Teeling, Bartholomew (1774–98), United Irishman and French army officer, was the first of four sons of Luke Teeling (qv), a linen merchant at Lisburn, Co. Antrim, and his wife Mary (née Taaffe). He was a pupil at the local academy of Saumaraz Dubourdieu, where he showed talent in classical and literary studies. An early friendship was with John Byrne (qv), who learnt the linen trade from Luke Teeling and then set himself up in his native, Dundalk, Co. Louth. Byrne and his brother Patrick (qv), members of a long-established catholic merchant family, were Defenders, a catholic secret society that sought radical political change as well as the remedying of local grievances. Teeling seems to have joined his father in the linen trade, for in the spring of 1795 he was admitted to the Lisburn lodge (no. 193) of Freemasons.
His earliest known connection with the United Irishmen dates from November 1796 when he was living at Dundalk and John Hughes (qv) met him at Belfast. From information given by Hughes and by Samuel Turner (qv) (both of whom knew him well and later turned government informers), Bartholomew Teeling was already an active United Irishman and in January 1797 was a member of the United Irish national directory. It is a fair presumption that he had earlier been involved (like the Byrnes and his brother Charles Teeling (qv)), with the Defenders, who in 1796 merged with the United Irishmen. Teeling was the most respected of the catholics who threw in their lot with the United Irishmen in Ulster (generally presbyterians). Like the other Ulstermen he pressed, in the early summer of 1797 (when the effects of the crackdown by the British military commander there, Gerard Lake (qv), were being sorely felt), for an immediate insurrection, while the Leinster men wished to await the arrival of another French military expedition, an earlier one having only just failed to land in Bantry Bay (December 1796).
Fearing arrest, Teeling and Alexander Lowry (qv), towards the end of June 1797, left Ireland for neutral Hamburg, which had become a refuge and a gateway for France for Irish revolutionists. Teeling had a commission from Lord Edward FitzGerald (qv), who headed the United Irish national directory, to pass information to the French government, which he did through the French ambassador in Hamburg. At some time Teeling returned briefly and incognito to Ireland to report to the national directory. By the end of October 1797 he was in Paris, from where he addressed a letter to Arthur O'Connor (qv) in Dublin expressing satisfaction with the United Irish mission in France and stating that French aid for an insurrection was imminent. The letter was seen by Turner in Hamburg and consequently intercepted before it reached O'Connor. Teeling's presence in Paris is noted by Theobald Wolfe Tone (qv) in his diary for 25 November 1797, when Teeling, Tone and four other United Irishmen dined with some French army officers. Just when Teeling obtained a commission in the French army is unclear.
On 16 June 1798 (three weeks after an uprising began in Ireland) Teeling and three other refugees addressed a memoir to the French Directory offering their assistance should the Directory decide to send an army to Ireland. According to Madden (TCD MS 873, f. 13), Teeling was described in an order from General Jean-Joseph Humbert (qv), dated 19 June, as a captain attached to the 14th demi-brigade of light infantry (formerly the Légion des Francs). An expedition under Humbert was decided upon by the Directory. Not until 21 July did Teeling and two other Irishmen who were to accompany Humbert to Ireland, Mathew Tone (qv) and John Sullivan (who had served the French republic in the Vendée), leave Paris for Rochefort on the Atlantic coast. The fleet of three vessels carrying a force of about 1,100 and arms and ammunition for double that number landed at Killala, north Mayo, on 22 August. The town having been secured, Teeling and the other Irish officers organised local recruits, who in number came to equal the French force, and generally liaised between the French and the Irish. Humbert, with Teeling as his aide-de-camp, pressed south and achieved a surprising victory over a larger British force at Castlebar (27th). One of Teeling's roles in this encounter was to approach the British commander, Lake, with an escort and flag, to propose a British surrender. The escort was killed and Teeling made prisoner. Lake received him coolly, refused to surrender and threatened to treat Teeling as a rebel. Teeling rebuffed the threat by pointing out that British officers were held prisoner by Humbert. A conciliatory officer, Francis Hutcheson, brother of Francis Hely-Hutcheson (qv), came forward, apologised for the conduct of his troops, restored the flag and offered Teeling an escort to the French line. Teeling distinguished himself again at Carrignagat, just north of Collooney, Co. Sligo (5 September), capturing a cannon by galloping up to it and shooting dead the gunner, thereby helping to turn back a force of militia led by Charles Vereker (qv). Though Humbert was unable to pursue Vereker and take Sligo town in order to join up with a French force expected further north, he was able to push into Leitrim and beyond. At Ballinamuck, Co. Longford, his army was forced to surrender on 8 September by a much larger force commanded by the lord lieutenant, Lord Cornwallis (qv).
Despite Humbert's protests that he was a French officer, Teeling was separated from the other officers, lodged in Longford jail and taken to Dublin, where he was tried by a court-martial on a charge of treason (18, 21 September). The evidence against him, that a subject of the king of England he had served in the army of his enemy, was so strong and clear that conviction and sentence of death were inevitable. The only hope for Teeling was that the lord lieutenant would reprieve him. The court-martial recommended mercy on the grounds that, as testified by the chief prosecution witness, he had acted humanely and saved civilians’ lives. Cornwallis refused Teeling a reprieve and he was hanged on 24 September 1798 at the Royal Barracks, Dublin. On the scaffold he showed great composure, even reading from Shakespeare during a delay. He was buried either at the rear of the barracks or (more likely) in St Michan's churchyard. Though he was unable to read a political statement he had prepared, copies survive. Using words similar to those used in similar circumstances four years later by Robert Emmet (qv), he declared, ‘if to have endeavoured to give my native country a place among the nations of the Earth was treason, then I am guilty indeed’. Though he died unmarried, there is evidence that Lady Lucy Fitzgerald (qv), a sister of Lord Edward, had a sentimental attachment to him and gave him a ring that he wore until the night before his death. A portrait of Bartholomew Teeling by an unknown artist was printed by Madden (1846). A monument to him was erected at Carrignagat (1898).