DALY, Denis Bowes (c.1745-1821), of Dalystown, co. Galway.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1801 - 1802
1802 - May 1805
8 June 1805 - 1818

Family and Education

b. c.1745, 1st s. of Hyacinth Daly of Dalystown by Rose, da. of Felix Coghlane of Garry Castle, King’s Co. educ. by Rev. Benson, Dublin; Trinity, Dublin 1765. m. 10 July 1780, Charlotte, da. of John Ponsonby, Speaker of House of Commons [I], s.p. suc. fa. 1782.

Offices Held

MP [I] 1776-1800.

Sheriff, King’s Co. 1774-5; ranger of the curragh of Kildare c.1782-9.

Muster master gen. [I] May 1806-Mar. 1807; PC [I] 1806.


Bowes Daly’s handsome inheritance included joint control of Galway town with his cousins the Dalys of Dunsandle, and he was its Member from 1776 until 1790, when he came in for King’s County. His politics became those of his father-in-law John Ponsonby: ‘one of the ablest orators in the Irish senate’, he went into opposition on the Regency in 1789 and was a founder member of the Irish Whig Club. In the 1790s he was the Ponsonbys ‘whipper in’ in the Irish parliament. Lord Wycombe described him in 1798 as ‘a good sort of man, and a popular, plentiful, racing, entertaining, electioneering gentleman’. He was a keen opponent of the Union, betting 10 guineas that it would not pass and, though returned to Westminster for King’s County in 1801, transferred to Galway town in 1802, rather than face a unionist challenge. On 25 Mar. 1801 he was one of the Irish Whigs who voted for Grey’s motion of inquiry into the state of the nation, though government seem to have expected him to support them at this juncture.1

In fact, Bowes Daly remained in opposition with the Ponsonby clan until 1806 and from 1807 until 1818. He voted with them on the eve of the resumption of hostilities with France, 24 May 1803, and, after being summoned from Ireland as a friend of the Prince of Wales early in 1804, voted for Pitt’s naval motion, 15 Mar., and in opposition to the volunteer consolidation bill, 19 Mar. In November he attempted to be an intermediary between the Prince and the Irish Whigs on the question of Catholic relief, but the Prince preferred to divulge his views through Fox. From 12 Feb. to 8 Apr. 1805 he voted against Pitt’s administration in five critical divisions, coming post haste from Bath to vote on the last division and, in what appears to be one of his few recorded speeches, opposed the retail duties in the Irish budget on behalf of his constituents, 13 Mar. He was critical of government procedure in the charges against Melville and supported Catholic relief, 14 May.2

His devotion to the Catholic interest helped him in his bid for the vacant county Galway seat in June 1805, when government admitted that he was ‘so decidedly a member of opposition that an effort seems necessary to exclude him’, but could not muster an effective opponent. It was not considered that Bowes Daly, on whose behalf the Prince of Wales intervened, had any ‘predominant pretension’ to the county: he was said to be short of funds and the interest of his young cousin James Daly, who succeeded to his borough seat and whom he attempted to direct politically, was important to him.3

When his friends came to power in 1806, Bowes Daly was made joint muster master general in Ireland with Thomas Sheridan. He raised difficulties about not being enabled to name a deputy and disappointed Fox by not attending when wanted in Parliament in May and June 1806. He subsequently tried to have his salary increased and also missed the critical divisions over his friends’ dismissal from office in April 1807, though he voted with them frequently in the ensuing Parliament.4 On 27 July 1807 he was teller against the Irish insurrection bill. In February 1808 his cousin James, who was on the other side, paired with him.5 He voted steadily for Catholic relief, 1808-13, and for parliamentary reform, 21 May 1810, as well as for the reform of sinecures.

In 1812 Bowes Daly’s cousin James, who had vacated his seat for Galway town the year before rather than support opposition, contested the county seat and Bowes had to be content with second place in his third contested election. Moreover, his interest in Galway town was undermined on petition when it transpired that he had polled fictitious voters. His interest in Parliament declined noticeably and after 1813 he seems to have attended only in the spring of 1815.6 His financial affairs were in disarray and by March 1818 he had sold estate to the amount of £108,000 to resolve the difficulties.7 This enabled him to stand another contest in 1818, but this time he was defeated, government still regarding him as their enemy.8 He died 17 Dec. 1821.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: P. J. Jupp


  • 1. Procs. R. Irish Acad. lvi, sec. C. no.3 (1954), 249; G. C. Bolton, The Passing of the Irish Act of Union, 118, 192; Life of Grattan, iii. 150; [Rev. J. R. Scott], A Review of the Principal Characters of the Irish House of Commons (1789), 5; Add. 51682, Wycombe to Lady Holland, 26 Aug. 1798; HO 100/93, Cooke to King, 25 Feb. 1800; PRO 30/9/13, pt. 2.
  • 2. Prince of Wales Corresp. v. 1976, 1987; J. Wilson, Biog. Index (1806), 159.
  • 3. Add. 31229, ff. 173, 223, 245; 31230, f. 41; Sidmouth mss, bp. of Clonfert to Sidmouth, 6 Sept. 1805; Fortescue mss, Carysfort to Grenville, 21 May 1806.
  • 4. NLS mss 12910, p. 122, Elliot to Spencer, 12 May; p. 155, same to Fox, 25 May; 12917, Newport to Elliot, 10 May; 12920, Fox to same, 22 May; Add. 47569, f. 293; Spencer mss, Spencer to Elliot, 2 Nov. 1806; Grey mss, Howick to Ponsonby, 27 March., reply [2 Apr.]; Dublin Evening Post, 23 Apr. 1807.
  • 5. Wellington mss, Sligo to Wellesley, 20 Feb. 1808.
  • 6. Add. 40191, f. 52; 40198, f. 99; 40252, f. 154; Grey mss, Tierney to Grey 19 Dec. 1816.
  • 7. Grey mss, Rosslyn to Grey, 17, 26 Jan. 1815; NLI mss 7854, p. 161, Burke to Vesey Fitzgerald, 18 Mar. 1818.
  • 8. Add. 40295, f. 155.