A Biographical Dictionary of Irish Quakers

  • Richard S. Harrison: A Biographical Dictionary of Irish Quakers published by Four courts Press (Dublin, 1997) ISBN 1-85182-304-2
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  • The information in these biographical pieces is a mixture of family history, information on commercial life and anecdotal material giving a sense of each personality involved. In addition to the expected entries for different Bewleys, Pims, Jacobs, Newsoms and Richardsons etc., there are many other names listed, not now often remembered as Quaker. There are Quakers included from all four provinces and most major towns and cities as well as Quakers who emigrated to North America.
  • Coffee merchants, grocers, soap-boilers, spade-makers and others emerge in a lively, familiar way. Activists in concerns dear to Quakers are here, in anti-slavery, peace, prison-reform, famine relief, anti-hanging and temperance. There are Irish speakers, missionaries and artists and even two (ineffectual) bank robbers.

    Whilst many English and American Quakers are remembered internationally, Irish Quakers are mainly of significance in Irish history, but even then they reveal numerous traits shared with a wider Quakerdom, in its emigration patterns and its transatlantic commercial and philanthropic links.

    The ‘Dictionary’ contains about 300 referenced entries, a useful subject index noting the names of institutions, places and occupations, as well as a useful bibliography of essential archival and other material relating to Irish Quakers. The author’s introduction gives a useful overview of Irish Quaker history also.

    • From the review, by James J. Murphy of Villanova University, of A Biographical Dictionary of Irish Quakers in Quaker History, Vol 87, 2 (1998), 64-5,
      "Richard Harrison’s dictionary offers sketches of a wide range of Irish Quakers…. This most democratic of dictionaries has the charm, and some of the failings, of a family album compiled by a loving uncle…. Readers should accept Harrison’s dictionary on its own terms. His portraits are almost always on a domestic scale, the human face of his people and the daily nature of their lives being the source of his greatest joy in recounting their lives… one comes away from this book with a rich sense of the diversity and humanity of Irish Quakers."
    • THE AUTHOR, RICHARD S. HARRISON is a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin. For a time re served as Deputy Curator of the Dublin Friends Historical Library and is a member of the Irish Friends Historical committee. Articles from his pen are mainly on Quaker commercial and micro-economic themes and have appeared in such places as the Journal of the Friends Historical Society and in the Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society. Among his other books (now out of print) from other publishers have been Cork City Quakers 1655-1939 (1991), Irish Insurance: Historical Perspectives 1650-1939 (1992), Richard Davis Webb: Dublin Quaker Printer (1993) and Abraham Abell - Corkman Extraordinary and member of the royal Irish Academy (1999). A book, under his name Risteárd Mac Annraoi, called I gComhludar na gCarad (2002) was published in Irish. It is constituted by essays on Friends in business, enterprise, philanthropy and campaign s for anti-slavery and temperance.
    • Richard S. Harrison is understood to be engaged in several historical projects presently, and in particular in producing an extended, improved and supplementary volume to his Biographical Dictionary.
    • Recent useful articles have been
      Richard S. Harrison, "Harvey, Deaves and Harvey, Merchants: Sidelights on Cork’s Timber Trade, 1760-1848"
      in Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, 107 (2002), 135-56
      Richard S. Harrison, "Some Eighteenth-century Cork Quaker Families: A Key to Cork City Development"
      in Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, 104 (1999), 117-36
      Richard S. Harrison, "Irish Quaker Records" in James G. Ryan, Irish Church Records, (2nd ed., Dublin, 2001), 135-56