Pierce Butler

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Butler, Pierce, 8th Earl of Ormond, Earl of Ossory, succeeded his father in 1515. He had already distinguished himself in the service of Crown, and had been successful in suppressing the insurrections of the native Irish. In 1521 he was appointed Lord-Deputy. His marriage with a sister of the Earl of Kildare did not extinguish the feud between the Butlers and FitzGeralds. On account of the murder of his friend, Richard Talbot,by James FitzGerald, he impeached the Earl of Kildare. The matter ended by FitzGerald being obliged to walk through London candle in hand, and a halter round his neck; on the other hand, Ormond was replaced in the office of Deputy by Kildare. At one time it is stated negotiations were set on foot for the marriage of his son to his cousin, Anne Boleyn. Henry VIII. coerced Pierce to resign his title of Earl of Ormond to Sir Thomas Boleyn, who was desirous of the honour. In its stead, the Earldom of Ossory was conferred upon him by the King, in great state, at Windsor, 23rd February 1527-'8.

After Sir Thomas Boleyn's death, Pierce was restored to his ancient honour of Ormond. By this deference to Henry VIII.'s wishes he acquired large additions to his estates in various parts of Leinster. Lord Thomas FitzGerald endeavoured to induce the Earl to join him in insurrection — offering to divide the Kingdom of Ireland with his son James. The Earl declined in a spirited letter, in which he wrote: "You are so liberal in parting stakes with me, that a man would weene you had no right to the game; and so importunate for my company, as if you would perswade me to hang with you for good fellowship. And think you that James is so mad as to gape for gudgeons, or so ungrateful as to sell his truth and loyalty for a piece of Ireland." Nettled by this reply, FitzGerald, with O'Neill and other Irish chief tains, ravaged the County of Kilkenny, and in an engagement near Jerpoint wounded and nearly took prisoner James, the Earl's son. Ormond was foremost in suppressing the insurrection, and upon the death of Kildare and the execution of his uncles in 1537, was, as a reward, further enriched by the Crown: he then turned his arms against the Earl of Desmond, who submitted, and took an oath of loyalty. He and his countess brought workmen from Flanders, and enriched Kilkenny Castle with tapestry, diapers, Turkey carpets, and cushions. The latter part of the Earl's life was spent in prayer, contemplation, and alms-giving.

He died 26th August 1539, and was buried in St. Canice's, Kilkenny. He is described as "a man of great honour and sincerity, infinitely good-natured, plain, kind, loving, familiar, and liberal to his friends and followers; but an enemy and severe scourge to all bad people." His second son was created Viscount Mountgarret, and his illegitimate son Edmund, Archbishop of Cashel.

Sources

271. Ormond, Duke of, Life 1610-'88: Thomas A. Carte, M.A. 6 vols. Oxford, 1851.

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