Charles Kendal Bushe
Portrait of Chief Justice Charles Kendal Bushe .PNG
Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench for Ireland
In office
Solicitor-General for Ireland
In office
Personal details
Died10 July 1843

Charles Kendal Bushe (1767 – 10 July 1843), was an Irish lawyer and judge. Known as "silver-tongued Bushe" because of his eloquence,[1] 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.[2]

Background and education

Bushe was born at Kilmurry House, near Thomastown, County Kilkenny, the only son of the Reverend Thomas Bushe, rector of Mitchelstown, and his wife Katherine Doyle, daughter of Charles Doyle of Bramblestown, near Gowran.[2] 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 Trinity College Dublin,[3] where his eloquence had made him a star of the College Historical Society, and was called to the Bar in 1790.[2]

Legal and judicial career

Bushe was a member of the Irish Parliament for Callan from 1796 to 1799, and for Donegal Borough from 1799 to 1800.[2] He was Escheator of Leinster in 1799; by this time the office was a sinecure. 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.[4] Although he had refused an offer of a place on the Bench as a bribe for supporting the Union, cynics noted that his staunch opposition to the Union did not prevent him accepting high office under the British Crown afterwards. 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.[2]

As an advocate "silver-tongued Bushe" was legendary for his eloquence,[1] and as a politician he was admired by his English contemporaries like Sir Robert Peel and Lord Brougham.[5] As a judge, according to Elrington Ball, he did not live up to expectations,[5] although, if not an outstanding judge, he was an impressive and dignified one. 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 the same cause, with which he personally sympathised.[5]

In Dublin, he was a member of Daly's Club.[6]


Bushe in 1793 married Anne (Nancy) Crampton (died 1857), daughter of John Crampton of Dublin and Anne Verner, and sister of Sir Philip Crampton, 1st Baronet, President of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland. They had ten children including John, Charles, Arthur, Charlotte, Anna Maria, Katherine and Henrietta.[7]

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.[2]

His son John Bushe married Louisa Hare, daughter of William Hare, 1st Earl of Listowel, and his first wife, Mary Wrixon, only daughter of Henry Wrixon.[7]

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

His daughter Anna Maria was the second wife of Sir Josiah Coghill Coghill, 3rd Baronet: her stepdaughter Emmeline married Anna Maria's brother Charles as his second wife.[7]

His daughter Katherine married Michael Fox, son of his judicial colleague Luke Fox and Anne Annesley, a niece of Charles Loftus, 1st Marquess of Ely.


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

Seymour Coghill Bushe (1853-1922) was a leading barrister whose career in Ireland was largely destroyed by his role as co-respondent in a much publicised criminal conversation case, followed by divorce, Brooke v Brooke (1886), and thereafter largely confined his legal practice to England. He was the judge's grandson, his parents being the Reverend Charles Bushe and his second wife Emmeline Coghill, daughter of Sir Josiah Coghill Coghill, 3rd Baronet of the Coghill Baronets and his first wife Sophia Dodson.[1] He married Lady Kathleen Maude, daughter of Cornwallis Maude, 1st Earl de Montalt and Clementina Fleeming, and the defendant in Brooke v. Brooke, after her divorce from her first husband, Gerald Brooke. She died in 1939.


  1. ^ a b c Healy, Maurice The Old Muster Circuit Michael Joseph Ltd. 1939
  2. ^ a b c d e f Ball, F. Elrington The Judges in Ireland 1221-1921 London John Murray 1926 Vol. 2 p.342
  3. ^ Alumni Dublinenses : a register of the students, graduates, professors and provosts of Trinity College in the University of Dublin (1593–1860), George Dames Burtchaell/Thomas Ulick Sadleir p. 120: Dublin, Alex Thom and Co, 1935
  4. ^ Geoghegan, Patrick M. Liberator-the life and death of Daniel O'Connell Gill and Macmillan Dublin 2010 p.176
  5. ^ a b c Ball pp.260-1
  6. ^ T. H. S. Escott, Club Makers and Club Members (1913), pp. 329–333
  7. ^ a b c Burke Landed Gentry of Ireland London 1912
Parliament of Ireland Preceded byWilliam MeekeHon. Francis Mathew Member of Parliament for Callan 1796–1799 With: William Meeke 1796–1797Patrick Welch 1797–1799 Succeeded byPatrick WelchJames Savage Preceded byHugh O'DonnellWilliam Cusack-Smith Member of Parliament for Donegal Borough 1799–1801 With: William Cusack-Smith Constituency abolished Political offices Preceded byWilliam Plunket Solicitor-General for Ireland 1805–1822 Succeeded byHenry Joy Preceded byWilliam Downes Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench for Ireland 1822–1841 Succeeded byEdward Pennefather