William Shaw Mason


Life
17741853; b. Dublin; son of Henry Mason (“publicanus” in Burtchaell & Sadleir, Alum. Dubl. [TCD]); ed. by Mr. Carpendale and at TCD; grad. BA, 1796; appt. to Office of Remembrancer or Receiver of the first-ruits and twentieth parts in Ireland, 1805; secretary to Commissioners for Public Records, Sept. 1810; impressed Sir Robert Peel while the latter was Chief secretary, and encouraged by him to undertake an Irish statistical survey modelled on that of by Sir John Sinclair in Scotland; A Statistical Account or Parochial Survey of Ireland, drawn up from the Communications of the Clergy, 3 vols. (1814, 1816, 1819), octavo;
 
worked on census and compiled a Survey, Valuation, and Census of the Barony of Portnahinch in Queen’s County (1821); submitted to George IV during his visit to Ireland as a model for a statistical survey of the whole country; issued Bibliotheca Hibernicana (1823), being an annotated catalogue of books relating to Ireland collected by him for Peel; purportedly refused agents of the Lord Lieutenant access to the Irish Records and risked dismissal by the Lord Chancellor according to his own “Observations”; d. Camden Street, Dublin, 11 March 1853; the DNB article is by Sir John Gilbert and revised by Alan Yoshioka (2004). ODNB

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Works
  • A Reprint of the Statistical Account of the Town and Parish of Thurso [ by Sir John Sinclair] and of the parish of Aghaboe [by Edward Ledwich], with a short introduction, containing a plan for the arrangement of the Statistical Account of Ireland, presented [...] by Wm. Shaw Mason [Dublin: for the Author 1813], 89p., 8°; ill plans; copy in Lambeth Palace; NL Scotland];
  • A Statistical Account; or, Parochial Survey of Ireland, drawn up from the Communications of the Clergy by William Shaw Mason, 3 vols. (Dublin: Printed for J. Cumming and N. Mahon, 1814, 1816, 1819) [Vol. 1 printed by Graisberry & Campbell, Dublin; Vol. 2 printed at Hibernian Press Office; Vol. 3 printed at Faulker Press; all available at Google books online; Bodleian copy; also in Irish Microfilms, 1979];
  • Survey, Valuation, and Census of the Barony of Portnehinch in Queen's county compiled in 1819 (1821), fol., and Do. [facs. rep.] (Farnborough, Hants.: Gregg 1973), 14pp.
    Do., rep. with A statistical and historical inquiry into the progress and magnitude of the population of Ireland, by Thomas Newenham, et al. intro. by J[oseph] Lee (Farnborough, Hants.: Gregg 1973), 446pp. [see details].
  • Bibliotheca Hibernicana; or, A descriptive catalogue of a select Irish library collected for... Robert Peel.... (Dublin : by W. Folds & Son, 1823) [see details], and Do. [facs. rep.], intro. by Norman D. Palmer (Shannon: IUP 1970), 74pp. [see note]
  • ‘Observations on the Report from the Select Committee on the Record Commission’, in Parliamentary Papers (1837), 39.369, no. 177;
  • A Survey of Tullaroan, or Grace's Parish in the Cantred of Grace's Country and County of Kilkenny; taken from the Statistical account or Parochial survey of Ireland, by W. S. Mason; edited by Sheffield Grace and Robert Shaw. With copious pictorial illustrations from various sources. (Dublin: Faulkner Press 1819), 160pp., 8°, 160, 4pp., ill. [65 pls., 3 maps], 24 x 15cm.[ltd. edn. of 50; BL copy has MS notes].
See also ...
  • N[orman] D. Palmer, ‘Sir Robert Peel’s “Select Irish Library”’, in Irish Historical Studies, 6, 22 (194849), pp.101-13 [given in the IUP edition with same pagination];
  • Graham Mawhinney, Shaw Mason's Maghara (1814) and Killelagh (1819), intro. by John Dunlop (Draperstown: Ballinascreen Historical Society 2001), iv, 82pp. [being extracts from the Statistical Account].
  • A Sale Catalogue of the Collection of William Shaw Mason, sold by auction by Mr. Sotheby and Son on Wednesday November 24th, 1830 and three following days ([London:] 1830), 32pp., 8° [British Library microfilm SC.218.]
  • Prospectus and review of the Statistical account: or, parochial survey of Ireland [...,] Subscribers' names will be received by John Cumming, Dublin, Longman ... London ([Dublin]: [printed for John Cumming] [1814]), 16pp., 21.25cm.
 
Note: Mason’s correspondence relating to Statistical Survey of Ireland is held at TCD Library; his correspondence with Sir Robert Peel his held in the British Library as Add. MSS 4022640515.

Bibliographical details
Bibliotheca Hibernicana; or, A descriptive catalogue of a select Irish library collected for... Robert Peel.... (Dublin : by W. Folds & Son, 1823), [8], 51, [52]pp, ill. [1 pl.; engrav. by John Martyn], ltd.edn. of 50 [one in Birmingham, formerly owned by and Alec Wallace, Marquis of Sligo, 1788-1850].

Survey, Valuation, and Census of the Barony of Portnehinch in Queen's county, compiled in 1819 (1821), fol., and Do. [facs. rep.] (Farnborough, Hants.: Gregg 1973), 14pp., and Do.,rep. with A statistical and historical inquiry into the progress and magnitude of the population of Ireland, by Thomas Newenham; An essay on the population of Ireland, by J. Howlett; An essay towards ascertaining the population of Ireland, by Gervase Parker Bushe; Survey, valuation and census of the barony of Portnehinch, by Wm Shaw Mason [all] with an introduction by J[oseph] Lee [Pioneers of Demography Ser.] Farnborough, Hants.: Gregg 1973), 446ppp [in various pagings]. 25cm..

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Commentary
W. B. Yeats: ‘In the Parochial Survey of Ireland it is recorded how the story-tellers used to gather together of an evening, and if any had a different version from the others, they would all recite theirs and vote, and the man who had varied would have to abide by their verdict. In this way stories have been handed down with such accuracy, such as the long tale of Deirdre was, in the earlier decades of this century, told almost word for wod, as in the very ancient manuscripts in the Royal Dublin Society.’ (W. B. Yeats, Introduction to Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry [1888], rep. in Robert Welch, ed., W. B. Yeats - Writings on Irish Folklore, Legend and Myth, London: Penguin 1993, pp.1-7, p.3. Note: Welch remarks that Yeats used this source in compiling his collection.)

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