James Eustace, 3rd Viscount Baltinglass

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Eustace, James, 3rd Viscount Baltinglass, a descendant of preceding, who distinguished himself in the Desmond war, was born early in the 16th century. Having with other lords of the Pale complained in 1576 to Elizabeth that their liberties and privileges had been annulled by the imposition of a cess, and that no tax ought to be levied upon them but by Act of Parliament, he was, with Lords Delvin, Howth, and Trimleston, committed prisoner to the Castle of Dublin, while their lawyers, whom they sent to represent their case to the Queen, were committed to the Tower of London. Mr. Richey says: "The opponents of the cess were the best and most loyal of the Pale — Baltinglass, Delvyn, Nugent, Howth, Plunket, Sarsfield, Nenagh, and Talbot. Thus all these thoroughly English gentlemen were laid in prison in the Castle for stating that although most willing to supply the necessities of the Government, they objected to illegal exactions, forbidden by a series of Acts of Parliament, and which every Deputy had denounced as mischievous and unjust." After a year's confinement they gave way; "but," says Mr. Froude, "they went home in bitter humour, and the rebellion in the south was a sore temptation to them. Had they risen when Desmond rose, the resources of English power would have been severely tried. . . [Baltinglass] was a passionate Romanist; but besides his creed he was connected in blood with the marauding tribes of the Wicklow mountains. He was the owner of Glenmalure, the scene of the murderous performance of the Naas garrison, and the victims of that remarkable atrocity were dependants of the house of Eustace." [See SIDNEY, SIR HENRY.]

After vainly endeavouring to persuade the Earl of Kildare to rise with him, he, in the middle of July 1580, threw off his allegiance, and sent letters to his friends asking them to join in defending their country and their religion from the assaults of the English, saying: "A woman incapable of orders could not be head of the Church — a thing which Christ did not grant to his own mother." The Four Masters thus relate his proceedings: "James Eustace . . broke down his castles, after having embraced the Catholic faith and renounced his sovereign; so that war and disturbance arose on the arrival of Arthur, Lord Grey, in Ireland, as Lord-Justice. The Kavanaghs, Kinsellaghs, Byrnes, Tooles, Gaval-Rannall, and the surviving part of the inhabitants of Offaly and Leix, flocked to the assistance of James Eustace; so that from the Slaney to the Shannon, and from the Boyne to the meeting of the Three Waters, became one scene of strife and dissension." One of Lord Grey's first acts was to collect a large force and march against him and his confederates entrenched in Glenmalure. Possibly they were put upon their guard by the Earl of Kildare, who was in Lord Grey's company. The English force of 800 men was led into an ambuscade and cut off almost to a man-Sir Peter Carew, Colonel John Moor, and Francis Cosby being amongst the slain, and the Lord-Deputy Grey escaping with difficulty. After this success Lord Baltinglass appears to have hastened to join the Desmonds and their Spanish allies in Kerry, and to have taken an active part in the Desmond war.

His fortunes, after the death of the Earl of Desmond in 1583, are thus related by Holinshed: "The Viscount of Baltinglass, being aduertised of the death of the earle of Desmond, which was no small grief vnto him, and he also verie wearie of his trotting and wandering on foot amongst bogs, woods, and desert places (being altogether distressed, and in great miserie, and now destitute of all his friends and acquaintances, and not able to hold head anie longer against her maiestie's force), did embarke himselfe for Spaine, in hope to haue some releefe and succor, and to procure some aid from the King of Spaine; and by that meanes to be of some abilitie to renew his force and rebellion. But he found in the end verie small comfort. And therefore of a verie melancholie greefe and sorrow of mind, as it is thought, he died, being in verie extreame pouertie and need." His death is supposed to have taken place in 1583. By an ex post facto law, known as the Statute of Baltinglass, the Eustaces were deprived of their estates and titles. Sir Bernard Burke cites strong reasons in favour of the present representative of the family being legally entitled to the viscountcy.


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

53. Burke, Sir Bernard: Landed Gentry. 2 vols. London, 1871.

134. Four Masters, Annals of Ireland by the: Translated and Edited by John O'Donovan. 7 vols. Dublin, 1856.

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

164. Holinshed, Ralph: Chronicles. 6 vols. London, 1807-'8.

174. Ireland, History of, Lectures on the: Alexander G. Richey. 2 vols. Dublin, 1869-'70.

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