THE BUTLERS OF OW/LONDE' (CONTINUED).
iT will not have escaped the attention of the readers of these
papers that there is an essential difference between the social history of the Butlers and the Fitz-Geralds. In fact they are not bad representatives of two classes- into which the Anglo-Irish aristocracy may be divided—those who were too English, and those who were too Irish. In the former case the possession of English estates in addition to Irish drew away the principal attention of the heads of the noble family from the less important island, and so weakened their social influence in it. In the other case, the concentration of their property in Ireland, and the great social influence which thence accrued to them, were attended by a corres- ponding insubordination, and too great an approximation to the leas civilized habits and feelings of the native population. This last we have seen in the case of the Fitz-Geralds, and it will have been evident from what we have already said, that the former is illustrated by the history of the Butlers. Though scarcely absentees in the modern sense of the term, their frequent absences at the English Court or on their English estates, and the extent to which they played an independent part in English politics, caused the heads of that family to be regarded ia Ireland as of more an English than an. Irish family ; nor could the undoubted patriotism, of some of the chiefs, and the more purely Irish character of the resident cadets of the House, prevent the Butlers from losing to a considerable extent the social weight which would have otherwise attached to their great, estates. in Kilkenny. Tipperary, and Carlow. The effect of this difference on the fortunes of the two Houses at the epoch of the Wars of the Roses is striking. While the Butlers governed the Treasury of England, marched to Wakefield and Towton under the banners of Lancaster, and afterwards regained their estates by assiduous personal attend- ance on Edward IV. at the English Court, the Fitz-Geralds from their Irish stronghold calmly made their terms with York and Lancaster alike, and generally remained at the head of affairs in Ireland, while their social influence in that country increased with every year. The attempts made by the Butlers to regain their old authority as representatives of the Crown in that country became more and more intermittent and feeble, until at last, during the reign of Henry VIII., the House of Kildare, as we have seen, became established as the great governing family of Ireland. The last great struggle made by the Butlers before this culmination of the power of their rivals was during the lifetime of Thomas, the seventh Earl of Ormonde, of whose career we have now to speak. The Earl himself, however, was not the leader of the Butlers on this occasion. He was (as far at least as Ireland was concerned) an insignificant man, who lived chiefly at the Court of England or on his English estates, while the power of his House, if not the actual title of Earl, passed into the hands of an illegitimate nephew, Sir James Ormonde. The story of the seventh Earl of Ormonde himself is soon told. He had been attainted, along with his brothers, after the battle of Towton, but in November, 1485, Henry VII.'s first Parliament abrogated the statute against the Butlers. He was sworn of the Privy Council of England in 1491, accompanied the King in an expedition in aid of Maximilian against France in 1492, was appointed Chamberlain to the Queen, and in September of that year was one of the two Ambassadors sent to Charles VIII. of France, to conclude a treaty with that kingdom. In 1494 he accompanied the Lord Deputy of Ireland in an expedition against the O'Hanlan and Magennis clans in Ulster, and on the 14th of October, 1495, was summoned as a Baron in the English Parliament, by the title of Thomas Ormonde de Rochford, and in 1497 sent Ambassador to the Duke of Burgundy. He died on the 8th of August, 1515, and was buried in the church of St. Thomas d'Acres in London (after- wards called Mercers' Chapel), in Cheapside. He left two daughters, heirs to his estates in England (containing seventy-two manors) and several lands in Ireland. The second daughter, Margaret, married Sir William Boleyn, and became mother of Sir Thomas Boleyn, who was created in 1525 Baron and Viscount Rochford, and in 1527 Earl of Wiltshire and Ormonde, and was the father of Queen Anne Boleyn. The Butlers, Earls of Ormonde, thus became progenitors of the future Queen of England, Elizabeth. The proper heir of Thomas Butler, seventh Earl of Ormonde, was Sir Piers (or Pierce) Butler, son of Sir James Butler, eldest son of Sir Edmund Butler MeRichard, son of Sir Richard Butler,—of Poolestown, county Kilkenny, younger son of James, third Earl of Ormonde. But so distant a collateral descent was a dangerous thing in those days, when so much depended on continued association with the leadership of a family, and Pierce Butler found himself for three years kept out of his estates by a usurper, who had made himself virtual head of the Butlers in Ireland. This was that very remarkable man, Sir James Ormonde. Some writers make him the bastard son of John, sixth Earl of Ormonde, but he would seem to have been the son of that Earl's eldest brother, James, fifth Earl. Sir James Ormonde, who is characterized as a " deep, far-reaching man," was left to the care of his uncle, the seventh Earl of Ormonde, and educated and brought up by him at the English Court, where he grew into great favour with the King, chiefly through his activity against Simnel. Earl Thomas is said to have handed over to him the charge of his castles and property in Ireland, at any rate he came over from Eng- land, marched with an armed force into Kilkenny, and com- pelled all the Butlers to submit to him as their chief. " Old Irish historians," says Mr. Gairdner, "call him Earl of Ormonde, and contemporary evidence confirms the accusation of Kildare, who wrote to the true Earl that his base cousin had usurped his title." James Ormonde had been appointed Treasurer of Ireland on the removal of Kildare from the Deputyship, and had been soon afterwards knighted. He is often mentioned as Treasurer in 1498. According to his enemies, Sir James abused his trust greatly, and he is accused of having twice refused obedience to a summons from the Crown, and of being instru- mental in bringing Perkin Warbeck to Ireland in 1497. One of Kildare's daughters had married Sir Pierce Butler, the true heir of the Home of Butler, and this fact added to the animosity between the families of Fitz-Gerald and Butler, the latter headed by Sir James Ormonde. We have already had occasion to mention the extraordinary scene which took place in the chapter-house of St. Patrick's Church, in Dublin, between Sir James and Kildare. Each party appealed to the absentee Earl of Ormonde, complaining of the conduct of the other ; but the Earl seems to have taken no steps, and to have left Sir James Ormonde in undisputed possession of the authority over the Butlers in Ireland. On the death of the Earl Sir James contrived to keep possession of the estates, having endeared himself to the Butlers by the great stand he had made against their rivals, the Fitz-Geralds, while Sir Pierce laboured under the reproach of having intermarried with that family. The latter indeed is said to have been reduced to great distress by poverty, and was also in personal danger, and obliged, with his wife, to take refuge in the woods. The story is that his wife, then with child, at last complained of the poorness of her diet,. and said that she was no longer in a condition to live on milk, and intreated her husband that he would procure some wine. To this Sir Pierce answered that she should have wine enough within twenty-four hours, or feed alone on milk. On this, taking his page with him, he went forth to lie in ambush for the usurper of his rights. The following day, as Sir James Ormonde was on his way between Dunmore and Kilkenny, with six horsemen, he was suddenly assailed by Sir Pierce, who rushed upon him from his lurking-place, and before he could receive any aid from his followers ran him through with a spear. This was probably in August, 1518. The death of his rival is said to have put Sir Pierce in possession of the Butler estates in Ireland, but there is great obscurity about this part of the family history. He was made Deputy to the Earl of Surrey, Chief Governor of Ireland, and in his patent (6th of March, 1522) he is styled " comes Ormonde." Yet in 1527, as we have seen, Sir Thomas Boleyn was created Earl of Wiltshire and Ormonde, and on the 28th of February in this year Pierce Butler was created Earl of Ossory, with a creation annuity of 201. out of the manor of New- castle of Lyons, in the county of Dublin. There had been a great dispute between the Boleyns and Pierce Butler, in consequence of the large English estates (worth 30,0001. a year, according to the present value of money) having passed away to the former family, who also claimed the Irish estates. As a mode of settling the dispute, first, a marriage was treated of between Pierce Butler's son and Anne Boleyn, and when this came to nothing, the King seems to have hit on the plan of giving the earldom of Ormonde to the Boleyn and that of Ossory to the Butlers. As Deputy to Surrey Pierce was very active, and is much praised by the latter in his letters to Wolsey. Indeed Surrey seems to have much relied on his advice, but the star of Kildare soon regained its ascendancy, and although there was not the same antagonism at first between the Butlers and the Fitz-Geralds that there had been in Sir James Ormonde's time, the two families continued to be to some extent rivals. On May 13, 1524, Pierce Butler was made Lord Treasurer of Ireland. On the 5th of November, 1526, the King granted to him and his heirs male the manors, castles, and hereditameuts of Callan, Ballyallan, Dammagh, and Kilmanagh, in county Kilkenny ; Lyssronagh, Kilmore, O'Cushing, &c., in county Tipperary ; and on the 13th of May, 1528, he was again chosen• Lord Deputy by the Council. The Boleyn family dying out in the male line (through the catastrophe of Lord Rochford, Anne Boleyn's brother), the earldom of Ormonde was, on the 22nd of February, 1538, restored to Pierce Butler, though by the limitation under Sir Thomas Boleyn's patent it ought properly to have fallen into abey- ance between his two daughters, and eventually, after the death of Queen Elizabeth, to have vested in the representative of Mary Boleyn, at present the Earl of Berkeley. The title of Ormonde was confirmed in the Butler family on the suit of Earl Pierce's son, by Act of Parliament, 6th of November, 1541. "In con- sideration of the eminent services of himself and son, performed in the wars of Ireland," Earl Pierce had a grant and confirmation,. 23rd of October, 1537, to them respectively for life, and to the heirs male of his body, of all their estates in the counties of Kilkenny, Tipperary, Carlow, Dublin, Kildare, Meath, Wexford, Waterford, and Wicklow, to hold by the service of one knight's fee. We have already mentioned the great services to the English Crown- performed by Earl Pierce during the Fitz-Gerald rebellion in 1534, by which he fully earned all the honours which were bestowed on him. The former friendship between the Kildare family and Pierce Butler had by that time given place to the hereditary animosity between the families, though Ormonde lived very happily with the daughter of the old Earl of Kildare, Lady Margaret, to whom he had been formerly married. He certainly showed great energy at that period of his life. He was. popular in his own district, is said to have endeavoured to civilize
his Irish tenantry, and to have introduced from Flanders and elsewhere artizans, whom he employed in his castle of Kilkenny to work diaper, tapestry, Turkey carpets, and other works, which long remained as a memorial of his efforts to stimulate the in- dustry of the country. He was also very devout in his religious observances, retiring every year in the last fortnight of Lent from all business, and lying during that time in a chamber near St. Canice Church, called Paradise, where by prayers and alms he prepared himself for the reception of the sacrament at the ap- proaching festival of Easter. He died on the 21st or 26th of August, 1539. Of his three sons, James, the eldest, succeeded him, the second, Richard, was created Viscount Mountgarret, and is ancestor of that branch of the Butlers.
James, ninth Earl of Ormonde, surnamed the Lame, had been, on the 5th of July, 1532, made Lord Treasurer of Ireland for life, and on the 11th of May, 1535, was created Admiral of the King- dom, with the cuatoiy of all the ports. He had been severely wounded in an engagement with Lord Thomas Fitz-Gerald in the rebellion of 1534, and as a compensation and reward for his valour was on the 2nd of January, 1536, created Viscount Thurles. On May 31, 1535, he was made joint Governor with his father of the counties of Kilkenny, Tipperary, and Waterford. In 1536 he was active against the Earl of Desmond, and on Lord Grey going to England with the Fitz-Geralds he reduced Dungarvan, Youghal, Cork, and other places of strength still held by the Fitz-Geralds. On the 4th of January, 1539, he had a grant of the priory and rectory of Kenlis, in Kilkenny county, and the manors of Rathvillie, Clonmore, and other pos- sessions of the Earl of Kildare, which family was now for the time wholly crushed. On the 5th of May, 1542, the King con- veyed to him and his heirs the moiety of the monastery of the Friars Minors of Clonmel, with all the lands thereto belonging, to hold by the eighth part of a knight's fee. In 1539 and 1543 he had large powers granted to him to reduce the disaffected parts of Ireland to submission. In 1545 he went as General of an Irish contingent into Scotland, to aid the Earl of Lennox. He had twenty-eight ships on this occasion, but the expedition was unsuccessful, for when the Earl came to the Scottish coast (where the Ihmiltons had promised to deliver the castle of Dumbarton to Lennox) he found a large army drawn up to oppose his landing. He therefore abandoned the expedition and returned to Ireland. On this occasion Lord Ormonde is said to have levied 1,500 of his own followers. He next publicly accused the Deputy, St. Leger, of high treason. The Deputy retorted the charge, and both were summoned to England. While residing here, on the 17th of October, 1546, the Earl and thirty-five of his servants were poisoned at a supper at Ely House, Holborn. The steward of his household and eighteen more died, and the Earl lingered on till the 28th, when he also expired. As it does not appear that any one was accused of intentional poisoning on this occasion, we may conclude that it was the result of an accident. By his wife, a daughter of the eleventh Earl of Desmond, the Earl left a large family, and was succeeded as tenth Earl of Ormonde by his eldest son, Thomas.