Blow, James (1676–1759), printer and papermaker in Belfast, was born 29 July 1676 in Scotland, possibly in Culross, Perthshire, a younger son among nine children of John Blow and Elizabeth Blow (née Wilson). He was apprenticed to the printer Patrick Neil (who had married his sister), became his partner, and married Abigail, Patrick's sister. He accompanied Neil to Belfast in 1694, and the two set up the first commercial printing press known to have operated in Belfast. Neil died in Belfast, probably in early 1705, and Blow kept on the business. He printed works chiefly for the presbyterians of Ireland, especially for non-subscribers. A Church of Ireland catechism of 1722, which is, unusually, in English and Irish, was by Francis Hutchinson (qv). It was long said that Blow was the first printer in Ireland to produce a Bible; the date traditionally associated with this event was 1702. However, no copy of a 1702 Bible has ever been found, and bibliographers are reluctant to credit this tradition. Another story, that Blow had produced Bibles with a misprint that commanded believers to ‘sin on more’ instead of ‘sin no more’, may also be apocryphal. The earliest volume known to have been produced by Blow appeared in 1707. His other publications include the works of Sir David Lindsay (1714), the Psalms of David (1725), and The experienced huntsman (1714) by Arthur Stringer of Co. Antrim. Blow printed a Bible in 1714, working along with George Grierson (qv), later Blow's son-in-law and king's printer for Ireland. ‘Blow's Bible’, printed in 1751 in Belfast by Blow, under contract from George Grierson, is probably his most ambitious work; 8,000 copies are said to have been printed.
Blow also sold books, and from at least the 1740s (and almost certainly earlier) had paper mills in Co. Antrim, possibly at Glenavy. This side of the business was greatly developed by his only surviving son, Daniel Blow (1718–1810), who before 1747 with his father brought over one of the first rag-pulping machines from Scotland to equip an important paper mill at Dunadry, Co. Antrim. As well as Daniel and a daughter, Jane (who married (1734) George Grierson as his second wife), James and Abigail Blow had two children who died young in May and June 1717. James Blow died 16 August 1759, leaving £40 to the poor of Belfast. Daniel Blow is said to have engaged in the linen trade, and to have improved the bleaching process. He received a premium of £20 from the Dublin Society in 1750 for his paper mill and manufacture of white paper. He married Charlotte Saunders (d. 1761) and had three sons and three daughters. After Daniel's death (19 March 1810) the Blow papermaking business continued to be important well into the nineteenth century under the guidance of his sons and grandson.