Nun, Richard (c.1750–1817), papermaker, was born in Dublin, son of Benjamin Nun (d. 1776), linen draper and papermaker, and his first wife, Anne (née Steel). In 1758 Benjamin Nun went into partnership with Thomas Watson (d. 1782) to set up a paper mill in Millmount, near Rathfarnham, Co. Dublin. Their partnership dissolved in 1771, by which time Benjamin was in business with his son Richard, who continued as a papermaker after the death of his father. His paper was of relatively good quality and included demy, folio, and quarto, and gilt and plain. He also supplied materials such as printing medium and blotting paper, which had previously had to be imported from England. In December 1783 he got a contract to print the Volunteer Evening Post and evidently ran a successful business; his bank stock, £2,100 in 1786, rose to £4,150 in 1788. His watermark of a harp and crown is seen on books of the period. In 1792 he advertised etched portraits produced on Irish copperplate paper, which were the first of their kind made in Ireland. Paper-making was a government-fostered industry at the end of the eighteenth century, and Nun and his colleagues benefited from the lack of excise duty. The favourable climate persuaded Clement Taylor (d. 1804), one of the most important English papermakers and MP for Maidstone 1780–96, to join forces with Nun and another Englishman, Nicholas Graham of Kent, in 1793. Taylor brought over his superior machinery and millwrights, who helped to turn Millmount into the most up-to-date mill in Ireland. Nun estimated £15,000 was spent on modernisation. Business looked promising: an act of 1795 changed the price of imported paper from the already high 1s. a ream to 2d. a pound. Incensed booksellers and printers assailed the Irish house of commons with petitions (7, 12 February 1796) claiming that the cost was prohibitive, that Irish paper was not comparable to French, and that journeymen printers were suffering critical unemployment. The papermakers replied that the duty was necessary to prevent fraud and that shortly there would be no need to import paper. The printers’ arguments were overruled and Nun in particular benefited, as he received a contract that month to provide the paper for the journal of the house of commons at 14s. a ream. However, three years later the Irish parliament reduced the duty on imported paper from 2d. to 1d. a pound. Nun complained bitterly, to no avail. On 23 January he auctioned his papers; his partnership with Taylor, who had been declared bankrupt in England in 1797, was then dissolved. Nun himself was declared bankrupt in November 1798. Three months later (18 February 1799) he petitioned parliament for government aid, claiming that he could provide work for 1,000 men. A report (27 April) of the house of commons found in his favour and stated that he should benefit from the house's resolution of June 1797 vesting £100,000 for loans to manufactures. However, no loan appears to have been made; the act of union then prevented any further subsidies to his trade. He died in Dublin on 28 March 1817. His wife, Ann Litton (m. 30 September 1770), predeceased him in December 1788. His two sons attended TCD; the younger, Richard Nun, was made QC in 1844.
Alumni Dubl.; C. Benson and M. Pollard, ‘The rags of Ireland are by no means the same’, Long Room, ii (1970), 18–35; H. B. Hancock and N. B. Wilkinson, ‘An American manufacturer in Ireland, 1796’, RSAI Jn., xcii (1962), 129; Robert Munter, A dictionary of the print trade in Ireland, 1550–1775 (1988); M. Pollard, Dublin's trade in books, 1550–1800 (1989); ead., Dictionary of the members of the Dublin book trade, 1550–1800 (2000); James W. Phillips, Printing and bookselling in Dublin, 1670–1800 (1998)