Denis Bowes (c1835 - unknown )

Tipperary born Denis Bowes arrived in Northcote around 1859 with his wife Sarah Bowes (formerly Kilcary). Shortly after their arrival their daughter Sarah was born in. Bowes owned a block of land down in Westgarth along the Merri Creek and High Street and across from the newly built Anglican Church of England.

Bowes commenced building a hotel, to be called the Roscrea on his land. His initial application for a liquor license was rejected on the grounds that the hotel was not yet complete. However by April next year the hotel was in business despite some local opposition who felt that the area was already over-serviced by hotels. At this stage there was the Northcote Arms and Scotch Thistle hotels immediately across the Merri Creek and the Peacock Inn on top of Rucker’s Hill.

Life seemed to be progressing well for Bowes. Around 1863 or 1864 he took over the license of the Scotch Thistle. As publicans could only hold the license for one hotel at a time he would have transferred his license to someone else at this time, possibly his wife Sarah. 

Bowes renamed the Scotch Thistle as the Roscrea Hotel. Now two Roscrea hotels faced each other across the Merri Creek. On 27th December 1865 an inquest was held at one of the Roscrea hotels into the deaths of three boys who all drowned in the Merri Creek on Christmas Day. They were two brothers Samuel and William Carne and their cousin Henry. One of the boys got into difficulties in a deep pool just north of the hotel and the other boys died trying to assist him. Their ages ranged from 13 to 17 years old.   

The following year Bowes transferred the licence of the Roscrea (formerly Scotch Thistle) to James Hennessy. Bowes now established himself in a new hotel at 34 Bourke Street, renamed the Roscrea Hotel of course. Sadly his daughter Margaret died there and was buried in the Melbourne General Cemetery. She was only two years old.

The next few years would see Bowes was on the move again and again. In July 1868 he was transferring the licence of his hotel the Roscrea in Brunswick Street Fitzroy to Thomas Mulcahey.  Less than two months later he was seeking a licence for the house he was renting at 106 Bourke Street Melbourne.  Once again the new premises was to be called the Roscrea.  

In 1870 Bowes was recorded at being at the Roscrea Hotel in Pascoevale where he dissolved his partnership with John William Cowell, Cowell taking over the running of the hotel. By now things seemed to going seriously off the rails for Bowes and by the next year he found himself under arrest.

In May 1871 Sarah Bowes found herself charged with larceny after selling some items of furniture from the Roscrea Hotel in Essendon. Sarah stated to the court that she had no idea her husband had transferred ownership of the furniture to accountant H. L. Woolf in ley of debts incurred. She also stated that her husband had left her at the start of the year. During the trial Sarah argued that they had been living apart for some time and she sold the property in ignorance. The jury found her guilty but with a strong recommendation for mercy. She got two months jail.

The judge commented that had Denis Bowes been there to stand up for his wife he would have been lenient but unfortunately Bowes did not appear. Sarah told the court she believed that he may be in Seymour.

A warrant was issued for Denis Bowes arrest on a charge of wife desertion. Believed to be employed as a miner he was described as

“..being 35 years old, 5 feet 10 inches tall, stout build, full face, fresh complexion, brown hair and whiskers inclined to sandy, full beard and moustache, light eyes, straight nose. “

Arrested at Sevastopol on the 29th April 1871, Bowes was released when the Police prosecutor failed to appear in court. After this lucky escape Bowes seemingly vanished from sight. 

DISTRICT QUARTERLY LICENSING MEETING. (1857, December 3).  The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.:1848-1856), p.5
DISTRICT LICENSING SESSION (1860, April 18). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.:1848-1856), p.1
LICENSING SESSION (1861, April 17). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.:1848-1856), p.5
INQUEST AT THE ROSCREA (1865, December 27). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.:1848-1856), p.5
PUBLICANS’ LICENSE (1866, April 10). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.:1848-1856), p.10
FUNERAL NOTICES (1866, December 8). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.:1848-1856), p.8
PUBLICANS’ LICENSE (1867, September 10). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.:1848-1856), p.5
PUBLICANS’ LICENSE (1868, July 1). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.:1848-1856), p.8
POLICE. CITY COURT (1871, May 9). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.:1848-1856), p.6
MELBOURNE CRIMINAL SESSIONS (1871, May 20). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.:1848-1856), p.6