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Piers Butler, 8th Earl of Ormond

Piers Butler, 8th Earl of Ormond Irish nobleman

Irish nobleman
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro Irish nobleman
A.K.A. Red Piers, Piers Ruadh
Countries Ireland
Occupations Politician
Type Politics
Gender male
Birth 1467
Death 1539
Father: James Butler of Polestown
Spouse: Margaret FitzGeraldCountess of Ormond
Children: Richard Butler1st Viscount MountgarretJames Butler9th Earl of OrmondEdmund Butler
The details

Piers Butler, 8th Earl of Ormond, 1st Earl of Ossory (1467 – 26 August, 1539) also known as (Irish Piers Ruadh) Red Piers, was from the Polestown branch of the Butler family of Ireland.


He was the son of Sir James Butler, Lord Deputy of Ireland, Lord of the Manor of Advowson of Callan (1438-1487) and Sabh Kavanagh, Princess of Leinster, daughter of Donal Reagh Kavanagh, MacMurrough, King of Leinster (1396-1476).He married Lady Margaret FitzGerald, daughter of Gerald FitzMaurice FitzGerald, 8th Earl of Kildare and had 9 children by that marriage: 3 sons and 6 daughters.

Claims to the title

During the prolonged absence from Ireland of the earls, his father Sir James Butler (d.1487) had laid claim to the Ormond land and titles. This had precipitated a crisis in the Ormond succession when the seventh earl later died without a male heir. On 20 March 1489, King Henry VII appointed him High Sheriff of County Kilkenny. He was knighted prior to September 1497. The following year (1498) he seized Kilkenny Castle and with his wife, Margaret FitzGerald (d.1542), the dynamic daughter of the earl of Kildare, probably improved the living accommodation there. On 28 February 1498 he received a pardon for crimes committed in Ireland, including the murder of James Ormonde, heir to the 7th Earl. He was also made Senechal of the Liberty of Tipperary on 21 June 1505, succeeding his distant relation, James Butler, 9th Baron Dunboyne. On the death of Thomas Butler, 7th Earl of Ormonde on 3 August 1515, Piers Butler became the 8th Earl of Ormond. On 6 March 1522, the King appointed him Chief Governor of Ireland as Lord Deputy; he held this office until 13 May 1524 when he became Lord Treasurer.

Loss of title

One of the heirs general to the Ormond inheritance was Thomas Boleyn, whose mother was a Butler. Boleyn was the father of Anne, whose star was rising at the court of King Henry VIII of England. As the king wanted the titles of Ormond and Wiltshire for Thomas Boleyn, he induced Butler and his coheirs to resign their claims on 18 February 1528. Aided by the king's Chancellor, Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, Butler was granted the earldom of Ossory.

Restoration of title

On 22 February 1538, the earldom of Ormond was restored to him. He died on 26 August 1539 and was buried in St Canice's Cathedral, Kilkenny city .

Marriage and Children

In about 1485, he married Lady Margaret FitzGerald, daughter of Gerald FitzMaurice FitzGerald, 8th Earl of Kildare and Alison FitzEustace. The marriage was political; arranged with the purpose of healing the breach between the two families. In the early years of their marriage, Margaret and her husband were reduced to penury by James Dubh Butler, a nephew, heir to the earldom and agent of the absentee 7th Earl, who resided in England. Piers Butler retaliated by murdering James Dubh in an ambush in 1497. He was pardoned for his crime on 22 February 1498.

They had 3 sons and six daughters.

  • James Butler, 9th Earl of Ormond (c. 1501 – 1546), also called "the lame", who married Lady Joan FitzGerald, daughter and heiress of James FitzGerald, 10th Earl of Desmond, and had issue.
  • Richard Butler, 1st Viscount Mountgarret (1500 – 20 May 1571), married his first cousin Eleanor Butler (wife of 1st Viscount Mountgarret)|Eleanor Butler, daughter of his uncle Theobald Butler. They had issue.
  • Thomas Butler, who was slain by Dermoid Mac Shane, Mac GillPatrick of Ossory, and left an only daughter Margaret, first married to Rory O'Moore of Laois, and lastly to Sir Maurice Fitzgerald of Lackagh.


  • Margaret Butler (daughter of 8th Earl of Ormond)|Margaret Butler, married firstly to Thomas, second son of the Earl of Desmond, and secondly to Barnaby Fitzpatrick, 1st Baron Upper Ossory and had issue.
  • Catherine Butler {1506–1552/53} married Richard Lord Le Poer; parents of Lord John Le Poer-husband of Ellen, daughter of James 14th Earl of Desmond.
  • Joan Butler (b. 1528), married James Butler, 10th Baron Dunboyne.
  • Ellice Butler (1481–1530). Married firstly to MacMorrish; and secondly in 1503 to Gerald Fitzgerald, 3rd Lord Decies (1482–1533)-grandson of James FitzGerald, 6th Earl of Desmond.
  • Eleanor Butler who married Thomas Butler, 1st Baron Cahir.
  • Helen Butler (1523–1597), (or Ellen) married Donough O'Brien, 1st Earl of Thomond, son of Conor O'Brien, Prince of Thomond and Annabell de Burgh.

The Earl had an illegitimate son, Edmund Butler, who became the Archbishop of Cashel.

The Earl also had an illegitimate elder brother, Theobald Butler.


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