Bathe (Bath), Sir John (d. 1630), politician, was the youngest son, of the three sons and one daughter, of John Bathe of Drumcondra, chancellor of the Irish exchequer, and his first wife, Eleanor, daughter of Jenico Preston, 3rd Viscount Gormanston; he had three half-brothers and two half-sisters from his father's second marriage. He was admitted to the Middle Temple on 28 July 1595. He had inherited some property on his father's death in 1586, and in 1599 he received a formal transfer of the bulk of the family's extensive properties in Co. Dublin, centred on Drumcondra castle, from his eldest surviving brother, the linguist William Bathe (qv), when the latter entered the Society of Jesus.
Bathe was one of the signatories of the Pale-based petition of 19 December 1605 protesting against the government's use of ‘mandates’ to enforce religious conformity. By 1610 he had travelled to Spain, and on 29 July the exiled Hugh O'Neill (qv), earl of Tyrone, urged Philip III to employ him as a diplomatic agent to England. Though he was not in fact sent, he was awarded a monthly pension by the Spanish, for secret services. In 1615 his request to return to Ireland on family business was seen by some in Spain as an opportunity to gain detailed information on the state of Ireland; at that time he was regarded as one of those exiles who pressed the favourable prospects of Spanish-backed insurrection in Ireland. His request was denied, but he visited Ireland at some point in the next few years, perhaps in association with the confirmation of his Irish lands given by patents of 8 March and 24 April 1617. By 12 April 1618 Archbishop Florence Conry (qv) was warning Philip III of rumours that Bathe had been forwarding information from Spain to the Dublin authorities and noted as suspicious his ease of access to leading officials in Ireland on his recent trip; he suggested that he should not be admitted to court, a recommendation backed by the Spanish council of state on 19 May 1618.
On 16 July 1618 he was responsible for the death of Donal O'Sullivan Beare (qv), following a quarrel. He appears to have been arrested as a result, and was perhaps still in detention two years later. Possibly banished, he was in England by 1623, and was knighted on 19 August by James I. By 9 April 1624, when he was described as a gentleman of the privy chamber (a position he is recorded as still holding on 27 April 1627), he was awarded £300 by the king, and was later granted a patent for green wax. He did not, however, regard these as adequate rewards for his services, among which he seems to have included the killing of O'Sullivan.
In 1625 Bathe was involved in informal talks with a member of Charles I's government concerning an alternative policy to be adopted towards the catholic Old English of Ireland. Stressing their loyal tradition, he urged the replacement of the religiously exclusive oath of supremacy for land titles, office or the practice of law, and the participation of the Old English in trained bands for Irish defence. Sent to Ireland in September 1625, he won funding for the Irish standing army from representatives of the Pale, and returned to London to propose the solicitation of funds from other groups. In early 1626 the trained band scheme was scotched by the Dublin administration of Lord Falkland, but Bathe and the earl of Westmeath (qv), Richard Nugent (1583–1642), pressed ahead for civil concessions in return for funds, securing in September 1626 Charles's ‘matters of grace and bounty’ centred on a new oath of allegiance. He had, however, lost touch with opinion among his constituency, where awareness of government distrust had spread and advocacy of the need for a more certain security of land titles had grown. Bathe faded from the ongoing negotiations leading to the concession of the Graces of 1628. In 1626 he had faced accusations in England based on his Spanish contacts and his sheltering, in London in 1624, of Irish Capuchins, including Francis Nugent (qv) and Edward Bathe, possibly a younger brother. He harboured Capuchin friars again in 1629. On 27 April 1627 the Venetian ambassador in London reported Bathe's offer to take between 2,000 and 4,000 Irish soldiers into Venetian service. By 1 June 1627 Philip IV of Spain reported the receipt of information from Bathe on military deployments in Ireland and the possibilities for insurrection. In 1630 he was awarded ecclesiastical property in Ireland by Charles I, in exchange for the unpaid residue of a 1625 award of £2,100, but ran into problems with Archbishop James Ussher (qv) in securing the grant.
Bathe married twice: his first wife was Janet, daughter of Thomas Dillon, chief justice of Connacht, and his second wife was Barbara, daughter of Alderman Patrick Gough of Dublin. He had two sons and three daughters from his first marriage, and three sons from his second. His death was reported in October 1630. Bathe's political commitments remain ambiguous, though his acting as a double agent for the English crown perhaps appears the strongest possibility. The editor of one of his brother's works reported in 1611 that Bathe had assisted in its compilation, and that his prodigious memory had won for him the appellation of Don Juan de la Gran Memoria.