Acting Judge Advocate North Australia 01/01/1846-31/12/1846
Police Magistrate, Sydney Court of General and Quarter Sessions 01/01/1851-11/02/1857
Crown Prosecutor, Sydney Court of General and Quarter Sessions 12/02/1857-31/12/1858
District Court Judge, Western Police District 01/01/1859-30/09/1861
Chairman, Western Police District Quarter Sessions 01/01/1859-30/09/1861
District Court Judge, Metropolitan and Coast Police District 01/10/1861-31/07/1889
Chairman of Quarter Sessions, Cumberland and Coast District 01/10/1861-31/07/1889
Acting Judge, Supreme Court of New South Wales 01/04/1878-31/12/1881 ?
James Sheen Dowling was born on 2 December 1819 in London, England. He arrived in Sydney on 24 February 1828 on the 'Hooghly' with his parents, Sir James and Maria Dowling, where his father was to take up a position as puisne judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales. James Sheen Dowling was educated under John Dunmore Lang, Joseph Docker, William Cape, at the Sydney College, and after returning to England in 1836, at King's College, London (LLB 1841). Admitted to the Middle Temple in 1840, he was called to the Bar on 24 November 1843. He gained experience in common law, equity pleading and conveyancing and worked for his uncle, Alfred Septimus Dowling at the 'Legal Observer and Solicitor's Journal'. Following his father's death, he returned to Sydney in September 1845. (1)
He was admitted to the New South Wales Bar on 20 October 1845. In 1846 he was appointed acting Judge-Advocate to the new penal colony to be called 'North Australia', at or near what is now Gladstone, Queensland. After the settlement failed, he returned to Sydney where he continued his practice at the Bar and reported for the Sydney Morning Herald. On 1 January 1851, he was appointed Police Magistrate of the City of Sydney, a position he was to occupy until 11 February 1857. It also included the duties of Visiting Magistrate to Darlinghurst Gaol from 10 November 1856. He was appointed Crown Prosecutor for the Court of Quarter Sessions at Sydney on 12 February 1857. (2)
On 1 January 1859 he was appointed District Court Judge for the Western Police District and Chairman of Quarter Sessions, Western District, an area that included Bathurst, Carcoar, Dubbo, Hartley, Molong, Mudgee, and Orange. On 1 October 1861 he was made one of the two District Court Judges for the Metropolitan and Coast Police District and Chairman of Quarter Sessions, Cumberland and Coast District. Metropolitan and Coast District initially included Sydney to Penrith and Windsor, and the South Coast to Eden. In 1866 it expanded to take in the Hunter Region but in 1870 it shed the South Coast area. In 1878 it was renamed the Metropolitan and Hunter District. In 1865, following Alfred Cheeke's rise to the Supreme Court, Dowling became Senior District Court Judge Metropolitan and Coast District. In 1867 he was allowed 12 months leave of absence on half salary from 7 January 1867 to 16 January 1868. Whilst acting for Judge Henry Ralph Francis at Young in 1874, he suffered a serious coach accident near Binalong. He was on leave from 1 February to 30 April and 1 to 30 June. The accident left him with long term impairment. (3) By April 1878 Dowling was occasionally acting as a Supreme Court Judge, a role he appears to have continued in the 1880s. Dowling tendered his resignation in February 1889 due to ill health but was persuaded to take leave from 1 March 1889 to 30 June, when he visited Europe. He eventually retired on 31 July 1889 on a pension and died at his home in Woollahra on 4 May 1902. (4)
1. A R Dowling, 'Dowling, James Sheen (1819-1902)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Online edition, http://www.adb.online.anu.edu/biogs/A040093b.htm cited 11 January 2008; HTE Holt, 'James Sheen Dowling' in A Court Rises: the lives and times of the Judges of the District Court of New South Wales (1859-1959), North Sydney, Law Foundation of New South Wales, 1976, p.27-33; Fred Johns, Johns's Notable Australians and Who's Who in Australasia, Adelaide, the Author, 1908, p.344; 'Dowling, James Sheen (1819-1902)', Australian Encyclopaedia, Sydney, Angus and Robertson, 1958, p.277; The Jurist, 9 December 1843, p.436, at Google Book Search http://books.google.com/books?id=G0cwAAAAIAAJ&printsec=titlepage#PPA436,M cited 21 February 2008; Obituary Daily Telegraph 5 May 1902 as cited in 'The Death of ex-Judge Dowling', Forbes Flyer, Winter 2007, Issue 16, p.3 http://www.forbessociety.org.au/Publications/FFlyer/documents/winter.pdf cited 1 February 2008.
2. Supreme Court; NRS 13664, Roll of Barristers and Solicitors, 1824-1876; SR Fiche 852, p.4A; HTE Holt, op.cit, p.29-33; Colonial Secretary; NRS 1286, Returns of the Colony (Blue Books); 1851, p.360; 1856, pp.368, 428; 1857, pp.298, 458; New South Wales Government Gazette No.1, 3 January 1851, p.2; No.170, 11 November 1856, p.2891; No.21, 13 February 1857, p.263.
3. HTE Holt, op.cit., Public Service Lists (Blue Books), 1859, p.73; 1861, pp.87, 89; 1865, pp.40, 42; 1866, p.40, 42; 1867, p.40, 48; 1868, p.40, 42; 1870, p.44; 1874, p.42; 1878, p.52; NSW Government Gazette No.214, 22 December 1858, p.2253; No.179, 25 July 1861, p.1593; No.261, 16 December 1865, p.2833; No.296, 25 September, 1878, p.3835.
4. HTE Holt, op.cit., NSW Government Gazettes No. 88, 28 March 1878, p.1247; No.342, 23 September 1879, p.4213; No.113, 31 March 1880, p.1509; No.378, 24 September 1880, p.5005; No.112, 25 March 1881, pp.1623-4; No. 144, 8 April 1881, p.2041; No.382, 30 September 1881, p.5000; Public Service Lists (Blue Books), 1889, pp.97, 118.