James Butler, 5th Earl of Ormond

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James Butler, 5th Earl of Ormond, 1st Earl of Wiltshire
Coat of Arms of Sir James Butler, 1st Earl of Wiltshire, KG.png
Quartered arms of Sir James Butler, 5th Earl of Ormond, 1st Earl of Wiltshire, KG
Spouse(s) Avice Stafford
Eleanor Beaufort
Father James Butler, 4th Earl of Ormond
Mother Joan de Beauchamp
Born c.1422
Died 1 May 1461
Newcastle upon Tyne

James Butler, 5th Earl of Ormond, 1st Earl of Wiltshire, KG (c.1422 – 1 May 1461) was the son of James Butler, 4th Earl of Ormond. A staunch Lancastrian and supporter of Margaret of Anjou during the Wars of the Roses, he was beheaded by the victorious Yorkists following the Battle of Towton.


James Butler, born about 1422, was the eldest son of James Butler, 4th Earl of Ormond, by his first wife, Joan de Beauchamp (d. 3 or 5 August 1430). He had two younger brothers, John Butler, 6th Earl of Ormond, and Thomas Butler, 7th Earl of Ormond, as well as two sisters, Elizabeth Butler, who married John Talbot, 2nd Earl of Shrewsbury, and Anne Butler (d. 4 January 1435), who was contracted to marry Thomas FitzGerald, 7th Earl of Desmond, although the marriage appears not to have taken place. [1]


Ireland in 1450 showing the Earldom of Ormond.

He was created Earl of Wiltshire, in the Peerage of England, by Henry VI of England on 8 July 1449, for his fidelity to the Lancastrian interest. In 1451 he became Lord Deputy of Ireland; the next year he succeeded his father in earldom of Ormond and was additionally appointed Lord Lieutenant for ten years. In 1454, he was constituted Lord High Treasurer of England and made a Knight of the Garter 1459.

By virtue of the rights of his wife, Avice, in the manor of Frome he exercised patronage of the chantry of St Andrew in the parish church at Frome in appointments made in 1452, 1453 and 1458.

When the dynastic civil wars - known as the Wars of the Roses - broke out, Wiltshire fought on the Lancastrian side, becoming one of Queen consort Margaret of Anjou's staunchest supporters. He was present at the first battle of St Albans in 1455, Mortimer's Cross in 1461 and at the Battle of Towton. He died on 1 May 1461, beheaded at Newcastle by the Yorkists after the Lancastrian army was soundly defeated at the Battle of Towton.

He was succeeded by his brother, John Butler, 6th Earl of Ormond.[2]

Marriages and issue[edit]

He married firstly Avice Stafford, daughter and heiress of Sir Richard Stafford by Maud Lovell, daughter and heiress of Robert Lovell, esquire, by whom he had no issue.[3]

He married secondly Eleanor Beaufort, daughter of Edmund Beaufort, 1st Duke of Somerset by Eleanor Beauchamp, daughter of Richard Beauchamp, 13th Earl of Warwick, by whom he had no issue.[3]

Appearance and Character[edit]

The Earl of Wiltshire was described as the most handsome man in the Kingdom and as Gregory records, at the First Battle of St. Albans in 1455, Wiltshire "fought mainly with the heels, for he was frightened of losing his beauty"; prudently he had taken off his armour and hidden it in a ditch, donning a monk's habit.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Richardson I 2011, pp. 380-3.
  2. ^ Richardson I 2011, p. 382.
  3. ^ a b Richardson I 2011, p. 381.
  4. ^ Desmond Seward: "The Wars of the Roses" pp.43-44


Political offices
Preceded by
John Tiptoft
Lord High Treasurer
Succeeded by
Henry Bourchier
Preceded by
John Talbot
Lord High Treasurer
Succeeded by
Henry Bourchier
Peerage of England
Preceded by
New Creation
Earl of Wiltshire Succeeded by
Preceded by
James Butler
Earl of Ormond
Succeeded by
John Butler