The Wigmaker of Arran Quay, 1862

The Dublin Correspondent of the Belfast Newsletter, 13 January 1862, writes:

“I should chronicle the departure to his rest of a worthy and venerable citizen of Dublin, who saw in his time many an opening day of Term, and whose richly-stored memory was fraught with numberless anecdotes of the Irish Bar in its palmiest days, and of the old Four Courts in the Cathedral Close, where his career as wigmaker to the courts commenced some seventy-seven years ago.

Mr Peter Lavallee, to whom I allude, died a fortnight since, at the advanced age of eighty-seven years, and was, in many respects, a remarkable man. Descended from a highly-respectable Huguenot family, forced from France by the troubles arising out of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, he, during the course of a long life of honourable industry, amassed a large fortune.

He was almost self-educated, but, possessing a fine literary taste, and intimately acquainted with several European languages, he collected a considerable and valuable library. He enjoyed the friendship of the great lawyers who have adorned our annals for the last sixty years, and with him have died full many a racy jest, and the recollections of countless interesting incidents in the lives of eminent judges and jurists who have long slumbered in the dust.”

The same Mr Lavallee is described by Denis Florence McCarthy, in ‘Poets and Dramatists of Ireland’ (1846) as possessing “an amazing fund of anecdote connected with this localities of Dublin, and with English and Irish literature generally.”

Mr Lavallee’s only other appearance in the newspapers was on 22 September, 1842, when he gave evidence at an inquest into the death in her lodgings of Bridget Catherine Belfield, widowed mother of a soldier in the 40th Regiment. He stated that he had known Mrs Belfield forty-five years, and considered her a proper, sober and moral character, never tipsy; she had outlived her friends, and had little support save what he contributed; she had complained of late, and expressed that she felt low. The deceased was ultimately found to have died by the visitation of God.

Mr Lavallee’s wig shop was situated at 27 Arran Quay, Dublin 7, convenient for lawyers and judges to drop in for a chat, and perhaps borrow some books from his considerable library!

Author: Ruth Cannon BL

Irish barrister sharing the history of the Four Courts, Dublin, Ireland, and other Irish courts.

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