Fleming, Patrick (Fléimionn, Pádraig) (d. 1678), tory, was the son of James Fleming of Siddan, Co. Meath, who had recovered his estates after the restoration of the monarchy in 1660. Nothing is known of his mother, and his early life remains obscure. According to tradition, Patrick was outlawed after forging a pardon for some retainers, subsequently absconding and eventually becoming a tory; a warrant was issued for his arrest on 8 February 1675. On 30 April 1675, on the orders of the viceroy, Arthur Capel (qv), earl of Essex, he was granted six weeks to remove himself from Ireland. When this time elapsed, Fleming was hunted.
A prominent, active, and destructive tory, Fleming and his followers operated on the Ulster border, becoming associated with Redmond O'Hanlon (qv). Proclaimed (23 August 1676) for assisting O'Hanlon, he was soon after proclaimed alongside him (16 October 1676). A reward of £20 was set for both men, who by now were considered to be partners. Fleming eventually sought the assistance of Archbishop Oliver Plunkett (qv) in obtaining a pardon. Plunkett was sympathetic (both were of Old English stock from Meath), and procured from Essex a safe passage for Fleming out of Ireland. Fleming assured Essex in February that he would leave Ireland for a time. Plunkett intended sending him to London, and gave money to his family while Fleming apparently hid in south Armagh prior to meeting him again. However, at this time O'Hanlon was being hunted by Sir George Rawdon (qv), and this inevitably extended to Fleming. In February 1678 he was ambushed in Iniskeen, Co. Monaghan. Supposedly betrayed by an innkeeper (there were also allegations that he was betrayed by Plunkett), Fleming was attacked by the Ardee soldiery while drinking, and after a struggle he and a number of his followers were killed and beheaded. His head was taken to Lisburn, the bodies were put on display, and as James Butler (qv), duke of Ormond, later commented, ‘a good end was put to that negotiation’ (Ormond MSS, new ser., v, 500). Fleming's wife supposedly learnt of his death via an apparition of his decapitated corpse; soon afterwards, a celebrated Gaelic lament, ‘Mairgne Phádraig Fléimionn’, was composed about him.
A number of papers were found on Fleming: a print of ‘Our Lady's foot’ (a local lucky charm), and a letter – written by Plunkett under a pseudonym – outlining some of the attempts made to assist Fleming. In April 1680, during the preparations for Plunkett's trial in London, it was suggested that Ormond should send a copy of this letter to England; a copy had already been forwarded to Essex by Sir Hans Hamilton. The original, since destroyed, supposedly contained a safe conduct or protection from Ormond, who was to blame Essex for this inevitably embarrassing suggestion, noting that Plunkett's efforts were in train under Essex's government. In November 1680 Edmund Murphy (qv) claimed that James (qv), duke of York, had intended to provide letters of recommendation for Fleming to go to France. The issue of the letter was clearly intended to discredit both Ormond and York.
Fleming, like many tories, became enshrined in folklore, which may have contributed to uncertainties about the facts of his life; the Patrick Fleming of John Cosgrove's Genuine history was supposedly from Athlone and was hanged in Dublin in 1650. However, Fleming remained a potent figure; the lament composed after his death idealised him as a tragic hero sprung from the ranks of the dispossessed, and a victim of treachery whose martial prowess should ideally have been employed in the French or Spanish armies. The cult of Fleming, depicted as a symbol of popular resistance to the new colonial order, remained vibrant well into the eighteenth century.