He was a philanthropist, vegetarian, an advocate of tee-totalism and an anti-slavery activist in Dublin. He was a regular correspondent of Garrison's “Liberator” and supported the repeal of the Act of Union. He founded the Hibernian Anti-Slavery Society. He was President of the Vegetarian Society of the UK from 1847. He was a founder of the Dublin Mechanics Institute in 1849 and was actively involved in the establishment of the Botanical Gardens, Glasnevin, Dublin.