|The Right Honourable
Sir Dawson Bates, Bt
|Minister of Home Affairs|
7th June 1921 – 6th May 1943
|Member of the Northern Ireland Parliament
for Belfast East
Belfast, Victoria (1929–1945)
|Born||23 November 1876
Belfast, United Kingdom
|Died||20 June 1949
Somerset, United Kingdom
|Political party||Ulster Unionist Party|
|Spouse(s)||Jessie Muriel Cleland|
|Religion||Church of Ireland|
He was born in Strandtown, Belfast, the son of Richard Dawson Bates, solicitor and Clerk of the Crown, and Mary Dill. His paternal grandfather, John Bates (d. 1855), had been a minor figure in the Conservative Party in Belfast, before his duties were discharged on a Chancery Court ruling of maladministration.
Bates was educated at Coleraine Academical Institution. After studying at Queen's College, Belfast, became a solicitor in 1900, in 1908 founding a firm with his uncle - E and R. D. Bates. In 1906 he was appointed Secretary of the Ulster Unionist Council. During this time, he was instrumental in the events of Ulster Day and in the formation of the UVF, organised the Larne gun-running and supported the formation of the Ulster Unionist Labour Association to counter socialism. He toured Northern Ireland, working hard to build up the Unionist Party, while portraying all Roman Catholics as traitors.
Bates stood down as Secretary on his election to Stormont in 1921, where he represented first East Belfast and later Belfast Victoria. In the government of Sir James Craig he was the first Minister for Home Affairs and a member of the Privy Council of Northern Ireland. He introduced the Civil Authorities (Special Powers) Act, but opposed the Ulster Protestant Association. Under his administration, he was accused of gerrymandering, and of intervening to ensure that prison sentences were not imposed on Protestants who attacked Catholics.
Bates was also a Deputy Lord Lieutenant of County Down.
He married Jessie Muriel Cleland, daughter of Sir Charles John Cleland. They had one son, Major Sir John Dawson Bates, 2nd Baronet(an Oxford-educated Wykehamist, d. 1998).
He was appointed OBE in 1919, Knight Bachelor in 1921 and was made a baronet of Magherabuoy, near Portrush, in County Londonderry on 7 June 1937. In his retirement strained financial circumstances and security (he constantly required a police escort) led him to rent Butleigh House, near Glastonbury, Somerset. It was here he died in 1949; Sir Dawson's body was flown back to Ulster for burial at Ballywillan Church of Ireland.
Sources and reading
- "Bates, Sir (Richard) Dawson", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
- John F. Harbinson, The Ulster Unionist Party, 1882-1973, p.51
- Malcolm Brodie (1981), The Story of Glentoran. Belfast:Glentoran Football Club, p. 41
- 'Ireland since 1939' (2006), Henry Patterson
- A history of the Ulster Unionist Party' (2004), Graham Walker
- 'The Ulster Unionist Party, 1882-1973 : its development and organisation' (1973), J F Harbinson
|Parliament of Northern Ireland|
|Member of Parliament for Belfast Victoria
|Party political offices|
T. H. Gibson
|Secretary of the Ulster Unionist Council
|Minister of Home Affairs
|Baronetage of the United Kingdom|
King George VI
1937 – 1949
John Dawson Bates