Mr Dunn BL in Love, 1836

The object of Mr Dunn’s affections, the Honourable Miss Anne de Burgh, later Countess of Clonmell

From the Warder and Dublin Weekly Mail, 30 July 1836:


Yesterday an investigation was entered into by magistrates of the Blackrock petty sessions in Kingstown, relative to the alleged misconduct of Mr Richard Dunne (more commonly spelt Dunn), a barrister, residing at N.1 Clare Street, Dublin, against whom the Right Honourable Lord Downes preferred a charge, for annoying himself and family, and particularly the Honourable Miss Burgh, daughter of Lord Downes. 

His lordship, finding the conduct of Mr Dunne becoming so insupportable and frequent, considered it advisable and necessary to apply to restrain his conduct – for it would even be too long a period to wait till the petty sessions arrived.  The investigation was accordingly held yesterday – Mr Dunne having been served with the usual summons to attend.

Miss Helen Lowe (governess to the family of Lord Downes) was examined.  She stated that on the 18th of the month, as she and the Honourable Miss Burgh were walking in Kingstown (where Lord Downes resides in the Royal Hotel), they were accosted by Mr Dunne, who said something to Miss Burgh, which she (Miss Lowe) did not understand; but which, she presumed was impertinent and offensive, as Miss Burgh appeared alarmed and indignant.  Miss Lowe further stated that upon the 20th instant she was addressed while walking in Kingstown, by Mr Dunne, who asked her ‘How was her pretty young friend today,’ and she was obliged to retreat into the Royal Hotel, being apprehensive of personal insult and danger.

Hayes Royal Hotel, Kingstown, around the time of these events. Now the Royal Marine Hotel, Dun Laoghaire.

Lord Downes was then examined.  His lordship stated that he being aware of the annoying and insulting conduct of Mr Dunne, left directions at the hotel to intercept any letters from Mr Dunne to Miss Burgh, and in pursuance of those orders, epistles of an amatory nature, bouquets of flowers, and newspapers, in which declarations of love were written, directed to Miss Burgh, were intercepted by the servants.  Mr Dunne had even gone so far as to propose for the young lady. 

Upon the 22nd inst. his Lordship met Mr Dunne in town, and threatened to bring him to the police-office, but on receiving the promise of Mr Dunne to conduct himself more respectfully towards Miss Burgh in future, he permitted him to pass on.  His Lordship felt himself obliged to resort to the protection of the magistrates, as he feared that Mr Dunne would provoke a breach of the peace upon his part or his servants.  Miss Burgh expressed herself to her father, that she not only discouraged the address of Mr Dunne, but felt as if relieved from the violence of a mad dog when proceedings were taken against him.

General Ulysses de Burgh, 2nd Baron Downes. The first – but not the last – Victorian papa to be driven to distraction by Mr Dunn!

The informations of Lord Downes and Miss Lowe were taken, and the magistrates directed Mr Dunne to give bail himself in the sum of £200.  This Mr Dunne refused to do – he derided the authority of the magistrates.  Their worships felt it necessary to commit him to Kilmainham in default of bail, and he was immediately conveyed to town by a party of the constabulary police. He, however, solicited the serjeant of the police to permit him to see the magistrates of the Head-Police-Office, and the serjeant complied with his request.  He then offered to tender bail, but the magistrates declined receiving it until Mr Dunne had been conveyed to Kilmainham, in pursuance of the order of the petty sessions magistrates.  Two carriages were procured, in which Mr Dunne and his bail (Messrs. Hodges and McNally) were conveyed to Kilmainham, where, pro forma, the recognizances were effected.”

Mr Dunn, from Leitrim, was still to be found in Dublin in April of the following year, when he, along with many other barristers, signed a petition in honour of a deceased secretary of the Mendicity Institution.   In August 1837 he appeared as witness in the once-important libel case of O’Donnell v O’Dwyer, giving evidence regarding a statement made to him in the Hall of the Four Courts by the defendant, one of his solicitors. Though Mr Dunn had been robed at the time, the statement had been made to him in a non-professional capacity, so that privilege did not apply.

Miss Burgh married John Scott, 3rd Earl of Clonmell (grandson of that former Lord Chief Justice of the King’s Bench known as ‘Copperface Jack’) in April 1838.

The site of the former Royal Hotel today.

Did Mr Dunn languish, pine and die?  He did not!  By the autumn of 1838, Mr Dunn had moved on – to another beautiful and eligible young lady residing at a different seaside hotel!

Read the next instalment of Mr Dunn’s romantic history here!

Author: Ruth Cannon BL

Irish barrister sharing the history of the Four Courts, Dublin, Ireland, and other Irish courts.

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