Mason, William Shaw (DNB00)

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MASON, WILLIAM SHAW (1774–1853), statist, a native of Ireland, born in 1774, graduated B.A. at Trinity College, Dublin, in 1796. In conjunction with two others he was appointed by patent in 1805 to the office of remembrancer or receiver of the first-fruits and twentieth parts in Ireland; to this was added in September 1810 the post of secretary to the commissioners for public records in Ireland. Sir Robert Peel, while chief secretary to the lord-lieutenant of Ireland, conceived a high opinion of Mason, and encouraged him to undertake an Irish statistical work similar to that executed by Sir John Sinclair for Scotland. The first volume of Mason's publication was issued at Dublin in octavo, with maps and plates, in 1814, under the title of ‘A Statistical Account or Parochial Survey of Ireland, drawn up from the communications of the clergy.’ The second volume appeared in 1816, and a third followed in 1819. Mason devoted much attention to the subject of the census of Ireland, and compiled a ‘Survey, Valuation, and Census of the Barony of Portnahinch’ in Queen's County. This was printed in 1821 in a folio volume, and submitted to George IV during his visit to Ireland as a model for a statistical survey of the whole country. A catalogue of books relating to Ireland, collected by Mason for Sir Robert Peel, was printed under the title of ‘Bibliotheca Hibernicana,’ Dublin, 1823, 12mo. This was the last work of Mason published separately. Returns by him in connection with statistics of Ireland will be found among the sessional papers of the House of Commons. He died in Camden Street, Dublin, on 11 March 1853.

[Reports of Commissioners for Public Records of Ireland, 1810–25; Sir W. Betham's Observations on Record Commission, Dublin, 1837; personal information.]

J. T. G.