Ouseley, Gideon (1762–1839), methodist preacher, was born 24 February 1762 at Kiltecacley, Dunmore, Co. Galway, the eldest son of John Ouseley of Dunmore and his wife, Elizabeth, née Surrage, of Tuam, Co. Galway. The family had settled in Ireland in 1625. His father directed him towards a career in the church and, though he failed to enter TCD because of an inadequate knowledge of Greek, he was taught by a private tutor, Dr Robinson. The family moved to live at an estate that his father had inherited in Roscommon. At twenty-one, he married Harriet Wills of Wills Grove, and they lived on an estate provided by her father. A licentious lifestyle diminished his fortune, and a dispute over his estate forced a return to Dunmore.
The coincidence of a severe gunshot wound that cost him the sight of his right eye and the arrival to the area in 1791 of a party of methodist soldiers from the 4th royal Irish dragoon guards brought him to a reappraisal of his dissolute lifestyle. Under their influence, as well as through the ministry of John Hurly and David Gordon, preachers of the Athlone methodist circuit, he became a devout methodist. In 1792 he became an itinerant preacher and in the following year he and his wife opened a girls’ school in Sligo. After the suppression of the 1798 rebellion he was appointed, along with Charles Graham (1750–1824), by the Irish methodist conference as missionary to the Irish-speaking population in Ulster, although he often travelled to preach as far south as Tipperary or Cork.
Much of his preaching took place at fairs, markets or in the fields. He spoke Irish fluently and preached to protestants and catholics alike. Sometimes received with derision and even violence, on other occasions he won his audience by singing hymns to old Irish tunes. He wrote a range of pamphlets, most of which were directed to catholics. These included A short defence of the old religion; or of pure Christianity against certain novelties (1812), and one addressed to Daniel O'Connell (qv), Letters in defence of the Roman Catholics of Ireland, in which is opened the real source of their many injuries and of Ireland's sorrows (1829). He also wrote poetry in Irish, some of which was reproduced by William Campbell. He died 13 May 1839 in Dublin and was buried at Mount Jerome cemetery, Harold's Cross, Dublin. His wife died 12 February 1853.
Gideon's younger brother Ralph Ouseley (1772–1842), army officer, was born at Kiltecacley, Dunmore, Co. Galway. On 25 November 1794 he was appointed lieutenant in the Leicester fencible infantry. In 1798 he commanded a detachment at the defeat of Gen. Gerard Lake's (qv) troops in Castlebar and helped to force the surrender of the French at Ballinamuck (8 September 1798). In 1803 he commanded the grenadier company during Robert Emmet's (qv) insurrection and in the following year he joined the 76th regiment to go to India. He joined the royal African corps in 1805, and then joined the staff of the army depot at the Isle of Wight in 1807.
In 1809 he assumed a more continuous position in the army when he entered the Portuguese service as a major in the 18th infantry. He served in the campaigns of 1810–12, became a lieutenant in 1813, and in that same year commanded the 8th Portuguese regiment in a successful assault on a French position in front of Urda. He was carried from the field after the battle, having been bayoneted in the chest and struck in the stomach by a musket ball. He was awarded the peninsular gold medal for his efforts and was appointed major.
The king of Portugal then gave him the rank of lieutenant colonel and made him a knight in the order of the Tower and the Sword. In 1817 he went to Rio de Janeiro and raised the 1st regiment, which he commanded in the capture of Pernambuco. Later that year he was promoted to the rank of colonel. In 1818 a ship he was sailing back to England was taken by pirates but he is credited with rescuing dispatches and bringing them safely to shore. Although he retired from the British army in 1825, he attained the rank of major general in the army of Portugal.
On a visit to England in 1834, he was convicted at the Middlesex assizes of violent assault on the brother of a woman from whom he had rented rooms. He was accused also of making improper advances on a female servant in the course of his stay and was fined £100. He died in Lisbon on 3 May 1842, a contributory factor being the remnants of the injuries sustained almost thirty years previously at Urda. In 1956 a group of medals and orders awarded to him for service in the peninsular war made £260 at auction, and a medal struck to commemorate the taking of Louisburgh in 1798 made £290.