Joseph Huband

(1750 - 1835. )

Joseph Huband, born circa 1750, emerged as a prominent figure in 18th and 19th century Ireland, leaving his mark on both the legal and industrial landscapes of the time. The third son of Edmund or Edward Huband, a prosperous Dublin merchant, and Eliza Willcocks, daughter of Thomas Willcocks of the esteemed Dublin banking firm of Sir Charles Burton, Bart & Co., Joseph Huband was destined for a life of distinction and influence. Huband is connected with the local area in a number of ways, he married Catherine Reynolds from Crumlin and as a canal developer a small mooring area now infilled , beside Camac (Dolphin’s Barn) bridge  along the Grand Canal was named “Huband’s Harrbour”.

Educated at Trinity College Dublin, Huband exhibited academic prowess, earning recognition as a scholar in 1770 before graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1771. His legal acumen was soon apparent as he was called to the Irish bar in 1773, embarking on a successful career that would span decades.

Huband’s professional journey was multifaceted, encompassing roles as a barrister and a commissioner of bankrupts from 1780 to 1806. However, his interests extended beyond the confines of legal practice. In the early 1790s, he found himself associated with the Dublin Society of United Irishmen, indicative of his engagement with the political and social currents of his time.

A pivotal aspect of Huband’s legacy lies in his involvement with the Grand Canal Company, where he played a pivotal role in its development and governance. Joining the company’s board of directors in 1777, he became deeply entrenched in the management and expansion of the canal network. Notably, Huband initially opposed the construction of a link between the Grand Canal and the River Liffey in Dublin in 1783 but later lent his support to the Circular line project, facilitating connectivity with Dublin port from 1790 to 1796.

Huband’s commitment to the Grand Canal Company manifested in various ways, including personal investments in infrastructure projects. He adorned a bridge connecting Upper Mount St. with Percy Place at his own expense, a testament to his dedication to improving transportation networks. Additionally, he oversaw the construction of a harbour at Dolphin’s Barn in 1805, further enhancing the canal’s functionality. The Society of Friends (Quakers) bought the excavated material for their Cork Street burial ground. In the early 1930s, suggestions were made to transform Huband Harbour to provide with a ‘shelter for bathers’ and used for swimming. An aqueduct in Ballycowan, Offaly is also named after him, as well as a road in Bluebell, Dublin.

Despite facing challenges such as shareholder unrest and mounting debts in 1810, Huband persevered in his role as a director, serving intermittently until his passing in 1835. Throughout his tenure, he assumed the mantle of chairman on multiple occasions, steering the company through turbulent waters with resilience and foresight.

Huband’s personal life was marked by familial ties and cultural pursuits. Married to Catherine, daughter of George Reynolds of Crumlin, Co. Dublin, he fathered a son and three daughters. His son, Willcocks Huband, followed in his footsteps as a barrister and commissioner of bankruptcy, leaving his own legacy as a patron of the arts and a literary figure.

In essence, Joseph Huband epitomised the intersection of legal expertise, entrepreneurial spirit, and civic engagement in 18th and 19th century Ireland. His contributions to the legal profession and canal development endure as a testament to his enduring legacy as a trailblazer and visionary.

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Connection with area: Canal developer and barrister who a harbour at dolphin's barn was named after.