Joshua Jacob

Jacob, Joshua, the leader of an eccentric sect, generally known as "White Quakers," was born in Clonmel about 1805. After a business career of great success as a grocer in Nicholas-street, Dublin, about 1838 he was "disowned" by the Society of Friends, of which he was a member, on account of the extravagance of his preaching and behaviour. He thereupon gathered a few disciples, for the most part members of the Society of Friends, with whom he entered upon a career of the wildest eccentricity. They dressed in white, destroyed everything ornamental in their houses, and cherished innumerable scruples — professing all through to keep to the spiritual sense of the Bible. The society had its principal stations in Dublin, Mountmellick, Clonmel, and Waterford. They issued a series of tracts entitled the Progress of Truth.

Joshua Jacob was imprisoned for two years for contempt of court connected with trust property, and while a prisoner fulminated anathemas against Lord-Chancellor Sugden and Master Litton, as "Edward Sugden and thy man Edward Litton." About 1849 he gathered his followers into a communistic society at Newlands, near Dublin, once the residence of Lord Kilwarden. They eschewed the use of meat, used bruised corn alone as food, and accepted the fellowship of all comers. Joshua Jacob had early put away his first wife without cause. After her death he married a Catholic, a woman of humble origin. The community at Newlands soon fell to pieces, and he returned to "the world," and entered into business at Celbridge. There he reared a large family, all Catholics. The latter part of his life was spent in Wales; and, at least to within a few years of his death, he showed symptoms of delusion upon many questions.

He died 15th February 1877, aged about 72, and was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery, where many years before he and his female coadjutor, Abigail Beale, had purchased a plot of ground and erected a bas-relief emblematic of the purity of their faith.


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