Mary Leadbeater (1758-1826)


Life
née Shackleton; b. Ballitore [var. Ballintore], Co. Kildare, Quaker; dg. of Shackleton, who taught Burke; m. William Leadbeater, 1791, landowner of Huguenot extraction; became Ballitore postmistress; Extracts and Original Anecdotes for the Improvement of Youth (1794), for Society of Friends; Book of Poems (1808), on purity and beauty of rural domestic life [CAB]; Cottage Dialogues of the Irish Peasantry (1811), warning against adoption of mores of the “quality”; and prefaced by Maria Edgeworth; Do. [2nd ser.] (1813); Landlord’s Friend [1813] and Cottage Biography (1822);
 
Notices of Irish Friends, and Memoirs of Richard and Elizabeth Shackleton; contrib poems, essays, sketches to var. periodicals; her journal, ‘Annals of Ballitore’, 1766-1824, incl. impartial account of 1798, edited by niece Elizabeth Leadbeater as as The Leadbeater Papers, 2. vols. (1862); The Pedlars (1826), describes natural and manmade curiosities of Ireland in dialogue form; received last farewell from Edmund Burke, written on his deathbed; d. 27th June, bur. Ballitore [Quaker village]; d. 27 June 1826; bur. Ballitore Quaker cemetery, aetat. 67; papers in NLI. CAB ODNB PI JMC DIB DIW DIH DIL RAF MKA OCIL

[ top ]

Works
  • [R. D. Webb, ed.,] The Leadbeater Papers, The Annals of Ballitore, with a memoir of the author; letters from Edmund Burke heretofore unpublished and the Correspondence of Mrs. R. Trench and Rev. George Crabbe, with Mary Leadbeater, 2 vols. (London: Bell & Daldy 1862). pls. [incls. school lists from 1726];
  • Extracts and Original Anecdotes for the Improvement of Youth (1794);
  • Cottage Dialogues Among the Irish Peasantry, notes and pref. Maria Edgeworth (1811);
  • The Landlord’s Friend [ ] A Sequel (1813);
  • Tales for Cottagers, accomodated to the present condition of the Irish Peasantry (1814);
  • Memoirs and Letters of Richard and Elizabeth Shackleton (1822);
  • Biographical Notices of […] the Society of Friends (1823);
  • The Pedlars (Dublin: Bentham & Hardy, Cecilia St., 1826), with epig. [listed in Loeber & Loeber]
Poems
  • Poems by Mary Leadbetter (Dublin 1808) [incls. “The Summer Morning's Destruction” [on 1798, with the phrase “ruthless fires”; p.287].
 
Reprints
  • Annals of Ballitore 1766-1824, John McKenna (London: Stephen Scroop Press), ill. by Mary Cunningham;
  • The Leadbeater Papers. intro. by Mary Luddy [Vols. 2 & 3 of Irish Women’s Writing, 1839-1888] (London: Routledge/Thoemmes Press [1998]) [facs.];
  • Mario Corrigan, ed., The Annals of Ballitore (Newbridge: Kildare Collections & Research Services 2009), 352pp. [incls. Ballitrore and Its Inhabitants Seventy Years Ago by Betsy Shackleton [also 1862].

[ top ]

Criticism
  • Margaret Ferrier Young, ‘Ballintore and its Institutions’, in Journal of the Co. Kildare Arch. Soc., 8 (1916);
  • Dáire Keogh and Nicholas Furlong, eds., The Women of 1798 (Dublin: Four Courts Press 1998) [with Matilda Tone, Mary Anne McCracken, et al.]
  • Keivin O’Neill, ‘Mary Shackleton Leadbeater: Peaceful Rebel’, in The Women of 1798', ed. Dáire Keogh & Nicholas Furlong (Dublin: Four Courts Press 1998), pp.137-62;
  • Rolf Loeber & Magda Stouthamer-Loebber, ‘Fiction available to and written for cottages and their children’, in The Experience of Reading: Irish Historical Perspectives, ed. Bernadette Cunningham & Máire Kennedy (Dublin: Rare Books Group of Library Assoc. of Ireland & Econ. & Social Hist. Soc. of Ireland 1999), pp.130ff.;
  • Helen O’Connell, Ireland and the Fiction of Improvement (Oxford: OUP 2006) [q.pp.];
  • Barbara Hughes, Between Literature and History: the Diaries and Memoirs of Mary Leadbeater and Dorothea Herbert [Reimagining Ireland] (Berne: Peter Lang 2010), 255pp.

[ top ]

Commentary
Patrick Rafroidi, Irish Literature in English, The Romantic Period, Vol 1 (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1980): The Leadbeater Papers, The Annals of Ballitore (published in 1862), notes that Leadbeater’s Annals of Ballitore (1862) devotes two long chapters to a day by day account of the Rebellion, and gives extract [as infra], with further quotations.

[ top ]

Quotations
1798 Rebellion: ‘As my friend and I walked out to see a sick neighbour, we looked with fearful curiosity over a wall inside of which we saw lying the youthful form of the murdered Richard Yeates. There he had been thrown after his death, his clothes undisturbed, both his bosom all bloody. For many days after I thought my food tasted of blood, and at night I was frequently awakened by feelings of horror, and stretched forth my hand to feel if my husband was safe at my side.’ (Annals of Ballitore, Vol I, p.223; quoted in Patrick Rafroidi, Irish Literature in English, The Romantic Period, Vol 1, 1980, p.98.)

[ top

Pishogue: ‘On Whit-Sunday a child was born to Pat Mitchell; a labourer. It is said that the child born on that day is fared to kill or be killed. To avert this doom a little grave was made, the infant laid therein, with clay lightly sprinkled on it and sods supported by twigs covering the whole. Thus the child was buried, and at its resurrection deemed to be freed from the malediction.’; also a story of a blacksmith’s widow who continues business with a journeyman after her husband’s death, ‘but prudent as well as industrious she considered the danger of slanderous tongues, and therefore gave her daughter - a girl of sixteen to her assistant with board and lodging for a year as a dowry!’ (Annals of Ballitore 1766-1824, ed. John McKenna, 1985; quoted by Leo Daly, in Books Ireland, Feb. 1987, p.7.)

[ top ]

The Pedlars (Dublin 1826): ‘In my young days, there was a great dearth of good books for young persons. There were fairy tales enough, and histories of noted robbers; but what profit could be derived from nonsense concerning things which never had existence, or from accounts of people, who were a terror to their neighbours, and at last met the punishment which their crimes deserved.’ (p.130; quoted in Rolf Loeber & Magda Stouthamer-Loebber, in ‘Fiction [for] cottagers and their children’, in The Experience of Reading [...], ed. Bernadette Cunningham & Máire Kennedy (Dublin: Rare Books Group of Library Assoc. of Ireland 1999, p.130.)

[ top ]

References
Dictionary of National Biography names her as grand-dg. Abraham Shackleton (1697-1771) who taught Burke at the boarding school in Ballytore [sic], Co. Kildare, which he founded and ran, 1726-56; she m. William Leadbeater, 1791; corresponded with Burke; Poems (1808); Annals of Ballitore her best work (1862), represents Irish life 1766-1823. NOTE, For Edmund Burke’s letters to Richard Shackleton, see under Abraham Shackleton, q.v.

[ top ]

Charles Read, ed., A Cabinet of Irish Literature (3 vols., 1876-78), selects Mary Leadbeater to Walter Scott, in verse, from Leadbeater Papers [‘Oh! thou who soar’st with eagle flight / To regions of poetic light / And by the magic of thy lays / Bring’st back the scenes of former days!’ / Thou minstrels! say what bard of yore / A harp so tuned by nature bore / Whether her varied charms to sing / Or move the heart’s responsive string? [...] O Caledonia [...] O minstrel! tune thy harp again / Let not the sister isle complain [...] And bare, all-powerful as thou art / The son of Erin’s glowing heart / Where candour reigns, and native taste / Fair beams o’er an uncultured waste- / Where freedom, candour, taste agree / To pay the tribute to thee.’; ‘The Scotch Plough’, from Cottage Dialogues [‘Mr Nugent lived in a part of Ireland where the modern improvements in farming were not understood, and where the poor were remarkably idle and ignorant. He had read in the newspapers of Scotch ploughs and Scoth ploughmen ..’]; Extracts from Annals of Ballitore [incl refs. to Isaac Emmanuel, ‘the first Jew’ to enter our village; labourer Robert Baxter, of Monaghan; her aunt Carleton; Baxter’s anecdote of the imprisonment of Lady Cathcart, ‘afterwards wrought by the able pen of Maria Edgeworth in CR’; Finlay M’Clane, Ballitore man of 110 in 1798, native of Scotland and Gaelic speaker, veteran of Fontenoy, outpatient at Royal Kilmainham’]

[ top ]

Justin McCarthy, gen. ed., Irish Literature (Washington: Catholic Univ. of America 1904), calls her dg. of Richard Shackleton; this account exclusively derived from Cabinet, incl. comments on Cottage Dialogues [‘the charcter of the poorer Irish, their virtues and their sufferings, with the best mode of improving their condition, formed the subject of these dialogues.’ D. and bur. Ballitore. JMC selects ‘Scenes in the Insurrection of 1798’, from Leadbeater Papers [‘Tyrone Militia & Suffolk Fencibles, Ancient Britons from Athy, seized smith’s tools to prevent them from making pikes [...] imprisoned smiths such as Owen Finn, making Mary weep as they ‘walked after the car containing those implements [...] which had enabled them to provide comfortably for the family’; several whipped publically [...] excessive torture; laments; ‘these violent measures caused a great many pikes to be brought in; the street was lined with those who came to deliver up the instruments of death; morning of May, insurrection begun; Dr Johnson, out to dress wounds, despoiled; Paddy Dempsey shot dead; soldiers killed; Malachie Delaney attempts to prevent blood-shed; Richard Yeates, son of squire of Moone, brought in a prisoner, his yeomanry coat turned; Yeates piked and shot out of hand in spite of entreaties of Priest Cullen; Norcott D’Esterre narrowly escapes death; Mary sees ‘the youthful form of the murdered Richard Yeates [as infra]; a man with drawn sword demands their mare; ‘To kill you?’, in a tone expressive of surprise’; peasant wife sent to find disfigured body in woods, not her husband; prisoners and guests; wounded and fevered; ‘believing its [their house] destruction inevitable [...] packed small trunk [...] the spirit which had animated the insurgents had evaporated; password ‘Scourges’; the peasant called ‘the Canny’, a sentry in the rebel camp, explains in an ‘incoherent answer, “Aye, but you know, our Saviour - scourges, oh! the scourges!’; kindly treated; Naas & Kilcullen, slaughters & massacres; ‘no quarter was given - no mecy shown; and most of those who had escaped, burning with disappointment, rage, and revenge, joined the Wexford party; John Bewley as intermediary; hostages; Major Dennis threatens to shoot; Col. Campbell’s men bring cannon; ‘Cannon in Ballitore! [...] peaceful inhabitants were delivered up for two hours to the unbridled licence of a furious soldiery! How shall I continue the fearful narrative!’; the Leadbeater house invaded by the soldiers; murdered carpenters; Owen Finn dragged out and killed; other losses and atrocities; ‘Such are the horrors of civil war.’

[ top ]

Brian McKenna, Irish Literature, 1800-1875: A Guide to Information Sources (Detroit: Gale Research Co. 1978) , WORKS & CRIT [as supra].

Brian Cleeve & Ann Brady, A Dictionary of Irish Writers (Dublin: Lilliput 1985), Mary Leadbeater - many of her friends were involved in the 98 Rising and The Annals of Ballytore [sic], generally called The Leadbeater Papers, are an invaluable source., esp. the 2nd vol. dealing with the Rising. These papers were unpublished till 1862. Justin McCarthy, Irish Lit., gives ‘Scenes from the Insurrection of 1798,’ from Leadbeater Papers [see infra].

A. N. Jeffares & Anthony Kamm, eds., An Irish Childhood, An Anthology (Collins 1987), select ‘The Childminders’, passage of Leadbeater Papers.

[ top ]

Rolf Loeber & Magda Stouthamer-Loebber, ‘Fiction available to and written for cottages and their children’, in Bernadette Cunningham & Máire Kennedy, eds., The Experience of Reading: Irish Historical Perspectives (Dublin: Rare Books Group [...&c.] 1999), cites Cottage Dialogues (3 sers., 1811-1818); Short Stories for Cottagers (Dublin 1813); and Tales for Cottagers (Dublin 1814), and quotes The Pedlars (Dublin 1826) [as infra]. Note remarks on Maria Edgeworth’s ‘Advertisment to the Reader’ [see Edgeworth, q.v., and Harriet Martineau, q.v.]

Rolf Loeber & Magda Loeber, Guide to Irish Fiction, 1650-1900 (Dublin: Four Courts Press 2006), reproduces title p. and front. pl. of The Pedlars (Dublin: Printed by Bentham & Hardy, Cecilia St. / 1826), showing bee-hive design under title and with epigraph [unattrib.]: ‘An irksome drudgery seems it, to plod on / Thro’ dusty ways, in storm, from door to door, / An humble merchant, bent beneath his load! / Yet do such travellers find their own delight; / And their hard service gains merited respect.’ (Loeber & Lober, [10th pl.] between p.812-13.)

[ top ]

Catalogues
British Library holds Biographical Notices and Memoirs of the Society of Friends, who were resident in Ireland (London 1823), 12o; Cottage Biography, being a collection of Lives of the Irish Peasantry (Dublin 1822), 12o; Cottage Dialogues among the Irish Peasantry with notes and preface by Maria Edgeworth (JJ Johnston&Co 1811), v+343pp., 12o; Cottage Dialogues, 4th ed. (Dublin 1813); Cottage Dialogues, another ed. (Dublin 1841); Extracts and original anecdotes from the improvement of youth, compiled by M[aria] L[eadbeater] (1794), 12o; The Landlord’s Friend intended as sequel to Cottage Dialogues (Dublin 1813); Leadbeater Papers, with a memoir of the author [and] letters from Edmund Burke heretofore unpublished, and the correspondence of Mrs R Trench and G Crabbe with Mary Leadbeater, 2 vols. (London, Dublin 1862); Leadbeater Papers, 2nd ed. (Dublin 1862); Memoirs of R and E Shackleton, compiled by M Leadbeater including a concise biographical sketch and some letters of her grandfather Abraham Shackleton (London 1822), 8o; Memoirs of R[ichard] and E[lizabeth] Shackleton, 2nd ed. (London 1822); Memoirs of R and E Shackleton, new edition contain many letters never before published (London 1849), 8o; Mary leadbeater and Elizabeth Shackleton, later Carleton, Tales for Cottagers, accommodated to the present condition of the Irish Peasantry (Dublin 1814), 12o.

[ top ]

Belfast Public Library holds Biographical Notices (1823); Cottage dialogue among the Irish Peasantry (1811, 1813); The Leadbeater Papers (1862); Leaders of Public Opinion in Ireland (1861); Poems (1808). BIBL, De Burca Books Cat, Biographical Notices of Members of the Society of Friends [...] resident in Ireland (London 1823)

[ top ]

Notes
Burke source: T. H. D. Mahony, Edmund Burke and Ireland (Harvard UP 1960), cites Burke’s account of his own father from The Leadbeater Papers, A Selection from the Manuscripts and Correspondence of Mary Leadbeater, ed. Mrs. Leadbeater (2nd. ed., 2 vols., London 1862), chiefly vol. II.

Constantia Maxwell (The Stranger in Ireland, 1954), cites her record of a visit from the son of Walter Scott, also Walter, then stationed in Dublin (p.252). Annals Of Ballitore, 2 vols. (1862).

[ top ]