It has been estimated that in the early part of the 18th century 10,000 Huguenots – French Protestant refugees from religious oppression – settled in Ireland, about half of them in Dublin. Among these were several of my forebears.
Nicholas Grueber (1671 – before 1743), one of my seventh great grandfathers, was one. Grueber emigrated to Ireland from England, arriving by Michaelmas 1698. He had previously come to England from Lyons in France with his family by 1682. In Dublin he became a Freeman under the terms of a 1661 Act of Parliament, legislation meant to encourage Protestants to settle in Ireland.
Grueber’s occupation on his arrival was recorded as ‘merchant’. In 1717, however, he was awarded a 21-year contract to supply gunpowder to the government, and two years later established Dublin’s first large-scale gunpowder manufacturing factory, at Corkagh in south Dublin. There was a family connection: his father Daniel (1643 – 1692) had operated gunpowder mills at Faversham, Kent.
On 19 May 1703 Nicholas Grueber married Marguerite Moore at L’Eglise Française de St Patrick (part of St Patrick’s Cathedral set aside for the use of Huguenots). Marguerite was the daughter of the Reverend Moore, a minister of the English church.
Nicholas Grueber and his wife Marguerite had six children baptised at the Nouvelle Église de Ste Marie:
- Nicholas Grueber 1704–1705
- Elizabeth Grueber 1706–
- Susana Maria Grueber 1707–
- Nicholas Francis Grueber 1709–
- Arthur Grueber 1713–1802 (my 6th great grandfather)
- William Grueber 1720–1782
Of the four sons of Nicholas, one died in infancy, one followed him into business and the other two attended university and became clergymen in the Protestant Church of Ireland.
My sixth great grandfather Arthur Grueber was a pupil of the well-known Anglican divine Thomas Sheridan, a friend of Jonathan Swift. Grueber studied at Trinity College, Dublin, gaining his MA in 1737 and DD in 1757. He was ordained as a deacon in 1736.
In 1754 Dr Arthur Grueber was appointed headmaster of the Royal School Armagh. This flourished under his administration, becoming one of the finest schools in Ireland.
Grueber later abandoned teaching to become a bookseller and publisher, in this venture, however, meeting with less success. By 1793 he was bankrupt. He died in 1802.
William Grueber, Arthur’s brother, also attended Trinity College; he was admitted in 1739, gaining his BA in 1745 and his MA in 1749. He was the rector at Athboy, County Meath in 1759. He became Chancellor of Lismore Cathedral in 1772, then treasurer in 1778, and in 1779 was appointed the cathedral’s Precentor.