in French were imported in small quantities from the late 17th century, but from the late 1720s several Dublin booksellers began to import a wider range of titles aimed at a broader readership. One of the most important promoters of French literary culture was Rev. Jean-Pierre Droz, Huguenot pastor, bookseller, publisher and importer of foreign language books at his bookshop on College Green.[8] A native of Neuchâtel in Switzerland, Droz served as minister of the French church at St Patrick’s in Dublin from 1737 to 1751.[9] He created a demand for a wide range of publications with his periodical A literary journal published between 1744 and 1749, in which he published abstracts of the latest publications in the French, Latin, German and Dutch languages. He published several French language titles from 1745 to 1750, while importing foreign language works for his bookshop. Through his reviews and articles in A literary journal Droz encouraged the book buying public to interest themselves in literary news from the intellectual centres of Europe.

french-textbooks

French language and culture was accepted as a badge of refinement throughout Europe in the 18th century. Irish society formed part of this trend, and French Enlightenment ideas came to Irish shores through the printed word. The presence of a significant segment of French native speakers in Dublin from the late 17th century ensured that the language had a firm foundation in the city. This foundation, based on knowledge of the French language learned in school, and perfected through reading of books and magazines, allowed for direct French Enlightenment influence later in the 18th century.

Conclusion:

Huguenot exiles benefited from aristocratic patronage, state sponsorship and religious support, which contributed to their wellbeing in their country of refuge. Ireland and America were both colonies of Great Britain at this period and the welcome extended by Great Britain also applied to its colonies. Likewise, in times of persecution for Catholic populations sympathetic states offered a refuge, Irish Catholics found a welcome in France, Spain, Portugal and Italy in the 17th and 18th centuries, where they contributed to the life and culture of their host countries.

What lasting legacy did these immigrants give to Ireland? The communities were absorbed in language and religion by the early 19th century, but their influence remained in certain significant areas. The Huguenot communities strengthened the Protestant population, but caused dissent also, as the Church of Ireland sought to integrate the reformed Huguenots into the Anglican fold.

The Huguenot immigrants established some of the building blocks of our society. They were involved in a range of activities that changed or developed society. In the areas of business and finance their contribution was considerable, the banking system was built on the shoulders of Huguenot founders. David Digges Latouche, was financial agent to the Huguenot officers and propertied exiles in the early years of the refuge. The Latouche family became eminent bankers and they were among the main shareholders of the Bank of Ireland, established by Act of Parliament in 1782, and opened in 1783. It acted as government banker and performed many of the functions of a central bank.

In areas of language and culture French-speaking immigrants were influential in the 18th century when French culture was a prized accomplishment. This cultural influence opened the gates for the reception of French Enlightenment ideas at first hand.

All images courtesy of Dublin City Library & Archive (www.dublincitypubliclibraries.ie )

[1] This talk was given at the Dublin History Research Networks conference ‘New Dubliners and the city: 1200-2000’ at the National Library of Ireland on 13 November 2015.

[2] Letters of denization and acts of naturalization in England and Ireland, 1603-1700, London, Huguenot Society of Great Britain and Ireland.

[3] Raymond Hylton, Ireland’s Huguenots and their refuge 1662-1745, Brighton, 2005, pp 35, 112, 116. Hylton, Raymond, “Dublin’s Huguenot Refuge: 1662-1817”, Dublin Historical Record 40 (1986): 15–25.

[4] Máire Kennedy, French books in eighteenth-century Ireland, Oxford, Voltaire Foundation, 2001, pp 67-8.

[5] Registers of Lucy Lane and Peter Street, p. x. Desvoeux’s religious works included Dissertation sur les miracles (Leyden, 1732), Lettres sur les miracles (Rotterdam, 1735), Défense de la religion reformée (Amsterdam, 1736), and Nouvelles lettres sur les miracles (Amsterdam, 1740). His Essay on Ecclesiastes was published in London in 1760.

[6] Jacques Fontaine, Mémoires d’une famille huguenote: victime de la revocation de l’Edit de Nantes, présenté par Bernard Cottret, Montpellier, Max Chaliel, Presses du Languedoc, 1992.

[7] Dublin Intelligence 11 November 1710.

[8] From April 1749 his bookshop was in Dame Street ‘next door to the Olive Tree exactly facing George’s Lane.’ John T. Gilbert, History of the city of Dublin, 3 vol. (Dublin, reprinted 1978), ii.273. Lee, Huguenot Settlements in Ireland. Lawlor, Fasti of St Patrick’s, p. 294. Dublin Courant 4–8 April 1749.

[9] Droz was ordained deacon in 1734 at St James’, London, and priest in 1735 at St Paul’s cathedral.