Sir James Desmond, 14th Earl

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Desmond, Sir James, 14th Earl, son of Sir John, de facto 13th Earl, succeeded on his cousin's murder in 1540. He is called by English writers the "Traitor Earl." In 1538 he had written to the Pope, declaring that an army of 30,000 Spaniards would ensure the conquest of Ireland, proposing that Ireland should be annexed to the Holy See, and offering to undertake the government as viceroy, paying a revenue to Paul of 100,000 ducats. "The expedition would be costly, but the expenses would fall neither on his Holiness nor on the Emperor. Desmond, with armed privateers, would seize and deliver into the hands of the Pope the persons of a sufficient number of the heretical English, whose ransoms would defray the necessary outlay." In July 1539 we find him in open arms against the English power, in conjunction with O'Neill, but he was soon overcome by Viscount Thurles, who seized upon his castle at Lough Gur. Having surrendered and obtained letters from the Lord-Deputy, he sailed from Howth in 1542, repaired to London, made submission to Henry VIII., was kindly received, reinstated in his ancient patrimony, and sent back with the titles of Treasurer of Ireland and President of Munster. He is afterwards said to have "lived in honour and prosperity," until he died at Askeaton, 14th October 1558. He was there buried in the Franciscan Friary. The 14th Earl was four times married — to daughters of Lord Fermoy, Lord Ely O'Carroll, 8th Earl of Ormond, and Donald MacCarthy Mor. [See also FITZMAURICE, JAMES.]

Sources

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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