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Thomas Butler, 10th Earl of Ormond

Thomas Butler, 10th Earl of Ormond Irish Earl

Irish Earl
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro Irish Earl
Gender male
Death 22 November 1614 (Carrick-on-Suir)
Mother: Joan FitzgeraldCountess of Ormond
Father: James Butler9th Earl of Ormond
Children: Piers FitzThomas Butler
The details

Sir Thomas Butler, 10th Earl of Ormonde, 3rd Earl of Ossory, Viscount Thurles KG (Irish: Tomás Dubh de Buitléir, Iarla Urmhamhan; c. 1531 – 22 November 1614), was an Irish peer and the son of James Butler, 9th Earl of Ormond and Lady Joan Fitzgerald daughter and heiress-general of James FitzGerald, 10th Earl of Desmond. He was Lord Treasurer of Ireland and a very prominent personage during the latter part of the 16th century.


He built the Tudor Manor House extension to Ormonde Castle on his estates in Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary. Much of his life was taken up with a fierce feud with his hereditary foe, Gerald FitzGerald, 15th Earl of Desmond, son of James FitzGerald, 14th Earl of Desmond. The two sides fought a pitched battle in 1565, the Battle of Affane. Butler's victory, not only in the field but also in the handling the political fallout, helped to spark the Desmond Rebellions. This struggle (1569–73 and 1579–83) desolated Munster for many years. Ormond was a Protestant and threw his great influence on the side of Queen Elizabeth I and her ministers in their efforts to crush the rebels, although he was motivated as much by factional rivalry with the Desmond dynasty as by religion.

Elizabeth I

Ormond and Queen Elizabeth met in London as children; Thomas the "son of an Irish Earl" and Elizabeth the "illegitimate daughter of Henry" shared a common ground as neither was well treated by the other young nobles in court. They were cousins, related through her mother, Anne Boleyn, a daughter of the Ormond dynasty in Ireland. Elizabeth called him her ‘black husband’. In 1588 the Queen bestowed on Ormond what a poet described as 'áirdchéim Ridireacht Gáirtéir, / ainm nár ghnáth é ar Éirionnach' (‘the high honour of Knighthood of the Garter, a title unusual for an Irishman’).

Ormond built a Tudor style castle (Carrick on Suir) along the river Suir, which he decorated lavishly and even had red brick chimneys built on, which, at the time, were very expensive. All of this was for one reason; to provide Elizabeth with a suitable palace at which to stay when she traveled to Ireland. Elizabeth planned twice to visit the Castle in Ireland, once in 1602, but she fell sick, and once in 1603, but she died soon before the visit was scheduled to take place. One does know, however, that Elizabeth appreciated Thomas's gift, and was, as she was with all of her cousins through her mother, very fond of him. Thomas lived eleven years after Elizabeth died.

Marriage and Children

He first married Elizabeth Berkeley, daughter of Thomas Berkeley, 6th Baron Berkeley and Anne Savage. They separated in 1564 without issue.

He then married Elizabeth Sheffield on 9 November 1582 at London. She was the daughter of John Sheffield, 2nd Baron Sheffield and Douglas, daughter of William Howard, 1st Baron Howard of Effingham. They had three children:

  • James Butler, (b. 4 September 1583, died 1589)
  • Elizabeth Butler (before 1593- 1628), married, firstly, her first cousin Theobald Butler, Viscount Butler of Tulleophelim, son of Sir Edmund Butler of Cloughgrenan and Eleanor Eustace, without issue. Her father Thomas, had executed her husband's two elder brothers for treason in 1596. She married, secondly, Richard Preston, Baron Dingwall, and had one daughter, Elizabeth Preston.
  • Thomas Butler (before 1601- 1606)

In 1601 he married Helena Barry, daughter of David Fitz-James de Barry, 5th Viscount Buttevant, without issue.

The Earl also had an illegitimate son, Piers FitzThomas Butler of Duisk who married Catherine Fleming, by whom he had a son, Edward Butler, 1st Viscount Galmoye.

As the Earl died without legally recognised male issue, the Earldom reverted in the male line, to the junior branch of the family through his brother John Butler of Kilcash.

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