George Carr Shaw

(30/12/1814 - 19/04/1885)

George Carr Shaw, born on 30th December 1814 in Kilkenny was a civil servant and corn merchant, best known for being the father of George Bernard Shaw. He ran his corn mill business “Clibborn and Shaw” on Rutland Avenue.
He was the son of Bernard Shaw and Frances Carr of Kilkenny,  At the age of eleven, he found himself fatherless, with Bernard Shaw passing away.  By 1838, he took up a clerical role at Todhunters, a merchant firm, where he worked for seven years. It appears that, around 1845, he secured a position as a servant at the Four Courts, possibly due to the influence of Sir Frederick Shaw, Recorder of Dublin. The nature of this role is unclear, but it seems to have been a sort of sinecure. In 1851, when the position was abolished, Shaw received an annual pension of forty-four pounds.
On 17th June 1852, at the age of 38, George Carr Shaw married Lucinda Elizabeth Gurly, who was 22 years old at the time, the daughter of Walter Gurly. The couple had three children Lucinda Frances Shaw, Elinor Agnes Shaw and George Bernard Shaw, who later became a renowned playwright.  Much of the detail of George Carr Shaw’s life comes from biographies of George Bernard Shaw, who had a complex relationship with this father and his mother. George Bernard Shaw described his father as an “ineffectual” and an “alcoholic”. Due to speculation, George Bernard Shaw harboured a lifelong obsession that George John Lee, a figure in Dublin’s musical circles, might have been his biological father. The Lee and Shaws shared different houses throughout their lifetime.
He opted to sell his pension to Joseph Henry O’Brien for a sum of five hundred pounds.  He bought a mill with a business partner Clibborn and set up Clibborn and Shaw as a merchant dealing wholesale in flour and corn. He had an office and warehouse in 67 Jervis Street in the city; and he had a mill in Rutland Avenue on the country side of the canal, at the end of a rather pretty little village street.
According to George Bernard Shaw “I should mention that as he knew nothing about the flour business, and as his partner, a Mr Clibborn, having been apprenticed to the cloth trade, knew if possible less, the business, purchased readymade, must have proceeded by its own momentum, and produced its results, such as they were, automatically in spite of its proprietors. They did not work the industry: it worked them. It kept alive, but did not flourish. Early in its history the bankruptcy of one of its customers dealt it such a blow that my father’s partner broke down in tears, though he was fortified by a marriage with a woman of property, and could afford to regard his business as only a second string to his bow. My father, albeit ruined, found the magnitude of the catastrophe so irresistibly amusing that he had to retreat hastily from the office to an empty corner of the warehouse, and laugh until he was exhausted. The business struggled on and even supported my father until he died, enabling him to help his family a little after they had solved a desperate financial situation by emigrating to London: or, to put it in another way, by deserting him. He never, as far as I know, made the slightest movement towards a reunion; and none of us ever dreamt of there being any unkindness in the arrangement. In our family we did not bother about conventionalities or sentimentalities.”
George Carr Shaw passed away on 19th April 1885.

Person Photo
Connection with area: Civil Servant and corn merchant, father of George Bernard Shaw who owned and ran a mill on Rutland Avenue.