Bartholomew Mosse

Criticism

Life
1712-1759; born Maryborough (Portlaoise); founder of the Lying-In Hospital, Dublin, with its adjoining entertainment hall, the Rotunda, later venue of many events of Irish history, and also the site of the Gate Theatre; travelled through England, France and Holland to perfect himself in midwifery; died Cullenswood. ODNB

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Criticism
Ian Campbell Ross, ed., Public Virtue, Public Love: The Early Years of the Rotunda Lying-In Hospital (Dublin: O’Brien Press 1986).

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Commentary
Maurice Craig
, Dublin 1660-1860: A Social and Architectural History [1952] (Dublin: Allen Figgis 1969, 1980), gives an account of Dr. Mosse’s hospital first opened in a converted house in George’s Lane in the year that Swift died; called ‘a very remarrkable man, one who combined in a rare degree the love of architectural magnificence with that of his fellow-men’; a great friend of Cassels; took lease in 1738 of a large plot of ground at the north end of Sackville Street; built his hospital, since famous all over the world as the “Rotunda” [… &c.]’. (Craig, op. cit., p.140-41.)

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Jo-Murphy-Lawless, ‘The Silencing of Women in Childbirth: Let’s Hear it Again for Bartholomew and the Boys’, in Irish Women’s Studies: A Reader, ed. Ailbhe Smyth (Dublin: Attic Press 1993): ‘The establishment of maile midwifery and its institutional base, the lying-in hospital, must be viewed as part of that vast movement beginning in the eighteenth century that Foucault (1981) terms “bio-politics” [...] The intentions to preserve maternal and infant life because of their economic potential were publicly articulated here in Ireland between 1745 and the 1760s when the main building of the Rotunda were erected. Its founder, a self-styled man midwife named Bartholomew Mosse, was considered as a great philanthropist for taking account of the needs of “poor women” giving birth in the overcrowded slums that characterised eighteenth-century Dublin. Indeed, the extent of poverty in Ireland, considered by contemporaries to be far worse here than elsewhere in the British Isles, led to state support for the Rotunda as a worthy and important public charity for what were known as “poor lying-in women”. A plaque inscribed by a local sculptor in 1749 to the founder of the hospital drives home this message:

A public Virtue in thy Founder blaz’d,
A public Love they sacred Mansions rais’d,
Mansions by Charity herself design’d,
The sure Asylum of the suff’ring Kind.

But even the most benign account of the Rotunda’s history, say by its latest apologist, Ross in his book entitled Public Virtue, Public Love (1986), does not attempt to deny the “desire of doctors to have a steady supply of cases for clinical study and the instruction of (male) students”.’ (Ibid., p.114).

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References
Anne Crookshank
, Irish Portraits [Exhibition Catalogue] (Ulster Museum 1965), lists Bartholomew Mosse 1712-1759, unknown c.1745 oil. See also Webb (Compendium).

 

Notes
Thomas Campbell
, A Philosophical Survey of the South of Ireland (1778) prominently mentions Mosse’s hospital, while chapters are commonly devoted to it in histories of Dublin such as D. A. Chart (Story of Dublin, 1904).

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