Piers Butler, 8th Earl of Ormond

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

Claims to the title[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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 issue[edit]

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.[1] 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.[2] 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.


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


  • Royal Descents and Pedigrees of Founders' Kin, Pedigree CXXI, by Sir Bernard Burke (1864)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ libraryireland.com, "The Geraldines: The House of Desmond and The House of Kildare", taken from A History of Ireland, by Eleanor Hull, retrieved 23 April 2010
  2. ^ libraryireland.com, "The Geraldines: The House of Desmond and The House of Kildare," taken from A History of Ireland, by Eleanor Hull, retrieved 23 April 2010
  3. ^ The peerage of Ireland: Volume 2 , 1789
  • The Lineage and Ancestry of H.R.H. Prince Charles, Prince of Wales Edinburgh, by Gerald Paget (1977)
Peerage of Ireland
New creation Earl of Ossory
Succeeded by
James Butler
Preceded by
Thomas Butler
Earl of Ormond