Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw

Physician and Public Health Servant of Dublin

Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw, about 1877 (from Ulster Medical Journal4)

Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw was educated as a physician in Dublin and practiced in that city until 1879, when he was appointed as Registrar-General for Ireland. During his years of medical practice, he investigated the causes and distribution of water-borne diseases in Dublin and authored a pioneering public health paper in 1872.


Webpage Credits

An Introduction to Thomas and His Family

Captain Roly Grimshaw, World War I Diarist

Cecil Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw, Boer War Diarist and World War I Casualty at Gallipoli

Chronicle of Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw’s Life by J.W. Moore

Thomas’ Position in the Irish Line of Grimshaws


Excerpts from Thomas Grimshaw’s Most Prominent Paper

Professional Article on the Contributions of Thomas Grimshaw 

Nicholas Grimshaw’s Initiative on Behalf of His Great-Grandfather, Thomas

Memorial Plaques for Thomas and His Eldest Son

“Grimshaw’s Window”, St Matthew’s Church, Newtownmountkennedy

Graves of Thomas and His Father, Wrigley Grimshaw

Cemetery Information from Hilary Tulloch

References (Besides Those Listed in Bibliography)

Website Credits

Thanks go to Nicholas Grimshaw, London architect, for providing a copy of a booklet1 that he had prepared on behalf of Thomas, his great-grandfather (described further down on this webpage.) The introductory remarks from that booklet, as well as the reproduction of Thomas’ seminal public health paper, his photograph and his obituary provided much of the basis for this webpage. Thanks also to Hilary Tulloch for providing most of the family history information as well as directions to Thomas’ former home in Dublin. And thanks go also to Dick Grimshaw for providing the image of the family photo. The references cited in the Bibliography section of this webpage were found in the Linen Hall Library in Belfast.

An Introduction to Thomas and His Family

Thomas was born on November 16, 1839 in County Antrim and died on January 23, 1900 in Dublin. His photo is shown below. He and Sarah Elizabeth (“Settie”) Thomas were married on April 11, 1865. Additional photos of Thomas and Sarah are also shown below.

Photograph of Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw from the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin (reproduced in commemorative bookletprepared by Nicholas Grimshaw).

Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw and his wife, Sarah Elizabeth (Thomas) Grimshaw. Photos courtesy of Dick Grimshaw.

Thomas and Settie had a total of 12 children, as shown below. A family photo is shown below. Settie lived to the remarkable age of 102, and died in England in 1945.

Temple Thomas Wrigley (1866-1872)

Ewing Wrigley (1867-1916)

Violet Settie (1869-1874)

Ernest Felix Wrigley (Ernie) (1870-1941)

Harold Wrigley (1872-1873)

Herbert Churchill Wrigley (Bertie) (1874-1926)

Cecil Thomas Wrigley (1875-1915)

Cyril Nicholas Wrigley (1877-1951)

Roland William Wrigley (Roly) (1880-1933)

Emma Alice Anne (1882-1942)

Gladys Constance (1883-1944)

Clayton Herman Wrigley (1885-1937)

Family photo of Thomas and his family. From left to right, the family members are: Cyril, Ernest, Emma, Roland (above), Clayton (below), Cecil (above), Sarah Elizabeth (Settie), Thomas Wrigley, Gladys, Herbert (Bertie), and
Ewing. Judging from the apparent ages of the children, photo taken about 1888. Photo courtesy of Dick Grimshaw.

Captain Roly Grimshaw, World War I Diarist

One of their children, Roly, kept a detailed diary of his World War I experiences with the Indian Cavalry on the Western front in 1914-15. The diary was subsequently published2 with the assistance of his daughter, Kathleen. Captain Roly Grimshaw, and his diary, are the subject of a companion webpage. A photo of Roly Grimshaw is shown below.

Cecil Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw, Boer War Diarist and World War I Casualty at Gallipoli

Cecil Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw was born in Ireland and served in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers during the Boer War, during which time he kept a very interesting diary. This diary recounts his experiences as a prisoner of war in Pretoria at the same time as Winston Churchill. Later, Cecil fought in World War I, again with the Royal Dublin fusiliers, in the Gallipoli campaign. This campaign, fought on the Turkish peninsula on the north side of the Dardanelles (Gallipoli peninsula), was generally considered to be unsuccessful. Cecil Grimshaw was killed in action there on April 26, 1915. Cecil is also the subject of a companion webpage. A photo of Cecil Grimshaw is shown below.

Chronical of Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw’s Life by J.W. Moore

A good chronicle of Thomas’ life and professional contributions is provided in an obituary prepared by J.W. Moore (date and place of publication unknown) and reproduced in the booklet prepared by Nicholas in 1999 (described further down on this webpage.) The obituary reads as follows:


With pained surprise Dublin learned on the morning of January 23 the melancholy tidings of the unexpected and almost sudden death of this able member of the medical profession. Dr Grimshaw succumbed on the 7th day to an attack of post-influenzal broncho-pneumonia, in the sixty-first year of his age.

Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw was born on November 16, 1839, at Whitehouse, Go. Antrim. He was descended from the Grimshaws of Whalley, Lancashire, his great- grandfather having migrated from that place to Greencastle, Co. Antrim, where he founded the calico-printing industry in Ireland. Dr. Grimshaw’s father was Wrigley Grimshaw, F.R.C.S.I., an eminent dentist, who was dental Surgeon to Steevens’ Hospital, Mercer’s Hospital, and the Pitt-street Institution for Diseases of Children.

The subject of this memoir was educated at Bryce’s Academy; at Carrickfergus School; at the Academic Institute, Harcourt-street, Dublin; and at the Dublin High School, St. Stephen’s-green, Dublin, under the ferule of Matthias Hare, LL.D. He graduated in Arts in the University of Dublin in 1860, obtaining first Junior Moderatorship in Experimental and Natural Science at the Degree Examination in Michaelmas Term of that year. At this time Grimshaw was busy with his professional studies in the School of Physic in Ireland, Sir Patrick Dun’s Hospital, and Steevens’ Hospital, and on June 26, 1861, he took the degrees of M.B. and M.Ch. in the University of Dublin. In 1862 he was enrolled as a Licentiate of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. His further professional qualifications were – M.D. Univ. Dubl., 1867; Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (1867), Fellow (1869), Diplomate in State Medicine, Trinity College, Dublin (1874). In recognition of his brilliant answering for the last-named qualification the degree of Master of Arts was conferred upon him stipendiis condonatis. From the outset of his professional career, Grimshaw threw himself into the active practice of his calling as a physician with marvellous energy. For several years he was one of the physicians to Steevens’ Hospital, filling in the Medical School formerly attached to that institution the lecturerships in succession on Botany, Materia Medica, and Medicine. He served for fourteen years as visiting Physician to Cork-street Fever Hospital and wrote a number of medical reports on the work done in the hospital, which are of the highest statistical and scientific value. He acted also as Physician to the Coombe Lying-in Hospital, as Examiner in Practice of Medicine and Materia, Medica, in the Queen’s University of Ireland, as Censor and Examiner in Medicine in the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, and as Examiner in Vital Statistics in the University of Dublin.

In the autumn of 1879 Dr. Grimshaw was appointed Registrar-General for Ireland in succession to Dr. William Malachi Burke, who had died of an attack of pleuro-pneumonia on August 13 in that year. This necessitated his retirement from practice; but the renown he had achieved for himself found expression in his appointment as Honorary Consulting Physician to both Steevens’ Hospital and Cork-street Fever Hospital, as well as to the Dublin Orthopaedic Hospital.

As Registrar-General, Dr. Grimshaw devoted all his great energies during more than twenty years to the service of his country and to the welfare of its people. He died absolutely in harness, for within six days of his death, with his fatal malady upon him, he was in his office at Charlemont House, Dublin.

Dr. Grimshaw received many marks of public esteem as the years went by. He was President of the Statistical Society of Ireland in 1888-1890, of the Dublin Sanitary Association from 1885 to 1888, and, above all, of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland in 1895 and 1896. He was a member of the Commission on the Dietary of Irish Prisons in 1880, and of the Commission to inquire into the sanitary condition of the Royal Barracks, Dublin, in IS87. He was author of many important papers on medicine, fever, sanitary and statistical questions. In conjunction with the writer of this memoir, he published in 1875 a paper on an infective form of pneumonia, which the authors termed “pythogenic pneumonia,” and so foreshadowed the modern doctrine of the aetiology of pneumonia. He was joint author of the “Manual of Public Health for Ireland,” published shortly after the passing of the “Public Health (Ireland) Act, 1875.” The pages of this Journal have been enriched from time to time by many valuable papers from his pen. His Governmental Reports are models of their kind. They extend over twenty years, and deal with births, deaths, and marriages in Ireland, agriculture, emigration, crime, judicial statistics, banking and railway statistics. It fell to his lot to superintend the Census of 1881 and the Census of 1891, and at the time of his too early death the arrangements for taking the Census of 1901 had been almost completed by him. In 1897, the year of the Queen’s “Diamond Jubilee,” he received the well-won distinction of a Companionship of the Bath.

In private life Dr. Grimshaw showed an attractive personality. At the early age of 26 he married, on April 11, 1865, Sarah Elizabeth (Settie), daughter of the late Rev. Thomas Felix Thomas, of Broadlands, Newport, Isle of Wight. By her he had twelve children, of which nine survive him – seven sons and two daughters. His eldest son, Temple, died of “croup” (?diphtheria) on October 18, 1872, aged 6-1/2 years; his eldest daughter, Violet Settie, died of scarlatina May 5, 1874, aged nearly 5 years. These, and the death of his daughter-in-law in 1898, were the great sorrows of his marriage, which was otherwise one of much happiness and content. Five of his sons have already reached manhood. Three of them are “Soldiers of the Queen,” all having served or serving at present in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers. One of these officers, Lieutenant Cecil Thomas Thomas Grimshaw is now a prisoner of war at Pretoria. His eldest surviving son, Ewing Wrigley Grimshaw, of the Indian Staff Corps, married in 1893 the daughter of Lieut. Col. W. R. Kaye, of the Army Pay Department. This lady unfortunately died in 1898, leaving two little girls, who have been living with their grandparents at Priorsland, Carrickmine, Co. Dublin.

Dr. Grimshaw was a philanthropist of transparent sincerity. His life-work and his pleasure were to benefit his fellow-creatures, to improve the lot of the less fortunate among them, and to relieve them in sickness and sorrow. His loss to the Dublin Hospital Sunday Fund, to the National Association for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, and to the National Hospital for Consumption at Newcastle, Co. Wicklow, is irreparable. A man of sterling honesty and steadfastness of purpose, be fought for what he believed to be right, fearless of consequences and often to his won disadvantage. To all inner circle of intimate friends he was endeared by the nobility of his character – one might often have occasion to differ from him, but never to doubt or mistrust him. His life was a continuous self-sacrifice to duty, Of him it may well be said in the words of Horace –

“Multis ille bonis flebilis occident.”

J.W. Moore.

Thomas’ Position in the Irish Line of Grimshaws

Thomas was the grandson of Nicholas and Mary (Wrigley) Grimshaw, the progenitors of the Irish Grimshaw family line, the subject of a companion webpage. The family is shown in the lower left corner of the descendant chart from Whitaker(shown below). Only four of their 12 children (Temple Thomas Wrigley, Ewing, Violet Settie, and Ernest Felix Wrigley Grimshaw) are shown in the chart.


As noted, Thomas authored a number of professional articles before and after his appointment to Registrar-General in 1879. Twelve of them are on file at the Linen Hall Library in Belfast and are listed below:

  1. Grimshaw, Thomas Wrigley, 1867, On the Value of Thermometric Observations in Typhus Fever, Being a Thesis for the Degree of Doctor of Medicine Read before the University of Dublin on 4th March, 1867: Dublin, John Falconer, 18 p. (Linen Hall Library I.61)

  2. Grimshaw, Thomas Wrigley, 1867, Thermometric Observations in Fever: Dublin, Medical Press and Circular Office: 19 p. (Linen Hall Library I.10?)

  3. Grimshaw, Thomas Wrigley, 1872, Remarks on the Prevalence and Distribution of Fever in Dublin, Illustrated by a Map, Tables and Diagrams, with Appendices on Sanitary Matters in that City: Dublin, Fannin & Co., 36 p.

  4. Grimshaw, Thomas Wrigley, 1873, On the influence of Digitalis on the Weak Heart of Typhus Fever: Dublin, John Falconer, Printed for the Author, 21 p. (Linen Hall Library I.61)

  5. Grimshaw, Thomas Wrigley, 1874, Remarks on the Public Health (Ireland) Bill, 1874: Dublin, Browne & Nolan, 8 p. (Linen Hall Library I.36)

  6. Grimshaw, Thomas Wrigley, 1878, The Present State of Our Knowledge with Regard to the Intimate Nature of Infection and Contagion and its Relation to the Prevention and Cure of Zymotic Diseases: Dublin, John Falconer, Printed for the Author, 37 p.

  7. Grimshaw, Thomas Wrigley, 1879, The Public Work of the British Medical Association (An Address Delivered to the Section of Public Medicine at the Annual Meeting of the British Medical Association in Cork, August, 1879): Dublin, Fannin & Co., 75 p. (Linen Hall Library I.61)

  8. Grimshaw, Thomas Wrigley, 1884, Address in State Medicine to the State Medicine Sub-Section of the Academy of Medicine in Ireland: Dublin, John Falconer, Printed for the Author, 30 p. (Linen Hall Library I.61)

  9. Grimshaw, Thomas Wrigley, 1888, A Statistical Survey of Ireland, from 1840 to 1888: Journal of the Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland, p. 321-361. (Linen Hall Library I.918)

  10. Grimshaw, Thomas Wrigley, 1889, Address at the Opening of the Forty-third Session of the Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland: publication unknown, 10 p. (Linen Hall Library I.63)

  11. Grimshaw, Thomas Wrigley, 1890, The State Medicine Qualification: Dublin, John Falconer, Printed for the Author, 18 p. (Linen Hall Library I.61)

  12. Grimshaw, Thomas Wrigley, date unknown, The State in Its Relation to the Medical Profession: publication unknown, 9 p. (Linen Hall Library I.61)

Thomas’ wife, Settie, was also apparently active in the field of sanitation, as indicated by an article she published in 1884 (between her 11th and 12th child!):

Grimshaw, Sarah Elizabeth, 1884, The Objects and Work of Ladies’ Sanitary Association: Transactions of the Sanitary Institute of Great Britain, Vol. VI, Excerpt, 8 p. (Linen Hall Library I.36?)

Excerpts from Thomas Grimshaw’s Most Prominent Paper

Undoubtedly the most significant of Thomas’ article was the third one, a seminal public health paper on the distribution of the occurrence of fever and its relationship to unsanitary conditions. An image of the cover page is shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3. Image of cover page of Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw’s most significant paper: Remarks on the Prevalence and Distribution of Fever in Dublin, Illustrated by a Map, Tables and Diagrams, with Appendices on Sanitary Matters in that City

The first and final sections of this paper read as follows:

p. 5-6:

In bringing forward the following remarks at the present time, I am performing an unpleasant duty – unpleasant, because I have to show not only that fever is more prevalent in Dublin than it had been during the past few years, and that it is on the increase, but that the form of fever, considered by sanitarians as the most preventible, is that most increased; that fever is widely spread through Dublin, and that the conditions which favour the spread and production of fever, and with it all forms of zymontic disease, are so rife in our city, that we cannot expect any permanent diminution in fever without some great change in our present sanitary system.

It has been my intention for some time to arrange and map out certain information which I have been collecting with regard to the distribution of fever in Dublin, with especial reference to those cases admitted into Cork-street Fever Hospital. I did not intend tom make these observations public until after the close of the Hospital year in March next; but certain circumstances have recently occurred which have induced me to hurry on these observations, and to add to them some remarks on the prevalence of fever in Dublin.

I do not wish again to refer to the paper war which raged during the autumn in the Dublin newspapers and British Medical Journal, in which I took a prominent part; yet I think I may state, that although it may have been attended with some disadvantage to all engaged in the discussion, the public are likely to derive some advantage therefrom, and have been incited to take an interest in the prevention of contagious disease. The occasion of the discussion I have referred to caused me to bring forward this paper at the present time.

I do not propose to enter upon the general question of the sanitary condition of Dublin.

This paper naturally divides itself into two parts; the prevalence of fever, and its distribution.

I shall first consider the question of the prevalence of fever in Dublin.

p. 26-28:

What are the characters of a fever-nest? The best way to answer the question is by describing one or two. I shall begin with the worst on my list, 58, Bridgefoot-street, now celebrated as a fever-nest, defying the sanitary authorities. This house is entered from the street by a passage, with a black and rotten floor, in which are open chinks communicating with the cellar below; the boards are damp, and sodden with dirt; going upwards we find things somewhat better, but the whole upper part of the house is dilapidated; going downwards, we first come to the entrance of a small back yard, a place covered ankle-deep with human filth, a privy and ash-pit totally unapproachable without passing through a sea of dirt, a water-tap running, and washing such of the dirt as is within reach into a pipe sewer which runs through the cellar of the house, and which had a hole through which the sewage passed into the cellar, converting it into a cesspool; this cellar was immediately beneath two rooms inhabited by a family of 15, every one of whom had enteric fever. In the same street I find another house with all these characteristics repeated, except the broken sewer, but this house had no sewer at all. A house in Chancery-lane which furnished 8 cases of fever (7 typhus and 1 enteric). I was met on entry by a horrible stench, proceeding partly from a filthy back yard, and partly from a slaughter house at the rere (sic) of a neighbouring house in Bride-street. The cellar of this house had been filled up; a very proper measure, if rightly carried out, but the filing up matters consisted of such material as to convert the cellar into a decomposing manure heap. The passage, back yard, and upper part of the house were similar to those already described at 58, Bridgefoot-street. I find similar conditions, varying only in degree, in almost every fever-nest. The less prolific fever-nests I find with less accumulated dirt, and notably less wet dirt. In many places where there was comparatively little dirt, what did exist was made do the maximum amount of damage by being kept in a continual state of moisture for want of proper drainage, or from drainage water from the roof or elsewhere running into the house by the doors, or though imperfectly closed cellar openings. These damp cellars, often nearly filled with rubbish, are to be found in all fever streets, and most fever houses. Many houses have no receptacle for rubbish except the cellars; this is particularly true of corner houses and houses near corners, many of which, if not public houses, are fever-nests.

We have next to consider the remedies for this state of things: these may be easily summed up in three words – cleansing, draining, and clearing away. I believe the only care for many of these places is a complete clearance of the ground. I consider all closed courts should be abolished, either by opening up to the main streets, or by complete clearance of the houses themselves. Perfect house drainage should be insisted on, all cellars should be filled up with dry and mineral materials, all privies and ash-pits should be cleansed by the authorities, not left to be done by the owners, who won’t, or the occupiers, who can’t do it. The person receiving the rent from the occupier should be made responsible for the proper sanitary conditions of the houses; no excuse should be taken about the existence of another landlord; all tenement houses should be regularly inspected, not by policemen, whose fellow-policemen often own or farm these houses, or collect the rents, but under the immediate direction of proper and well qualified health officers, and no better could be found than the dispensary medical officers. Houses where fever has once occurred should be constantly watched, and reported upon; street lists of infected houses should be kept, such as I made when I undertook this inquiry.

But it must always be remembered that it is too late to commence sanitary work when fever has broken out. The houses should be maintained in proper sanitary condition. These preventive measures seem to me to have been altogether neglected in Dublin; no proper sanitary organization seems to exist; there is but one health officer, and he is badly paid; the sanitary inspectors are policemen, who go to inspect the houses of their friends, and the reports of infected houses by the hospital and dispensary medical officers are systematically ignored until they are sent to the newspapers; but as these are matters of public notoriety, which have gone on for months without any public contradiction, I shall not further refer to them is this place, but appeal to my professional brethren to use their influence with the public to compel the authorities to do their duty, and prevent the spread of contagious disease in our city.

Professional Article on the Contributions of Thomas Grimshaw 

An excellent article appeared in the Ulster Medical Journal in January 2009 on the professional contributions of Thomas Grimshaw4. The title of the article is “Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw (1839-1900). Registrar General 1879-1900”. The abstract of the paper is shown below. The full paper can be viewed by clicking here.

Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw was born in Whitehouse, County Antrim, in 1839, and learned his medicine at the Dublin School of Medicine when its reputation was at its highest. If his teachers strayed from the art of bedside medicine into science it was into meteorology that had been revived by Thomas Sydenham, the English Hippocrates in the seventeenth century. When Grimshaw was appointed Registrar General for Ireland in 1879 he diverted attention from the acute epidemics of zymotic diseases to chronic pulmonary affections that numerically were far more deadly. Cartography became an obsession with him, and he used it to show that Ireland was divided by phthisis into east and west. Koch’s great discovery in 1882 that tuberculosis is an infection not a constitutional disease made him change his long-held views, and in the decade before his death in 1900 at Carrickmines, County Dublin, he became an active advocate of the new knowledge, distressed by the fact that thriving Belfast and its hinterland had the highest mortality from phthisis in Ireland. His concern for the health of young girls employed in large numbers in the linen factories was matched by his landmark advocacy of young ladies anxious to gain the licence to practise medicine in Great Britain and Ireland.

The following photo is included in the Ulster Medical Journal paper.

Nicholas Grimshaw’s Initiative on Behalf of His Great-Grandfather, Thomas

Nicholas describes his initiative in the Introduction to a bookletthat he prepared:

In the early eighties I came to Dublin to lecture at University College on “architecture, my life and times.” I was very well shown around by Sean de Blacam and I was captivated by the City, it’s buildings and it’s atmosphere. However one of the things that slightly mystified me at that time was the huge traffic jams. On asking about this I was told that “they were digging up the drains”.

This reminded me of the stories about the pioneering work done by my great-grandfather who, as a campaigning doctor, exposed the dangers of water borne diseases and established the need for proper drainage. I went to Trinity College Library to see what I could find out. “Fever in Dublin” was quite quickly produced from the archives and what an enthralling document it was. It paints a graphic picture of life in the City in 1873. One only has to refer to the bottom of Page 27 for a graphic description of a “fever nest” at 58 Bridgefoot Street.

{Webpage author’s note: see second excerpt in preceding section}

Many more house to house visits took place with the campaigning doctor putting himself at enormous risk. The result of this was that he was able to plot the endemic diseases at the time – namely cholera, typhoid and enteric fever -against the water courses leading into the River Liffey. This map was included in his paper and can be seen after page 18. It is certainly clear from the map how the red dots marking the fever cases follow routes down to the river. The result of this was that my great- grandfather campaigned ferociously for the water courses to be piped. This eventually happened and much of the drainage installed has lasted until this day – although the traffic jams I experienced in the 80’s are testimony to the fact of gradual replacement.

As it happens, Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw died almost exactly 100 years ago. He was a good Doctor. He must have saved many lives by his pioneering work. He had a fine scientific mind, but above all he had a great feeling for humanity. Having read even the few documents I have found about him, I felt he well deserved a plaque on the site where he lived. I had seen these handsome bronze plaques attached to several historic buildings during a recent visit to Dublin where my youngest daughter is continuing the family tradition by studying at Trinity College. I applied to Dublin Tourism who welcomed the idea of fixing a plaque on the site of No.13 Molesworth Street. Although that particular house has been demolished I believe No.15, with it’s date of 1755, gives a fair idea of how the house might have looked when Dr. Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw returned home from his gruelling house to house visits in the latter part of the 19th century.

Nicholas Thomas Grimshaw 5.10.99

The booklet contains the following image of a commemorative sign placed at Dr. Grimshaw’s former homesite in Dublin by his great-grandson, Nicholas Thomas Grimshaw, architect in London, in 1999.

Photos of the plaque on the house at 15 Molesworth Street are shown below.

Photos of 15 Molesworth Street, Dublin, showing commemorative plaque for Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw.

Memorial Plaques for Thomas and His Eldest Son

Two memorial plaques for Thomas and his eldest child, Temple Thomas Grimshaw, may be found in the Unitarian Church, Stephen’s Green in Dublin. Photos of the plaques are shown below. Thanks go to Hilary Tulloch for providing these pictures.

Memorial plaques of Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw (left) and his eldest son, Temple Thomas Grimshaw, who died at age 6.

“Grimshaw’s Window”, St Matthew’s Church, Newtownmountkennedy

The following article, published in the “Greystones Archaeological & Historical Society” Journal Volume 4 (and posted on a website with address shown below), describes a stained glass church window installed under the initiative of Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw for his father, Wrigley Grimshaw, and Wrigley’s wife, Elizabeth Dorothia Grimshaw. 

Journal Volume 4

A Priest, an Altar and a Window (Part 4)
Canon Robert Jennings

A Window

In St Matthew’s Church, Newtownmountkennedy, there is a lovely stained glass window which we call the Grimshaw’s window. It depicts the healing of the lame man by our Lord at the Pool of Bethezda (St John, Ch 5). The inscription on the window is as follows:

“In memory of Elizabeth Dorothia Grimshaw who worshipped in this church for nine years. Died August 17 1906. Also her husband Wrigley Grimshaw F.RC.S.I. died June 1878”.

Wrigley Grimshaw was Dental Surgeon to Steeven’s and St Mark’s Hospital and the Pitt St Institution for Diseases of Children in Dublin. The history of the Grimshaw family from the 13th century is given in

Grimshaw’s Window in St Matthew’s Church

Whittaker’s “History of Whorley” [sic] and in “Lancashire’s Worthies”. Dr Thomas Grimshaw, who erected this window, was born near Belfast in 1839. His great-grandfather had come from Lancashire and founded the Calico printing industry in Ireland using machinery for the spinners. He studied medicine and many other related disciplines at Trinity College Dublin, gaining many distinctions and honours. He was visiting physician to Steeven’s Hospital, Cork St. Fever Hospital, National Hospital for Consumption at Newcastle, Co. Wicklow, Sir Patrick Dun’s and was also a lecturer and writer of medical journals. In 1879 he was appointed Registrar-General for Ireland, which included overseeing the Census of 1881 and 1891. He was a member of two committees of enquiry:

1. The Dietary of Irish Prisons

2.The Sanitary conditions of the Royal Barracks.

Nothing new here in Irish Society except the costs involved!!

In 1897, the year of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, Thomas was awarded Companionship of the Bath. He married Sarah, daughter of Rev Thomas and they had a family of seven sons and two daughters. Some died at an early age while the others distinguished themselves in colonial service and three as officers in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers.

Perhaps Dr. Thomas Grimshaw’s greatest achievement was in persuading the city authorities to install underground sewerage. With his close association with hospitals and widespread disease he was the ideal person to instigate a whole new system for the disposal of sewage. Before his intervention household waste and sewage was thrown into open surface drains that ran down to the Liffey. With his wide knowledge and research he found that cholera, typhoid and enteric fever were prevalent in the houses that adjoined open drains. He called them “fever nests”. Around this time clean water, replacing old water pumps, was available from the Vartry reservoir. A clean water supply and underground piped sewage made a vast improvement in the health and well being of the citizens of Dublin.

In recognition of his many talents and achievements the Tourist Board placed a plaque on 13 Molesworth St. in 1990 where he and his family lived for many years. The plaque says:

“Doctor Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw 1839 – 1900 Physician and Philanthropist Lived on this site 1861 – 1881”.

In the early nineteen eighties his great grandson Nicholas Thomas Grimshaw came to Dublin to lecture at University College on “Architecture, my life and Times”. “There were traffic jams”, he said, “because they were replacing some of the old sewage pipes from my great grandfather’s time”. Digging up the roads and traffic jams is still with us in 2004!

A few years ago while on holiday in Cornwall I visited the now famous Eden Project described by many as the 8th Wonder of the World. It is a vast construction of three domes, the largest 200m long, 100m wide, and 57m high. It is the largest greenhouse in the world, hidden from view in china clay craters the area of 35 football pitches. Just like bees make their honeycombs, the domes are made of hexagons 625 in number and covered in 3 layers of transparent foil. Inside in controlled temperatures you can experience the life, climate and plants of seven contrasting countries, from a South American tropical rainforest to South Africa. Here you can see many growing plants that changed the world, fascinating plants that look after themselves, plants that make plastic and rubber, plants that make chocolate tea and chewing gum, and plants that move.

I was impressed, and looking at the literature I read that the architect was Nicholas Grimshaw. The name struck a chord with me and returning home made some enquiries and discovered that he was a great grandson of Dr Thomas Wrigley who had erected the stained glass window in St Matthew’s. I wrote to him and sent him a photograph of the window, which he did not know existed. He replied saying that he was greatly interested to hear about his great grandfather’s connection with St Matthew’s church. Last year, he and his daughter, who is a student at Trinity College Dublin, visited St Matthew’s and saw the window for themselves.

Earlier this year there was a photograph of Nicholas Grimshaw in the Daily Telegraph and other papers as he had been knighted for his design of the Eden project. It cost Sterling £80 million, has attracted over 2 million visitors and generated Sterling £120 million for the local economy. Sir Nicholas Grimshaw was also the architect of the Eurostar Terminal in London, which won Building of the Year award in 1994. He has also recently completed the new glass box development of the historic Spas in Bath. “We deliberately try to keep a low profile. Buildings ought to speak for themselves”, he modestly said. For the Grimshaw family, who, among other achievements introduced the first cotton spinners by machinery to Ireland, underground sewage to the city of Dublin and designed the Eden project in Cornwall it must be difficult to keep a low profile. Their achievements speak for themselves.

Graves of Thomas and His Father, Wrigley Grimshaw

The graves of Thomas and Wrigley (shown below) are located in the Mount Jerome Cemetery in Dublin. Thanks to Hilary Tulloch for providing these photos.

Graves of Thomas (right) and his father, Wrigley Grimshaw (cross on the left)

Close-up views of the headstones of Thomas and Sarah (Thomas) Grimshaw (left) and three of their children who died young (Temple Thomas, Violet Settie, and Harold Wrigley Grimshaw). The grave on the right is that of Thomas’ father, Wrigley Grimshaw. The inscription on Wrigley’s grave is: To The Beloved Memory of Wrigley Grimshaw Who Departed This Life June 16th 1878 Aged 76 Years. “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.”

Cemetery Information from Hilary Tulloch

Hilary provided the following information from a visit she made to Mount Jerome Cemetery in Dublin in September 2004. Many of Thomas Wrigley and Elizabeth Grimshaw’s family members are included in this information.

Mount Jerome Cemetery, Dublin 6

Visited by Hilary Tulloch in September 2004:

Section C 114

To find this section from the entrance to the cemetery, follow The Avenue up to the Chapel. Turn right and follow a path known as The Hawthorn Walk. At the intersection with The Long Walk, the first major path to cross The Hawthorn Walk, turn right. Very shortly take a path into the section on your right, and then take the path to your left. This will bring you down in line with a prominent monument the path to which is to the right at the next small intersection. Take the second right path at this intersection. This will bring you down to a junction at which you turn right. Walking along this path and looking up towards the large monument is section 114.

These two graves are side by side.

Grave No. 4257

A plain gothic-top limestone tablet on a granite base with granite kerb grave surrounding a double plot. The makers name is engraved on the face of the tablet GOOD [or COOD] & SHARP 17 GT. BRNSK. ST. On the reverse of the tablet is engraved the grave number 4257.


















Grave No. 5144 A distinctive white marble cross on a white marble plinth with a granite base and granite kerb grave surround. On the right side of the plinth is engraved the grave number 5144 and the makers name SHARP BRUNSK. ST.


WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE June 16th 1878, aged 76 years.

“Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God”

 The following extracts from the Burial Register were copied by the cemetery clerk (Sep 2004):

Name of deceased




Date when Buried






From what Parish removed

of Attestation


Grave No. C114 – 4257

Temple Thomas W. Grimshaw

13 Molesworth Street


22nd of Oct 1872


6 yrs 6 months




St Anne



Infant Grimshaw


of March 1873





St Anne



Violet Lettie Grimshaw



7th of May 1874


5 yrs


Disease of the Kidney


St Anne


Thomas W. Grimshaw Father

Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw


Carrickmines Co Dublin


25th of Jan 1900


60 yrs




and Place of Death

of Jan 1900 Stillorgan

W. Grimshaw Son


Mrs Sarah Elizabeth Grimshaw Cremated remains

The Grange Great Sampford Essex England



101 9/12


Senile Decay


Date of Death 29th of 4 1945




Cyril Nicholas Wrigley Grimshaw

Merrion Nursing Home 21, Herbert St

7th of April 1951



Heart Failure


Date of Death 4th of April 1951



Grave No. C114 – 5144

Wrigley Grimshaw


4, Brighton Terrace Bray

19th of June 1878


76 yrs








The following extracts from the Purchase Register were copied by the cemetery clerk (Sep 2004):

Grave No. C114 – 4257

1872 Oct 21 Thomas W. Grimshaw of Priorsland, Carrickmines, purchased the double plot.

1900 Mar 3 Mrs Sarah E. Grimshaw, The Grange, Great Sampford, Essex, took over ownership from her late husband. [Note: this address must have been added later as she was still living in Dublin at that date and did not move to Great Sampford until after 1916.]

1945 Jul 26 ownership transferred to Cyril Nicholas Wrigley Grimshaw, The Grange, Great Sampford, Essex.

1946 Mar 23 Cyril N.W. Grimshaw Esq, The Grange, Great Sampford, Essex, England, has paid the sum of £10.00 for the gardening care of this plot in perpetuity.

Grave No. C114 – 5144

1878 Jun 18 Mrs E.D. Grimshaw, 4, Brighton Terrace, Bray, for the sum of £6.5.0 purchased this single plot.

References (Besides Those Listed in Bibliography)

Grimshaw, Nicholas, 1999, Doctor Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw, 1839-1900, Physician and Philanthropist: Privately Published Booklet, 43 p. + cover.

Wakefield, Col. J., and Lt. Col. J.M. Weippert, eds., 1986, Indian Cavalry Officer 1914-15 – Captain Roly Grimshaw: Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England, D.J. Costello, 224 p.

Whitaker, Thomas Dunham, 1872, An History of the Original Parish of Whalley, and Honor of Clitheroe (Revised and enlarged by John G. Nichols and Ponsonby A. Lyons): London, George Routledge and Sons, 4th Edition; v. I, 362 p.; v. II, 622 p. Earlier editions were published in 1800, 1806, and 1825.

4Breathnach, Caoimhghin, and John Moynihan, 2009, Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw (1839-1900). Registrar General 1879-1900: Ulster Medical Journal, v 78, no 1 (January 2009), p. 43-50.

Webpage History

Webpage posted March 2001. Updated September and October 2004 with photos of memorial plaques, grave photos and cemetery information from Hilary Tulloch. Updated December 2005 with addition of section on Grimshaw’s window, St Matthews Church.Updated July 2009 with addition of article on Thomas Grimshaw in the Ulster Medical Journal.