Fortunes and Misfortunes of Mary M’Arthur

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:

Halifax Courier 18 March 1854

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.

Sources

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 Brother; the Odd Fellow

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 The Medical 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.

Late 18th century
Government suspicions of societies that ‘administer oaths and correspond by signs and passwords’ reached fever pitch, triggered by the French Revolution. So much so, organisations such as ours were deemed illegal and driven underground – exacerbating connotations of ‘secret societies’.

https://www.oddfellows.co.uk/about/history/
Image courtesy of Library and Museum Charitable Trust of the United Grand Lodge of England

How the Odd Fellows Became the Odd Fellows

There are several different reasons given for our strange name. One old and apparently authoritative history of Odd Fellowship gives the explanation, “That common laboring men should associate themselves together and form a fraternity for social unity and fellowship and for mutual help was such a marked violation of the trends of the times (England in the 1700’s) that they became known as ‘peculiar’ or ‘odd,’ and hence they were derided as ‘Odd Fellows.’ Because of the appropriateness of the name, those engaged in forming these unions accepted it. When legally incorporated the title ‘Odd Fellows’ was adopted.”

https://www.ballardoddfellows.org/history/

Sources:

https://iogt.org/about-iogt/the-iogt-way/who-we-are/the-history/

31 March 1883 – Barnsley Chronicle, etc. – Barnsley, Yorkshire, England

https://www.oddfellows.co.uk/about/history/

“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.

Darrell Figgis sets up a new paper “The Republic”

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.

Darrell Figgis
Sources

Weekly Freeman’s Journal 07 October 1922

Derry Journal 13 June 1919

Larne Times 14 October 1922

Paul Henry Leaves Achill

Paul Henry in the early 1920’s

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:

“The currents of life had carried me to this remote spot, and there seemed no current strong enough to carry me away…I made another of my quick decisions, which I never regretted and taking my return ticket to London out of my pocket tore it into small pieces and scattered the fragments into the sea which foamed round the rocks of Gubalennaun.”

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;

“I had made the acquaintance of Mrs. Weddall, the widow of a sea captain. She introduced me to the people and initiated me into many of the ways peculiar to the island”

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.

Sources
Belfast Telegraph 11 April 1923

https://www.whytes.ie/art/twilight-houses-circa-1916-18/124351/?SearchString=&LotNumSearch=&GuidePrice=&OrderBy=&ArtistID=&ArrangeBy=&NumPerPage=&offset=131

Irish Independent 14 October 2000, p.43

Henry, Paul. An Irish Portrait; the Autobiography of Paul Henry. London, New York: B. T. Batsford, 1951.

Bookstore at 21 College Green

When Emily’s maternal grandfather, Richard M’Arthur entered partnership with Robert Hodges, the establishment was five decades in existence. It was then Gilbert and Hodges.

The Long Room in the Library at Trinity College

In its first incarnation the business, the bookshop opened for business in 1768, on Skinner’s Row. The original proprietor was John Milliken. It appears that the shop remained in his family for at least one more generation. Over the years the shop changed locations, and merged with other bookshops owners forming partnerships.

One time partner was William Gilbert who founded a bookshop on South Great George’s Street in 1776. In 1802 he teamed up with Robert Hodges, and opened a store on Dame Street. In 1817, Gilbert retired, he was well over 80 years.

It was then that Hodges teamed up with Emily’s grandfather Richard M’Arthur. The shop relocated the short distance to 21 College Green, adjacent to Trinity College. The duo did a good trade with the college, selling academic books to students of medicine, science and law. But students were not the only customers. Many private collectors did business with the shop, too. One such person was Lord Bellew, of Mountbellew, County Galway. Richard M’Arthur sources books for the Lord from London and Paris. Their relationship ending when the lord died in 1827.

Letter from Richard McArthur to Lord Mountbellew about a book buying trip to London and Paris. Courtesy of National Library of Ireland.

It was the same year, 1827 that Richard M’Arthur left the partnership, returning to Co. Down with his family, he returned briefly to Rathmines in Dublin, in the hopes that his failing health might improve, but that was not meant to be. He died in 1829.

The gap he left was was filled by Smith. The Hodges and Smith partnership, presumably later generations, lasted until 1877, when it became Hodges, Foster and Figgis, in 1884, Foster left and the shop, which was by then on Grafton Street became as it is known today – Hodges and Figgis.

Based on Irish Times article of 19 December 1961 for An Irishman’s Diary (Quidnunc)

Sources

Irish Times 19 December 1961

A Dictionary of Members of the Dublin Book Trade 1550-1800; Mary Pollard, Guild of St. Luke the Evangelist (Dublin, Ireland), Bibliographical Society (Great Britain)

Hodges and McArthur (booksellers), and Christopher Dillon Bellew. Receipts Etc From Hodges and McArthur, Booksellers of Dublin to Christopher Dillon Bellew.

Illustrated London News 19 November 1900