James Haughton

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Haughton, James, philanthropist, was born at Carlow, 5th May 1795. His parents were members of the Society of Friends. He was educated at Ballitore school, and after residing five years in Cork to learn business, in 1817 settled in Dublin as a corn merchant, in partnership with his brother, until the year 1850. Occupied with the cares of his family for many years, and with what he regarded as one of the duties of civilized man — adding moderately to the capital of the country — he did not appear much in public before the year 1830.

After the early death of a beloved wife his attention became devoted to questions of reform. In 1838 he went to London as a delegate to an Anti-Slavery Convention, and thenceforward was known as an energetic philanthropic reformer. He took a warm interest in the anti-slavery cause in America and elsewhere, and enjoyed the friendship of many of its principal advocates. Although he could express himself with clearness, he was not a fluent speaker, and always preferred to write and read his addresses. For thirty-five years he sent out a stream of letters on anti-slavery, temperance, crime, capital punishment, land reform, and other questions, which were published by the press of all parties with unusual liberality. As a politician he was not very active, but his opinions were decidedly national, liberal, and in favour of all popular reforms.

During O'Connell's Repeal agitation Mr. Haughton occasionally attended the Conciliation Hall meetings, and spoke in favour of the Repeal of the Union, and he had a high opinion of O'Connell's character as a true friend of liberty. He became a member of the Unitarian body about the year 1834. Amongst many local public benefits which he especially laboured to carry out, were the establishment of the Dublin Mechanics' Institute, the opening of the Zoological Gardens on Sunday afternoons at a penny charge, the free opening of the Glasnevin Botanic Gardens on Sunday afternoons, and the formation of the People's Garden in the Phoenix Park.

He was a thorough free-trader, in the broad and unrestricted sense of the word, and he believed war to be totally opposed to the teaching of Christ. He took more or less part in nearly all the reform questions of his day; but the chief mission of his life was to promote the disuse of alcoholic liquors, and for many years before his death he gave up most of his time and energies to the cause of total abstinence, and the endeavour to secure legislative restrictions on the sale of intoxicating drinks. He died in Dublin, 20th February 1873, aged 77, and his remains were followed to Mount Jerome Cemetery by a concourse of people unusually large even for Ireland.

Sources

159b. Haughton, James, Memoir by his Son. Dublin, 1876. Haverty, Martin, see No. 170a.

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