Dublin Quakers in business 1800-1850
Citation:Richard S. Harrison, 'Dublin Quakers in business 1800-1850', [thesis], Trinity College (Dublin, Ireland). Department of History, 1988, pp 279, pp 304
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The quakers, otherwise known as members of the Religious' Society of Friends are popularly renowned for the part they have played in the establishment of numerous business and philanthropic schemes in whatever parts they have settled. Where any systematic scientific study has been undertaken into Irish Quaker business history the analysis has frequently been biased by assumptions adopted uncritically from an English historical background. The Dublin Quaker community provides an area very amenable to an extended economic and social analysis. The survival of an internally consistent corpus of documentary and archival material recording the chief preoccupations of their Society over a period starting circa 1655 until the present day makes a useful resource for identifying connections between their doctrine and their business practice. Group patterns of multi-levelled and mutual disciplinary and administrative review led to a regularised pattern of business behaviour in the adherents. It provided a training ground in democratic procedures and administrative practice capable of application to a 'secular' context. Corporate supervision of marriage facilitated the maintenance of capital in quaker hands and promoted the increasing homogeneity and sectarian characteristics of the Society. The records of the Society therefore, in conjunction with available private and company business archives, with the use of Parliamentary papers, newspapers and other documentation provide a relatively complete picture of the Dublin Quakers. For the purposes of this thesis the period 1800-50 provides a suitable sample to sustain the requisite analysis. Whilst the preformative conditions of an assumed Dublin quaker business success had been completed in the period 1770-1800, the succeeding 50 years reveals the quakers at a point of maximum development and confidence with access to capital, and with positive political and commercial influence. By the late 1850's the Dublin Quakers had retreated from the Innovative and creative position they had occupied in the first three decades of the 19th century. They fell back to a restricted role appropriate to a rentier class. In tacit recognition of their heredity and as token of their place in the delicately balanced sectarianism of Dublin's commercial and philanthropic life specific areas of Influence were retained for them. If Irish Quakerism is an Irish phenomenon the specific patterns of finance and Investment and the emergence into the new professional classes should not be seen as typical of quakers per se. They shared a wider pattern with the financial and commercial elite of Dublin, a pattern only incidently qualified by their quaker attitudes.
Author: Harrison, Richard S.
Publisher:Trinity College (Dublin, Ireland). Department of History
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Type of material:thesis
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