Abell, Joshua (1793–1846), philanthropist, was born 15 November 1793 in Cork city into a long established and talented quaker family, among eleven children of Richard Abell, a well known merchant, and his wife Elizabeth Beale. He was educated at the quaker boarding school of Ballitore, Co. Kildare, and subsequently settled in Dublin, where he established a school in Eustace St. (1818–46). Though quaker tradition encouraged private philanthropy, Abell supported many philanthropic schemes that had national ambitions. He was founder and first secretary of the Hibernian Society for the Promotion of Permanent and Universal Peace (1824), arguing that the success in mobilising public opinion against the slave trade might be just as successful in promoting the cause of peace. In the first year the society gained subscribers in fourteen towns and distributed more than 1,500 copies of publications. Abell was an early – probably the first – secretary of the Dublin Anti-Slavery Society when it was founded (c.1827) and he promoted the Hibernian Negroes' Friend Society established in July 1830; the two societies were incorporated into the Hibernian Anti-slavery Society in 1837. He was the founder, proprietor, and editor of the Dublin Literary Journal (1843–6), in which he published his poetry; a monthly magazine, it reported on Irish literary and scientific societies and a variety of social issues (though repudiating any religious or political discussion), and reviewed new publications. A member of the RDS, he was practitioner of medical electricity and galvanism to the lord lieutenant and several members of the aristocracy.
Abell died 3 November 1846 in his home at 22 Eustace St., Dublin. He married first (27 January 1831) Sarah Pattison (d. 1835); their two daughters died in infancy. After her death he married (15 March 1839) Anne Wethereld; they had a son and a daughter. His brothers include Abraham Abell (qv) a prominent citizen in Cork, and Richard Abell (1789–1840), an Edinburgh doctor, well known as a phrenologist.