Fitzpatrick, John (‘Jack’) (d. p.1693?), army officer and politician, was the son of Florence Fitzpatrick, of Castletown, in the barony of Upper Ossory, Queen's County, who was a member of the commons in the confederate general assembly, 1642–9. The Fitzpatricks had been the ruling family in Upper Ossory for centuries. John's marriage alliances linked him with some of the most powerful members of the Irish catholic nobility and gentry. His first wife, daughter of the confederate commander Colonel Thomas Preston (qv), 1st Viscount Tara, was the widow of Colonel Francis Netterville. His second wife, Elizabeth (‘Eliza’) Butler (d. 1675), widow of Nicholas Purcell, was a sister of James Butler (qv), 1st duke of Ormond, Eleanor, wife of Donough MacCarthy (qv), 1st earl of Clancarty, and Mary, wife of Sir George Hamilton (d. 1679). His other Butler connections in Ireland and elsewhere were extensive.
Fitzpatrick, a royalist, served as a confederate officer in the Leinster army in the 1640s, attaining the rank of colonel. He agreed surrender terms for his regiment on 7 March 1652 and the majority of the Leinster army at Kilkenny followed on 12 May. It was claimed that he was excommunicated from the catholic church for contracting to withdraw his regiment to France in exchange for a guarantee of 6,000 acres of his father's estate. John and his father were among those excluded by the Commonwealth from general pardon in 1652 and he joined the king's service in exile. By 1659 his political prominence and trusted relationship with Ormond was evident, as the marquess instructed Daniel O'Neill (qv) to direct future correspondence for himself or the king through Fitzpatrick at the royal palace in Brussels.
On his return to England from service in Tangier in 1662 Fitzpatrick subscribed to the Irish catholic remonstrance, another indication of an Ormondist alignment. He also helped to raise funds to support Irish agents in London, such as Sir Nicholas Plunkett (qv), to represent the catholic interest in the Irish settlement. Fitzpatrick himself was restored to his lands by personal proviso in the acts of settlement (1662) and explanation (1665). His political prominence developed further throughout the 1660s by means of his association with Ormond's family and faction and his increasing opposition to Colonel Richard Talbot (qv). The connection with Ormond continued after the duke left the Irish viceroyalty in 1669, and Fitzpatrick maintained his standing in Dublin and within the catholic interest through his close friendship with John Berkeley (qv), Irish lord lieutenant (1670–72), and his secretary, Sir Ellis Leighton (qv), and his patronage of Oliver Plunkett (qv), archbishop of Armagh (1669–81), whom he supported financially from 1669 until the popish plot crisis. His relationship with Plunkett brought him into contention with Archbishop Peter Talbot (qv), the primate's great rival. Fitzpatrick did not overtly support the catholic petition of Richard Talbot for a review of the Irish settlement, and there appears to have been a conflict of interest between the two men. Plunkett linked Fitzpatrick's political power with that of Colonel Talbot, describing the colonels as the ‘two outstanding laymen’ in Ireland in the ‘management of public and private affairs and in the great credit they enjoy at court’ (Hanly (ed.), 128).
Fitzpatrick's loyalties were clearly varied and he managed to maintain an interest in several opposing factions in Irish politics in the early 1670s. Despite his links with Ormond, and his own subscription to the catholic remonstrance of 1661, he supported Peter Geanor, guardian of the Franciscans in Dublin, and the church hierarchy as they disciplined the remonstrant clergy. Fitzpatrick's position was such that he was described as Peter Walsh's (qv) ‘mortal enemy’ (Hanly (ed.), 152), and Plunkett and Geanor's ‘trusty friend’ (Anthony Gearnon to Walsh, 13 Sept. 1670, Bodl., Carte MS 45, f. 376). No other Irish catholic had more influence with Berkeley than Fitzpatrick, and he used his position to secure many favours for himself and prominent members of the catholic clergy. Plunkett, for instance, was given permission to open a Jesuit public school in his diocese and was also granted a passport to enable him to travel unhindered throughout Ireland, which was a privilege unheard of in more than a century. Berkeley also agreed to allow a meeting of the catholic bishops in Dublin in June 1670. At this stage in his career Plunkett regarded Fitzpatrick as a devout catholic and a powerful friend. His support for the catholic clergy was such that Archbishop Baldeschi, secretary of Propaganda Fide, wrote to him, on behalf of Cardinal Barberini, in 1670 and 1671, to encourage him to further good works.
Despite great animosity between Ormond and Berkeley, Fitzpatrick maintained his friendships with both parties and kept the duke informed of events at Dublin castle, in particular the activities of their common rivals, the Talbots. Unfortunately for Fitzpatrick, his letters to Ormond and secretary Arlington in London were copied and sent back to Peter Talbot in Dublin, and Fitzpatrick found himself confronted and harangued by Talbot regarding their contents. However, his close relationships with Berkeley and Archbishop Plunkett, together with the conflicts between Talbot and both parties, protected his position. His association with Ormond enabled him to ascertain the duke's opinion on certain issues and advise other members of the catholic interest accordingly. He had business links with Roger Boyle (qv), earl of Orrery, and his nephew, Richard Jones (qv), earl of Ranelagh, and in the latter's undertaking to manage Irish finances for the king for five years from 1671 £2,000 was set aside for Colonel Fitzpatrick. He was also granted a king's letter for remittal of his quit rent in 1670. His political influence during Berkeley's viceroyalty was certainly significant.
Fitzpatrick continued to enjoy considerable favour during the administration of Henry Capel (qv), earl of Essex. In 1673, despite the end of the period of catholic toleration following the address of the house of commons in England to the king, he remained in a position of authority, empowered to sign firearms licences for other prominent members of the catholic interest. His political profile was such that when the catholic bishop of Killaloe, John O'Molony (qv), brought about a reconciliation between colonels Talbot and Fitzpatrick and archbishops Plunkett and Talbot (four of the most influential catholics in Ireland) Essex and Ormond were deeply concerned.
Fitzpatrick maintained his close ties with Ormond, and when the duke returned to the Irish viceroyalty in 1677 he was among several Irish catholics to receive an honorary doctorate of the University of Oxford. Despite his influence, or perhaps because of it, he was embroiled in the popish plot crisis. He was variously accused of corresponding with Colonel Thomas Blood (qv) and being involved in a French–Irish conspiracy. At first, in March 1679, he was confined to his house but was subsequently forced into exile in Europe. His stay in Brussels was cut short when the duke of York (himself in exile) ordered him to leave the city. In 1680 Fitzpatrick allegedly converted to protestantism, a development that provoked Plunkett to declare that he was ‘ever yet a worldling’ (Hanly (ed.), 128). There is no evidence to suggest that Fitzpatrick's conversion was based on anything other than expediency. When the popish plot and exclusion crisis subsided he returned to political prominence in London and Dublin. His favour with the king's mistress, the duchess of Portsmouth, was greatly resented at court by the earls of Rochester and Sunderland. It was Fitzpatrick who proposed and promoted the idea of a commission of grace in 1684, which he believed would be advantageous to the king and all concerned.
Fitzpatrick's political power was eclipsed by Richard Talbot following the succession of James II (qv) in 1685. It is difficult to ascertain the exact date on which he died. He certainly served as an officer in James's Irish army from 1689. A Colonel Fitzpatrick was involved in an attack on Castle-in-Park, Kinsale, in October 1690, and was reportedly wounded at the battle of Landon in 1693. Fitzpatrick's papers are held in the NLI.