Bathe, James (d. 1570), chief baron of the exchequer, was a relation of Sir Thomas Bathe, Lord Louth. He entered the Middle Temple in 1522, becoming master of the revels two years later. Appointed chief baron of the exchequer on 24 March 1535, he continued to hold this post until his death, serving four monarchs in the process. He was also a member of the Irish privy council for these years. A number of his political associates played a prominent role in the Silken Thomas rebellion in 1535, and Bathe was suspected of treason. Nonetheless, he became an adviser to Lord Deputy Grey (qv), who in 1539 sent him to brief Thomas Cromwell on the divisions within the Irish administration. He returned to Ireland in 1540.
Said to have professed the catholic faith in private, Bathe nonetheless profited from the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII, receiving many grants of land. In 1545 he was residing at Drimnagh Castle, near Dublin, his wife, Elizabeth, being the widow of its late owner, Robert Barnewall, and in 1553 he moved residence to Drumcondra, also near Dublin. He was confirmed in office by Queen Mary on 3 September 1553 and by Queen Elizabeth I on 18 November 1559, taking the oath of supremacy on 18 February 1560. He was appointed a commissioner for ecclesiastical causes in 1564 and was also named to numerous commissions of the court of wards. It appears his house was burgled in 1560: a Dublin spinster, Anne Walshe, was pardoned on 15 May 1560, having been indicted for stealing a candlestick in Drumcondra belonging to Bathe. Although he attended most privy council meetings and was a diligent administrator, he exerted little influence over government policy. Bathe died shortly before 6 February 1570. His son, John (qv), became chancellor of the exchequer in 1577, and his daughter married Sir Lucas Dillon (qv), who succeeded his father-in-law as chief baron of the exchequer.