Thomas Edmondson and the Dublin Laundry: A Quaker Businessman, 1837–1908


Mona Hearn

Here is an engaging portrait of an enlightened employer. A book that examines the success of the Dublin Laundry, that offers vivid insights into nineteenth-century domestic and business life and invites comparison with the inhumane, Catholic-run Magdalen Laundry, the subject of much recent controversy.



The laundry industry, an essential part of nineteenth-century domestic life, has been little studied. This book describes the founding and running of Dublin’s largest laundry. Set up in 1888, the Dublin Laundry rapidly expanded and by 1900 the company employed 300 people. Its founder, Thomas Edmondson, is an intriguing character, a shrewd businessman and paternalistic employer, a resourceful operator and humane man, who operated his top-class ‘Dublin Laundry’ within a larger British Isles Quaker network. His life, one of both commercial success and great personal tragedy, offers a fascinating insight into life and trade in Dublin at the turn of the century. This historical biography throws new light on the Quaker movement and the business intricacies of creating and financing a new laundry, and vividly recreates the working conditions of the time with many rare photographs.

About the Author

Mona Hearn is also the author of Below Stairs: Domestic Service Remembered.