Grierson, George (1680?–1753), king's printer, a native of Scotland, possibly the younger son of George Grierson, an Edinburgh merchant, and his wife Margaret (née Allane), arrived in Ireland c.1703. Purchasing premises in Essex St., Dublin, he was admitted to the stationers’ guild (1704) and carried on the business of bookseller and publisher. He set up his own printing house (1720) and printed, edited in many cases by his second wife Constantia Grierson (qv) whom he married in 1726, works of Latin authors – Horace, Virgil, Terence, Justinian, Juvenal, Ovid and Tacitus. Having been admitted a freeman of Dublin (1709), Grierson was elected master of the stationers’ guild (1724) and appointed in reversion as printer general to the king (1727). On the death (July 1732) of the incumbent appointee, Andrew Crooke (qv), he succeeded to the patent, thereby obtaining the monopoly of printing bibles, prayer books and other devotional works for the established protestant church, to which he belonged – he was a churchwarden of St John the Evangelist in 1720. His publishing output was ‘large by Dublin standards’ and the quality of his printing ‘consistently good’ (Pollard). Constantia dying young (early December 1732?), he married (August 1734), at Belfast, Jane (d. 1783), daughter of James Blow (qv), printer of that town, and widow of Francis Cromie (d. 1731), and with her had seven children. Grierson had (probably by 1726, when his first wife died) a house, ground and possibly a printing office at Drumcondra, to the north of Dublin. He died there 27 October 1753 aged 73.
With his wife Constantia he had a son, George Abraham Grierson (1728?–55), to whom he left the patent of king's printer. This son, born probably in Sept. 1728, entered TCD (1743) and graduated BA (1747). He seems to have left the running of the business to his step-mother and a manager, for he signed his will in October 1754 and went off to London. He visited Samuel Johnson, who, James Boswell recorded, ‘often observed that he possessed more extensive knowledge than any man of his years he had ever known’. On 13 September 1755 he died at Düsseldorf aged 27, leaving his German books to TCD and the rest of his library to Christopher and Robert, sons of Richard Robinson (qv), a future archbishop of Armagh.
The patent passed to his half-brother, Hugh Boulter Primrose Grierson (1737–71), who had been apprenticed to their father and was still a minor, having been born in June 1737. Always known as Boulter Grierson, he carried on the printing business in Essex St. (until 1761), Dame St. (1762–3) and Parliament St. (1764–71), was one of the representatives of the stationers’ guild on the Common Council of Dublin corporation (from November 1768) and was elected master of the guild (October 1769). In April 1762 he was ordered to reprint a new edition of the Irish statutes, the first since 1678; Grierson's Statutes at large (in eight volumes) appeared in 1765, of which 538 sets are known to have been printed and bound by him, twelve bound in turkey going to the king, lord lieutenant and other grandees. On 27 March 1766 a patent was enrolled granting him, his deputy or assigns, for forty years, the office of printer general for Ireland with the sole right to print bibles and all other matter published by the king's authority. This replaced the earlier patent, due to expire in 1772 (forty years after the death of Crooke). Boulter Grierson died 22 May 1771 at Bray, Co. Wicklow, where apparently he was building a house on c.17 acres.
Boulter was married briefly to Mary Worley (d. 1760), and then to Mary Wilkinson, daughter of Thomas Wilkinson of Kilmainham, near Dublin. Mary brought him a fortune; they had six children, five daughters and a son, George Grierson (1763–1821), grandson of the first George Grierson. Widowed, Mary married Boulter's assignee, David Hay, who died within a year (December 1772), leaving her, as his (Hay's) executor, in charge of the business until George Grierson came of age in September 1784, in which year also he graduated BA from TCD. The second George Grierson continued the printing business in Parliament St. until his death; he also had, in the 1790s, an office at Rathfarnham, where he had a country house. He printed two new editions of Statutes at large (13 vols, 1786–7; 1794–1801) and supplements (to 1804); he reprinted the Journals of the Irish house of commons (15 vols, 1796–7). After the abolition of the Irish parliament he sought compensation for loss of business. His patent expired in 1806 and was renewed. He went bankrupt in 1814 but apparently recovered, taking as a partner John Rowe Power. His general prosperity was such that he first built Heathfield Lodge, Glenasmole, Co. Dublin, then moved to a large house at Rathfarnham. As a country gentleman he won prizes for cattle and, in 1808, first prize in a ploughing match. George Grierson died 30 August 1821 at his house in North Frederick St.
He married (2 April 1791) Charlotte, daughter of Thomas Thornton of Greenville, Co. Cavan, and his wife Dorothea, a distant relation of John Foster (qv), speaker of the Irish house of commons. They had two sons and three daughters. The elder son, George Abraham Grierson (b. 1794), formally succeeded him as king's printer, carrying on the business with the younger son, John Foster Grierson (1797?–1874), and Martin Keene. Both brothers were educated at Portora Royal School, Enniskillen, and at TCD, George graduating BA in 1814, John in 1818. George was called to the Irish bar (1818) and graduated LLD (1827) but pursued a career in the family business, to which a Dublin newspaper, the Daily Express, was added. George married (1846) Isabella Ruxton, daughter of Henry Upton Ruxton of Ardee, Co. Louth, and by her had three sons and three daughters. The eldest son was the civil servant and Oriental scholar Sir George Abraham Grierson (qv), and the third, Charles Thornton Primrose Grierson (1857–1935), a clergyman who rose to be dean of Belfast (1911–19) and bishop of Down and Connor (1919–34). John Foster Grierson and his three sisters left Ireland in 1832 on an extended tour of the Continent; he married in Athens (1841) Catherine Skene, a Scotswoman; he seems to have had for many years a position in Syria, where he died, at Beirut, on 10 November 1874.