Beale, James (1798–1879), entrepreneur in Cork, was a member of a prominent quaker family that included Abraham Beale (qv) who established an ironworks at Monard, Co. Cork, and may have been James's brother; if so, his parents were Thomas Beale and Elizabeth Beale (née Abell). At one time James Beale was involved in the Monard concern, and in 1836–8 he took an interest in promoting the Cork & Passage Railway. He was for a time in partnership in a shipyard on Penrose Quay, Cork, with his brother-in-law Robert J. Lecky, afterwards responsible for building the first iron-hulled ship in Cork for his cousin, Thomas Pim (qv) of Dublin. James Beale is best remembered for his rôle in furthering steam navigation, though the St George Steam Packet Co., in which he was involved, never owned an iron-hulled steamship. In 1836 he attended a lecture in London by Dionysius Lardner (qv), who stated that it would be as easy to go to the moon as to establish steamship traffic on the Atlantic route. Afterwards Beale said that he could do it, and chartered the Sirius, under its captain Richard Roberts (qv). After a rousing send-off from Cork on 28 March 1838, the Sirius reached New York and an even more rapturous welcome, one day ahead of a rival. The successful voyage resulted in a great deal of publicity for the new developments in transport. Beale was a director of the British & American Steam Navigation Co., and was president of the Cork School of Art and Science. He was also an amateur artist. Beale died on 2 July 1879. He was married to Susannah Lecky.
Annual Monitor for 1880: obituary of members of the Society of Friends of Great Britain and Ireland for the year 1879 (1879), 33; William J. Barry, ‘History of Port of Cork steam navigation 1815–1915’, Cork Hist. Soc. Jn., xxiii, no. 114 (1917), 83 and facing plate; ‘Irish Friends and early steam navigation’, Journal of the Friends Historical Society, xvii (1920), 108; Andy Bielenberg, Cork's industrial revolution (1991), 109; Richard S. Harrison, A biographical dictionary of Irish quakers (1997), 29, 68–9