Emily’s maternal great-grandfather, Daniel Graisberry was chief printer to Trinity College in the early 1800’s. Having been made a Freeman of Dublin, in 1798 in that capacity. Freemen were usually tradesmen and craftsmen, which included weavers and tailors, shoemakers, stationers and printers to mention but a few. They usually served as apprentices, just as Daniel Graisberry. His father was also conferred as a freeman, serving as apprentice to the King’s printer, Hugh Greirson.
A freeman was a recognised citizen, which afforded him the right to vote and a few more similar privileges that the general public did not avail of. Interestingly his great granddaughter, Emily, who campaigned for votes for women did not get the right to vote until it was granted in 1918. She was over fifty at the time.
Saunders’s News-Letter 20 October 1820
A Dictionary of Members of the Dublin Book Trade 1550-1800By Mary Pollard, Guild of St. Luke the Evangelist, Bibliographical Society (Great Britain), Guild of St Luke the Evangelist (Dublin
As did Emily’s fortunes rise and fall during her life, so did her ancestors. In fact is was a way of life for them most of the time. Sometimes they were rich and other times they were plunged into financial ruin.
When Emily’s grandfather Richard M’Arthur died in 1829 leaving a wife and two small children under three, at least they were left as “fund holders”, as documented in a later census. However, as few years later Mary M’Arthur was back at ‘work’ in the old family business of selling books and stationary. Mary may not have had the same business sense as her mother, the resourceful Ruth Graisberry, who ran the family print business, for twenty years after her husband died.
In March 1854, the notice below appeared in Halifax Courier:
It appeared that Mary M’Arthur was bankrupt. Somehow she paid her creditors. She did not live long enough to regain her ‘fortune’. She died exactly one year later.
https://www.findmypast.ie/transcript?id=GBC/1851/0013988887;1851 England, Wales & Scotland Census
Northumberland, Durham & Yorkshire, Slater’s Royal National Commercial Directory, Vol 1, 1854-1855
Halifax Courier 18 March 1854
28 July 1855 – Worcester Journal – Worcester, Worcestershire, England
Emily’s half brother, Dr. William Burke, was a member of the fraternity, the Odd Fellows. When he attended the Loyal Midland Lodge’s anniversary in 1883 he was admitted as an honorary member. He cited the same in the medical directories, perhaps to add prestige to his profile.
The Odd Fellows are, like the Freemasons and Foresters a friendly society that permits only male membership. When Emily’s brother was accepted into the fraternity in 1883, many of the medical profession were members. Reflected in the medical journals at the time, articles with titles such as “Friendly Societies And TheMedical Profession. Statements Of The Friendly Societies, And The Facts As Ascertained”. There was also a air of distrust around such societies due to their secretive nature.
Provoked by the French Revolution, societies such as the Odd Fellows were classed as illegal. Informers sent in by the government were paid to infiltrate Lodges (branches). Secret signs and passwords were introduced to sort the real brothers from the imposters, as a matter of security. This tradition, which origin is not widely known is still used today, more as a tradition than necessity.
“Friendly Societies And The Medical Profession. Statements Of The Friendly Societies, And The Facts As Ascertained.” The British Medical Journal, vol. 1, no. 1956, 1898, pp. 1661–1662. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/20255058.
In June 1919, writer, Darrell Figgis as editor began a new newspaper called ‘The Republic’, for an independent Ireland that was yet to emerge.
The publication had a short lifespan. It appeared to end a year into independence the paper’s print run came to an end. On October 7th 1922 copies of the publication were “seized and destroyed”. The reason given, that in a recent issue Civic Guard, Sergeant Fox, who was at the time subject to an inquest was slandered by the paper. Darrell Figgis, on the side of the ordinary man put it to the head of Government if it was their intention to compensate the newspaper vendors and paperboys. No reply was reported.
In 1919, one hundred years ago, the artist, Paul Henry left Achill for pastures new, after making the Island his home for near a decade. He had intended to stay for a short time only but could not drag himself away, being captivated by the island’s otherworldly beauty. In his own words:
He and his wife, Grace, also a painter, settled into the island life helped by Emily, who Henry, described as, “a woman who bubbled over with enthusiasm”. She was was the person who introduced him to the locals as he recalled many years later;
As a token of his appreciation, he gave her some of his artwork, one was a painting called “Twilight Houses”. Emily being Emily gave more than she took and lent the painting to Darrell Figgis. Inscribed on the reverse: “Lent to D. Figgis by E. M. Weddall 15 . (?) 4 . 1918”. Knowing Emily she may never have reclaimed the picture. Many years later the painting resurfaced from the hidden world of private collections, when it went up for auction by Whites of Dublin in 2006.
In the following years Paul Henry, got reabsorbed into city life , and was involved in the founding of the Society of Dublin Painters. He did return to Achill towards the end of his life, perhaps retracing his owns steps, before he penned his autobiography, An Irish Portrait. By then many of his friends there, including Emily were no more.