Bellew, Richard Montesquieu (1803–80), politician, was born 10 February 1803 at Barmeath, second son among three children of Sir Edward Bellew (qv), catholic activist and 6th baronet of Barmeath Castle, Dunleer, Co. Louth, and Mary Anne Bellew (née Strange; d. 1837) of Rockwell Castle, Co. Kilkenny. Having attended the school of a Mr Morris, he entered TCD on 15 October 1821 and was admitted to the King's Inns in 1824. After the passing of catholic emancipation, Bellew, a staunch repealer, believed that his family's estate and standing entitled them to a parliamentary seat, and he stood for Co. Louth at the general election of 1830. The sitting MP, Alexander Dawson (1771–1831), and Richard Lalor Sheil (qv) also contested the seat, splitting the catholic–radical vote three ways. Sheil regarded Bellew's intervention as a betrayal and their supporters clashed violently on several occasions. Although Sheil beat Bellew into fourth place, the split in the catholic vote meant that neither was elected. Sheil stood elsewhere in 1832 and, with the repeal issue uppermost, Richard's elder brother Sir Patrick Bellew (1798–1866), 1st Baron Bellew and MP for Co. Louth (1831–2, 1834–7), stood aside to allow Richard to be elected. He held the Co. Louth seat (1832–52, 1859–65). In 1852 he stood down in favour of Tristram Kennedy (qv), a tenant right candidate, and in 1857 he was defeated by a conservative. A firm supporter of the whigs, he was a lord of the treasury (1847–52) and DL for Co. Louth; in 1865 he was appointed a poor law commissioner and a paid member of the Irish local government board. He was a reformer, in favour of the secret ballot, shorter parliaments, and allowing dissenters to graduate from the universities; he also supported the abolition of tithes and the appropriation of Church of Ireland property for public benefit. He expressed these advanced views in moderate terms and was a respected figure at Westminster. However, he was criticised by nationalists for distancing himself from O'Connell (qv) and for his unbending loyalty to the whigs, even after their inadequate response to the famine and their passing of the anti-catholic ecclesiastical titles bill, 1851. After several years of poor health, which prevented him from carrying out his public duties, he died 8 January 1880 in Dublin, and was buried in the family vault at Barmeath. He was well known for his benevolence and generosity towards the poor, who turned out in large numbers for his funeral.
He married (1827) Mary (d. 1828), daughter of John Lalor of Cranagh.