Ball, John (1728–1804), silk manufacturer, was probably the John Ball who was the son of Richard and Abigail Ball of Dublin and was baptised at St Catherine's church in April 1728. Richard Ball's forebears lived at Ardee, Co. Louth, and were descended from a Cromwellian officer, Jonathan Ball, as was another John Ball (1754?–1813), the recorder of, and MP for, Drogheda. The earliest reliable information on the subject of this article is his marriage in April 1766 to ‘Miss Byrne of Saggard, Co. Dublin’. He was described then as being a ‘ribbon weaver in Nicholas Street’. His wife was a daughter of John Byrne, a farmer of Saggart, Co. Dublin, and so a sister of Edward Byrne (qv), who became the wealthiest merchant in Dublin and in whose will Ball's son John is mentioned. Whether the marriage was the cause or occasion of Ball's turning catholic is not known.
John Ball made much money as a silk manufacturer and wholesale mercer in Nicholas Street, Castle Street, and Werburgh Street, working on his own account from 1781. A rather timid member of the Catholic Committee, he represented the Dublin parish of St Nicholas Within at the Catholic Convention in 1792. In 1793 he became the first catholic to be a grand juror in Dublin after the passing of the relief act of that year. In the same year his portrait was painted by John Comerford (qv). Other marks of wealth and distinction were his coat of arms and motto (‘Fortis, ferox et celer’).
Aged seventy-six, John Ball died on 26 October 1804 at his home in Eccles Street, Dublin. With his first wife he had an only son, John (c.1767–1812), who lived in Cadiz and later (1791–5) was in partnership with his father in Werburgh Street. With his second wife, Mabel Clare Bennett of Eyrecourt, Co. Galway, whom he married in 1776, Ball had a son and four daughters. The son, Nicholas Ball (qv), was a judge of the court of common pleas. John Ball's eldest daughter Cecilia Ball (1784–1854) was superior of the Ursuline convent in Cork; the second daughter, Anna Maria Ball (qv), was a noted philanthropist; the third daughter, Isabella, was mother of David Sherlock (1814–84), serjeant-at-law and MP for King's County (1868–80), and grandmother of David Sherlock (qv); the fourth daughter, Mary Teresa (Frances) Ball (qv), was foundress of the Loreto Abbey, Rathfarnham, Co. Dublin.