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DOWSE, RICHARD (1824–1890), Irish judge, son of William Henry Dowse of Dungannon, by Maria, daughter of Hugh Donaldson of the same town, was born in Dungannon on 8 June 1824, and received his early education in the royal school there. In 1845 he entered Trinity College, obtaining a sizarship, and, gaining the distinction of a classical scholarship in 1848, graduated with honours in 1849. In 1852 Dowse was called to the Irish bar. Joining the north-west circuit, he early displayed marked forensic ability, and in 1863 became a queen's counsel. In 1869 he was appointed one of the queen's serjeants-at-law, and in the same year was elected a bencher of the King's Inns. A liberal in politics, Dowse was a successful candidate for the parliamentary representation of Londonderry city (18 Nov. 1868), and, taking his seat as a supporter of Gladstone's Irish Church Act, he was appointed in February 1870 solicitor-general for Ireland, being re-elected for Londonderry on 15 Feb. In the House of Commons, where the prominence of Irish questions during his career in it gave him exceptional opportunities, Dowse quickly obtained a high reputation both for ability and wit, his speeches being marked by a racy humour, joined to a keen incisiveness, which made him a very effective parliamentary debater. In January 1872 Dowse became attorney-general for Ireland in succession to Charles Robert Barry (1834–1897), raised to the bench, and was appointed a member of the Irish privy council; but in November of the same year his parliamentary career was closed by his acceptance of the office of a baron of the Irish court of exchequer, a title which Dowse was the last among Irish judges to accept. He remained a member of the Irish bench until his death, which occurred suddenly in the court-house at Tralee, where he was sitting as judge of assize, on 14 March 1890. His career as a judge was not one of special distinction, nor did Dowse ever attain the reputation of a lawyer of the first rank; but his judgments were marked by sound common sense and breadth of view, and pointed by his always ready wit.

Dowse was a visitor of the Queen's College, Galway, and was twice appointed a lord justice for the government of Ireland in the absence of the viceroy.

He married, on 29 Dec. 1852, Catherine, daughter of George Moore of Clones, co. Monaghan, who died in 1874.

[Private information; Todd's Graduates of Dublin University; Official Return of Members of Parl.; Haydn's Book of Dignities, ed. Ockerby.]

C. L. F.