Thomas Prior

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Thomas Prior (1680 – 21 October 1751) was an Irish author, known as the founder of the Royal Dublin Society.

Royal Dublin Society convention center

The Royal Dublin Society (RDS) is the name given in 1820 to a philanthropic organisation which was founded as the 'Dublin Society' on 25 June 1731 to see Ireland thrive culturally and economically. The RDS is synonymous with its campus in Ballsbridge in Dublin, Ireland. This campus includes the "RDS Arena", "RDS Simmonscourt", "RDS Main Hall" and other venues which are used regularly for exhibitions, concerts and sporting events, including regular use by the Leinster Rugby team.


Bust of Thomas Prior by John van Nost the younger. Thomas Prior Van Nost.jpg
Bust of Thomas Prior by John van Nost the younger.


He was born at Rathdowney, County Laois, He entered the public school at Kilkenny College in January 1697, and stayed there till April 1699; among his school-fellows was George Berkeley, with whom he formed a lifelong friendship. He entered Trinity College, Dublin, obtained a scholarship in 1701, and graduated B.A. in 1703. [1]

Rathdowney Village in Leinster, Ireland

Rathdowney or Rathdowny is a town in southwest County Laois, Ireland. It lies some 32 km southwest of Portlaoise in the Irish Midlands, at the point where the R433 regional road from Abbeyleix to Templemore is crossed by the R435 from Borris-in-Ossory to Johnstown. The R433 provides access for Rathdowney to the Dublin-Cork M8 motorway, while the R435 links the town to the Dublin-Limerick M7. According to the 2011 census the population stands at 1,208.

County Laois County in the Republic of Ireland

County Laois is a county in Ireland. It is located in the south of the Midlands Region and is also located in the province of Leinster, and was formerly known as Queen's County. The modern county takes its name from Loígis, a medieval kingdom.

Kilkenny College

Kilkenny College is an independent Church of Ireland co-educational day and boarding secondary school located in Kilkenny, in the South-East of Ireland. It is the largest co-educational boarding school in Ireland. The school's students are mainly Protestant, although it is open to other denominations.

In 1729, Prior published his 'List of Absentees of Ireland' which condemned absentee Irish landlords, named those he considered delinquent and garnered himself some notoriety in doing so. [2] [3] Prior subsequently devoted himself to economic promotion, working among the Protestant population in Ireland. [1] With Samuel Madden and eleven other friends, Prior in 1731 established the Dublin Society for the Promotion of Agriculture, Manufactures, Arts, and Sciences, at a meeting of held in Trinity College, 25 June 1731; [1] [4] others involved included Francis Bindon, Patrick Delany, and Sir Thomas Molyneux. [5] It was incorporated, and received a grant from Parliament in 1749 of £500 a year; many years later, in 1820, it renamed itself as the Royal Dublin Society. [1] [6]

Samuel Madden Irish writer

Samuel Madden was an Irish author. His works include Themistocles; The Lover of His Country, Reflections and Resolutions Proper for the Gentlemen of Ireland, and Memoirs of the Twentieth Century. Dr. Samuel Johnson wrote of him, "His was a name which Ireland ought to honour." He suggested that the Royal Dublin Society initiate a scheme to fund improvements in agriculture and arts in Ireland via the use of premiums - the source of his nickname Premium.

Francis Bindon Irish architect and painter

Francis Bindon was a popular architect and painter in 18th century Ireland. Bindon was highly regarded by his contemporaries and was commissioned to design buildings and paint portraits for some of Ireland's most prominent figures. Today, relatively little is known about the man, despite the number of paintings and buildings he has left as his legacy.

Prior died on 21 October 1751, and was buried at Rathdowny, A monument was erected by subscription to his memory in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, with an inscription in Latin by Berkeley, who styled him "Societatis Dubliniensis auctor, institutor, curator". A portrait of him in mezzotint by Charles Spooner was published at Dublin in 1752. [1] [7]

Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin Church in Ireland

Christ Church Cathedral, more formally The Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, is the cathedral of the United Dioceses of Dublin and Glendalough and the cathedral of the ecclesiastical province of the United Provinces of Dublin and Cashel in the (Anglican) Church of Ireland. It is situated in Dublin, Ireland, and is the elder of the capital city's two medieval cathedrals, the other being St Patrick's Cathedral.

Charles Spooner was an Irish mezzotint engraver, who worked in London towards the end of his life.


In 1729 appeared at Dublin Prior's List of the Absentees of Ireland, and in the following year he published Observations on Coin. To Lord Chesterfield, who had met him as Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, Prior in 1746 dedicated An Authentic Narrative of the Success of Tar-water in Curing a great number and variety of Distempers. This publication included two letters from Berkeley. An essay by Prior, advocating the encouragement of linen manufacture in Ireland, was published at Dublin in 1749. [1]

Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield 18th-century British statesman and man of letters

Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield, was a British statesman, diplomat, man of letters, and an acclaimed wit of his time. He was born in London to Philip Stanhope, 3rd Earl of Chesterfield, and Lady Elizabeth Savile, and known as Lord Stanhope until the death of his father, in 1726. Following the death of his mother in 1708, Stanhope was raised mainly by his grandmother, the Marchioness of Halifax. Educated at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, he left just over a year into his studies, after focusing on languages and oration. He subsequently embarked on the Grand Tour of the Continent, to complete his education as a nobleman, by exposure to the cultural legacies of Classical antiquity and the Renaissance, and to become acquainted with his aristocratic counterparts and the polite society of Continental Europe.

Linen textile made from spun flax fiber

Linen is a textile made from the fibers of the flax plant. Linen is laborious to manufacture, but the fiber is very strong, absorbent and dries faster than cotton. Garments made of linen are valued for their exceptional coolness and freshness in hot and humid weather.

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Wikisource-logo.svg "Prior, Thomas (1682?-1751)". Dictionary of National Biography . London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
  2. RDS TwoSevenFive, A Brief History of the Royal Dublin Society 1731-2006. Dublin, Ireland: RDS. 2006. p. 6.
  3. de Vere White, Terence (1955). The Story of the Royal Dublin Society. Tralee, Ireland: The Kerryman. p. 3.
  4. A Compendium of Irish Biography
  5. Carter, Philip. "Prior, Thomas". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/22815.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  6. Sonnelitter, Karen (2016). Charity Movements in Eighteenth-Century Ireland: Philanthropy and Improvement. Woodbridge, Suffold: Boydell & Brewer. pp. 100–101. ISBN   9781783270682.
  7. Wikisource-logo.svg "Spooner, Charles (d.1767)". Dictionary of National Biography . London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.

Wikisource-logo.svg  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : "Prior, Thomas (1682?-1751)". Dictionary of National Biography . London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.