Belfast, Ireland: A. Mackay, Jr., 1823. First Edition. Hardcover. Octavo, 9.1 in. x 5.8 in., pp. 298. Illustrated with engraved frontispiece,, decorated title page, two fold-out maps (Belfast and Belfast Parish), and eighteen additional engravings, one of which folds out. Handsomely rebound in gilt-ruled navy blue three quarter calf over marbled boards. Gilt title on black and burgundy panels to spine; Five gilt-decorated raised bands to spine, with blind tooled and gilt decoration to spine panels. New endpapers. Printed marginalia. Only occasional light spotting to engravings; most images very clean. Bradshaw 4947. Quite scarce in this first edition. Remarkably, after first writing this book in 1823, and at the conclusion of a lifelong career as a distiller, Benn wrote a second edition, issuing it in 1877, significantly expanding upon his initial effort -- 54 years later! Very Good Plus. Item #86570
George Benn (1801–82), businessman and historian of Belfast, was born on 1 January 1801 at Tandragee, Co. Armagh, the youngest son in the family of four sons and five daughters... He was educated at the Belfast Academy before entering the collegiate classes at the Belfast Academical Institution where he obtained a gold medal for an essay, ‘The history of the parish of Belfast’ (1819). When aged 22 he published anonymously The history of the town of Belfast (1823), a substantial, valuable work illustrated by John Thomson [the copy represented here]. He maintained his interest in history and contributed to the Ulster Journal of Archaeology.
But for all his working life he was best known as a businessman in partnership with his brother Edward Benn (qv), also an antiquary. They ran a distillery at Downpatrick, Co. Down, and prospered sufficiently to be able to develop an estate at Glenravel, near Ballymena, Co. Antrim, apparently purchased by their father c.1835 and where they succeeded in distilling from potatoes.
After his retirement George Benn brought out a second edition of his book, A history of the town of Belfast from the earliest times to the close of the eighteenth century (1877). With 770 pages, maps and illustrations it was much larger and was not only Benn's magnum opus but the prototype of a series of histories of that Ulster town, a salient feature of which was emphasis on its trade and industry. His failing eyesight hampered work on a second volume, intended to cover the nineteenth century, which he had to publish uncompleted (1880).
(from Dictionary of Irish Biography).