William Hanbidge (1813-1909) was born and brought up in West Wicklow. He became an evangelical missionary in London's East End. His daughter Mary (1866-19?) was a headmistress in a London school. W. J. Mc Cormack is former Professor of Literary History, Goldsmiths College, University of London. His latest book, Blood Kindred: W. B. Yeats and the Politics of Death, will be published in 2005.
The Hanbidge family originated in Gloucester, and came to Ireland in the seventeenth century. They have been settled in the Donard/Dunlavin area ever since, with branches in Dublin, and elsewhere. The Hanbidge memoirs provide a vivid and unique account of Protestant 'small farmer' life in West Wicklow in the nineteenth century, together with recollections of the 1798 rebellion. There are also glimpses of Jonathan Swift and members of the Synge family. Wiliam Hanbidge wrote at the behest of his daughter, setting down in a simple but detailed manner the life of his family, their farming practices, past-times, communal relations, religious views, and awareness of the outer world. His account of travelling to New York after the Famine with a party of boys is especially fascinating. No comparable account of his social group and class has ever been published. Mary Hanbidge's devoted private publication of her father's memoirs was eclipsed by the outbreak of the Second World War, when many copies were destroyed by bombing.
Introduction by W. J. Mc Cormack
Memories of West Wicklow
- A few thoughts of my young days
My school days
My life and work in London
A few anecdotes of the Irish Rebellion of 1798 as I heard from my father
Appendix I Foreword by Mary Hanbidge to the 1939 edition
Appendix II Introduction by Mary Hanbidge
- My father
My father's home
Appendix III Folklore and superstitions
Appendix IV Chronicles of the family and stock of the Hanbidges
"Introduced at length by W. J. Mc Cormack who is linked ancestrally to the Hanbidges ... rushed out due to the war and now a rarity ... Fascinating material."
"they have produced a very valuable historical document. It was recorded, in a period of Irish and British history which by most accounts was pretty grim, the observations of an inveterate optimist who experienced the worst but made the best of it."
Canadian Journal of Irish Studies 31 (1) 2005
"Mc Cormack's excellent introduction on the provenance of Hanbidge's memoirs is elucidating. It is also well informed regarding aspects of life in west Wicklow before and after independence ... the book [has] a good deal to offer the social historian."
Terence Dooley, National University of Ireland, Maynooth
Irish Studies Review 13 (4) 2005
"University College Dublin Press has now published over thirty ‘Classics of Irish History'. These contemporary accounts by well known personalities of historical events and attitudes have an immediacy that conventional histories do not have. Introductions by modern historians provide additional historical background and, with hindsight, objectivity."
"Scholars of nineteenth-century Irish and Irish-American politics should reacquaint themselves with these classics, part of a long running and immensely useful series from University College Dublin Press."
Irish Literary Supplement