Bellew (Bedlowe), James (d. 1606), merchant and mayor of Dublin, was the son of John Bellew and Anne, daughter of Edward Dowdall, of Co. Louth. Most likely he was born in Louth, but by 1560 he had moved to Dublin. A wealthy merchant trading with Spain, he was very active in municipal politics. He served as sheriff of Dublin, a prerequisite for high civic office, in 1560–61, during which time he accompanied government forces defending the Pale from the raids of Shane O'Neill (qv). He was made an alderman of the city about 1564 and was mayor in 1572–3 and treasurer about 1585. However, in 1589 he was deprived of the rank of alderman, possibly on religious grounds. Bellew remained a catholic, which caused him problems in the era of the early Reformation. In 1578, in a public service at Christ Church, Dublin, he was forced to renounce numerous ‘errors’, including denying the supremacy of Queen Elizabeth. He was restored as alderman in 1592, serving until his death in 1606, and was mayor once more in 1598–9.
During the Nine Years’ War (1594–1603) between the government and the Gaelic confederation headed by Hugh O'Neill (qv), earl of Tyrone, Bellew was often praised for his efforts in supplying the royal forces. Through his trading activities in Glasgow and Spain, he also provided the government with intelligence on the rebel plans. Embarrassingly, prior to the Nine Years’ War, O'Neill had visited Dublin and dined in Bellew's house, a meeting that his critics in the emerging protestant establishment did not forget. Following the government's victory in the Nine Years’ War, Bellew's catholic faith brought him into conflict with the authorities, and in 1605 he was convicted of non-attendance at Church of Ireland services. Fined and imprisoned, he was released the next year because of ill health, but he died shortly afterwards, in 1606.
As befitting his wealth, Bellew appears to have had a number of residences in Dublin, living in 1585 in a house in Bridge Street leased from the dean and chapter of Christ Church. His house on Wood Quay was destroyed by a quayside explosion of gunpowder 11 March 1597, for which he sought compensation of over £1,000. He also possessed lands in north Co. Dublin. Bellew married Elinor, daughter of Robert Barnewall, of Co. Dublin, with whom he had three sons and five daughters, one of whom, Margaret, married Thomas Plunket, himself an alderman and son of Henry Plunket, also an alderman.