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The Goodbodys

Millers, Merchants and Manufacturers. The Story of an Irish Quaker Family, 1630-1950

Author:

Michael Goodbody

Price HB:

€40.00

ISBN SB:

978-1-901658-82-8
Order This Book Now

Relatively little has been written about the Quakers’ role in the industrialisation of Ireland. They were among the great linen merchants of Ulster, instrumental in launching the first railways and created some of the country’s largest manufacturing businesses in the south.

The Quaker movement, founded by George Fox during the troubled Commonwealth period of the 1650s, eventually overcame initial persecution by the authorities and devoted themselves to a simple life upholding Christian principles of honesty and the treatment of their fellow human beings as equals. This trait they put to good use in their business affairs, where they gained a reputation for integrity and reliability.

As a minority group, the Quakers, comprising a small number of families who intermarried only among themselves, used these ties to develop their business and industrial interests where they filled the void between the ‘Ascendency’ landowning classes and the bulk of the population who had been disenfranchised by the Penal Laws.

The Goodbodys were such a family, coming to prominence in the nineteenth century when they started flour milling, later branching out into jute, tobacco and the tea trade, as well as stockbroking and the law. With an unusual name they effectively created their own business brand.

This book follows the fortunes of the family fromthe time of their arrival in Ireland and conversion to Quakerism, through the ‘quiet’ years, when they were farmers, merchants and tanners, until 1826, when Robert Goodbody (1781-1860) started milling in Clara. He and his five sons, who were connected by marriage to some of the leading merchants andmanufacturers of the day, used their increasing wealth to alleviate distress during the Famine years and then developed their interests in Tullamore and Clara, creating in the latter one of the only towns in the Irish midlands to increase its population between the Famine and Irish Independence.

As well as detailing the history of the Goodbodys, this book also looks at the impact the Quakers had on the Irish economy, and opens a window on the extraordinary accumulation of commercial power and wealth by a few closely-related families who were at the forefront of industrial development of the time. The Goodbody story is not just an account of a successful family; it also follows the fortunes of those who fell on hard times. In some instances these individuals found themselves sharing the fate of the millions of nineteenth-century Irish emigrants who endured enormous hardships in an attempt to find a better life in the textile factories of England or on the other side of the Atlantic. Anyone with Irish Goodbody ancestors will want to buy this book. Born and educated in Ireland, MICHAEL GOODBODY moved to London in 1962 to take up a career in the City. He is married with three children and now lives in Essex. At an early age he developed an interest in Irish Quaker families and their social and business relationships. This book, on his own family and others connected with it, is the result of these years of research.

Author:

Michael Goodbody

Price HB:

€40.00

ISBN SB:

978-1-901658-82-8
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