Bowyer, Sir George 1811-1883, seventh baronet, jurist, was born on 8 Oct. 1811, at Radley Park, near Abingdon, Berkshire. He was the eldest son of Sir George Bowyer, bart., of Denham Court, Buckinghamshire, by his wife, Anne Hammond, daughter of Captain Sir Andrew Snape Douglas, R.N. Admiral Sir George Bowyer [qv.] was his grandfather. Sir William Bowyer, knt., teller of the exchequer in the reign of James I, originally purchased the family estate of Denham Court. His grandson, William Bowyer, M.P. for Buckinghamshire in the first two parliaments of Charles II, on 25 June 1660 was created a baronet.
Bowyer was for a short time a cadet of the Royal Military College at Woolwich. On 1 June 1836 he was admitted as a student of the Middle Temple. In 1838 he published A Dissertation on the Statutes of the Cities of Italy, and a Translation of the Pleading of Prospero Farinacio in Defence of Beatrice Cenci, with Notes. On 7 June 1839 he was called to the bar of the Middle Temple, being immediately afterwards (12 June) created an honorary M.A. at Oxford. He then began practising as an equity draughtsman and conveyancer. In 1841 he brought out, in twenty-seven chapters with an appendix, pp. xiv, 712, The English Constitution: a Popular Commentary on the Constitutional Laws of England. This was the first of a series of valuable text-books from his hand on constitutional jurisprudence. On 20 June 1844 he was made a Doctor of Civil Laws at Oxford. In 1848 he published, in fifty-two chapters, pp. xx, 334, his Commentaries on the Civil Law, inscribed to the Marquis of Lansdowne. In the same year he brought out, in an octavo pamphlet inscribed to Henry Lord Holland by his sincere friend, a vindication of Charles Albert, under the title of Lombardy, the Pope, and Austria. In the July of 1849 he stood unsuccessfully as a candidate for the representation of Reading. He was converted to catholicism in 1850, and issued in the same year a pamphlet entitled The Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster and the New Hierarchy, 8vo, pp. 42, which was announced on its title-page as issued by authority, and rapidly passed through four editions. Early in the same year he was appointed reader in law at the Middle Temple, and before its close published the first two of his readings, On the Uses of the Science of General Jurisprudence and the Classification of Laws, and On the Uses of the Roman Law and its Relation to the Common Law. In 1851 the whole course was published as Readings delivered before the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple, inscribed to Lord Campbell. During that year he issued from the press two supplementary papers on the catholic hierarchy, one of them entitled The Roman Documents relating to the New Hierarchy, with an Argument, and the other (8vo, pp. 44), Observations on the Arguments of Dr. Twiss respecting the new Roman Catholic Hierarchy. In the July of 1852 Bowyer entered parliament for the first time as M.P. for Dundalk, which borough he continued to represent in the House of Commons for sixteen years, down to December 1868. In 1854 he published, in twenty-eight chapters, 8vo, pp. xi, 387, his Commentaries on Universal Public Law, and in 1856 two pamphlets—Rome and Sardinia, and The Differences between the Holy See and the Spanish Government—in vindication of the holy see, reprinted from the Dublin Review, September 1855, and March 1856. On 1 July 1860 Bowyer succeeded his father as baronet. In 1864 appeared, in quarto, Friends of Ireland in Council, the interlocutors in which were Bowyer, William Henry Wilberforce, and John Pope Hennessy. In 1868 Bowyer, in the form of a letter written to Earl Stanhope, published, 8vo, pp. 19, The Private History of the Creation of the Roman Catholic Hierarchy in England. In 1873 he brought out a reprint from the Times of Four Letters on the Appellate Jurisdiction of the House of Lords and the New Court of Appeal. Bowyer was defeated in his candidature at Dundalk in December 1868, but in December 1874 was returned in the home-rule interest for the county of Wexford, and retained that seat until March 1880. He published, in 1874, 8vo, pp. 72, his Introduction to the Study and Use of the Civil Law, and to Commentaries on the Modern Civil Law, a work inscribed to Earl Cairns. During the last five years of his career in parliament he estranged himself from the liberal party, and was at last expelled, on 23 June 1876, from the Reform Club. Bowyer was conspicuous as a representative catholic. His numerous letters to the Times mainly bore reference to questions of religious or constitutional law. He was a prominent member of the committee convened to further the agitation against the abolition of the legal duties of the House of Lords. Bowyer was found dead in his bed at his chambers in the Temple, 13 King's Bench Walk, on the morning of 7 June 1883. The funeral service was performed in his own church of St. John of Jerusalem, in Great Ormond Street, Bloomsbury, which had been entirely built by him. Bowyer was a knight of Malta and honorary president of the Maltese nobility. He was knight commander of the order of Pius IX, as well as a chamberlain to that pontiff, knight grand cross of the order of St. Gregory the Great, and grand collar of the Constantinian order of St. George of Naples. He was a magistrate and deputy-lieutenant of Berkshire.
Men of the Time (10th ed.), 137
Annual Register, 1883, 152-3
Times, 8 June 1883
Tablet, 9 and 23 June 1883, 901, 994
Weekly Register, 9 June 1883, 724
Law Times, 16 June 1883, 137
Law Journal, 16 June 1883, 339.
Contributor: C. K. [Charles Kent]