THE BUTLERS OF ORMONDE (CONTINUED). and Ormonde became, in 1425,
his Deputy. In 1440 Ormonde was again twice made Chief Governor, first as Lord-Lieutenant and then as Lord Deputy, and the same year had the temporalities of the see of Cashel granted to him for ten years after the death of the Archbishop. In 1443 he was again made Lord-Lieutenant, and Leland again speaks highly of his government. A formidable rival, however, now arose in the person of James, Earl of Des- mond. "Hitherto we find the families of Desmond and Kil- dare unnoticed during the reigns of the Lancastrian princes, and the Earl of Ormonde the only nobleman of Irish birth in whom the English Crown placed peculiar confidence." James Fitz-Gerald, Earl of Desmond, had obtained the earldom by unfair means at the expense of his nephew, who had alienated his " people " by marrying a beautiful girl, the daughter of a vassal, and who died broken-hearted abroad. He next contrived, "by a pretended grant from Robert de Cogan, to possess himself of an extended district called the kingdom of Cork, where he established his authority and lived in rude magnificence, in despite of the legal claims made by the families of Carew and Courcy. By uniting with Ormonde in a factious quarrel between the Houses of Butler and Talbot, he so far ingratiated himself in the favour of this Earl when Lord-Lieutenant, that by his mediation he gained several important favours from the Crown. He had licence to purchase what lands he pleased, by what service whatso- ever they were holden of the King ; and this probably to screen him from the consequences of his late illegal grant from Cogan. He was by patent constituted Governor of the counties of Water- ford, Cork, Limerick, and Kerry, and, what is still more remark- able, under pretence that his services were necessary in the remoter districts of the realm, that his journeys to Parliament were burden- some, inconvenient, and dangerous to one so hated by the Irish on account of his attachment to the Crown, he was licensed to absent himself from all future Parliaments during life, on sending a sufficient proxy. Thus, while his power and influence were raised to an enormous height, he was left to exercise a sovereignty in his own territories, detached from the English Government, with no mark of submission or allegiance, in all that state of an independent chieftain which his family had previously affected, but which was now dangerously confirmed and aggrandized." He soon set Ormonde and his orders at complete defiance. Forces were raised on both sides, and hostilities were commenced, but Ormonde, finding it impossible to reduce the rebel by force, was obliged to treat with him, and a truce was concluded for a year. This period Desmond and his friends employed in intrigues and accusations against Ormonde at the Court of England. His popularity, once great in Ireland, was rapidly on the decline, partly from his own imprudent or partial acts, partly from the mere fact of the long continuance of his government. The King was so far worked upon by the enemies of the Governor as to send an order to him to repair to his presence without delay, and explain the causes of the public discontent against him. Ormonde acted with spirit and effect. He summoned, on the 24th of June, 1444, the Privy Councillors, nobility, and gentry of the Pale to meet him at Drogheda, and informed them of the Royal mandate, and that after a government of three years he was now preparing to render an account of his conduct at the foot of the Throne. "The English agents," said he, "who bring the Royal orders are here before you, and in their presence I boldly appeal to my most inveterate enemy, if any such there be, in this assembly. Let him stand forth, let him declare in what I have offended, let him point out the single instance in which the subject hath suffered by my injustice or the State by my neglect. Here let me be brought to the severest scrutiny, not insidiously maligned in my absence." This bold and energetic appeal cowed his enemies and animated his friends to enthusiasm. The latter vied with each other in their testimony to his integrity and services, and the King, upon an address from his Irish subjects, was prevailed on to suspend the order for his departure. But though he so far prevailed, in 1446 his enemies were able to get up another petition to the Crown, in which he was represented as inactive through age and infirmity, incapable of conducting the affairs of the State, and unable to defend, much less to enlarge, the Royal dominions. He was accused of procuring several of his retainers to be chosen members of the Commons, who, for his factious purposes, opposed the King's service, and refused their assent to such laws as the interests of the realm evidently required. At the same time he was charged with receiving sums of money for dispensing with the attendance of several lords of Parliament, and imprison- ing divers subjects upon false pretences, and in order to extort large ransoms for their release. For these reasons the petitioners desire that the Earl of Ormonde may be removed frhm the Govern-
meat. This petition prevailed, although the Bishops of Cork and Cloyne, several temporal peers, and some corporations sent strong testimonials to the King in the Earl's favour. Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, his old rival in Ireland, now Earl of Waterford, was appointed to the Government in Ormonde's place. Talbot threw himself on the support of the party opposed to Ormonde, and on his return to England the following year accused Ormonde him- self of treason in the Marshal's Court, before the Duke of Bedford, Constable of England ; but the King interposed his authority and stopped the prosecution of this charge. Talbot, Archbishop of Dublin, brother of the Earl of Shrewsbury, who was left by the latter in charge of the Government, went so far as to write a treatise on the abuses of Ormonde's late Government. It is clear that the original supersession of the great Talbot by Ormonde had never been forgiven by the family, and that from that time they were more or less allied with the enemies of the House of Butler. The Prior of Kilmainham, Thomas Fitz-Thomas, went so far as to revive the charge of high treason against Ormonde, which was to be supported by combat. But the King again interposed, and by patent of the 2nd of September, 1448, it was declared that "the Earl of Ormonde was faithful in his allegiance, meritorious in his services, and un- tainted in his fame ; that no one should dare, on pain of the King's indignation, to revive the accusation, or reproach his conduct ; and that his accusers were men of no credit, nor should their testimony be admitted in any case." A writ reciting all this, dated the 21st of November, and attested by the Archbishop of Dublin himself, was sent to the magistrates of Limerick and other towns, to cause publication thereof to be made throughout the kingdom. Leland not improbably conjectures that "this repeated favour to the Earl of Ormonde laid the foundation of that lasting attachment which the family of Butler afterwards discovered to the House of Lancaster and its interests." Under the cover of this Royalvindication Ormonde retired from public life, excepting always the necessary warfare with the native Irish. He died on the 23rd of August, 1452, on his return from an expedition against one of these chiefs. He is said to have been "a great lover of history and antiquities." He endowed religious houses, built castles at Nenagh and other places, and endowed the Hospital of St. Thomas d'Acres in London. He was twice married, and left by his first wife, Johanna, daughter of Gerald, fifth Earl of Kildare, three sons, who became successively Earls of Ormonde. One of his daughters was the second wife of John Talbot, second Earl of Shrewsbury. He was succeeded by his eldest son, James, fifth Earl of Ormonde, who was knighted when very young by Henry VI. He attended the Duke of York into France when the Duke was appointed Regent of that kingdom. On the 8th of July, 1449, he was made a peer of England as Earl of Wiltshire, to him and the heirs male of his body. In 1450 he was one of the Commissioners to whom was entrusted for five years the charge of Calais and the Marches of Picardy. In 1451 he was made Lord Deputy of Ireland. Having succeeded his father as Earl of Ormonde, he was appointed on the 12th of May, 1453, Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland for ten years, and going into England the same year, undertook, with the Earl of Salisbury and other lords, the guarding of the seas for three years, receiving the tonnage and poundage for the expenses of this office. On the 14th of March, 1455, he was appointed Lord High Treasurer of England, attended the King at the battle of St. .Alban's against the Yorkists, and fled on the rout of the Royal army, throwing away his armour into a ditch. Fortune turning again, he was again made Treasurer, Knight of the Garter, and Keeper of of the Park and Forest of Pederton, in Somersetshire, and of Cranbourne Chase, in the counties of Wilts and Dorset. He next fitted out three large Genoese ships to fight the Earl of Warwick's fleet, and sailed with them to the Netherlands. Returning just before the battle of Wakefield, December 31, 1460, he com- manded that wing of the army which enclosed and slew the Duke of York. But on the 29th of March, 1461, being at the battle of Towton, he was taken prisoner by Richard Salkeld, beheaded at Newcastle on the let of May, and attainted in the ensuing Par- liament. He was thrice married, one of his wives, daughter of Sir Richard Strafford, being a great heiress, and the third, Elinor, eldest daughter of Edmund, Duke of Beaufort, being closely con- nected with the Royal family. Leaving, however, no children, he was succeeded in his claims to the title and estates of Ormonde by his brother, Sir John Butler, who had been knighted at Leicester by the Mike of Bedford. He was at the battle of Towton with his brother. The Irish Parliament, echoing that of England, passed an Act thereupon for the attainder among others of James, late Lord of Wilts and Ormonde, John d'Ormonde,
Knight, Thomas de Ormonde, and many others of the family of Butler, for adhering to the King's enemies. Yet Sir John deter- mined to make further trial of the attachment of his Irish adherents. He fled into Munster with no inconsiderabe train of followers from England, and he soon felt himself strong enough to bid defiance to Fitz-Eustace, the Yorkist Lord Deputy. But the Earl of Desmond, who, with the rest of the Fitz-Geralds, had warmly espoused the cause of York, collected his followers, to the number, it is said Cm a declaration of Parliament) of 20,000, and endeavoured to crush entirely the rival House of Butler. At first, however, fortune favoured the Butlers. Gerald, brother of Desmond, was made prisoner, and the Butlers, pushing into Leinster, made themselves masters of Wexford. Being, however, through excess of chivalry, induced to commit themselves to open combat in the field with Desmond's overpowering forces, they were completely routed. Kilkenny and others of their towns were seized and plundered, the lands of their adherents were exposed to the severest military execution, and although they received a re- inforcement from England they were unable to keep the field, and confined themselves to inaccessible fastnesses. Sir John him- self fled to England. He there made his peace with Edward, after the battle of Tewkesbury attended the King into France, and by his polished manners and graceful deportment soon became a distinguished favourite with that Prince. "He is the goodliest knight," said Edward, "and the finest gentleman in Chris- tendom; and if good-breeding, nurture, and liberal qualities were lost in the world, they might be found in him." The Butler party gained strength again, and the Earl of Kildare, who was Lord Deputy, being removed from his governorship, Shirwood, Bishop of Meath, an inveterate enemy of the Geraldines, was put in his place, and in a Parliament summoned by that prelate in 1475, the Act of attainder formerly passed against John, now Earl of Ormonde, was repealed, and he was declared fully restored to his estate and dignity. The King had previously restored him in blood and to all his estates, except the manor and hundred of Roch - ford and other lands in Essex. He was a great master of modern languages, and Edward employed him frequently as ambassador to foreign Courts, but in a sudden fit of devotion making a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, he died in the Holy Land in 1478, and was suc- ceeded in his titles and estates by his only surviving brother, Thomas, seventh Earl of Ormonde.