The Graisberry Girls: Mary II

Emily’s grandmother Mary was born about 1797/8 in Dublin. She was most likely, the eldest child of Ruth and Daniel Graisberry. Mary grew up in the printing industry where it was not uncommon for the whole family to be involved in the running of their business. Each generation of the Graisberry women either by design on necessity ended up working as printers.

The oldest building and trees in TCD. They were there when the Graisberry's were the official printers to the college

The oldest building and trees in TCD. They were there when the Graisberry’s were the official printers to the college

When her father died in 1822 Mary and her sisters probably helped their mother keep the business going. It was not uncommon back then for women to take over the busines, when their male relatives died. In the Graisberrys time a high percentage of women were registered in the print industry trade journals. 66.6 per cent of these were widows of printer/bookbinder/bookseller husbands. The main reason for this was  financial, as was in the case of Ruth Graisberry who pleaded poverty in her petition to Trinity College. Her daughters  may have been well skilled in the folding and sewing of pages, but Ruth was as good as anyone in the industry.

Despite her protestations of poverty Ruth Graisberry was, in fact, together with Harriet Colbert and Anne Watson, among the biggest master printers and booksellers in early nineteenth-century Dublin.

As is was common for widows to take over from their husbands so was it for the girls of the industry to marry the apprentices of the print, binding and publishing trades.

From the 1800’s into the mid-20th century, a set number of apprenticeships were always reserved for printer’s sons. Many of them married female workers and this led to the growth of print families or dynasties within the print, publishing and bindery trades.

It was through the book industry that Emily’s grandmother Mary Graisberry met and/or was matched with Richard McArthur, bookseller from Ardglass Co. Down.

Take a tour of Trinity College Dublin, where the Graisberry’s were the official printiers:
Thanks to:
Irish Print Museum
Irish Booklore: A Galley of Pie: Women in the Irish Book Trades Author(s): Vincent Kinane Source: The Linen Hall Review, Vol. 8, No. 4 (Winter, 1991), pp. 10-13 Published by: Linen Hall Library. Stable URL:
Dictionary of Irish Biography 9 Volume Set: From the Earliest Times to the Year 2002. Cambridge University Press 2009,James McGuire and James Quinn. Turlough O’Riordan. Vol 3 P 192