Ulysses Burgh, 2nd Baron Downes

The Right Honourable
The Lord Downes

Lord Downes in 1850.
Surveyor-General of the Ordnance
In office
16 March 1820  18 May 1827
Monarch George VI
Prime Minister The Earl of Liverpool
Preceded by Sir Robert Moorsom
Succeeded by Sir Edward Owen
Personal details
Born 15 August 1788
Died 26 July 1864 (1864-07-27) (aged 75)
Nationality British
Political party Tory
Spouse(s) (1) Maria Bagenal
(2) Christopheria Buchanan
(d. 1860)

General Ulysses de Burgh, 2nd Baron Downes GCB (15 August 1788 26 July 1864), was an Irish soldier and Tory politician. A General in the British Army, he served as Surveyor-General of the Ordnance under Lord Liverpool between 1820 and 1827. After succeeding a cousin as second Baron Downes in 1826, he sat in the House of Lords as an Irish Representative Peer from 1833 until his death.


Born Ulysses Burgh, he was the son of Thomas Burgh and Anne, daughter of David Aigion. His great-grandfather was Ulysses Burgh, Bishop of Ardagh. In 1848 he assumed by Royal licence the surname of de Burgh in lieu of simply Burgh.[1] His grandfather Thomas Burgh was one of the foremost Irish architects of his time, who designed many notable buildings, including Trinity College Library and Dr Steevens' Hospital. His father was comptroller-general and commissioner of the revenue of Ireland, and second cousin of William Downes, who was Lord Chief Justice of Ireland from 1803 to 1822; and his two sisters had married respectively the Chancellor of the Irish Exchequer and the Chief Baron of the Irish Exchequer.[2]

Ulysses Burgh was born at Dublin on 15 August 1788. He entered the British Army, and was promoted by family influence. He was gazetted ensign in the 54th Regiment of Foot on 31 March 1804, and was promoted lieutenant on 12 November 1804, and captain on 4 September 1806. He was employed in ordinary garrison duty with his regiment at Gibraltar and in the West Indies till 1808, when he exchanged into the 92nd and accompanied Sir John Cradock to Portugal as aide-de-camp.[2]

Peninsular War

When Sir Arthur Wellesley succeeded Cradock, he in his turn took Burgh, whose father was a close friend, as an aide-de-camp. Burgh was present at the battle of Talavera, where he was slightly wounded. He brought home the despatch announcing the victory at the battle of Busaco on 29 September 1810, was promoted major for the news, and was back again in Portugal by January 1811. He was then present at the battle of Fuentes d'Onor, at the combat of El Bodon, at the storming of Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz, and the battle of Salamanca, and again took home the news of Wellington's entry into Madrid. He was promoted lieutenant-colonel on 25 September 1812. He returned to Spain, and was present at the battle of Vittoria and the battle of the Pyrenees. He was present at the storming of San Sebastián, at the battle of the Nivelle, where his horse was killed under him; at the battle of the Nive, and the battle of Toulouse, where he was again wounded.[2]

At the end of the war in 1814 Burgh was made KCB and KTS, and received a company in the Grenadier guards.[2]

Political career

Burgh was returned to parliament for Carlow County in 1818, a seat he held until 1826,[1][3] and then represented Queenborough between 1826 and 1830.[1][4] He held office under Lord Liverpool as Surveyor-General of the Ordnance between 1820 and 1827. In 1826 he succeeded his second cousin William Downes, 1st Baron Downes, as second Baron Downes according to a special remainder in the letters patent. As this was an Irish peerage it did not entitle him to an automatic seat in the House of Lords and he was able to remain a member of the House of Commons. However, in 1833 he was elected an Irish Representative Peer and entered the House of Lords.[1][5] In 1860 he was appointed a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath.[6]

On the retirement of the Duke of Wellington from political life, Lord Downes also retired, and occupied himself with the life of a country gentleman. He became in due course major-general on 10 January 1837, lieutenant-general on 9 November 1846, colonel of the 54th foot 1845–50, [2] colonel of the 29th regiment on 15 August 1850, full general on 20 June 1854, and was made G.C.B. in 1869.

Downes died at Bert House, Athy, County Kildare, on 26 July 1863.[2]


Lord Downes was twice married. He married firstly Maria, daughter of Walter Bagenal, in 1815. They had two daughters:

After her death in August 1842 he married secondly Christopheria, daughter of James Buchanan and widow of John Willis Fleming of North Stoneham Park, in 1846. There were no children from this marriage. She died in October 1860. Lord Downes died in July 1864, aged 75. The barony became extinct on his death as he had no sons.[1]



 "Burgh, Ulysses Bagenal". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. 

Military offices
Preceded by
Sir John Byng, 1st Earl of Strafford
Colonel of the 29th (Worcestershire) Regiment of Foot
Succeeded by
James Simpson
Preceded by
Sir Henry Sheehy Keating
Colonel of the 54th (West Norfolk) Regiment of Foot
Succeeded by
William Alexander Gordon
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Henry Bruen
Robert Anthony Latouche
Member of Parliament for County Carlow
With: Henry Bruen
Succeeded by
Henry Bruen
Thomas Kavanagh
Preceded by
George Peter Holford
Lord Frederick Bentinck
Member of Parliament for Queenborough
With: John Capel
Succeeded by
William Holmes
Sir Philip Durham
Political offices
Preceded by
Sir Robert Moorsom
Surveyor-General of the Ordnance
Succeeded by
Sir Edward Owen
Peerage of Ireland
Preceded by
William Downes
Baron Downes
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