Seven Mile Beach, Broken Head, Byron Bay,

“Bold and Excellent”

About the Dowlings- “Fortis et Egregius” (Bold and Excellent)

The Dowlings were English barristers, father and son, who were both called to the English Bar at Middle Temple in 1815 and 1843 respectively. Both went on to be prominent Judges in the early days of then new colony of New South Wales.

Photo: Portrait of The Honourable Sir James Dowling Kt, MLC, the Second Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, on display in the Banco Court, Queens Square, Sydney painted circa 1837, pictured with his three-greats grandson Jonathan de Vere Tyndall (wigged) at his admission as a barrister-at-law on 7 February 1992 with other descendants Jason, Kate and Skye.

The first James Dowling, was born in London 1787, was educated at St Paul’s School, London and was called to the English bar (1815) at Middle Temple in London. He was supported by Henry Brougham, then a barrister, who later became the Lord Chancellor of England.

His father Vincent was Irish, and educated to the Dublin Bar. His brother, Vincent, was admitted in 1829 at Grays Inn, London and became the editor of Bell’s Life of London, a famous magazine; another brother Alfred was also a barrister, called to the English bar in 1828 at Gray’s Inn and later in 1842 at Serjeants’ Inn and later became a Judge of the County Courts in Yorkshire; and another brother Joseph was admitted 1825 at Middle Temple. There was a strong family connection to the English Bar.

The first James Dowling, later became the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, the second of the Chief Justices in the history of the Court and was knighted. He became a member of the Legislative Council. He presided over the first sittings of the Supreme Court in Maitland in the Hunter Valley and he took the Supreme Court to Norfolk Island in 1833.

His son James Sheen Dowling, born London 1819, studied at Sydney College (now Sydney Grammar School) and Kings College, London and was called to the English Bar in 1843 at Middle Temple in London.

He later became Senior Judge of the District Court of New South Wales and was the third Judge of that Court. He took his Court by horse and coach to the outback of New South Wales to do justice. His memoirs during his travels with the Court record much of early Australian colonial life.

Sir James owned 7 acres of land on Woolloomooloo Hill (near South Dowling Street and Woolloomooloo Bay), Sydney in addition to 2,560 acres in the County of Durham, England.

Both father and son passed away a generation apart at the family home “Brougham” in Woollahra near Queen Street in Sydney, Australia, which is still an amazing historical property.

Sir James’ meticulously hand written case notes recorded early Australian colonial legal history and were only recently published as part of the Dowling legacy, finely edited by two barristers Messrs. Castle and Kercher.

The writer attended the launch of the “Dowling Select cases”, by the Francis Forbes Society at the Bar Association of New South Wales in 2005 .

The Dowlings saw the Bench and Bar grow from England to New South Wales and were true pioneers of Australian legal history.

The Honourable Sir James Dowling, CJ (1787-1844)

Judge, Barrister, born 1787 at Exeter Court, Strand, London, England (the third son of Vincent Dowling 1756-1825); educated at St Paul’s School, London, admitted to Middle Temple, London in 1810, called to the English Bar 1815, later appointed the second Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New South Wales and Member of the Legislative Council of New South Wales (Upper House).

Reading:
Australian Dictionary of Biography by C.H. Currey
The Dowling Legacy: Foundations of an Australian legal culture 1828 to 1844 By T D Castle and B Kercher; Francis Forbes Society, Sydney, 2005
Dowling’s Select Cases, 1828 to 1844 Edited by T. D. Castle and B. Kercher; Francis Forbes Society, Sydney, 2005; Review by David Ash, Bar News 2005 @ p. 52
Pioneer Families of Australia by P.C. Mowle, Angus & Robertson 4th ed.

James Sheen Dowling (1819-1902)

Judge, Barrister, born 1819 at Palsgrave Place, The Strand, near St Clement Danes, London, England (second son of Sir James Dowling), educated at the Sydney College (now Sydney Grammar School), admitted to Middle Temple London 1836, graduated in 1841 with an LLB at King’s College, London and called to the English Bar in 1843, and then the New South Wales Bar in 1845, appointed third Judge and later Senior Judge of the District Court of NSW.

Reading:
Australian Dictionary of Biography by A.R. Dowling
Reminiscences of a Colonial Judge, by James Sheen Dowling (Editor:Anthony Dowling)