Stock, Joseph (1740–1813), Church of Ireland bishop of Killala and Achonry, was born 22 December 1740, eldest son of Luke (Lucas) Stock, of Dame St. and Essex St., Dublin, hosier, city marshal, and city sheriff (1772), and Anne Stock (née Rice-Waters) of Aberystwyth, Wales. Schooled by the Rev. John Gast of Fishamble St., a teacher with a taste for French language and culture, Stock matriculated into TCD in 1756, graduating BA under a scholarship in 1761. He won a fellowship by competitive examination in 1763. For the next decade he pursued an academic career, producing well-regarded editions (annotated texts) of Aeschines (1769) and Demosthenes (1773). In his early thirties he undertook a doctorate in theology. His opinions were sufficiently flexible to permit his appreciative attendance at mass in the Irish College in Paris during a tour of France in 1773. In 1776 he published one of the first lives of George Berkeley (qv), uniquely incorporating family lore derived largely from interviews with Richard Berkeley, brother of the philosopher. He took orders in 1777. Forfeiting his fellowship on marriage (1778), he was granted the college living of the parish of Conwal (north Donegal) in the diocese of Raphoe. During the 1780s and early 1790s he secured livings in Lusk, Co. Dublin, and Delgany, Co. Wicklow.
In the course of the so-called ‘paper war’ of 1786–7 Stock felt called on to dispute the claims of presbyterianism to full civil recognition, though he had heretofore shown no interest in Irish politics. Echoing in argument the published work of Richard Woodward (qv), bishop of Cloyne 1781–94, he attempted to refute the powerful case against church establishment and in justification of presbyterian civil character, assembled by William Campbell (qv), Armagh minister. Though the tone of his work was gracious and acknowledged presbyterian ‘loyalty and zeal for civil liberty’ (Kelly, 53), he cautioned against admitting presbyterians to any office in which they would have control over the ecclesiastical establishment. He also enunciated the common view that the established church's supremacy was vital to maintaining the bond between Ireland and Britain. Though Stock's was one of the lesser contributions to the ‘war’, Campbell chose to retort with a sharp critique of the historical basis for the argument outlined.
In 1793 Stock was collated prebendery of Lismore, Co. Waterford. Appointed (early 1795) headmaster of Portora royal school, near Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh, by his brother-in-law, William Newcome (qv), archbishop of Armagh 1795–1800, he gave up the prebendary and moved into the newly erected school, taking charge of some twenty to thirty scholars. Though encumbered with liabilities owing to the family of the previous incumbent, he was in possession of a remunerative school estate amounting to over 3,000 acres in Fermanagh at an annual rental of £1,271 in the late 1780s. By 1796 the value of the estate had risen to about £2,000 a year. The French traveller de Latocnaye, who stayed two days at the school in late 1796, eulogised the good order of the pupils and the attainments of the master, adding without comment that more than half of the students were comprised of Stock's children, nieces, and nephews. Consecrated bishop of Killala 18 January 1798, Stock did not leave Portora before coming to a beneficial arrangement with his successor in respect of estate leases lately renegotiated, a matter that was subject to legal scrutiny some years later.
Taking up residence in the old bishop's palace in Killala, Stock persuaded Roman catholic clergymen in June 1798 to tender the oath of allegiance to their congregations. On the evening of 23 August 1798, halfway through his first diocesan visitation (which took the form of a dinner for the clergy of the united dioceses) at his palace in Killala, the company was astounded to hear that some 1,100 French troops had landed nearby and were marching into the town. Minutes after the French broke up a group of yeomen in the street, Gen. Jean Humbert (qv) forced his way into the palace grounds. It was determined that most of the palace would be commandeered for French use, and the attic storey reserved for the bishop's family and dependants. As bishop and the best French-speaker around, Stock was immediately placed in the position of intermediary between the invading army and the local protestant population. That evening Stock refused an invitation to join the new Connacht directory during a long conversation with Humbert, but he quickly formed a good opinion of the humanity of the French command and put the peaceful administration of the town and neighbourhood before any notion of resistance or non-cooperation. Between 24 August and 23 September 1798 he shared the palace with a small garrison of three French officers, who messed with his family and were made welcome. He encouraged but did not participate in the creation of a district administration about Killala. He got on well with the French officers, playing picquet and drinking captured wine with them in the evenings, seeing the humour in a situation where the household ‘was forced to subsist on plunder . . . at first with groans and lamentations . . . and at last with great equanimity’ (Freyer, 60).
Such mutual understanding meant that attention was paid to the security of local protestant households, especially in the closing days of the campaign when there was loose talk of rebel reprisals. On Sunday 23 September he saw the Highlanders and the Kerry militia slaughter some 400 rebels in the fields around Killala, the only battle which he witnessed during the invasion. Some days later, his intercession on behalf of Miles Keon (qv) probably saved the ex-priest from hanging. For the next four years the palace was occupied as a temporary barracks. His ‘narrative’ of the experience of French invasion was published in 1801 and was so successful it went into five editions in two years. The account was vivid and unsentimental and did not indulge in patriotic attitudinising. There was some empathy for the poverty, naivety, and natural decency of the bulk of the Connacht rebels, and the French were portrayed with respect and affection. He did not gloss over the ‘rapacity’ (ibid., 105) of the relieving crown troops and made no secret of his disdain for Orange societies.
The text incensed Irish loyalist opinion and hindered Stock's translation from Killala. Eventually, in March 1810, despite the open hostility of William Beresford (qv), archbishop of Tuam, and William Stuart (qv), archbishop of Armagh, who together mustered evidence of apparent fraud and ‘shameful behaviour’ by Stock while at Portora (Brynn, 71), he was appointed bishop of Waterford and Lismore. He administered his new diocese at first with some energy. Declining after a heart attack in November 1811, he died 13 August 1813.
He married firstly (1778) Catherine Palmer (d. 1805), widow of Patrick Palmer (d. 1776), barrister and professor of law at TCD, and sister of William Newcome, archbishop of Armagh 1795–1800. She had had five children already, and they produced five of their own. He married secondly (September 1805) Mrs Mary Obins, a widow of Bath, England. This marriage had no issue.