Burgh, Sir Ulysses Bagenal, second Baron Downes 1788-1863, general, only son of Thomas Burgh, comptroller-general and commissioner of the revenue of Ireland, was born at Dublin on 15 Aug. 1788. Thomas Burgh was grandson of Ulysses Burgh, bishop of Ardagh, and second cousin of William Downes, who was lord chief justice of Ireland from 1803 to 1822, and his two sisters had married respectively the chancellor of the exchequer and the lord chief baron of Ireland. With such influence the rapid promotion of Ulysses Burgh, when he decided to enter the army, was certain. He was gazetted ensign in the 54th regiment on 31 March 1804, and was promoted lieutenant on 12 Nov. 1804, and captain on 4 Sept. 1806. He was employed in ordinary garrison duty with his regiment at Gibraltar and in the West Indies till 1808, when he exchanged into the 92nd and accompanied Sir John Cradock, afterwards Lord Howden, to Portugal as aide-de-camp. When Sir Arthur Wellesley succeeded Cradock, he in his turn took Burgh, whose father was his intimate friend, as an aide-de-camp. Burgh was present at Talavera, where he was slightly wounded (Wellington Despatches, iii. 380). He brought home the despatch announcing the victory of Busaco on 29 Sept. 1810, was promoted major for the news, and was back again in Portugal by January 1811. He was then present at the battle of Fuentes d'Onor, at the combat of El Bodon, at the storming of Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz, and the battle of Salamanca, and again took home the news of Wellington's triumphal entry into Madrid. He was promoted lieutenant-colonel on 25 Sept. 1812. He quickly returned to the Peninsula, and was present at the battles of Vittoria and the Pyrenees, at the storm of San Sebastian, at the battle of the Nivelle, where his horse was killed under him; at the battle of the Nive, and the battle of Toulouse, where he was again wounded. At the end of the war in 1814 he was made K.C.B. and K.T.S., and received a company in the 1st or Grenadier guards. In 1815 he married an Irish heiress, Maria Bagenal of Athy.
Burgh's service in the field was now over, but Wellington remembered him. He was M.P. for Carlow County, 1818-26, and for Queenborough, 1826-30. He became surveyor-general of the ordnance in March 1820, and colonel in May 1825, and in March 1826 he succeeded to the title of Lord Downes, which had been conferred on his father's second cousin, the lord chief justice, in 1822, with special remainder to himself. He was in 1833 elected an Irish representative peer, and remained surveyor-general of the ordnance during the Duke of Wellington's ministry till 1830. On the retirement of his chief from political life, Lord Downes also retired, and occupied himself with the ordinary life of a country gentleman. He became in due course major-general on 10 Jan. 1837, lieutenant-general on 9 Nov. 1846, colonel of the 29th regiment on 15 Aug. 1850, full general on 20 June 1854, and was made G.C.B. in 1869. He was colonel of the 54th foot, 1845-50. He died at Bert House, Athy, county Kildare, on 26 July 1863, and his peerage became extinct.
Royal Military Calendar
Times obituary notice, 30 July 1863.
Contributor: H. M. S. [Henry Morse Stephens]