Thomas Butler, Earl of Ossory

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Butler, Thomas, Earl of Ossory, son of preceding, was born in Kilkenny Castle, 9th July 1634. In 1647 he quitted Ireland with his father, and passed on eventually to France, where he perfected himself in the accomplishments necessary to a youth of his expectations. In 1653 he accompanied his mother to Ireland. In March 1655, being in London, he was lodged in the Tower; whence he was, after a short imprisonment, released on account of ill health, and permitted to retire to the Continent — "not daring," as his biographer says, "to come near the King as long as Cromwell lived, for fear it should be a pretence for taking away from the Duchess the tenancy of her own estate." In November 1659, he married Emelia Beverweert, daughter of a leading Dutch statesman, a natural son of the Prince of Orange. After the Restoration he was appointed to several commands in the army, and was in 1665 made Lieutenant-General in Ireland. Next year he was sworn on the English Privy Council, and took his seat in Parliament as Lord Butler of Moor-Park. In 1672, visiting the court of France as envoy extraordinary, he was pressed by Louis to enter his service, and at parting was presented with a valuable jewel. In 1673,as Admiral of the Blue, he distinguished himself in an engagement with Van Tromp; and the same year planned a descent on Helvoetsluys, which Charles II. would not permit him to carry into execution. In the ensuing years he occupied several important offices of trust. Five years afterwards (1678) he commanded the British troops in the service of the Prince of Orange, and at the battle of Mons contributed not a little to the defeat of Marshal Luxembourg. He died 1680, aged 46, "to the universal regret of this nation and the general grief of a great part of Europe." His father was thereafter accustomed to say that "he would not exchange his dead son for any living son in Christendom." Mr. Wills writes: "In an age degraded by the vices of Buckingham and Rochester, he ran the race of Sidney, without the reward of royal favour which valour and virtue could win in better times." His body, after resting for a time in Westminster Abbey, was removed to Kilkenny. There is a long disquisition upon his character in Carte's 8th Book.


196. Irishmen, Lives of Illustrious and Distinguished, Rev. James Wills, D.D. 6 vols. or 12 parts. Dublin, 1840-'7.

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

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