Rowland FitzEustace, 1st Baron Portlester
Rowland FitzEustace, 1st Baron Portlester (died 19 December 1496) was an Irish peer, statesman and judge, and one of the dominant political figures in late fifteenth-century Ireland.
FitzEustace was the son of Sir Edward FitzEustace of Castlemartin, Lord Deputy of Ireland. He was appointed Lord Chancellor of Ireland and Lord Treasurer of Ireland by Edward IV of England in 1474 and was elevated to the Irish peerage as Baron Portlester in 1462. In the latter year he was accused of treason, but defended himself with such vigour that the charges were dropped: similar charges made in 1470 were not pursued. In 1474 he was a founder member of the Brotherhood of Saint George, a military order charged with the defence of the Pale. In 1478 when his son-in-law, the Earl of Kildare, was replaced as Lord Deputy of Ireland by Lord Grey, Portlester organised a campaign of non-cooperation with the new Deputy, so effectively that after a few months he was forced to return to England. 
Portlester was reappointed Chancellor by Henry VII, but removed because of his part in the crowning of the pretender, Lambert Simnel, as King Edward VI of England, on May 24, 1487. This coronation took place in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland. Nearly every noble and Prince in Ireland took part in the coronation. Simnel invaded England with an Irish army which was crushed at the Battle of Stoke. Henry VII was magnanimous in victory, sparing Simnel's life and issuing pardons to Portlester and his fellow peers; but he decided to split the offices held by Lord Portlester between Alexander Plunket and Sir James Ormond. Portlester nonetheless remained an influential figure for the remaining decade of his life, and was able to fight off an attack on his record as Treasurer in 1493.
He was married three times. His wives were:
- Elizabeth Brune
- Joan (or Jenet) Bellew, widow of Christopher Plunket, 2nd Baron Killeen, whom he married in 1463
- Margaret D'Artois, daughter of the Gascon knight Sir Jenico D'Artois, whom he married sometime after 1467.
He had issue by all of his wives, but it's uncertain as to which wife was the actual mother of each particular child. His daughters were:
He also had an illegitimate son:
- Oliver FitzEustace, who became Chief Baron of the Irish Exchequer; since Oliver seems to have been mentally deficient, his father further extended his influence by appointing Deputies to act on his behalf.
Through his daughter, Alison, he was the father-in-law of premier Irish peer and Lord Deputy of Ireland, Gerald FitzGerald, 8th Earl of Kildare. Another daughter, Jenet, the wife of Sir Walter Delahide, played an important role in the rebellion of the Earl's grandson, Silken Thomas, and died in prison on suspicion of treason. Of his other children Joan married Richard, 2nd Baron of Dunsany, Maud married Thomas Marward, titular Baron Skryne, and Margaret married Christopher Rochfort.
Elrington Ball regarded him as perhaps the most important Irish political figure during his 40-year career, more influential even than his son-in-law, the "Great Earl of Kildare."
There is a memorial to him and his wife Margaret in St. Audoen's Church, Dublin, erected by him in gratitude for his preservation from shipwreck near the site. He founded New Abbey, Kilcullen, where he is buried. His estates passed to his nephew Thomas Eustace, 1st Viscount Baltinglass.
- Otway-Ruthven, A.J. History of Medieval Ireland Barnes and Noble Reissue 1993 p. 389
- Otway-Ruthven p.398
- Gilbert, John Thomas "Roland FitzEustace" Dictionary of National Biography 1885-1900 Vol. 18 p53
- O'Flanagan, J. Roderick The Lives of the Lord Chancellors and Keepers of the Great Seal of Ireland 2 Volumes London 1870
- Gilbert p.53
- Gilbert p.53
- Ball, F. Elrington The Judges in Ireland 1221-1921 John Murray London 1926
- Report (18 February 1875). "Eustace Family". The Irish Times. p. 5.
- Lord Portlester's Chapel at libraryireland.com
|Peerage of Ireland|
|New creation||Baron Portlester