ROWLEY, Sir Josias, 1st bt. (1765-1842), of Mount Campbell, Drumsna, co. Leitrim

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press



3 July 1821 - 1826

Family and Education

b. 1765, 2nd s. of Clotworthy Rowley† (d. 1805) of Mount Campbell and Letitia, da. and h. of Samuel Campbell of Mount Campbell; bro. of Samuel Campbell Rowley† and William Rowley†. unm. suc. bro. William Rowley to Mount Campbell 1812; cr. bt. 2 Nov. 1813; KCB 2 Jan. 1815; GCMG 22 Feb. 1834; GCB 4 July 1840. d. 10 Jan. 1842.

Offices Held

Entered RN 1777, midshipman 1780, lt. 1783, cdr. 1794, capt. 1795, r.-adm. 1814; c.-in-c. Ireland 1818-21; v.-adm. 1825; c.-in-c. Mediterranean 1833-7; adm. 1837.

Col. marines 1813.


Rowley’s father, a younger son of Sir William Rowley (c.1690-1768), of Tendring Hall, Suffolk, Member for Taunton, 1750-4, and Portsmouth, 1754-61, who became admiral of the fleet in 1762, departed from the family tradition of naval service. He practised at the English bar from 1754, but in 1763 married an Irish heiress, as had his father. He established himself in Ireland, sat in the Irish Parliament as Member for Downpatrick, on the interest of his wife’s sister’s husband, the 20th Baron de Clifford, and with his first and third sons, William, an Irish barrister, and Samuel Campbell, who pursued a naval career, rallied to government after the outbreak of war. He opposed the Union but was nevertheless returned to the first United Parliament as Member for Downpatrick, although he never took his seat, for he was immediately made a commissioner of Union compensations. Samuel replaced him, thereby joining at Westminster William, who had sat for Kinsale since the Union, also on the de Clifford interest. William, who later managed that interest in both boroughs, left the House in 1802, when Samuel came in for Kinsale, where he sat until 1806. On the death of their father in 1805, William succeeded to his Leitrim estates.1

By then Josias Rowley, Clotworthy’s second son, was an experienced naval officer. He began his career in 1778 under the immediate command of his uncle Joshua Rowley, who was created a baronet in 1786 and died in 1790. He served in the West Indies and the North Sea and, after achieving post rank in the early stages of the French wars, commanded ships in the East Indies, the North Sea and at the Cape. He took part in the battle of Cape Finisterre off the Spanish coast, 22 July 1805. At the end of that year he sailed to the Cape under Sir Home Popham†, with whom he subsequently went on the abortive expedition to South America, where he distinguished himself. In September 1809 he concerted with the commander of troops at Rodrigues a successful assault on the batteries at St. Paul’s, on the Island of Bourbon; and he took part in the attack on the whole island, which ended in its capitulation, in July 1810. Two months later, in the Boadicea, he recaptured the Africaine and took the French frigate Venus and its prize, off Bourbon. In October 1810 he instituted the close blockade of Mauritius which led to its surrender, after the arrival of British reinforcements, before the turn of the year. He was sent home with the dispatches, and served on the America in the Mediterranean until the end of hostilities, being present at the reduction of Genoa. In November 1813 he was rewarded with a baronetcy.2 On the death of his brother William the previous year he had succeeded to the family estates; but, as he explained to Robert Peel, the Irish secretary, in January 1818, asking for his nomination as sheriff of Leitrim to be annulled, he did not reside at Mount Campbell.3 He was in any case about to take up his duties as commander-in-chief on the Irish station, where he served for the customary three years.

In July 1821 Rowley was returned unopposed on a vacancy for Kinsale, on the interest of his cousin, the 21st Baron de Clifford. In marked contrast to his Whig cousin Sir William Rowley, who had sat for Suffolk since 1812, he was a steady, though silent supporter of the Liverpool ministry.4 He was in their majorities against more extensive tax reductions, 11, 21 Feb., abolition of one of the joint-postmasterships, 13 Mar., and repeal of the salt duties, 28 June 1822. He voted against Canning’s bill to relieve Catholic peers of their disabilities, 30 Apr. 1822, and Catholic relief, 1 Mar., 21 Apr., 10 May 1825. He divided for the national debt reduction bill, 13 Mar., and against inquiry into the prosecution of the Dublin Orange rioters, 22 Apr., and Scottish parliamentary reform, 2 June 1823. On 26 May 1823 he presented a petition from the tanners of Kinsale for reduction of the duties on foreign bark.5 He was in the ministerial majority on the case of the Methodist missionary John Smith, prosecuted for inciting a slave uprising in Demerara, 11 June 1824. He supported the repressive legislation for Ireland, 14 June 1824, 15, 25 Feb. 1825. He voted in favour of giving the president of the board of trade a ministerial salary, 10 Apr., when he presented a Kinsale petition for revision of the prison laws,6 and against reform of Edinburgh’s representation, 13 Apr. 1826. He retired from Parliament at the dissolution a few weeks later.7

In 1833 the Grey ministry appointed Rowley to the Mediterranean command, subsequently giving him a ‘discretionary order’ to comply with any request from Turkey, conveyed through Lord Ponsonby, the ambassador at Constantinople, for intervention against Russia. As foreign secretary in Peel’s first ministry, the duke of Wellington decided that such powers were potentially dangerous and, at his instigation, the cabinet countermanded them in March 1835. They were only partially restored by the Melbourne ministry on their return to office.8 On his retirement from active service in 1837 Rowley, who never married, took up residence at Mount Campbell, where he died, ‘beloved and respected by all classes’ in January 1842.9 By his will, dated 12 Dec. 1841, he left all his personal property to his youngest brother, the Rev. John Rowley, who inherited the family estates on the death of Samuel Campbell Rowley without issue in 1846.10

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Authors: Philip Salmon / David R. Fisher


  • 1. HP Commons, 1790-1820, v. 58-59.
  • 2. Oxford DNB; Gent. Mag. (1842), i. 325-7; J. Marshall, Royal Naval Biog. ii. 622-35; Add. 37292, f. 284; 41513, ff. 18-21, 24.
  • 3. Add. 40273, f. 219.
  • 4. Black Bk. (1823), 190; Session of Parl. 1825, p. 483.
  • 5. The Times, 27 May 1823.
  • 6. Ibid. 11 Apr. 1826.
  • 7. Dublin Evening Post, 10, 20 June 1826.
  • 8. H. Temperley and L. Penson, Foundations of British Foreign Policy, 119-21; Wellington Pol. Corresp. ii. 89, 782, 1052, 1057, 1062, 1067, 1079, 1169.
  • 9. Gent. Mag. (1842), i. 327.
  • 10. PROB 11/1960/202; IR26/1619/203.