Patrick Darcy 1598-1668

Irish lawyer who opposed the King's lord deputy and drew up the constitution for the Confederate Assembly.

Patrick Darcy was the seventh son of Sir James Darcy, a leading Roman Catholic merchant and landowner of the province of Connacht in western Ireland. In 1617, Darcy went to London where he studied law at the Middle Temple until 1622. After returning to Ireland, he married Elizabeth, widow of Peter Blake and eldest daughter of Sir Peter French, with whom he had a son and three daughters.

In 1634, Darcy was elected to the Irish Parliament as MP for Navan. He emerged as a leading opponent of Lord-Deputy Sir Thomas Wentworth after Wentworth failed to implement the concessions known as the Graces that were granted to Irish Catholics by King Charles. Darcy acted as counsel for the defence when Wentworth tried to prosecute the Earl of Cork for illegal possession of church lands and was a member of a delegation sent to London to protest at Wentworth's plans for the colonisation of Connacht. Upon his return to Ireland in May 1636, Wentworth insisted that Darcy take the Oath of Supremacy; when he refused, he was disqualified from practising as a lawyer and briefly imprisoned.

Darcy was re-elected to Parliament in May 1641 when Wentworth, now Earl of Strafford, was on trial for his life in England. Darcy became prominent in the impeachment of key members of Wentworth's administration, during the course of which he formulated his famous assertion of the legal rights of the Irish Parliament known as An Argument Delivered. Published in 1643, Darcy's Argument refuted the right of the English Parliament to legislate for Ireland by stating that no law could be valid in Ireland unless it was enacted by the Irish Parliament.

In October 1642, Darcy drew up the constitution for the Confederate Assembly of Kilkenny in consultation with a committee of Confederate noblemen, clergy and gentry. He was elected to the Supreme Council and remained an influential member of the Confederacy throughout its jurisdiction. In 1646, he took part in the negotiations for the ill-fated First Ormond Peace and, three years later, participated in negotiations for the Second Ormond Peace. With the dissolution of the Assembly, Darcy was one of the twelve commissioners appointed to mediate between the Marquis of Ormond and the Confederates. After the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland, Darcy was imprisoned and disqualifed from practising as a lawyer. All his property was confiscated. Although he was allowed to return to legal practice after the Restoration, he was unable to recover his estates. He died at Dublin in 1668.


Sean Kelsey, Patrick Darcy, Oxford DNB, 2004