Edmond Butler, 3rd/13th Baron Dunboyne

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Edmond Butler, 3rd/13th Baron Dunboyne (1595-1640) was an Anglo-Irish nobleman. His relatively short life was marked by violence and conflict. His father was murdered when he was a small child, he fought a lawsuit against an uncle who sought to disinherit him, and in 1627 he killed a relative and was tried by his peers for manslaughter.


He was the only son of John Butler and Joan Fitzpatrick.[1] His father was the eldest son and heir of Edmond Butler, 2nd/12th Baron Dunboyne. His mother was the daughter of Florence Fitzpatrick, 3rd Baron Upper Ossory; she died a year or two after his birth in 1595. In 1602 his father was killed by one Richard Grace.[2] Wardship of the young boy was awarded to his grandfather.

Inheritance dispute[edit]

The next heir to the title after Edmond was the 2nd Baron's younger son Pierce (whose grandson was in time to inherit as 5th Baron). In 1618 Pierce petitioned the Crown to declare his nephew illegitimate, on the grounds that while his parents had lived together as man and wife, his father was at all material times married to a daughter of Lord Cahir.[3] There is no reason to think the allegation was true, but King James I was reluctant to dismissing it out of hand. He wrote to Lord Dunboyne saying that he had no wish either to deprive his ward of his rights, or to deprive Pierce of any rights which might belong to him, and requiring the parties to submit their dispute to the Court of Chancery (Ireland). This led to a lawsuit which went on for three years and involved several hearings in different courts. Eventually in 1621 the Lord Chancellor of Ireland made a decree in favour of Lord Dunboyne, ordering his son Pierce to cease from interference with or disturbance of his peaceful enjoyment of his lands.[4] This was in effect a victory for the young Edmond, and when his grandfather died in 1624 he succeeded without any further trouble from his uncle, who died in 1626.

Trial for manslaughter[edit]

In December 1627 Dunboyne was at Cahir Castle, the seat of his wife's family. Also present was another Butler connection, James Prendegast, a nephew of Walter Butler, 11th Earl of Ormonde. Dunboyne and Prendergast had each claimed the Irish feudal barony of Newcastle Lyons: on 12 December they quarreled over it and Dunboyne killed Prendergast.[5]

He was arrested and committed to Dublin Castle. Charles I, who was surprisingly willing for the law to take its course, even against the nobiliity,[6] ordered that he must stand trial, although for manslaughter, not murder. Since he had the privilege of peerage, to be tried by his peers, the Lord High Steward of Ireland set up a panel of fifteen peers to try him. The trial took place on 4 June 1628, and by fourteen votes to one, Lord Docwra dissenting, they acquitted him.[7]

Last years[edit]

Dunboyne sat in the Irish House of Lords in the Parliaments of 1634 and 1639–40, but he died on 17 March 1640 at his home, Kiltinan Castle, and was buried in Fethard.


He married firstly Margaret Butler, daughter of Thomas Butler, 2nd Baron Cahir; she died in 1632. They had at least eight children:[8]

  • James Butler, 4th/14th Baron Dunboyne
  • Thomas, who fought in the Rebellion of 1641
  • Ellen, who married James Butler, and was the mother of the 2nd Viscount Ikerrin
  • Eleanor, who married Edmond Butler, and was the mother of the 4th Baron Cahir
  • John, Edmund, Richard and Margaret, who died young.

He married secondly Lady Ellen FitzGerald, daughter of Gerald FitzGerald, 15th Earl of Desmond; she was some years his senior and had already been twice married. She survived until 1660.[9]


  1. ^ Cokayne, G. E. Complete Peerage Reprinted 2000 Vol. VII, p. 44
  2. ^ Cokayne, Vol. IV, p. 517
  3. ^ Lodge, John and Archdall, Mervyn The Peerage of Ireland Dublin James Moore 1789 Vol.6 pp.226-7
  4. ^ Lodge and Archdall, p.227
  5. ^ Mosley, ed. Burke's Peerage 107th Edition 2003 Vol.1 p.1212
  6. ^ Kenyon, J.P. The Stuart Constitution 2nd Edition Cambridge University Press 1986 p.160
  7. ^ Lodge and Archdall, p.228
  8. ^ Burke's Peerage, p.1212
  9. ^ Lodge and Archdall p.228