Dawson Bates

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The Right Honourable
Sir Dawson Bates, Bt
Minister of Home Affairs
In office
7th June 1921 – 6th May 1943
Member of the Northern Ireland Parliament
for Belfast East
Belfast, Victoria (1929–1945)
In office
1921–1945
Personal details
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

Sir Richard Dawson Bates, 1st Baronet, Kt, OBE, PC, JP, DL (23 November 1876 – 10 June 1949), also known as Sir Dawson Bates (as knight bachelor [1]), was an Ulster Unionist Party member of the Northern Ireland House of Commons.

Born in Strandtown, Belfast, son of Richard Dawson Bates, solicitor and Clerk of the Crown, and Mary Dill. His father's father, 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.[2] He toured Northern Ireland, working hard to build up the Unionist Party, while portraying all Roman Catholics as traitors.[3]

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.[2]

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.[2]

Bates was a director and president of Glentoran Football Club.[4]

Sources and reading[edit]

  1. ^ the peerage
  2. ^ a b c "Bates, Sir (Richard) Dawson", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  3. ^ John F. Harbinson, The Ulster Unionist Party, 1882-1973, p.51
  4. ^ 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
Preceded by
New constituency
Member of Parliament for Belfast Victoria
1929–1945
Succeeded by
Robert Alexander
Party political offices
Preceded by
T. H. Gibson
Secretary of the Ulster Unionist Council
1906–1921
Succeeded by
Wilson Hungerford
Political offices
Preceded by
New position
Minister of Home Affairs
1921–1943
Succeeded by
William Lowry
Baronetage of the United Kingdom
New title
Granted by
King George VI
Baronet
(of Magherabuoy)
1937 – 1949
Succeeded by
John Dawson Bates