Roche, Maurice (1597–1670), 3rd Viscount Fermoy , politician, was son and heir of David Roche (qv) and Joan, daughter of James FitzRichard, Viscount Buttevant. Maurice assumed a leading role in provincial politics at an early age, gaining a reputation as an ardent supporter of catholic causes. The lord deputy, Henry Cary (qv), Viscount Falkland, imprisoned him in Dublin castle in 1624 as a result of his activities, describing him as ‘a popular man among the papists of Munster’ (CSPI, 1615–25, 534). After the death of his father in 1635, Maurice was accused by Lady Dowdall of making disloyal comments and hauled before the court of castle chamber by the lord deputy, Thomas Wentworth (qv). He was fined £10,000, imprisoned for a while, and then banished from Ireland. Six years later, Fermoy had an opportunity to exact revenge for this harsh treatment, acting as a witness in Wentworth's trial. In May 1641, the same month as Wentworth's execution, he finally received permission to return home, although the question of the fine remained undecided. After the outbreak of the Ulster rebellion in October 1641, Fermoy quickly made common cause with the insurgents, organising resistance to the Dublin administration throughout Munster. In early 1642, however, Richard Butler (qv), 3rd Viscount Mountgarret, led a large rebel army into the province to attack the loyalist enclave around the city of Cork. Fermoy clashed with Mountgarret over the question of precedence, a dispute dating back to the 1613 parliament, leading on this occasion to the withdrawal of Mountgarret and his forces.
Throughout the 1640s the rivalry between these two men dominated confederate Munster politics, with Donough MacCarthy (qv), 2nd Viscount Muskerry, backing Mountgarret, and William Bourke (qv), 5th Baron Castleconnell, and Theobald Bourke, 1st Baron Brittas, supporting their kinsman Fermoy. This quarrel undermined the confederate war effort in the province, a fact exploited to great advantage by Murrough O'Brien (qv), Lord Inchiquin, the protestant commander in Cork. On the national stage, Fermoy was elected to the first three confederate supreme councils, and attended the general assemblies on a regular basis. The rise to prominence of Muskerry in confederate government circles after 1643, however, effectively reduced Fermoy's influence in Kilkenny. The crisis in 1646 over the peace treaty with the royalist lord lieutenant, James Butler (qv), marquess of Ormond, brought about the temporary downfall of Muskerry, Mountgarret, and their allies. The papal nuncio, GianBattista Rinuccini (qv), appointed Fermoy to the new supreme council in September 1646, although he failed to gain reelection at the subsequent general assembly in January 1647.
The forces of the English parliament captured the family home in Castletown Roche in 1649 after a valiant defence by Fermoy's wife Ellen, daughter of John Power, Lord Power. She was subsequently executed for allegedly shooting an unknown individual during that attack, leaving Fermoy with four young daughters to raise. Undeterred, he raised an army with Boetius McEgan (qv), bishop of Ross, but their defeat by Roger Boyle (qv), Lord Broghill, at Macroom (10 April 1650) effectively ended organised confederate resistance in south Munster. Outlawed at Kinsale in October 1643, Fermoy was also excepted from pardon by the Cromwellians in August 1652, and his estates (said to be worth £50,000) were divided among the protestant victors. Although subsequently assigned 2,500 acres in Mayo in the transplantation process, he never actually received possession of the lands. After the restoration of Charles II in 1660, Fermoy petitioned in vain for the return of his estates. He died in relative poverty in 1670, and was succeeded by his son and heir David.