Charles Kendal Bushe

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Charles Kendal Bushe (1767 – 10 July 1843), was an Irish lawyer and judge. Known as "silver-tongued Bushe" because of his eloquence, he was Solicitor-General for Ireland from 1805 to 1822 and Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench for Ireland from 1822 to 1841.

Background and education[edit]

Bushe was born at Kilmurry House, near Thomastown, County Kilkenny, the only son of the Reverend Thomas Bushe and his wife Katherine Doyle. Kilmurry House had been built by the Bushe family in the 1690s; his father was forced to sell it to pay his debts, but Charles was able to repurchase it in 1814. He went to the celebrated Quaker academy, Shackleton's School in Ballitore, County Kildare, then graduated from the University of Dublin and was called to the Bar in 1790.

Legal and judicial career[edit]

Bushe was a member of the Irish Parliament for Callan from 1796 to 1799, and for Donegal Borough from 1799 to 1800. He was vehemently opposed to the Act of Union 1800, referring emotionally to Britain's subjection of Ireland as "six hundred years of uniform oppression and injustice", a phrase which quickly became a proverb.[1] Cynics later noted that this did not prevent him accepting high office from the British Crown after the Act of Union. He was appointed Solicitor-General for Ireland in 1805 and held the office for 17 years until in 1822 he was appointed Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench for Ireland (although only after William Saurin, the equally long-serving Attorney-General, had refused the position). He retired in 1841.

As an advocate "silver-tongued Bushe" was legendary for his eloquence, and as a politician he was admired by his English contemporaries like Sir Robert Peel and Lord Brougham. As a judge, according to Elrington Ball, he did not live up to expectations.[2] As a statesman he was often accused of double-dealing: having opposed the Act of Union, he had few scruples about accepting office under the new regime; and while himself supporting Catholic Emancipation, he prosecuted members of the Catholic Association for sedition, merely for advocating a cause with which he personally sympathised.

In Dublin, he was a member of Daly's Club.[3]


Bushe in 1793 married Anne (Nancy) Crampton (died 1857), daughter of John Crampton of Dublin, and they had six children: John, Charles, Arthur, Charlotte, Anna Maria and Henrietta.[4]

His daughter Charlotte married John Plunket, 3rd Baron Plunket and was the mother of William Plunket, 4th Baron Plunket, Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin, and David Plunket, 1st Baron Rathmore.

His son John Bushe married Louisa Hare, daughter of William Hare, 1st Earl of Listowel, and his 1st wife, Mary, only daughter of Henry Wrixon.[5]

His son Charles, a Church of Ireland clergyman who became rector of Castlehaven was by his second wife Emmeline Coghill the father of another eminent barrister, Seymour Bushe.

His daughter Anna Maria was the second wife of Sir Josiah Coghill, 3rd Baronet: her stepdaughter Emmeline married Anna Maria's brother Charles as his second wife.[6]

Later descendants[edit]

Dunbar Plunket Barton, a leading Irish High Court judge of the early 1900s, was descended from Bushe.

Seymour Bushe (1853-1922) was a leading barrister whose career in Ireland was destroyed by his role as co-respondent in a much publicised criminal conversation case, Brooke v Brooke in 1886, and thereafter largely confined his legal practice to England. He was the judge's grandson, his parents being Reverend Charles Bushe and his second wife Emmeline Coghill, daughter of Sir Josiah Coghill, 3rd Baronet of the Coghill Baronets and his first wife Sophia Dodson. [7]


  1. ^ Geoghegan, Patrick M. Liberator-the life and death of Daniel O'Connell Gill and Macmillan Dublin 2010 p.176
  2. ^ Ball, F. Elrington The Judges in Ireland 1221–1921 John Murray, London, 1926
  3. ^ T. H. S. Escott, Club Makers and Club Members (1913), pp. 329–333
  4. ^ Burke Landed Gentry of Ireland London 1912
  5. ^ Burke Landed Gentry
  6. ^ Burke Landed Gentry
  7. ^ Maurice Healy The Old Munster Circuit Michael Joseph Ltd. 1939
Parliament of Ireland
Preceded by
William Meeke
Hon. Francis Mathew
Member of Parliament for Callan
With: William Meeke 1796–1797
Patrick Welch 1797–1799
Succeeded by
Patrick Welch
James Savage
Preceded by
Hugh O'Donnell
William Cusack-Smith
Member of Parliament for Donegal Borough
With: William Cusack-Smith
Constituency abolished
Political offices
Preceded by
William Plunket
Solicitor-General for Ireland
Succeeded by
Henry Joy
Preceded by
William Downes
Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench for Ireland
Succeeded by
Edward Pennefather