William FitzAdelm De Burgh

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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De Burgh, William FitzAdelm. The De Burghs, De Burgos, Burkes, or Bourkes, as the name is variously spelled, claim descent from Pepin, King of France. The members of the family who attended William the Conqueror in his descent on England were considerably enriched thereby. When Henry II. received the news of the first successes of the invaders in Ireland, he sent over William FitzAdelm de Burgh with Hugh de Lacy to take the submission of Roderic O' Conor.

After Strongbow's death, FitzAdelm was appointed governor of Ireland. In 1177 he founded the monastery of St. Thomas, near Dublin. We are told that he oppressed and impoverished the Anglo-Norman families, and amassed great wealth by conceding privileges to the native princes. It is even said that for bribes he allowed some portions of the fortifications of Wexford to be demolished. He was recalled in 1179, and De Lacy appointed in his place. He was, however, soon received back into favour, and given in marriage Isabel, natural daughter of Richard I., and widow of Llewellyn, Prince of Wales, and received large grants of land in Connaught. FitzAdelm was the founder of the Monastery of Dromore, and also the Abbey of Athassel, County of Tipperary, where he was buried in 1204.

His character is thus sketched by Giraldus Cambrensis: "This FitzAdelm was large and corpulent, both in stature and shape, but of a reasonable height. He was a pleasant and courtly man; but whatever honours he paid to any one were always mingled with guile. There was no end of his craftiness — there was poison in the honey, and a snake in the grass. To outward appearance he was liberal and courteous, but within there was more aloes than honey." Several communications regarding the De Burgh family will be found in Notes and Queries, 4th Series.

Sources

148. Giraldus Cambrensis: Topography, and History of the Conquest in Ireland: Forester and Wright. London, 1863.

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

254. Notes and Queries. London, 1850-'78.
O'Callaghan, John C., see No. 186.

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