Joseph Williams and 1798
The experiences of Quakers in 1798 are of particular interest in view of their refusal to take up arms and to destroy any that were in their possession. Joseph Williams was born in 1775 at Randall’s Mill which lies between Wexford town and Enniscorthy. In 1867, the year before he died, he told Anna Peet, a Waterford Quaker, of his experiences in the year of the Rising, when he was 23 years old. Anna made at least two copies of her transcript of Williams’s reminiscences. The text of the first was published in 1905 in The Friends’ Historical Journal. The second manuscript was found recently by Jennifer Keogh who is a descendant of one of the neighbours mentioned by Joseph Williams.
Jenny does voluntary work on the Quaker archives in the Friends Historical Library in Dublin and her colleagues decided to publish a new edition of the story as one of the Library’s Occasional Papers. She had visited the old mill, found Joseph Williams’s burial place and met a number of people with an interest in the tale. This has resulted in a 12-page booklet with a contemporary and very personal account of what it was like to be both a spectator and a neutral but far from inactive participant in the hostilities. Quakers at the time gave what help they could to the victims of the struggle, whichever side they represented.
Buy a Copy
Joseph Williams: Recollections of the Rebellion of 1798 is available for €3.50 (including postage) from Historical Library, Quaker House, Stocking Lane, Dublin 16.