James Desmond, 11th Earl

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Desmond, James, 11th Earl, succeeded on his father's death in 1520. In 1529 he proffered fealty to the Emperor Charles V., and declared himself willing to enter into a league against England. The Emperor commissioned his chaplain to visit Ireland. The report of his mission to Dingle, of the resources of the country, of the demeanour of the Earl, and his reasons for hostility to England, as given by Mr. Froude in his History of England, are extremely interesting. The chaplain writes: "The Earl himself is from thirty to forty years old, and is rather above the middle height. He keeps better justice throughout his dominions than any other chief in Ireland. Robbers and homicides find no mercy, and are executed out of hand. His people are in high order and discipline. They are armed with short bows and swords. The Earl's guard are in a mail from neck to heel, and carry halberds. He has also a number of horse, some of whom know how to break a lance. They all ride admirably, without saddle or stirrup."

A skirmish between him and Ormond was thus reported to Henry VIII. by the Lord-Lieutenant: "In the sayd conflyct were slayn of the said Erll of Desmonde's party xviii. banners of galoglas, which bee commonly in every baner lxxx. men, and the substance of xxiv. baners of horsemen, which bee xx. under every banr at the leest, and under some xxx., xl., and l.; and emonges others was slayne the said Erll is kinnesman, Sir John FitzGerot, and Sir John of Desmond takyn, and his son slayne, and Sir Gerald of Desmond, another of his uncles, sore wounded and takyn; with many others whereof the certainte yet appereth not... His discomfyture and losse may bee right hurtfull; the moost part of theym that overthrew him bee Irishmen; and I feare it shall cause theyme to wex the more prowder, and also shall cause other Irishmen to take pride therin, setting the less by Englishmen." He died at Dingle, 18th June 1529, and was buried with his father at Tralee. He had but one legitimate child, Amy, who married, (1) 9th Earl of Ormond, (2) Sir Francis Bryan, Lord-Justice, (3) Gerald, 15th Earl of Desmond.


52. Burke, Sir Bernard: Dormant, Abeyant, Forfeited, and Extinct Peerages. London, 1866.

140. Froude, James A.: History of England, from the Fall of Wolsey to the death of Elizabeth. 12 vols. London, 1862-'70.

147. Geraldine Documents: Edited by Rev. James Graves: in Journal of the Archaeological Association of Ireland, October, 1869.

147a. Gillespie, Major-General Sir Robert R., Memoir. London, 1816.

216. Lodge's Peerage of Ireland, Revised and Enlarged by Mervyn Archdall. 7 vols. Dublin, 1789.

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