James Whitelaw

CriticismCommentary

Life
1749-1813; b. Co. Leitrim; ed. TCD; rector of several parishes in Dublin; Essay on the Population of Dublin in 1798 (1805), the first systematic census of Dublin, compiled in 1798; followed by A History of the City of Dublin with John Warburton, concluded by Robert Walsh (2 vols. 1818). RR ODNB DIB.

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References
Dictionary of National Biography
calls him a statistician and philanthropist; BA TCD 1771; livings of St James’s and St Catherine’s, Dublin, also Castlereagh [Castlerea] with St. Catherine’s; formed Meath charitable loan, 1808; made Dublin city census, 1798-1805; began with John Warbuton the History of Dublin, completed by Robert Walsh (1818). DIB adds, obtained living of St Catherine’s in Liberties of Dublin; several charitable institutions, and securederasmus Smith Free School for the Coombe; Essay on the Population of Dublin in 1798; collaborated with Warburton. d. 4 Feb 1813 from fever contracted visiting poor parishioners. See also biographical article in Richard Ryan, Biographia Hibernica, Irish Worthies (1821), Vol. II.

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Quotations
Wretched of the earth: ‘I have frequently surprised from ten to fifteen persons in a room not fifteen feet square, stretched on a wad of filthy straw, swarming with vermin, and without covering, save the wretched rags that constitute their wearing apparel ... a degree of filth and stench inconceivable, except by such as have visited those scenes of wretchedness.’ (An Essay on the Pop. of Dublin, Graisberry & Campbell, 1805, p.50; cited in Kevin C. Kearns, Dublin Tenement Life, An Oral History (Dublin:G&M 1994), Introduction, p.1.

Essay on the Population of Dublin in 1798 (1805), the first systematic census of Dublin, compiled in 1798, Whitelaw count a total population of 182,370 (of which 20% were assigned to the upper and middle class); in the History of the City of Dublin, with Warburton and Walsh (1818), he listed the upper cLass before the Union as including 249 temporal peers, 22 spiritual peers, and 300 MPs, being reduced to 29, 6 and 5 respectively afterwards ((Vol. II, p.1168); further, ‘great numbers who formerly were in the habit of reading are by this act interdicted from doing so’; Dublin become a backwater, ‘Now, the lively tumult is at rest, and all is secret or silent, as in a Turkish Divan.’ (ibid., pp.1157-58; all cited in Ricard Cargill Cole, Irish Booksellers and English Writers, 1740-1800, 1986, p.153.)

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