Finglas, Patrick (d. 1537), judge and advocate of political reform, was admitted to Lincoln's Inn on 29 December 1503, where he acted as Christmas steward in 1506. In 1509 he was a king's sergeant and was described as being of Piercetown, Co. Meath. He was appointed second justice of the common bench in 1519 and chief baron of the Irish exchequer in the following year. In 1520 the new lord lieutenant, the earl of Surrey (qv) sent him to Cardinal Wolsey in England to urge Henry VIII to abandon plans for political reform in Ireland based on conciliation with the Gaelic Irish. In 1524 he received a patent for life, and in 1527 served as a justice of assize.
He became associated with a group of fellow administrators who were anxious to curtail the influence of the Kildare dynasty, which they regarded as having a vested interest in the insecurity of the Pale counties, and who intrigued to have Geraldine supporters removed from office. Their first success was the appointment of Finglas as chief justice of the king's bench on 8 May 1534, an appointment which the 9th earl of Kildare (qv) had tried to prevent from the previous August, following the death of Sir Bartholomew Dillon. Other successes followed, but Finglas's tenure of his post was short-lived. He was forced to resign in 1635 when it was revealed that he had negotiated with ‘Silken Thomas’ (qv), Lord Offaly, to escape the siege of Dublin during the latter's rebellion of 1534–5.
His major contribution to the political reform of Ireland was his ‘Breviate of the getting of Ireland’, written 1533×1535 (printed in Harris's (qv) Hibernica, 1770 edition). In the breviate he traced the decline of the lordship of Ireland, argued the need for a new colonising enterprise to reverse the process, and concluded that the appropriate approach was to reenact the original Anglo-Norman conquest. He proposed that the fortifications built during the conquest and since abandoned, of which he believed there to be as many as 500, should be renovated and granted to Englishmen with military experience who would be charged with establishing new settlements. That his immediate priority was defensive rather than aggressive, and topically concerned with finding an alternative to the traditional protection provided by the Kildares, is shown by his insistence that the policy should be put into effect first in the territories of the O'Byrnes, O'Tooles, and Kavanaghs south-east of Dublin. But the notion of what has been called ‘the nuclear garrison’ (Brady, 249) was a fertile one and Finglas's discourse deeply influenced subsequent writings on the political reform of the Pale and of Ireland. As early as 1637, a proposal ‘for the winning of Leinster’, presented by the Irish council to the king, borrowed freely from the Breviate. Finglas died in the same year and was succeeded by his son Thomas, an active member of the reform group who had already been appointed to minor office in the administration.