Wetherup has remained something of a mystery man. John Wyse Jackson and Peter Costello sum up our knowledge of him:
A ‘weird shadow’ in Ulysses by the name of Wetherup was a Tory Castle Nominee to the Collector-General’s Office, a Freeman and Orangeman. He was said by John to be an ex-waiter and someone who might rob you on a walk in the country […] About the real man all that is known is that he lived at 37 Gloucester Street Upper and was in fact a Mr W. Weatherup.
John Stanislaus Joyce (1997), p. 115
Jackson and Costello are correct to spell his name ‘Weatherup’, though other forms (including Joyce’s ‘Wetherup’) turn up occasionally in the newspapers and registers. William Weatherup was born, the son of James Weatherup (a smith), around the year 1832. His family probably came originally from Antrim, though this remains to be confirmed. The ‘Wetherup’ of James Joyce’s fiction seems to be an older man, quoted for his colourful – or at least expressive – vocabulary, though we gain little other sense of the man.
Although James Joyce’s father, John Stanislaus Joyce, worked alongside William Weatherup for several years at the Office of the Collector-General of Rates in Dublin, Weatherup had led an eventful and rather unfortunate earlier life.
He was a ‘servant’, working at 34 Merrion Square south in Dublin City, when he married a groom’s daughter, Anna Corbliss (variously also Corbally, Corbley, etc.) on 27 January 1854, in his early twenties. The couple were still in service (at 30 Upper Fitzwilliam Street in Dublin) at the time of the birth of their son William Alexander Weatherup (1 November 1855). It is not currently recorded that he was a ‘waiter’ (see the Jackson/Costello quotation above).
By 1860 they had come up in the world, and had another son (Charles). The family was living near the sea at Blackrock, south of Dublin on the way to Dun Laoghaire, where William appears on a list of petitioners for a boundary change along the sea-front (Freeman’s Journal, 10 September).
William was now a grocer and retailer of spirits in Blackrock, and had a fast-growing family. Keen to bring in further income, the family expanded into placing employment advertisements in the newspapers, of which this is one example:
Groom or Coachman, a young Man, who understands the care and management of hunters, and rides well, if required […] Any commands addressed to ‘J.M.’, care of Mr. Wetherup, Blackrock, or 4 Grafton-street, will be respectfully attend[ed] to.
Irish Times (1861) 7 March, p. 1
But the next year saw William overreach himself. Confident of his rights, and supported by his neighbours, he foolishly instructed builders to extend his property into the public way, infringing building regulations. The Grand Jury prosecution was relentless, and for one reason and another William found himself the following year facing a bankruptcy petition. The case dragged on in 1863: he was declared a ‘bankrupt’ and he began to untangle himself from Blackrock while still further extending his family and maintaining employment advertisements.
On 20 January 1868 he joined the Office of the Collector-General of Rates in Dublin – though still facing long-standing ‘Weights and Measures’ charges in Blackrock, along with a large number of others against whom the police had built up cases.
He finally offered the lease of his house (33 Main Street, Blackrock) and those of two other nearby properties in George Avenue for sale on 13 March 1868: ‘it has been doing a large trade in the Family Grocery, Wine, and Spirit Business’ (Freeman’s Journal, 13 March). More children followed, and his Freemasonry links are apparent in his attendance of the funeral of Charles D’O Astley. One of his co-attendees was James Crofton’s father, Mervyn Paget, Supervisor of the City’s Pipe Works:
The deceased was for many years a prominent member of the Masonic Fraternity, in which he held a distinguished rank, having been a Prince Mason, and also Grand Superintendent of Works.
Irish Times (1872) 21 March
Whilst William was working at the Collector-General’s, his eldest son William Alexander was appointed an Income Tax Collector, working out of the Custom House in Dublin. The family was now living nearby at 37 Upper Gloucester Street (Irish Times (1873) 23 January, p. 7). Another son, Charles, was soon to achieve a coveted Junior Clerkship in the General Post Office, but was destined to disappoint before long.
The Lieutenant-General’s Inquiry into the Collector-General’s Office of 1878 involved a lengthy examination of William Weatherup on the administration of the Office. He comes out well, despite the charge of maladministration which weighed on the Collector-General himself:
The Collector of Rates Inquiry […] I think the only collectors of whom I have not heard complaints are Mr. M‘Intyre and Mr. Weatherup.
Freeman’s Journal (1878) 10 January
Eager as ever to maintain various streams of income for his growing family (he and his wife had at least twelve children all told), he continues with his employment ads:
Hotel, &c. – A respectable young Woman from the West of Ireland wants a situation in a Hotel Bar, Grocery, Bread Shop, or Confectionery Business, having served some time to the grocery, and two years to the confectionery; can be well recommended. Apply to Wm. Weatherup, 37 upper Gloucester-street, Dublin.
Freeman’s Journal (1878) 30 May
In another, less hard-hitting investigation of procedures at the Collector-General’s, William comes in for praise and possible blame (often ready, it seems, to turn any situation to his advantage):
The Collector-General, in reply, said he considered Mr. Weatherup the most competent for the duty, and mentioned the absence of arrears in Mr. Weatherup’s own division.
Freeman’s Journal (1880) 14 May, p. 7
The Collector-General’s Office […] In the exercise of my discretion I gave the work to Mr. Weatherup, a most active and energetic collector. The young lady, his daughter [Mary Jane], referred to by you, is a classed teacher of the National Education Board, and she assisted him to the extent of filling up the notices and inserting therein the amount of rates due on each home… John Byrne, Collector-General.
Freeman’s Journal (1880) 24 July, p. 2
As ever, he is listed amongst the diligent collectors at the various Franchise and Jurors’ registration meetings, here second in line of seniority after Robert Henchy:
City Jurors’ Revision Court... The collectorship staff of the Collector-General’s office attended viz Messrs Henchy, Weatherup, M‘Intyre, Crofton, Hunt, Dowman, Buckley, Hughes, Cotter, Morrison, and Wilkinson.
Freeman’s Journal (1880) 18 October
August 1885 brought the death of his wife Anne, aged 52. She was buried – as he was later – back near Blackrock at the Monkstown graveyard.
By the end of 1886 records of William Weatherup’s daily activities seem to fade from the newspapers, and we assume it was around this time that he took retirement from the Collector-General. At his daughter Annie’s wedding in 1888 he described himself as a ‘Gentleman’, not (as he had previously) ‘Rate Collector’. In January 1889 a curious series of advertisements appeared in the Freeman’s Journal offering for sale:
Policies of Assurance [...] In the Matter of the Trust Estate of William Weatherup. To be sold at Public Auction [...] Viz: -
Lot 1 – A Policy of Assurance on the life of William Weatherup, dated 11th February, for £600, effected with the West of England Life Assurance Company [...] Mr. Weatherup is now aged about 56 years. Surrender value £129. [Etc.]
Freeman’s Journal (1889), 11 January, p. 8
The Trust Estate may help us to understand how William rose suddenly from being a servant to running a grocery and spirits business in Blackrock in the 1860s. The auction may suggest that he was in need (again) of further funds.
John Stanislaus Joyce remained at the Collector’s until 1893, outstaying William Weatherup. He will have known of his old friend’s death in December 1895:
Death of Pensioned Rate Collector. – Mr William Wetherup [sic], aged 63 years, who was in receipt of a pension from the Collector-General’s Office, was found dead in his bed on Tuesday [3 December] at his residence, 3 St. Patrick’s terrace, Russell street.
Weekly Irish Times (1895) 7 December, p. 7
Postscript: recently available Dublin prison records show that shortly before his death William Weatherup was admitted to Kilmainham gaol on a charge of ‘nonpayment of debt’. The prison register entry gives some additional information about him.
Weatherup was admitted to Kilmainham on 28 August 1895. He is described as a pensioner aged 65, six foot in height, weighing 168 lbs, with grey hair and brown eyes, and a ‘fresh’ complexion (a common neutral description in these records). The register says that he was born at Ballycarry, Co Antrim, and that his Dublin address was Russell street. He received a 14-day sentence or a requirement to make good the debt by the payment of £6 4s. 6d. [28 April 2012]
See the other collectors:
James Crofton: a tradition of public service
Robert Henchy: a choice of two collectors
Edward Graham Cotter: another collector of rates?
Frederick Buckley: rifleman
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