Charles Bowen, Baron Bowen
Charles Synge Christopher Bowen, Baron Bowen QC
Queen's Counsel
Queen's Counsel , known as King's Counsel during the reign of a male sovereign, are lawyers appointed by letters patent to be one of Her [or His] Majesty's Counsel learned in the law...

, PC
Privy Council of the United Kingdom
Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, usually known simply as the Privy Council, is a formal body of advisers to the Sovereign in the United Kingdom...

 (1 January 1835 – 10 April 1894) was an English
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

A judge is a person who presides over court proceedings, either alone or as part of a panel of judges. The powers, functions, method of appointment, discipline, and training of judges vary widely across different jurisdictions. The judge is supposed to conduct the trial impartially and in an open...



He was born at Woolaston
Woolaston is a village and civil parish in the Forest of Dean district of Gloucestershire in South West England. It lies on the north side of the Severn Estuary approximately 5 miles from the Welsh border at Chepstow and is surrounded by woodland and agricultural land.-The Village and its...

 in Gloucestershire
Gloucestershire is a county in South West England. The county comprises part of the Cotswold Hills, part of the flat fertile valley of the River Severn, and the entire Forest of Dean....

, his father, the Rev. Christopher Bowen, originally of Hollymount, County Mayo
County Mayo
County Mayo is a county in Ireland. It is located in the West Region and is also part of the province of Connacht. It is named after the village of Mayo, which is now generally known as Mayo Abbey. Mayo County Council is the local authority for the county. The population of the county is 130,552...

, being then curate
A curate is a person who is invested with the care or cure of souls of a parish. In this sense "curate" correctly means a parish priest but in English-speaking countries a curate is an assistant to the parish priest...

 of the parish. He was educated at Lille, Blackheath and Rugby
Rugby School
Rugby School is a co-educational day and boarding school located in the town of Rugby, Warwickshire, England. It is one of the oldest independent schools in Britain.-History:...

 schools, leaving the latter in 1853 with a scholarship to Balliol College, Oxford
Balliol College, Oxford
Balliol College , founded in 1263, is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England but founded by a family with strong Scottish connections....

. There, he made good the promise of his earlier youth, winning the principal classical scholarships and prizes of his time. He was made a Fellow of Balliol in 1858. From Oxford, Bowen went to London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, where he was called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn
Lincoln's Inn
The Honourable Society of Lincoln's Inn is one of four Inns of Court in London to which barristers of England and Wales belong and where they are called to the Bar. The other three are Middle Temple, Inner Temple and Gray's Inn. Although Lincoln's Inn is able to trace its official records beyond...

 in 1861, and while studying law he wrote regularly for the Saturday Review
Saturday Review (London)
The Saturday Review of politics, literature, science, and art was a London weekly newspaper established by A. J. B. Beresford Hope in 1855....

, and also later for The Spectator. In 1861, he also played a single first-class
First-class cricket
First-class cricket is a class of cricket that consists of matches of three or more days' scheduled duration, that are between two sides of eleven players and are officially adjudged first-class by virtue of the standard of the competing teams...

 match for pre-county club Hampshire
Hampshire county cricket teams
Hampshire county cricket teams have been traced back to the 18th century but the county's involvement in cricket goes back much further than that...

 against the Marylebone Cricket Club
Marylebone Cricket Club
Marylebone Cricket Club is a cricket club in London founded in 1787. Its influence and longevity now witness it as a private members' club dedicated to the development of cricket. It owns, and is based at, Lord's Cricket Ground in St John's Wood, London NW8. MCC was formerly the governing body of...

. In Hampshire's first innings he was dismissed for a duck
Duck (cricket)
In the sport of cricket, a duck refers to a batsman's dismissal for a score of zero.-Origin of the term:The term is a shortening of the term "duck's egg", the latter being used long before Test cricket began...

 by Caleb Robinson and in their second innings he scored 30*
Not out
In cricket, a batsman will be not out if he comes out to bat in an innings and has not been dismissed by the end of the innings. One may similarly describe a batsman as not out while the innings is still in progress...

. His brother, Edward Ernest Bowen also played first-class cricket for Hampshire County Cricket Club
Hampshire County Cricket Club
Hampshire County Cricket Club represents the historic county of Hampshire in cricket's County Championship. The club was founded in 1863 as a successor to the Hampshire county cricket teams and has played at the Antelope Ground from then until 1885, before moving to the County Ground where it...


For a time he had little success at the bar, and came near to exchanging it for the career of a college tutor, but he was persuaded by his friends to persevere. Soon after he had begun to make his mark he was briefed against the claimant in the famous Tichborne Case
Tichborne Case
The affair of the Tichborne claimant was the celebrated 19th-century legal case in the United Kingdom of Arthur Orton , an imposter who claimed to be Sir Roger Tichborne , the missing heir to the Tichborne Baronetcy....

. Bowen's services to his leader, Sir John Coleridge
John Coleridge, 1st Baron Coleridge
John Duke Coleridge, 1st Baron Coleridge PC was a British lawyer, judge and Liberal politician. He held the posts, in turn, of Solicitor General for England and Wales, Attorney General for England and Wales, Chief Justice of the Common Pleas and Lord Chief Justice of England.-Background and...

, helped to procure for him the appointment of junior counsel
A counsel or a counselor gives advice, more particularly in legal matters.-U.K. and Ireland:The legal system in England uses the term counsel as an approximate synonym for a barrister-at-law, and may apply it to mean either a single person who pleads a cause, or collectively, the body of barristers...

 to the treasury
HM Treasury
HM Treasury, in full Her Majesty's Treasury, informally The Treasury, is the United Kingdom government department responsible for developing and executing the British government's public finance policy and economic policy...

 when Sir John had passed, as he did while the trial proceeded, from the office of Solicitor General
Solicitor General for England and Wales
Her Majesty's Solicitor General for England and Wales, often known as the Solicitor General, is one of the Law Officers of the Crown, and the deputy of the Attorney General, whose duty is to advise the Crown and Cabinet on the law...

 to that of Attorney-General; and from this time his practice became a very large one.

The strain, however, of the Tichborne trials had been great, so that his physical health became unequal to the tasks which his zeal for work imposed upon it, and in 1879 his acceptance of a position as a High Court judge in the Queen's Bench division, on the retirement of Mr Justice Mellor, gave him the opportunity of comparative rest. The character of Charles Bowen's intellect hardly qualified him for some of the duties of a puisne judge; but it was otherwise when, in 1882, in succession to Lord Justice Holker, he was raised to the Court of Appeal
Court of Appeal of England and Wales
The Court of Appeal of England and Wales is the second most senior court in the English legal system, with only the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom above it...

. As a Lord Justice of Appeal
Lord Justice of Appeal
A Lord Justice of Appeal is an ordinary judge of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales, the court that hears appeals from the High Court of Justice, and represents the second highest level of judge in the courts of England and Wales-Appointment:...

, he was conspicuous for his learning, his industry and his courtesy to all who appeared before him; and in spite of failing health he sat regularly until August 1893, when, on the retirement of Lord Hannen, he was made a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary
Lord of Appeal in Ordinary
Lords of Appeal in Ordinary, commonly known as Law Lords, were appointed under the Appellate Jurisdiction Act 1876 to the House of Lords of the United Kingdom in order to exercise its judicial functions, which included acting as the highest court of appeal for most domestic matters...

, and a life peer
Life peer
In the United Kingdom, life peers are appointed members of the Peerage whose titles cannot be inherited. Nowadays life peerages, always of baronial rank, are created under the Life Peerages Act 1958 and entitle the holders to seats in the House of Lords, presuming they meet qualifications such as...

 with the title Baron Bowen, of Colwood in the County of Sussex
Sussex , from the Old English Sūþsēaxe , is an historic county in South East England corresponding roughly in area to the ancient Kingdom of Sussex. It is bounded on the north by Surrey, east by Kent, south by the English Channel, and west by Hampshire, and is divided for local government into West...

. By this time, however, his health had finally broken down; he never sat as a law lord to hear appeals, and he gave but one vote as a peer, while his last public service consisted in presiding over the commission which sat in October 1893 to inquire into the Featherstone riots
Featherstone is a town and civil parish in the City of Wakefield in West Yorkshire, England. It lies south-west of Pontefract and has a population of 14,175.Featherstone railway station is on the Pontefract Line.-History:...


Lord Bowen was regarded with great affection by all who knew him either professionally or privately. He had a polished and graceful wit, of which many instances might be given, although such anecdotes lose force in print. For example, when it was suggested on the occasion of an address to Queen Victoria
Victoria of the United Kingdom
Victoria was the monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death. From 1 May 1876, she used the additional title of Empress of India....

, to be presented by her judges, that a passage in it, "conscious as we are of our shortcomings," suggested too great humility, he proposed the emendation "conscious as we are of one another's shortcomings"; and on another occasion he defined a jurist as "a person who knows a little about the laws of every country except his own". Lord Bowen's judicial reputation will rest upon the series of judgments delivered by him in the court of appeal, which are remarkable for their lucid interpretation of legal principles as applied to the facts and business of life.

Literary work

Of Lord Bowen's literary works besides those already indicated may be mentioned his translation of Virgil
Publius Vergilius Maro, usually called Virgil or Vergil in English , was an ancient Roman poet of the Augustan period. He is known for three major works of Latin literature, the Eclogues , the Georgics, and the epic Aeneid...

's Eclogues, and Aeneid
The Aeneid is a Latin epic poem, written by Virgil between 29 and 19 BC, that tells the legendary story of Aeneas, a Trojan who travelled to Italy, where he became the ancestor of the Romans. It is composed of roughly 10,000 lines in dactylic hexameter...

, books i.-vi., and his pamphlet, The Alabama Claim and Arbitration considered from a Legal Point of View. Lord Bowen married in 1862 Emily Frances, eldest daughter of the engineer James Meadows Rendel, by whom he had two sons and a daughter. His daughter, Ethel Kate Bowen married Josiah Wedgwood IV
Josiah Wedgwood, 1st Baron Wedgwood
Colonel Josiah Clement Wedgwood, 1st Baron Wedgwood, DSO, PC, DL sometimes referred to as Josiah Wedgwood IV was a British Liberal and Labour politician who served in government under Ramsay MacDonald...

 (later 1st Baron Wedgwood
Baron Wedgwood
Baron Wedgwood, of Barlaston in the County of Stafford, is a title in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. It was created in 1942 for the soldier and politician Josiah Wedgwood. He was the great-great-grandson of Josiah Wedgwood, the founder of the Wedgwood pottery dynasty...

) of the pottery dynasty. Some of the quotations attributed to him include:

“The rain it raineth on the just

And also on the unjust fella;

But chiefly on the just, because

The unjust steals the just’s umbrella.”


“When I hear of an 'equity' in a case like this, I am reminded of a blind man in a dark room - looking for a black hat - which isn't there”


He is credited with coining the phrase "the man on the Clapham omnibus
The man on the Clapham omnibus
The man on the Clapham omnibus is a reasonably educated and intelligent but non-specialist person — a reasonable person, a hypothetical person against whom a defendant's conduct might be judged in an English law civil action for negligence. This is the standard of care comparable to that which...

", which was quoted by Sir Richard Henn Collins MR
Master of the Rolls
The Keeper or Master of the Rolls and Records of the Chancery of England, known as the Master of the Rolls, is the second most senior judge in England and Wales, after the Lord Chief Justice. The Master of the Rolls is the presiding officer of the Civil Division of the Court of Appeal...

 many years after his death in the case of McQuire v. Western Morning News ([1903] 2 KB 100).
  • Harben v Phillips (1883) 23 Ch D 14
  • Hutton v West Cork Railway (1883) 23 Ch D 654
  • Abrath v North Eastern Railway 7 QBD 440
  • Thomas v Quartermaine 18 QBD 685
  • Edgington v Fitzmaurice
    Edgington v Fitzmaurice
    Edgington v Fitzmaurice 29 Ch D 459 is an English contract law case, concerning misrepresentation. It holds that a statement of present intentions can count as an actionable misrepresentation and that a misrepresentation need not be the sole cause of entering a contract so long as it is an...

    (1885) 29 Ch D 459, "the state of a man's mind is as much a fact as the state of his digestion", securities-fraud case dealing with false statements of intention
  • Carlill v Carbolic Smoke Ball Company [1892] EWCA Civ 1
  • Vagliano v Bank of England 23 QBD 243, prepared the majority judgment of the court, held wrong in conclusion by the majority of the House of Lords
  • Mogul Steamship Company v McGregor (1889) 23 QBD 598
  • Angus v Dalton 6 App Cas 740
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