Arts & Literature
William Carleton Novelist and short-story writer
Originally from a Roman Catholic family in Co. Tyrone, he converted to Protestantism after his arrival in Dublin in 1819. He attended the Strand Street Meeting House. His son James was baptised there in 1831.
Nathaniel Hone (The Elder) Artist. New Row & Eustace Street Congregation.
Several generations of the Hone family were active in the Dublin congregations from the middle of the 17th century. Members of the family were prominent in the commercial and artistic life of the city. Many Hone paintings hang in the National Gallery of Ireland and the Gallery Board Room bears the Hone family name. Nathaniel Hone (The Elder) was a founder the Royal Academy of Arts where he clashed with Sir Joshua Reynolds. A controversial Hone painting, The Conjurer, which satirised the work of Reynolds, hangs in the National Gallery of Ireland.
Nathaniel Hone (The Younger) Artist. Baptised at Strand Street 1831,
Son of Brindley Hone. He was a painter of French landscapes and Irish seascapes but his reputation as an artist was really only established after he died.
Mary Anne (Emmet) Holmes (1773–1805) Poet and Writer.
Sister of Thomas and Robert Emmet, she contributed verse and prose to the United Irish organ The Press. She was married to Robert Holmes in 1799 by the Strand Street Minister Rev. John Moody. A copy of the Marriage Certificate hangs on the south wall of the Unitarian Church. Robert Emmet’s signature (as a witness) is also on the certificate. The baptisms of three children of Robert and Mary Anne are recorded in our church Baptismal Register. A portrait of Mary Anne hangs in Kilmainham Jail Museum.
Sir James Andrews (1877–1951) Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland.
James Andrews was a member of the Managing Committee of the St Stephen’s Green church in the early years of the 20th century. He was one of a prominent Co. Down Unitarian family with strong connections to the Strand Street and St Stephen’s Green congregations. (The Andrews Window on the west wall of the church is dedicated to his uncle, Robert Andrews). A descendant of the United Irishman William Drennan, James Andrews lived in Dublin with his uncle and mentor William Drennan Andrews. Called to the bar in 1900, he developed a very successful legal practice. Following partition, he moved to Northern Ireland where he became Lord Chief Justice in 1937. One of his brothers was John Millar Andrews, Prime Minister of Northern Ireland from 1940 to 1943.
William Drennan Andrews (1832-1924) Privy Counsellor. Chairman, St Stephen’s Green.
Born in Comber Co Down to a prominent Unitarian family. Grandson of United Irishman William Drennan and uncle of Sir James Andrews. Called to the Bar in 1855, he rose to become a High Court Judge in 1882 and joined the Privy Council in 1897. As Chairman of St Stephen’s Green congregation he extended the symbolic handshake of welcome to Rev. E Savell Hicks at his Installation Ceremony in 1910.
Robert Holmes (1765–1859) Barrister
Called to the Irish Bar in 1795, he eventually built a very successful legal practice. He married Mary Anne Emmet in 1799 and shared the political sympathies of his wife and his brothers in law, Thomas Addis Emmet and Robert Emmet. He was arrested on the night of Emmet’s 1803 Rising (in which he doesn’t appear to have been involved) and wasn’t released from detention until 1804. In 1831 he was appointed as the Unitarian representative on the first group of Commissioners of National Education. A bust of Holmes stands in the Royal Courts of Justice, Belfast.
Sir Andrew Marshall Porter (1837–1919) Attorney General, Master of The Rolls & MP
Porter was a member of the Managing Committee of the St Stephen’s Green church in the early years of the 20th century. Born in Belfast, he was a son of the Rev John Scott Porter of 1st Presbyterian Church Belfast. Called to the Irish bar in 1860, he had a very successful legal practice. He was elected as a Liberal MP for Londonderry in 1881. Appointed as Attorney General in 1883, he prosecuted the Phoenix Park assassins of Lord Frederick Cavendish, Chief Secretary for Ireland. The Beatitudes panel situated on the north wall of the church were a gift donated by Porter.
Medicine & Health
Travers R. Blackley (1801 – 1870) Surgeon. Baptised at Strand Street 1801.
A descendant of Rev. Elias Travers, 17th century Minister to the Cook Street Congregation and of Travers Hartley MP, Blackley was admitted as a member to the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland in May 1827. He presented the large window (1868) situated at the landing at the top of the church entrance stairs.
Dr. Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw (1839–1900) Registrar-General for Ireland.
Born near Belfast, a descendant of Lancashire cotton merchants. Admitted to Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland in 1862. Held senior posts in Dublin hospitals. One of the founders of the Dublin Sanitary Association and of the Dublin Artisans’ Dwellings Company Limited. President (1888) of the Statistical Society of Ireland. He provided statistical evidence in support of public health improvement initiatives. Registrar General for Ireland 1879 – 1900. There is a Dublin Tourism plaque situated at the site of his former home at Dawson Street. Dr Grimshaw married Sarah Elizabeth Thomas in 1865. They are remembered on a memorial on the east side of the church. Their son Temple is remembered on a memorial next to the pulpit. Two other sons (Cecil and Ewing) were killed in the First World War.
Margaret Huxley (1856 – 1940) Nurse and philanthropist. Member of St Stephen’s Green Congregation.
Born in London in 1856. Huxley came to Dublin in 1883 from St Bartholomew’s London to take up the post of Lady Superintendent at the Eye and Ear Hospital. Appointed as Matron of Sir Patrick Dun’s Hospital soon afterwards, she became a pioneer in the education of nurses and the raising of nursing standards. She was a leading light and President of the Irish Nurses Association.
She was also the driving force behind the efforts of church members to relieve a housing crisis. The Margaret Huxley Public Utility Society constructed ten family homes on Cork Street Dublin (named Huxley Crescent in her honour). The Margaret Huxley Memorial Window on the east side of the church was gifted to the church by her good friend, the artist Sarah Purser.
Rev. James Armstrong (1781–1839) Minister to Strand Street Congregation 1806 – 1839.
An important historian of Dublin Presbyterianism, Armstrong was born at Ballynahinch, Co. Down. Installed as assistant to Rev. John Moody on Christmas Day 1806. A leading exponent of Unitarianism, Armstrong was a founder of the Irish Unitarian Society (1830) and of the Association of Irish Non-subscribing Presbyterians (1835). He married into the Allman family of Bandon Co Cork and a son of the marriage, Rev. George Allman Armstrong, went on to become a Minister at Strand Street and St Stephen’s Green.
Rev. John Abernethy Born 1680. Minister to Wood Street Congregation 1730 to 1741.
An influential and significant ‘New Light’ Presbyterian in Ulster, he was originally called to Wood Street in 1703 to succeed Rev Thomas Emlyn as assistant to Rev. Joseph Boyse but he had to decline the call. He eventually succeeded Boyse at Wood Street in 1730. A portrait of Rev Abernethy hangs in the vestry at St Stephen’s Green.
Rev. William Bruce Born Dublin 1757. Minister to Strand Street Congregation 1782 to 1790.
The Bruce family provide a succession of Ministers to Irish Presbyterian and Unitarian congregations. His father, Rev Samuel Bruce, was Minister at Wood Street and Strand Street. A portrait of Rev William Bruce hangs in the vestry at St Stephen’s Green.
Rev. James Drummond (1835 – 1918) Minister, theologian and college principal. Baptised Strand Street.
The son of Rev William Hamilton Drummond, brother of Rev Robert Blackley Drummond (born 1833), and father of Rev William Hamilton Drummond (born 1863). A theologian and Biblical scholar of great repute, Unitarian minister at Cross Street Chapel in Manchester as assistant to William Gaskell. He took up a teaching position at Manchester College in 1869 and retired as Principal of the college in 1906.
Rev. William H Drummond (1778 – 1865) Minister to Strand Street Congregation 1815 – 1863.
Born in Larne, Co Antrim, William Hamilton Drummond accepted the call from the Strand Street congregation in 1815. A prolific writer, his works included hymns and poetry, biographies, and several robust defences of Unitarianism including ‘An Explanation and Defence of the Principles of Protestant Dissent’. His two sons, both baptised in Strand Street, entered the ministry, James going to Cross Street Manchester and Robert to St Mark’s Unitarian Church in Edinburgh. A portrait of Rev WH Drummond hangs in the vestry at St Stephen’s Green.
Rev. James Duchal (1697-1761) Minister to Wood Street Congregation 1741 – 1761.
Following periods of ministry in Cambridge England and in Antrim, he moved to Wood Street in 1741. In the twenty years of his Dublin ministry, he was believed to have produced some seven hundred sermons. The published sermons, issued in three volumes, are said to have influenced a generation of liberal theologians.
Rev. Thomas Emlyn (1663-1743) Minister to Wood Street Congregation 1691 – 1702.
Born in Lincolnshire, Emlyn is said to have been the first Unitarian Minister in the United Kingdom. At the age of 20 he became chaplain to the Countess of Donegall and moved from London to Belfast with her. In 1691 he accepted a call to co-pastor with Rev. Joseph Boyse at Wood Street. A respected and popular minister, he abandoned the generally held belief in the Trinity but he kept his Unitarian views to himself. However, when confronted and admonished by his presbytery about his non-Trinitarian sermons, he published his response in a ‘Humble Inquiry into The Scripture Account of Jesus Christ’. For his troubles Emlyn was hauled before the courts on charges of blasphemy. The trial of his landmark case commenced in June 1703. Found guilty, he was fined an enormous sum that was beyond his means to pay. Imprisoned for non-payment of the fine, he only secured his freedom in July 1705 after the intervention of the Duke of Ormond. Emlyn moved to London where he continued his ministry and published ‘A Vindication of the Worship of the Lord Jesus Christ on Unitarian Principles’. He is buried in the Protestant Dissenters Cemetery at Bunhill Fields, London.
Rev. John Leland (1691 – 1766) Minister to Eustace Street Congregation 1716 – 1766.
Born in Wigan, England, his family moved to Dublin when he was a child. Minister (with Nathaniel Weld) to the Eustace Street congregation from 1716. A writer of religious works, he gained a high reputation with clergymen of Protestant dissenting and established churches.
Learning & Discovery
William Bruce (1702–55) Publisher and Writer. Elder of Wood Street Congregation.
Born in Killyleagh, Co. Down, son of the Rev. James Bruce (1660 – 1730). He attended the Presbyterian academy in Killyleagh with his cousin Francis Hutcheson, the renowned philosopher who has been called the ‘Father of the Scottish Enlightenment’. Settled in Dublin as a partner in Smith and Bruce booksellers and publishers at the Philosopher’s Head in Blind Quay. They published many liberal and radical books including the Irish editions of Hutcheson’s works. He was buried in the Bruce family tomb in St Mary’s graveyard (now Jervis Park). The tomb was also the burial place of Hutcheson.
Rev. Thomas Dix Hincks, (1767–1857) Naturalist and scholar. Baptised Strand Street.
Ordained as a Minister at the Old Presbyterian (Unitarian) Church, Prince’s St, Cork in 1792. A promoter of education, he founded the Royal Cork Institution. Later moved to Belfast where he died in 1857. His children included Rev. William Hicks (1794 – 1871) Professor of Natural History, who was ordained as a Unitarian Minister in Cork. He later moved to England and became the first editor of the Unitarian Magazine ‘The Inquirer’. Thomas Dix Hincks is remembered by a plaque on one of the gate posts of the Unitarian Church in Prince’s Street, Cork. A grandson, Rev. Thomas David Hincks (1818 – 1899), also a well-known naturalist, followed his father and grandfather as a Minister in Cork and also ministered for a year in Dublin.
Isaac Weld (1774 – 1856) Explorer, writer and Vice-President of the Royal Dublin Society.
A great grandson of Rev. Nathaniel Weld and a grandson of Rev. Isaac Weld of the New Row and Eustace Street congregations. Following an exploration of North America, Weld wrote and published a very popular account of his travel experiences under the title ‘Travels through the states of North America and the provinces of Upper and Lower Canada’. He was elected as a member of the forerunner of the Royal Dublin Society in 1800 and he was deeply involved in the affairs of the RDS up to the year of his death in 1856.
William Drennan (1754–1820) United Irishman. Member of Strand Street and Eustace Street Congregations.
Born in Belfast to Rev. Thomas Drennan of Rosemary Street Presbyterian Church, Dr. William Drennan moved his medical practice to Dublin in 1789 where he associated with Thomas Addis Emmet and others in a close circle of radical political thinkers and activists. The first president of the Dublin Society of United Irishmen, he was arrested and put on trial on charges of seditious libel in 1794. He was acquitted but took a less prominent role in the United Irishmen thereafter. Three volumes of his correspondence with his sister, Martha McTier (Irish Manuscripts Commission, 1999) contain a detailed account of radical political life in Dublin and Belfast and provide an invaluable insight into the connections between the Protestant Dissenting communities of the two cities. A minor poet, he coined the term ‘Emerald Isle’ as a poetic description of Ireland. Drennan married Sarah Swanick in Strand Street in 1800 and their children, Lennox and Sarah, were baptised there in 1806 and 1807. A Biography of Drennan, ‘May Tyrants Tremble’, by Dublin Unitarian Fergus Whelan, was published in 2020 (Irish Academic Press).
Travers Hartley MP (1723 – 1796), Merchant and MP Trustee of Strand Street.
Born in Dublin, eldest son of James and Alice (Travers) Hartley. Elected to the Irish House of Parliament as an MP for Dublin City in 1782. He was the first President of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce and one of the original directors of The Bank of Ireland. A radical MP, in 1788 he presided at a Chamber of Commerce meeting in support of a movement to end British involvement in the slave trade. His funeral was reported as a great civic occasion.
Archibald Hamilton Rowan (1751 – 1834) United Irishman. Member of Strand Street Congregation.
Born in London to parents from Dublin and Killyleagh Co. Down. A member of Dublin Freemason Lodges No 2 and No 620, he was Secretary of the Dublin Society of United Irishmen and friend of William Drennan. Arrested in 1794 and facing serious charges, he made a dramatic escape from Newgate Jail. He travelled to France and the USA and finally, on foot of assurances from Castlereagh, returned to Ireland in 1803. He remained a radical and liberal and continued to support reforming causes. His funeral was conducted by a Strand Street minister and he was buried in the vaults of St Mary’s Church.
A biography of Rowan, ‘God-Provoking Democrat: The Remarkable Life of Archibald Hamilton Rowan’ by Dublin Unitarian Fergus Whelan was published in 2015 (Irish Academic Press).
Robert Stewart – Lord Castlereagh (1769 -1822) Politician. Baptised Strand Street.
Robert Stewart was born in Henry Street, Dublin to Robert and Sarah Stewart and was baptised by Rev. John Moody. He converted from Presbyterianism to the Church of England after entering St John’s College Cambridge in 1786. Elected to the Irish Parliament as an MP for Co. Down, he rose through the political ranks to become Chief Secretary for Ireland. In that role he was involved in putting down the 1798 Rebellion and instrumental in pushing through the 1800 Act of Union. As British Foreign Secretary from 1812 – 1822, he was central to the coalition of nations that came together to defeat Napoleon and was for many years one of the most influential politicians in Europe. He was buried in Westminster Abbey.
James Haughton (1795 – 1873) Social reformer and anti-slavery campaigner. Trustee of Strand Street and St. Stephen’s Green.
Born in Co Carlow into a Society of Friends (Quaker) family, he moved to Dublin in 1817, going into business as a flour merchant with his brother William. A member and activist in many organisations seeking social improvements, he was President of the Irish Temperance Union and represented Ireland at international temperance conventions. Actively promoted social and educational outlets for working people such as the Peoples’ Gardens, the Botanic Gardens and the Mechanics Institute. A prominent anti-slavery campaigner, he represented Ireland at the ‘World’s Anti-Slavery Conventions’ in London in 1838 and 1840. He died 20 February 1873 at his home in 35 Eccles St., and was buried in Mount Jerome cemetery.
Dora Mellone (1872 – 1950) Suffragist. Member, St Stephen’s Green.
Born in England, her father was a Unitarian Minister from Co Down. A teacher and an activist in the women’s suffrage movement. Later active in Dublin, she was one of the Stephen’s Green Unitarians behind the building of the Huxley Crescent housing scheme.
Samuel Shannon Millin (1864 – 1947) Children’s Rights Advocate. Member, St Stephen’s Green.
Born in Belfast and member of All Souls Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church in that city. Joined St Stephen’s Green Church and was a member of the managing committee when he lived in Dublin. Presented many papers advocating for improvements in children’s welfare. Wrote a two-volume history of Belfast.
Andrew Marshall Porter (1872 – 1900) Hockey and cricket player. Baptised St Stephen’s Green.
A son of Sir Andrew Marshall Porter. A scholar in classics at TCD, he captained the Trinity cricket team. He played both cricket and hockey for Ireland, captaining the Irish hockey team. Called to the bar in 1898, he gave up his career to enlist in the British army at the outbreak of the Boer War. He was killed in action in June 1900. There is a window in his memory in the Graduates’ Memorial Building in TCD.
Stanley Woods (1903–93) Motorcycle racer. Baptised St Stephen’s Green.
Born in Rathmines, Dublin. Woods began racing in 1920 and was hugely successful on the Irish and European racing circuits. Won numerous Grand Prix titles and for many years held the record for the number of victories (10) in the Isle of Man TT Races. He has been commemorated on postage stamps issued in 1974 by the Isle of Man Post Office and in 1996 by An Post (the Irish Postal Service).
Trade & Commerce
Thomas Hutton (1788 – 1865) Coach builder
The Hutton family name appears more frequently in the Strand Street (later the St Stephen’s Green) baptismal register than any other family name and is connected by marriage and business, political and cultural associations with many significant figures in Irish and British history. A son of John, founder of coachbuilders John Hutton & Sons (1779 – 1923), Thomas managed the company when it was at the height of its reputation. Queen Victoria commissioned a ceremonial coach from Huttons that was given the title of ‘The Irish State Coach’. The coach is still in the ownership of the British monarch and is regularly seen in London on State occasions. A brother of Thomas, Robert Hutton (1784–1870), served as a Liberal Unionist MP for Dublin (1837 -1841).
John Jameson (1773–1861) Distiller. Member of Strand Street Congregation.
Came to Dublin from Scotland with his father John and brother William to set up distilleries in Bow Street and Marrowbone Lane. He and his wife Isabella had six children, all baptised at Strand Street.
Augustine Thwaites Mineral Water Manufacturer. Baptised Strand Street 1774.
Thwaites founded a mineral water company that traded from Sackville (O’Connell) Street Dublin. Thwaites was the first to use, and had a patent on, the term “soda water”.
Thomas Wilson (1795 – 1857) Merchant. Treasurer, Strand Street Congregation.
His father, Joseph Wilson, a shipping merchant and United States Consul to Dublin was once Aide de Camp to George Washington. Thomas succeeded him in the shipping business and was appointed U.S Consul to Dublin by President John Quincy Adams in 1826. Thomas had major banking and commercial interests in Dublin and owned estates in the West Indies which used slave labour, employing over 450 slaves. He became a wealthy man when he was awarded compensation from the government after the right to ownership of slaves in the colonies was abolished by the UK parliament in 1833. He donated money that substantially paid for the site and construction of St Stephen’s Green Unitarian Church. A window on the north side of the church is dedicated to his memory.