Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bowes, John (1690-1767)

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BOWES, JOHN (1690–1767), lord chancellor of Ireland, born in 1690, studied law at London with Philip Yorke, subsequently Lord Hardwicke. Bowes was called to the bar in England in 1718, and in Ireland in 1725. He was appointed third serjeant-at-law there in 1727, solicitor-general in 1730, and through government influence became, in 1731, member of parliament for the borough of Taghmon, in the county of Wexford. He was appointed attorney-general for Ireland in 1739, and before a court of high commission at Dublin in that year displayed great eloquence and legal acquirements at the trial of Lord Santry for murder. In 1741 Bowes was appointed chief baron of the exchequer in Ireland. He presided at the remarkable trial at bar between James Annesley and Richard, earl of Anglesey, which continued from 11 Nov. 1743 to the 25th of the same month [see Annesley, James]. A mezzotinto portrait of Bowes as chief baron was executed by John Brooks. Through the influence of Lord Hardwicke, Bowes was promoted to the chancellorship of Ireland in 1757, and took his seat as chairman of the House of Lords in October in that year. In 1758 the title of Baron of Clonlyon, in the county of Meath, was conferred upon him. Mrs. Delany, who met Bowes in May 1759, wrote that he was at that time 'in a miserable state of health, with legs bigger considerably at the ankle than at the calf.' In the same year, during the riot at Dublin against the proposed union of Ireland with England, Bowes was taken out of his coach by the populace at the entrance to the parliament house, and compelled to swear that he would oppose the measure. Bowes was averse to relaxation of penal laws against Irish catholics. He continued in office as chancellor on the accession of George III. Bowes promoted the publication of an edition of the 'Statutes of Ireland,' which was printed by the government in 1762 under the superintendence of Francis Vesey. According to Vesey, in his dedication of this work to Bowes, the latter had made the high court of chancery 'a terror to fraud, and a protection and comfort to every honest man.' Bowes acted as a lord justice in Ireland in 1765 and 1766. The House of Lords in 1766 passed a resolution to present an address to the crown for a grant of one thousand pounds to Chancellor Bowes, in addition to his customary allowance, in consideration of his 'particular merit and faithful services' during that session of parliament. The faculties of Bowes are stated to have been unimpaired when he died in office as lord justice in July 1767. He was interred in Christ Church, Dublin, where a marble monument, including a bas-relief of his bust, was erected to him in that cathedral by his brother, Rumsey Bowes of Binfield, Berkshire.

[Rolls of Chancery, Ireland, George I, George II; Journals of Lords and Commons, Ireland, 1731-67; Dublin Freeman's Journal, 1767; Annual Register, 1767; Statutes of Ireland, vol. i. 1786; Berkeley's Literary Relics, 1789; Hist. of King's Inns, Ireland, 1806; Hardy's Life of Lord Charlemont, 1810; Hist. of City of Dublin, 1854-59; Autobiography of Mrs. Delany, 1861; Dormant and Extinct Peerages, 1866; Reports Hist. MSS. Commission, 1881-84.]

J. T. G.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.33
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

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58 ii 8 Bowes, John (1690-1767): for Baron of Clonlyon read Baron Bowes of Clonlyon