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1911 Encyclopedia Britannica

Earl And Marquess of Ormonde

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Titles still held by the famous Irish family of Butler, the name being taken from a district now part of Co. Tipperary. In 1328 James Butler (c. 1305-1337), a son of Edmund Butler, was created earl of Ormonde, one reason for his elevation being the fact that his wife Eleanor, a daughter of Humfrey Bohun, earl of Hereford, was a granddaughter of King Edward I. His son James, the 2nd earl (1331-1382), was four times governor of Ireland; the latter's grandson James, the 4th earl (d. 1452), held the same position several times, and won repute not only as a soldier, but as a scholar. His son James, the 5th earl (1420 - c. 1461), was created an English peer as earl of Wiltshire in 1449. A truculent partisan of the house of Lancaster, he was lord high treasurer of England in 1455 and again in 1459, and was taken prisoner after the battle of Towton in 1461. He and his two brothers were than attainted, and he died without issue, the exact date of his death being unknown. The attainder was repealed in the Irish parliament in 1476, when his brother Sir John Butler ( c. 1422-1478), who had been pardoned by Edward IV. a few years previously, became 6th earl of Ormonde. John, who was a fine linguist, served Edward IV. as ambassador to many European princes, and this king is said to have described him as "the goodliest knight he ever beheld and the finest gentleman in Christendom." His brother Thomas, the 7th earl ( c. 1424-1515), a courtier and an English baron under Richard III. and Henry VII., was ambassador to France and to Burgundy; he left no sons, and on his death in August 1515 his earldom reverted to the crown.

Margaret, a daughter of this earl, married Sir William Boleyn of Blickling, and their son Sir Thomas Boleyn (1477-1539) was created earl of Ormonde and of Wiltshire in 1529. He went on several important errands for Henry VIII., during one of which he arranged the preliminaries for the Field of the Cloth of Gold; he was lord privy seal from 1530 to 1536, and served the king in many other ways. He was the father of Henry's queen, Anne Boleyn, but both this lady, and her only brother, George Boleyn, Viscount Rochford, had been put to death before their father died in March 1539.

Meanwhile in 1515 the title of earl of Ormonde had been assumed by Sir Piers Butler (c. 1467-1539), a cousin of the 7th earl, and a man of great influence in Ireland. He was lord deputy, and later lord treasurer of Ireland, and in 1528 he surrendered his claim to the earldom of Ormonde and was created earl of Ossory. Then in 1538 he was made earl of Ormonde, this being a new creation; however, he counts as the 8th earl of the Butler family. In 1550 his second son Richard (d. 1571) was created Viscount Mountgarret, a title still held by the Butlers. The 8th earl's son, James, the 9th earl ( c. 1490-1546), lord high treasurer of Ireland, was created Viscount Thurles in 1J36. In 1544 an act of parliament confirmed him in the possession of his earldom, which, for practical purposes, was declared to be the creation of 1328, and not the new creation of 1538.

Thomas, the 10th earl (1532-1614), a son of the 9th earl, was lord high treasurer of Ireland and a very prominent personage during the latter part of the 16th century. He was a Protestant and threw his great influence on the side of the English queen and her ministers in their efforts to crush the Irish rebels, but he was perhaps more anxious to prosecute a fierce feud with his hereditary foe, the earl of Desmond, this struggle between the two factions desolating Munster for many years. His successor was his nephew Walter (1569-1633), who was imprisoned from 1617 to 1625 for refusing to surrender the Ormonde estates to his cousin Elizabeth, the wife of Sir R. Preston and the only daughter of the 10th earl. He was deprived of the palatine rights in the county of Tipperary, which had belonged to his ancestors for 400 years, but he recovered many of the family estates after his release from prison in 1625.

Walter's grandson, James, the 12th earl, was created marquess of Ormonde in 1642 and duke of Ormonde in 1661 (see below); his son was Thomas Butler, earl of Ossory, and his grandson was James Butler, 2nd duke of Ormonde (see below).

When Charles Butler, earl of Arran (1671-1758), the brother and successor of the 2nd duke, died in December 1758, the dukedom and marquessate became extinct, but the earldom was claimed by a kinsman, John Butler (d. 1766). John's cousin, Walter (1703-1783), inherited this claim, and Walter's son John (1740-1795) obtained a confirmation of it from the Irish House of Lords in 1791. He is reckoned as the 17th earl. His son Walter, the 18th earl (1770-1820), was created marquess of Ormonde in 1816, a title which became extinct on his death, but was revived in favour of his brother James (1774-1838) in 1825. James was the grandfather of James Edward William Theobald, Butler (b. 1844), who became the 3rd marquess in 1854. The marquess sits in the House of Lords as Baron Ormonde of Llanthony, a creation of 1821.

See J. H. Round on "The Earldoms of Ormonde" in Joseph Foster's Collectanea Genealogica (1881-1883).

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Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Earl And Marquess of Ormonde'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. 1910.

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