Hudson, Edward (1772–1833), United Irishman and pioneer dentist, was born in October 1772 in Co. Wexford, son of Capt. Henry Edward Hudson and Jane Hudson (née de Tracy). Orphaned at a young age, he was adopted by his cousin, Dr Edward Hudson (c.1742–1821), a distinguished dentist of 38 Grafton St., Dublin, who taught him dentistry. No evidence appears to support assertions that Hudson attended TCD, and Thomas Moore (qv) is emphatic that he did not. From 1797 Hudson became a close friend of Moore, who described Hudson as ‘full of zeal and ardour for everything connected with the fine arts’ (Memoirs, 49). Passionately fond of Irish traditional music, he collected and transcribed many songs, played them on the flute, and introduced Moore to the music – according to Moore himself, who credited many of his tunes to those that Hudson had collected. Hudson was a member of the Leinster provincial directory of the Society of United Irishmen, which met 12 March 1798 in the house of Oliver Bond (qv) to prepare for insurrection, when he, along with his fellow conspirators, was arrested and imprisoned in Kilmainham jail. He was visited by Moore, whose song ‘Twas a syren of old’ was inspired by Hudson's charcoal drawing on the prison wall, representing the origin of the Irish harp. From March 1799 to June 1802 he was confined in Fort George, Scotland, with several of the most prominent United Irish prisoners in relatively comfortable conditions. He was allowed to practise dentistry, for which he earned a considerable reputation among the local gentry, and he also gave music lessons. Released on condition of banishment after the treaty of Amiens in June 1802, he went to Hamburg and subsequently to North America, settling in Philadelphia in 1803. He married (1804) Maria Bridget Byrne, daughter of the United Irishman, stationer, and bookseller Patrick Byrne (qv), with whom he entered into partnership; he left this trade, ventured into the brewing business, and finally established a flourishing dental practice in Philadelphia. At a time when American dentistry was in its infancy, he contributed to its development and was one of the first dentists to perform the operation of removing dental pulp and filling the root of the tooth to its end with gold foil (c.1809); his skill was widely recognised and he became a leading practitioner. His striking personality and artistic talents made him popular and he was a member of ‘The Club’, a convivial society formed by exiles in Philadelphia. A portrait of Hudson and his wife, painted in 1810, is held in the Detroit Museum of Art. He married secondly Maria Elizabeth Bicker; and finally Marie Mackie, with whom he had eight children. He died in Philadelphia, 3 January 1833.
Thomas Moore, The life and death of Lord Edward Fitzgerald, i (1831), 300–01; id., Memoirs, journal and correspondence of Thomas Moore, ed. John Russell, i (1853), 48; id., Poetical works, iv (1841), pp vii–viii; J. T. Gilbert, A history of the city of Dublin, i, iii (1859); DAB; R. R. Madden, The United Irishmen (2nd ed., 1860), iii, 204; M. H. Thuente, The harp re-strung: the United Irishmen and the rise of literary nationalism (1994); Paul Weber, On the road to rebellion: the United Irishmen and Hamburg 1796–1803 (1997); Michael Durey, Transatlantic radicals and the early American republic (1997)