Doyle & McDowell History
"Famous & Infamous Doyles"
A very brief look at the history of Ireland and
the Irish diaspora, with references from historical
records about some of the parts played by members
of the Doyle family.
1850's to the
In Canada Doyles were also prominent. Laurence O'Connor
Doyle (1804-64) was a prominent lawyer, editor and
politician in Nova Scotia. Patrick Doyle (1777-1857) had
several careers, such as being ship's captain, before
becoming a politician and a judge in Newfoundland. In 1837
he was elected to the Newfoundland house of Assembly as a
liberal, however, he did not stand again in 1842. Doyle
was strongly involved in the work of the Benevolent Irish
Society, which did much to alleviate the plight of poor
Irish Catholic immigrants. After 1842 he was appointed
police magistrate for St Johns and was promoted to
stipendary magistrate for the Court of Sessions, a
position he retained until his death in 1857.
Patrick MacDowell (1799-1870) a sculptor of
note, was born in Belfast. Benjamin MacDowell
(1821-1855) of Trinity College, Dublin, was a famous
"character" who might be regarded as the
prototype of the "absent-minded"
A great many Irishmen also made very successful
military careers in British service, including some
Sir John Doyle - Baronet
General Sir John Doyle Bt GCB KCH, raised the
87th Regiment (The Royal Irish Fusiliers) and served at
one time as Private Secretary to the Prince of Wales (who
was later to be crowned as George IV of England). General
Doyle’s war service included the Revolutionary War in
America, Flanders, and Egypt. On 17 May 1801, while
commanding the 12th Light Dragoons, he captured the French
Dromedary Corps in the Libyan Desert. He was created a Baronet
in 1805. King George III wrote of him to the Earl Marshall
as follows, "that his (Doyle’s) zeal and exertions
in our service may be known to posterity". General
Doyle served as Governor of Guernsey from 1802 to 1813.
In 1824 a Sir John Doyle assisted the South
American liberator Bernado O’Higgins.
Sir Francis Doyle, Baronet born in England in
1810. Educated at Eton and Christchurch, Oxford. He was
called to the bar and held offices in the Customs Service.
From 1867 to 1877 he was Professor of poetry at Oxford.
His best known ballads are "The Loss of the
Birkenhead" and "The Private in the Buffs".
Lt. General Sir Charles Doyle KCB GCH KC RCS,
served with the British army in numerous wars; including
the Netherlands, the West Indies, in the Mediterranean, in
Egypt, and in Spain. He was honoured with the Order of
Charles III of Spain and with the French Legion of
Honour. He died in 1842.
Major General Welbore Doyle, Colonel of the 53rd
Regiment in the British Army (The King’s Shropshire
Light Infantry) served throughout the American War;
in Flanders he led the 14th Regiment (The Prince of Wales’
Own West Yorkshire) at Famars; he also led the Stormers
at Valenciennes; and he commanded the Expedition to the
Isle d’Yeo. He also served as Commander-in-Chief and
Acting-Governor of the British Colony of Ceylon
(now known as Sri Lanka) He died in 1897.
The Order of The Bath, awarded to several Doyles
Generals in the British Army.
Major-General Carlo Doyle was born in Warsaw in
1787 (his Godfather was the Emperor). He joined the
British Army’s Coldstream Guards in 1803. He saw war
service in the Peninsula War against Napoleon, and was
present at critical battles for Corunna, Talavera, and
other actions. In 1809 he was mentioned in dispatches to
the Military Secretary of the Commander in Chief in
London, by the Honorable Sir Arthur Wellesley KB (later to
be the Duke of Wellington) who was writing from Castello
Branco. In 1813 he was Military Secretary to Lord
Hastings, the Governor-General of India. He also served in
the campaigns against the Pindaries and Mahrattas in
British Government records show that in 1815
Lt. Colonel Sir John Milley Doyle was granted a
"Coat of Arms" which include representations
of the gold cross with two clasps that was presented
to him by the King in testimony of the royal approbation
of his distinguished military services in Spain and
Portugal. His "Coat of Arms" also includes
representations of the Turkish Order of the Crescent and
that of a Knight Commander of the Portuguese Order of the
Tower and Sword.
While the Great Famine was laying waste to Ireland,
many Doyle men continued the in the Doyle tradition of
military service, and escaped its effects while soldiering
Another Doyle who appears in military records of the
period was Vice Admiral Sir Bentinck Doyle of the
British Royal Navy (died 1843), and he was the father of
Rev. Bentinck Doyle BA, Rector of Chipping
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, in 1867,
the Mayor of Munroe in the American State of Michigan was
About the same time Julia Doyle was killed along with
her husband, Richard Leahy, a active Union and Labour
leader, in Rockfall in Quebec during the 1880s.
In America Sarah Doyle (1830-1922) is best remembered as a
feminist and an educator. Her most notable achievement was
to help fund Brown University's new Women's college in the
Yet another prominent military man of the period was
General Sir Charles Doyle KCMG, was Colonel of the
87th Regiment (The Royal Irish Fusiliers) and finally
commanded the Southern Military District of England as
well holding the post of Lt. Governor of Portsmouth. He
was for sometime also Commander of the forces in Nova
Scotia, and afterwards Lt. Governor of the Canadian
provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia … as well as
Commander of British military forces in British North
America. He had previously distinguished himself as an
officer during war service in the East and West Indies,
and as Assistant Adjutant-General of the 3rd Division of
the British Army during the Crimea War. He had also served
as Assistant Adjutant-General in Ireland, and was
Inspector-General of Militia there. He died in 1883.
Records in London show that Major-General Sir
Francis Doyle was created a Baronet in 1828.
His war service included Flanders and the Battle of
Copenhagen. He also served as the Deputy Lieutenant of the
Tower of London, and as Chairman of the Board of Excise.
His son, Sir Francis Hastings Charles Doyle, Baronet,
was a well-known Barrister-at-Law, and served as
Commissioner of the Customs from 1869 to 1883. He was also
a Professor of Poetry at Oxford University, and is best
remembered as the author of "The Private of the
Buffs" and other poems. His son, Captain Francis
Doyle, of the 2nd Dragoon Guards, served in the Zulu
War of 1879-80. Captain Doyle also served in the Egyptian
War of 1882, but died of his wounds on the 2nd of
The records of Britain's York and Lancaster
Regiment show that Sergeant J. Doyle was awarded the
Distinguished Conduct Medal (Britain's second highest
bravery award) for gallantry in action during the
"Battle at El Teb in 1884 during the Egypt and Sudan
War of 1882 - 1889.
the London Gazette, Tuesday, May 6, 1884:-
received by the British Secretary of State for War from
the General Officer Commanding in Egypt included the
1st York and Lancaster Regiment, a fine
battalion of seasoned soldiers only landed on the evening
of our march to Fort Baker, on the 28th
the action on the 29th February, in which they
took a prominent share, being in the fighting line, the 1st
York and Lancaster gave me great satisfaction by their
steadiness, and by the firmness with which they met and
replulsed the charges of the enemy.
When advancing on the first enemy battery captured,
hand-to-hand fighting ensured.
The battalion was engaged in difficult fighting at
El-Teb and at Tamai, and heavy casualties were suffered by
this battalion. It
is on occasions of repulse and retreat, such as that which
temporarily befell this battalion at Tamai, that the
individual efforts of Officers and men show most clearly
and are of greatest value. One Officer and 15 men where
killed at the right front corner of the battalion’s “square”.
However, they “stood their ground and would not be
forced back.” It is on this account that Sergeant Doyle was mentioned by his Commanding Officer as being
distinguished for gallantry, and was subsequently awarded
An old edition of "Who’s Who" records that Percy
Doyle CB, at one time the British
Minister-Plenipotentiary in Mexico, died in 1887.
Another old edition of "Who’s Who" records
the death of The Right Honourable John Sidney
North Doyle who had been Colonel of the 2nd Battalion
of the Oxfordshire Light Infantry, and who had also been a
Member of Parliament for Oxfordshire from 1852 to 1885.
His widow was the Baroness of North, daughter of the Earl