Prominent Quaker Families of Mountmellick
Source: "The Quakers of Mountmellick", pp 31-38.
JOSEPH BEALE (1801-1857)
One of the most influential Quaker families in Laois were the Beales. The first known member of the family to come to Ireland was Thomas Beale, in 1652. It has been claimed that he was a descendant of Robert Beale (1541-1601) who was Clerk of the Council of Elizabeth I. Thomas Beale first settled in the North before moving south to Mountmellick. Thomas was converted by William Edmundson to Quakerism in Ireland. The early Beales were landholders with business interests. However it was not until the end of the eighteenth century that the Beales came to the forefront in business activites in the area. Joseph's father William (1765-18 18) and his relation Joshua Beale (1770-18 15) were cotton manufacturers at Irishtown. In 1795, William Beale was granted a lease from John Bewley for the house and lands of Anngrove, Mountmellick.
Joseph's father William married twice. His first wife died in childbirth. He remarried and had three more children, the eldest of which was Joseph. There is a humorous family story which describes an incident when Joseph was courting Margaret at Enniscorthy. Margaret's sister caught Margaret sitting on Joseph's lap. The story was passed down as a humorous anecdote. His half sister Abigail became one of the leaders of the White Quakers (See White Quakers). Joseph seems to have inherited the cotton business from his father, in partnership with his brother who was also called William. Joseph was involved in numerous businesses in and around the town. These were cotton, woollen, brewing and flour milling (See Industrial Section). He was a prominent figure in the town from the t820s to the 1850s. He married twice. His first wife Elizabeth Lecky died in 1825 shortly after the birth of their daughter Elizabeth. They had been married only one year. He later married Margaret Davis from Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford. Her father owned two flour mills and had extensive landholdings. They married on the t4 March 1832. They had eleven children between 1833 and 1850, thee of whom died in early childhood. In 1836 Joseph built Derrycappagh House, not far from Anngrove. His brother William lived at Anngrove. In 1846, he moved out to Barkmills to a house called Monordreigh,where one of his woollen mills was in operation. The death of two of their young children seems to have prompted their departure from Derrycappagh House. This house was knocked in the middle of this century. However Monodreigh House is still standing despite being in poor condition (See In Search of Quaker Houses).
Joseph Beale's businesses in the town, flourished and prospered until the late 1 840s. Often his work took him abroad to France and England. These were happy years for him and his family. He felt strongly about his town and declared that 'since I left home I saw no place for which I would exchange my residence there (Mountmellick), no not even for any of the palaces of the nobility of London. Mountmellick was not just his home but his life. His prominence in the town can best be illustrated in the following quotation, which is taken from a chapter heading of a book entitled 'A Prospectus of the Records of Mountmellick from the year 1825 to 1841, in a work written by Bernard Delany. It was entitled Truth..Buamdi The book appears to have never been published, but a copy or extracts from it may exist among the Beale Papers in Sydney, Australia. Although it is not certain, Bernard Delany is probably the same man that wrote the poem at the start of this booklet.
On the praiseworthy straight forward conduct of Joseph Beale, Esq., the most deserving, upright and useful member of society, to whom the inhabitants and Poor Law Union of Mountmellick are deeply indebted for exposing the schemes and upsetting the sinister projects of certain individuals
In 1845 when the Famine struck Ireland, both Joseph and his wife Margaret seemed to have been actively involved in relief work. Margaret and her relatives ran a soup-kitchen in the town. Joseph converted the woollen mills at Barkmills into a flour mill which processed Indian corn for the starving locals. The Famine combined with economic problems on the continent destroyed the brothers' businesses. By 1850, the Beales had abandoned Anngrove and Derrycappagh House. Joseph in final desperation, decided to cut his losses and emigrate. In September 1852, he sailed to Australia with two of his sons and two servants. He landed at Melbourne on the 16th of December 1852. In 1851 the first major gold mine was discovered in Australia. It was seen as the new land of hope and opportunity. Joseph apparently felt that his expertise in the woollen industry would provide him with a chance to restore his fortunes.
The following document was given to Joseph at the time of his departure from Mountmellick.
The above statement was signed not only by people from Mountmellick but also by a Roman Catholic bishop and some Protestant ministers.
He planned to bring his family later once he settled and found enough money to afford their fare. He managed to sell all his business interests except Barkmills, for which he could not find a buyer. Margaret began running the mill and converted it back to producing woollen products such as tweeds.
Life was not easy for Joseph and his companions. Upon their arrival, they were forced initially to work on the roads, hard gruelling labour for low pay and in conditions of intense heat. However he managed to acquire a small supply store. Joseph Beale must have felt great disappointment during those early days in Australia. In Mountmellick, he was one of the most prominent business people in the town, owning at least four businesses. In Australia he found himself in a strange land without most of his family or friends, reduced to tough manual labour and living in a cabin.
In 1854, Barkmills was sold off through public auction and Margaret and her six children and family nurse sailed to Australia. At this time Joseph was living at a village called Illaroo just outside Launceston, Tasmania. He had by now started buying land for himself and his family. Each member of the family was given a separate portion. Three of his Sons were still doing contracts for road development, In July of 1855, Margaret moved to Hobart which had a strong Quaker community. Joseph remained behind and only joined her the following September. The East Coast Navigation Company took on Joseph as a clerk. Margaret hated Hobart because Tasmania was then a penal colony for convicts from the British Isles. Like many Quakers she loathed the prison system. In 1857, Joseph and Margaret joined their older boys in Victoria, finally settling in Melbourne. Joseph's health began to fail about 1857 and he died on the 14th of June 1857. Margaret died on the 18th May 1878 and was buried beside Joseph. The following poem was written by Margaret Beale on her forty-third birthday on the 20th January 1853.
To my absent Husband with a lock of hair,
43 years old I mo. 25th 1853.
Say can this littel tress
Ah no! Auriferous plains
Oh, may they not o'erwhelm
Mungo Bewley was born in 1677 at Woodhall, Cumberland to Thomas and Margaret Bewley. Mungo and his brother George moved to Edenderry, Co. Offaly. Mungo lived in Edenderry but appears to have had business interests in Mountmellick as well. In 1700, Mungo was described as a merchant in a copy of a lease dated the 11th of December 1701. He leased part of the Barrack Land from the Earl of Drogheda, for a period of 'three lives.' The area leased was 3 acres, the rent paid was £10, l4sh 2d. Mungo Rowley II was born In Dublin in 1755 to Thomas and Susanna, Susanna a maiden name was Pim. In 1779 Mungo Bewley was resident in Mountmellick when he married Mary Gough of Dublin at Meath Street, Dublin. The following year Thomas Bewley was born to them in Mountmellick. Although the ancestoral home of the Bewleys in Mountmellick may have been Irishtown House, the earliest surviving date links John Bewley with Anngrove in 1795. As previously mentioned the Bewleys had strong connections with both Mountmellick and Mountrath, Mungo and his brother John lived in Mountmellick (see In Search of Quaker Houses). The last recorded Bewley to live in Mountmellick was George Bewley, who died in 1836. Thomas Bewley was running the cotton spinning factory in Mounrath in 1824. A third brother Samuel established himself as a silk merchant in Dublin, importing silk from Italy, the Levant and London. The Dublin silk industry collapsed in the I 820s as a result of changing fashions. Samuel's youngest son Joshua was the founder of the present day business of Bewleys.
In 1785, John Bewley together with Jonathan Pim, John Helton and John Gatchell made a recommendation to locate a Quaker school at Mountmellick. Their offer was accepted. The purpose of the boarding school was to provide schooling for the children of poor Quakers (See Education and the Quakers). The following poem was written mocking Mungo Bewley and some of the other leading Quakers in the town. It was written around the beginning of the first half of the nineteenth century. The poem was written in response to Mungo Bewley's opposition to the practice of stone throwing. Hutchings recalled the poem in his booklet entitled 'Reminiscences of Mountmellick'
Mungo Bewley don't say
0 Mungo Bewley
Jonathan Pim and his square
THE PIM FAMILY
The first member of the Pim family in Ireland was John Pim (1641-1718). He was converted by William Edmundson in Cavan. In 1659, he followed Edmundson down to Laois. Before they finally settled at Lackagh, the Pims moved from Mountmellick to Maryborough (Portlaoise), to Coolucant and then to Mountrath. Lackagh lies between the Slieve Bloom Mountains and the town of Mountrath. The first Pim to be born in Mountmellick was Moses Pim in 1664. He was John Pim's first child. Moses was living at Mountmellick when he married Anne Roper in 1687. However they moved to Killinure where their first child was born in 1788. The family prospered in those early years. In a list of Freeholders in the Queen's County, three Pim's are listed as resident in Mountrath, in the years 1774 and 1775. These were Thomas, Joseph and Charles. Freeholders were people who owned their owned property. In 1850 John Pim Esq. was farming 115 acres of the 238 acres in Lackagh. He was sub-letting the rest of the townland. An Edward Pim was renting two portions of land from John Pim, one of 64 acres, and the other portion of 48. The Pims had a rape seed oil mill at Lackagh. This was facilitated by fast flowing streams that swept down from the Slieve Blooms, towards the Nore at Castletown.
Anne Pim, who was a daughter of Moses and Anne Pim of Lackagh. died at Mountmellick in 1768 aged 71. She was buried in Mountrath. Anne appeared not to have married and as a result it can be concluded that all the subsequent Pims of Mountmellick were not descendants of her. Another branch of the Pim family which temporarily resided in Mountmellick was Robert and Mice Pim who were living in the town in 1753 when their daughter Elizabeth was born. They did not have any other children in the area.
The later Pims of Mountmellick would appear to be descendants of Jonathan Pim (1741-1824) who was a son of James Pim of Lackagh. Jonathan Pim was living in Mountmellick in 1769 when he married Sarah Robinson in Moate. One of these sons, James died at Grange Lodge, Mountmellick in 1849 aged seventy nine. In 1824 Jonathan was described as a soap boiler and merchant. His brother Anthony (c. 1774-1842) was a brewer. He was also involved in the importation of American and Baltic timber.
Two of Anthony's sons Thomas and Samuel went into partnership. They combined a general provisions store on Main Street with the production of glue, candles, blue and soap. They also had interests in a bakery. They sold tobacco and snuff too. The brothers continued in brewing but later they changed over to malting. Samuel later took over Anngrove House in Irishtown.
James' son Jonathan was an agent for John Sabatier of Summergrove. He took over Summergrove House sometime between 1856 and 1864. Their business was called James Pim and Son. In 1856, James Pim & Sons, Market Square, were grocers, wine merchants and woollen drapers. In 1870 they are listed under the headings of grocer, tobacco manufacturers, linen drapers, haberdashers, and tallow chandlers on Drogheda Square. Jonathan Pim was succeeded by William Goff Pim (1825-190 1), who had a large wholesale, grocery, wine & spirit trade. The Pims founded a successful bacon factory around 1926 at Church Lane. Henry Denny and Sons took over the bacon factory in 1948 and it was closed down by Keriy Co-Operative in the 1980s.
Mother branch of the Pim family emerged at the end of the eighteenth century when Thomas and Jonathan Pim moved to Dublin in 1785. After serving their apprenticeships, they established a thriving woollen business. The best known member of this family was Jonathan Pim junior. He was M.P. for Dublin from 1865-1874. He was also an important writer on social conditions in Ireland. Another famous member of the Dublin Pim family was James Pim, who has been described as the 'Quaker father of Irish railways.' James was also heavily involved in banking with Jonathan Pim. James Pim was associated with James Perry too. Perry was a Quaker originally from Mountmellick. He played a major role in the promotion of railways. James Pim and James Perry were involved in the building of the first railway line in Ireland between Dublin and Kingstown (Dun Laoghaire) which opened in 1834.
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