Fethard was also a medieval borough, with charters dating from the reign of Edward III. The governing charter was one of 1608, 5 James I, which decreed that the corporation should consist of a sovereign, 12 chief burgesses, a portreeve and as many as were then free or inhabiting the said town or borough. It was another complicated borough.371 The Fethard estate originally belonged to the Everards (0709), who were a prominent Jacobite family and also politically connected with the Duke of Ormonde. In. 1742 Sir Redmond Everard died in exile considerably in debt, and in 1751 his residuary heir, James Long Everard, sold the estate to Thomas Barton for £30,500 to meet the debt. Meanwhile Cornelius O'Callaghan (1561), the elder, MP for Fethard 1761-8, had an estate in or near Fethard estimated at £6,000 p.a. He went to live in Bath and decided to settle the Fethard estate on his nephew, also Cornelius O'Callaghan (1562), who had married a daughter of John Ponsonby (1702). The borough became a bone of contention between Barton, who owned the town, and O'Callaghan (1562), who had sat for the borough from 1768 to 1785, when he was created Lord Lismore. In 1783 Fethard had 'above 900 Freemen, Sovereign, 12 Burgesses, almost all non-resident. 150 inhabitants, about 20 Protestants. Patrons, Mr O'Callaghan and Mr Barton. Soil, Mr Barton.'372 The following outline of its recent political history was given in 1790:
This Borough is by constitution free, the electors consisting of Freeholders, Burgesses and Freemen and the latter having been so much increased by the contending families of Barton (0098) and O'Callaghan (now Lord Lismore) according as they had possession of the chief magistracy, that they exceeded in number the voters of many Counties, scarce a gentleman within twenty miles of Fethard not being one of that body. This naturally should have opened the Borough, but it has not produced that effect as these Freemen, whenever they attend, consider themselves rather as the trustees of the family that introduced them here, than as the independent constituents of the candidate of their choice. After various contests for appropriating the whole of the representation, ever violent and disgraceful in their progress and sometimes not very honourable in their issue, a fair partition of the property of the Borough has taken place, Mr Barton naming one of its representatives and Lord Lismore the other. The partition is rather singular, as the noble Lord possesses not a single foot of ground, either in the town or its vicinity.373
The general elections of 1761 and 1768 illustrate what happened. In 1761 the voting was: Cornelius O'Callaghan (1561) 307, Stephen Moore (1477) 234, William Barton 156. Cornelius O'Callaghan and Stephen Moore were declared duly elected. In 1768 the voting was: Cornelius O'Callaghan (1562) 236, John Croker 183, William Barton 156, Lovelace Lowe 58.374 The majority for Mr O'Callaghan was 80 and for Mr Croker 27. The steadiness of Barton's vote is interesting and illustrates the divided nature of the constituency. In 1783 William Barton's eldest son Thomas Barton (0098) was returned with Cornelius O'Callaghan, and he sat in successive parliaments until 1797. At the time of the Union both of the original protaganists were dead and their sons Cornelius, Lord Lismore (1562) and Thomas Barton each received £7,500 in compensation.