Piers Butler, 8th Earl of Ormond

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Piers Butler
Earl of Ormond
A quartered shield of arms
PredecessorThomas, 7th Earl of Ormond
SuccessorJames, 9th Earl of Ormond
Died26 August 1539
FamilyHouse of Butler
Spouse(s)Margaret FitzGerald
James, Richard, & others. Edmund (illegitimate)
FatherSir James Butler
MotherSabh Kavanaugh, Princess of Leinster

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

Birth and origins[edit]

Piers was born in 1467, the son of James Butler and Sabh Kavanagh. His father was Lord Deputy of Ireland, Lord of the Manor of Advowson of Callan (1438–1487). His mother was a Princess of Leinster, the eldest daughter of Donal Reagh Kavanagh, MacMurrough, King of Leinster (1396–1476).[1]

Family tree
Piers Butler with wife, parents, and other selected relatives.[a]


d. 1506

d. 1487
of Polestown
8th Earl

c. 1473 –
10th Earl

d. 1529
9th Earl


d. 1565
10th Earl
c. 1531
– 1614
Black Tom
John of

d. 1570
XXXSubject of
the article
XXXEarls of
XXXEarls of

Claims to the title[edit]

During the prolonged absence from Ireland of the earls, his father Sir James Butler (d. 1487)[5] 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 Seneschal 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 children[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.[6] 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.[7] Piers Butler retaliated by murdering James Dubh in an ambush in 1497. He was pardoned for his crime on 22 February 1498.

Piers and Margaret had nine children, three sons:

  1. James Butler, 9th Earl of Ormond (1496–1546), also called "the lame", who married Lady Joan FitzGerald, daughter and heiress of James FitzGerald, 10th Earl of Desmond, and had issue.
  2. Richard Butler, 1st Viscount Mountgarret (1500 – 20 May 1571), married his first cousin Eleanor Butler, daughter of his uncle Theobald Butler. They had issue.
  3. Thomas Butler, who was slain by Dermoid Mac Shane, MacGillaPatrick of Upper Ossory, and left an only daughter Margaret, who was first married to Rory O'Moore of Laois and secondly to Sir Maurice Fitzgerald of Lackagh.

–and six daughters:

  1. Margaret Butler, married firstly to Thomas, second son of the Earl of Desmond, and secondly to Barnaby Fitzpatrick, 1st Baron Upper Ossory and had issue.[8]
  2. Catherine Butler (1506–1553) married 1stly Richard Power, 4th Baron Power, of Curraghmore and 2ndly James FitzGerald, 13th Earl of Desmond.[9]
  3. Joan Butler (born 1528), married James Butler, 10th Baron Dunboyne.
  4. Ellice Butler (1481–1530). Married firstly to MacMorrish; and secondly in 1503 to Gerald Fitzgerald, 3rd Lord Decies (1482–1533), grandson of James FitzGerald, 6th Earl of Desmond.
  5. Eleanor Butler, who married Thomas Butler, 1st Baron Cahir.
  6. Helen Butler (1523–1597), (or Ellen) married Donough O'Brien, 2nd Earl of Thomond, son of Conor O'Brien, Prince of Thomond and Annabell de Burgh.

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


See also[edit]

Notes, citations, and sources[edit]


  1. ^ This family tree is partly based on the condensed Butler family tree pictured in Dunboyne[2] and on genealogies of the earls of Desmond[3] and Ormond.[4]


  1. ^ Edwards, D. (2003). The Ormond lordship in County Kilkenny, 1515-1642: the rise and fall of Butler feudal power. Four Courts Press Ltd.
  2. ^ Dunboyne 1968, pp. 16–17: "Butler Family Tree condensed"
  3. ^ Burke 1866, pp. 205–206Genealogy of the earls of Desmond
  4. ^ Burke & Burke 1909, pp. 1398–1402Genealogy of the earls of Ormond
  5. ^ Royal Descents and Pedigrees of Founders' Kin, Pedigree CXXI, by Sir Bernard Burke (1864)
  6. ^ 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
  7. ^ 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
  8. ^ Lodge 1789, p. 21, line 22: "Daughter, Lady Margaret, first married to Thomas, second son of the Earl of Desmond, and secondly, to Barnaby the first Lord of Upper-Ossory."
  9. ^ Lodge 1789, p. 21, line 25: "Lady Catherine, first married to Richard, Lord Poer, and secondly to James, Earl of Desmond."


  • Burke, Bernard (1866). A Genealogical History of the Dormant, Abeyant, Forfeited and Extinct Peerages of the British Empire (New ed.). London: Harrison. OCLC 11501348.
  • Burke, Bernard; Burke, Ashworth P. (1909). A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, the Privy Council, Knightage and Companionage (71st ed.). London: Harrison.
  • Dunboyne, Patrick Theobald Tower Butler, Baron (1968). Butler Family History (2nd ed.). Kilkenny: Rothe House.
  • Edwards, David (2003). The Ormond Lordship in County Kilkenny. Dublin: Four Courts Press. ISBN 9781851825783. – Snippet view
  • Lodge, John (1789). The Peerage of Ireland. 4. Dublin: James Moore. OCLC 264906028. – Viscounts

Further reading[edit]

Peerage of Ireland
Preceded by Earl of Ormond
Succeeded by
New creation Earl of Ossory