Dowling, Vincent George (DNB00)

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Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 15
Dowling, Vincent George

by George Clement Boase ‎

DOWLING, VINCENT GEORGE (1785–1852), journalist, elder brother of Sir James Dowling [q. v.], was born in London in 1785, and received his earlier education in Ireland. He returned to London with his father after the union in 1801, and occasionally assisted him in his duties in connection with the ‘Times.’ Soon after he engaged with the ‘Star,’ and in 1809 transferred his services to the ‘Day’ newspaper. In 1804 he became a contributor to the ‘Observer,’ thus commencing his acquaintance with William Innell Clement [q. v.], which continued until Clement's death, 24 Jan. 1852. Dowling was appointed editor of ‘Bell's Life’ in August 1824, in which position he continued till his death. He was present in the lobby of the House of Commons when Bellingham shot Spencer Perceval, on 11 May 1812, and was one of the first persons to seize the murderer, from whose pocket he took a loaded pistol (William Jerdan, Autobiography, 1852, i. 133–41). He at times used extraordinary efforts to obtain early news for the ‘Observer.’ When Queen Caroline was about to return from the continent, after the accession of George IV in June 1820, Dowling proceeded to France to record her progress, and being entrusted with her majesty's despatches, he crossed the Channel in an open boat during a stormy night, and was the first to arrive in London with the news. He claimed to be the author of the plan on which the new police system was organised; even the names of the officers, inspectors, sergeants, &c., were published in ‘Bell's Life’ nearly two years before Sir Robert Peel spoke on the subject in 1829. In 1840 he wrote ‘ Fistiana, or the Oracle of the Ring,’ a work which he continued annually as long as he lived. He was also the writer of the article on ‘Boxing’ in Blaine's ‘Cyclopædia of Rural Sports’ in 1852 (reprinted 1870).

He was active in London parochial affairs; was constantly named stakeholder and referee in important sporting contests; and was anxious to make the ring a means of maintaining a manly love of fair play.

He died from disease of the heart, paralysis, and dropsy, at Stanmore Lodge, Kilburn, 25 Oct. 1852.

[Bell's Life in London, 31 Oct. 1852, p. 3; Illustrated London News, 13 Nov. 1852, pp. 406, 408, with portrait.]

G. C. B.