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Walsh, Richard Hussey (DNB00)


WALSH, RICHARD HUSSEY (1825–1862), political economist, born in 1825, was the fifth son of John Hussey Walsh of Kilduff, King's County, by his wife Maria, daughter of Michael Henley of La Mancha, co. Dublin. His grandmother Margaret was the daughter and heiress of John Hussey of Mull Hussey, Roscommon. Richard was educated at Dublin University, where he graduated B.A. in 1847, taking the highest honours in mathematics and physics. In the next year he obtained the senior mathematical prize founded by John Law (1745–1810) [q. v.], bishop of Elphin. On 5 May 1848 he was admitted a student of Lincoln's Inn, but soon abandoned the study of law. As a Roman catholic he was precluded from reading for a fellowship at Trinity College, and in consequence turned his attention to the study of political economy, with the intention of competing for the Whately professorship. At the prize examination in the science in 1850 he obtained the first place, and in the same year was elected to one of the Barrington lectureships in the subject. In 1851 he was appointed Whately professor, and was elected one of the honorary secretaries of the Statistical and Social Inquiry Society for Ireland, a post which he held till 1857. In 1853 he published a course of lectures on currency, under the title ‘An Elementary Treatise on Metallic Currency.’ The subject was one which had not hitherto been adequately dealt with, and Walsh's book received high praise from contemporary economists, including John Stuart Mill. During the winter of the same year he temporarily discharged the duties of deputy professor of jurisprudence and political economy at Queen's College, Belfast, and in 1856 he was appointed by government an assistant secretary of the endowed schools (Ireland) commission. Displaying ability, he was appointed superintendent of the government schools in the Mauritius, and entered on his duties in May 1857. These involved both labour and responsibility, embracing those which in England were divided between commissioners, secretaries, and inspectors. He turned his attention to the establishment of new schools, and before he had been twenty months in office he increased the number from twenty to forty-four. His energy attracted the notice of the governor, William Stevenson, who placed him on a civil service commission nominated to inquire into the organisation of the twenty-two civil service departments into which the island was divided. The work occupied nearly two years, and Stevenson, in writing to the colonial office in September 1860, expressed the highest satisfaction with his labours. They also earned him the approbation of the Duke of Newcastle, the colonial secretary (Mauritius Gazette, 5 Oct. 1861). Towards the close of his life he conducted the census of the island taken in 1861. He died unmarried at Port Louis on 30 Jan. 1862.

Besides the work mentioned, he was the author of several papers contributed to the statistical section of the British Association, to the ‘Economist,’ and to the ‘Proceedings’ of the Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland. He also wrote elementary papers on political and domestic economy for Edward Hughes's ‘Education Lessons,’ 1848–1855.

[Obituary notice reprinted from the Proceedings of the Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland, 1862; Burke's Landed Gentry; Lincoln's Inn Records, 1896, ii. 268.]

E. I. C.