Atkinson, George Peter (1810–93), apothecary and newspaper proprietor, was born 17 May 1810 in Dublin, son of Peter Atkinson, and graduated licentiate of Apothecaries' Hall, Dublin (1829), and BA (1829), MA (1832), and MB (1839) from TCD. He owned an apothecary's shop, at 26 Lower Bridge St., Dublin (from 1832), and later practised as a doctor.
A member of the court of examiners of Apothecaries' Hall (1834–48), he was elected its deputy governor (1837–8), governor (1838–9), and secretary (1841–2). An active member in the promotion of the apothecaries' professional interests, he was probably a founder and was subsequently a council member (1841–3) of the Society of Apothecaries (est. 1835) for that purpose; and, according to the Apothecaries' Hall minute book, was nominated to appear as their representative (1838) before the house of commons on the medical charities bill, though no evidence of his appearance has been found. This period witnessed a number of initiatives by Apothecaries' Hall: it opened a medical school in Cecilia St., Dublin (1837), and proposed (November 1838) that a board should be established comprising all members of the medical profession, which would grant degrees for general practice. These developments were strongly resisted by the RCSI (1838), who argued that the apothecaries' school was illegal and that apothecaries should practise only as pharmacists and not as doctors. Atkinson, as governor, was a principal figure during this bitter dispute and undertook responsibility for all correspondence and deputations; he travelled throughout Ireland and made five visits to London, effectively defending the rights of the profession against encroachment. Fearing parliamentary intervention, RCSI and Apothecaries' Hall declared a truce (1840), and both were later recognised as medical licensing bodies in the medical act (1858).
In 1839 Atkinson was a founder, secretary, and treasurer of The Citizen, a monthly journal of politics, literature, and art, which ran for two years; as treasurer he lost £80, but considered it ‘well spent in the cause of nationality’ (Ir. Monthly, xxii (1894), 181) and an experience that prepared him for becoming joint proprietor, with John Gray (qv), of the Freeman's Journal (1841–52). Retiring from his professional activities, he devoted himself to the philanthropic and literary activities for which his wife, Sarah (qv), is famous. They married 11 August 1849; their only child, a son, died in his fourth year. Atkinson lived at 84 Drumcondra Rd., Fairview, Dublin, died 8 December 1893, and is buried in Glasnevin cemetery, Dublin. The Glasnevin cemetery committee erected an Irish cross as a monument to him and his wife, whom he called ‘a sainted woman, a worshipped wife’ (Ir. Monthly, xxii (1894), 179).