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John Hooper BA (1878 - 1930)

 


Born: 26 January 1878 (Cork City) Died: 29 December 1930

 



John Hooper, first Director of Statistics for Saorstát Éireann, lived at Sunnyside, Westfield Road, Harold's Cross, Dublin. He was one of the five sons of Alderman John Hooper a journalist and Irish Parliamentary Party Member of Westminster Parliament for South East Cork for 1885-1889, who moved to Dublin in 1891.

 

Education
- Secondary Christian Brothers (CBC, Cork) and, from 1891 O'Connell Schools, North Richmond Street, Dublin
- University Royal University of Ireland
- Degree 1898: BA, First Class Honours (Mathematics)

 

Director of Statistics

Appointed in 1923 at the foundation of State and served until December 1930 when he died unexpectedly of pneumonia at the age of 51 years.

 

Career

1900: After graduating he went to London to study for the First Division of the Civil Service into which he passed in 1900. His first appointment was in the Office of the Postmaster-General, London, but in 1902 he availed of an opportunity to transfer back to Dublin to the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction of Ireland (DATII), which was established in 1899, where he was appointed to the Statistics and Intelligence Branch under Professor William P. Coyne who was its first Superintendent.

1917: Appointed Superintendent of the Statistics and Intelligence Branch in 1917. He participated in the first Conference of British Empire Statisticians held in London on 20-26 February 1920 at which he presented two papers (one on "Irish Agriculture Statistics" and the other on "Recording of Irish Trade").

1923: Became the first Director of Statistics of the Irish Free State when he was appointed head of the Statistics Branch located in the new Department of Industry and Commerce established as part of a restructuring of Ministries by the Provisional Government. This Branch was formed by the amalgamation of the existing Statistics and Intelligence Branches in the Department of Agriculture and Technical Information (DATII) and the Irish Department of the Ministry of Labour established in 1919. The transfer of staff took place on 1 April 1923.

As the first Director of Statistics, John Hooper shaped the development of official statistics for the new State until his death in December 1930. He was a member, together with the economics Professors John Busteed (UCC) and Charles Francis Bastable as Chairman, of a Committee established by the Minister for Industry and Commerce on 8 November 1924 to advise him on the statistics required for the proper information of the Oireachtas and the public. The report was presented on 19 January 1925 and led to the development of new statistics (e.g. first Census of Population and Census of Industrial Production in 1926), and the 1926 Statistics Act which was largely framed by Hooper. A fulsome tribute to John Hooper titled "A Great Civil Servant", written by an unnamed colleague, appeared in the Irish Independent on the day of his Funeral Thursday 1 January 1931

Professional Bodies

John Hooper joined the Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland (SSISI) in 1924. He was elected a Vice President in 1925 and held the Presidency for the 1929-30 Session. He read one paper to the Society on "Statistics of Examinations" which suggested a fundamental change in the existing system for allocating marks. It attracted widespread attention and was reprinted as an Appendix to the report of the Department of Education for 1927-28. He was a member of the Royal Statistical Society.

Just before he died, the signal honour was conferred on him of election as a member of the International Statistical Institute (ISI) which is a prestigious international association of academic and official statisticians established in 1865. It was intended that the honorary D.Econ.Sc. should be conferred on him by the NUI in recognition of his statistical work for the State and in particular for his analyses of the several volumes of the Census of Population for which he was responsible.