Bellew, John (1605/1606–79), politician and army officer, was the eldest son, of the three sons and one daughter, of Patrick Bellew of Lisraney, Co. Louth, and his wife, Mary, daughter of James and Ellice Warren of Warrenstown castle, Co. Louth. He was admitted to Gray's Inn on 9 November 1627 aged twenty-one. He expanded his inherited landholdings in Co. Louth, residing at Willistown, and married Mary Dillon, daughter of Robert Dillon of Clonbrock, Co. Galway; they had at least five sons and one daughter. A JP for Co. Louth in 1639, he served as MP for the county in 1640–42 and, with Oliver Cashell (qv), he was dispatched to the English parliament in November 1640 to press the Irish parliament's remonstrance against the lord lieutenant, Thomas Wentworth, earl of Strafford (qv). A prominent catholic MP in 1641, he served on numerous committees, including that appointed in February 1641 to draw charges against the lord chancellor, Richard Bolton (qv), and others.
Following the 1641 rising he was named sheriff of Co. Louth and as such was entrusted with a commission of martial law by the Dublin authorities, while also one of the MPs named by the Irish parliament (on 16 November) to confer with those in arms. He appears to have sought to act as a mediator until December 1641 at least, attributing his defection to the insurgents to harsh measures by the Dublin government. The government had considered him as in rebellion as early as 25 November 1641 and he was proclaimed a rebel and traitor on 8 February 1642; he was expelled from parliament on 24 June 1642. Bellew is known to have attended at least four of the confederate general assemblies. He was appointed lieutenant-general of artillery in the confederate Leinster army in October 1642, and he retained the post until at least 1648. With the signing of the second Ormond peace, he appears to have held the same command in the forces under Ormond's command, and was subsequently commissioned as lieutenant of the ordnance. He was captured at the battle of Rathmines on 2 August 1649 but ransomed himself on 24 September and was a signatory of the Kilkenny articles of May 1652 which provided for the surrender of the Leinster army.
Bellew returned to his Louth estates and joined other landholders in seeking to avoid transplantation on the basis of the Kilkenny terms; they were unsuccessful and he appears to have been transplanted in 1655, losing his property but being accorded a much smaller land grant in Co. Galway. With the restoration of Charles II, he began a long process of seeking to regain his estates. A royal letter of 7 March 1661 led to temporary restitution of some of his Co. Louth properties, but his claims ran aground as the restoration settlement proceeded. From 1661 to 1668 he acted as agent for Theobald Taaffe (qv), Viscount Taaffe, pursuing the latter's extensive land claims in Dublin, and occasionally in London. The relationship seems to have been mutually beneficial, and by 1671 Bellew had secured title to property in Co. Louth included in Carlingford's grant. The family had retained, and expanded, its Connacht properties and Bellew's eldest son Patrick secured title to these properties, with a life interest to his father, in 1678. A more secure title to the Louth and Galway estates, considerably larger than those held by John Bellew in 1641, was obtained by Patrick Bellew in 1684. His father had died, aged seventy-three, in 1679 and was buried at Barmeath, Co. Louth, where he had resided in his later years. Branches of his descendants continued to reside at Barmeath and at Castle Bellew and Mount Bellew in Co. Galway. Extensive family papers are held by the NLI.