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Butler dynasty

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Title: Butler dynasty  
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Subject: Skellig Michael, History of Ireland (1169–1536), Munster, Gowran, Ireland
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Butler dynasty

Arms of Butler, Earl & Marquess of Ormonde: Gules, three covered cups or[1]
Arms of Walter: Or, a chief indented azure. These arms are borne in the first quarter of the arms of the Marquess of Ormonde (the arms of Butler are born in the 2nd) reflecting the family's descent in the male line from Theobald FitzWalter, living during the reign of King Henry II (1154–1189)[2]

The Butler dynasty refers to the several branches of the Butler family (Irish: de Buitléir) that has its origins in the Cambro-Norman family that participated in the Norman invasion of Ireland in the 12th century. Variant spellings include le Boteler and le Botiller. The surname has its origins in the hereditary office of Butler of Ireland. The family originates with Theobald Walter, 1st Baron Butler.

Butlers of Ormond

This is the senior branch of the family and later produced, Earls, Marquesses and Dukes of Ormond. The family was based in their stronghold of Kilkenny Castle since 1391, when James Butler,[3] 3rd Earl of Ormond (b. about 1359 – died 7 September 1405, buried in St. Mary's Collegiate Church Gowran) bought Kilkenny castle. He was a noble in the Peerage of Ireland. He acceded to the title in 1382. He built Gowran Castle in 1385 making it his usual residence, whence his common epithet, The Earl of Gowran. From their position in Kilkenny, they were able to control the surrounding Gaelic kingdoms of Ormond, Éile, Ikerrin and part of Osraige. Members of the Butler family lived in Kilkenny Castle until 1935.


The family held the titles of Chief Butler of Ireland and Baron Butler. Prior to the creation of the Earldom of Ormond, the 1st earl's father had been created the first Earl of Carrick. However, this title did not pass to James Butler. After a gap of 7 years following his father's death, James was rewarded with an earldom in his own right – Ormond. Subsidiary titles for the earl in the Peerage of Ireland were added: Earl of Ossory (1538) and Viscount Thurles (1536).

Created Marquess of Ormond in 1642, which title became extinct in 1758.

Created Duke of Ormonde in 1661, and created the Duke of Ormonde in the Peerage of England in 1682. After 1682, the spelling "Ormonde" was used almost universally. The title was forfeit in 1715. Subsidiary titles for the duke in the Peerage of England were added: Earl of Brecknock (1660) and Baron Butler (1660).

In 1715 the second duke was attainted and his English peerages declared forfeit. In 1758 the de jure third duke (Irish) died and the dukedom and marquessate became extinct.

The eighteenth earl was created as Baron Ormonde, of Peerage of Ireland in 1816. On his death in 1820, that title became extinct and the earldoms passed to his brother, for whom the title "Marquess of Ormonde" was re-created in the Peerage of the United Kingdom in 1825. That title became extinct in 1997, while the earldom became dormant.


The Lordship of Ireland in 1450
Norman Lordships and native kingdoms.

The patrimony of the Butlers of Ormond encompassed most of the modern counties of Tipperary, Kilkenny and parts of County Carlow. Only the earldom of Desmond would have had more extensive land holdings than Ormond in the Lordship and Kingdom of Ireland. Following the successful Norman Invasion, the ancient Gaelic lands would have been annexed to the crown and passed as baronies or fiefs to the supporters of the crown (the victorious barons). These (administrative) baronies corresponded to the (Irish) túath ("country") or trícha cét ("thirty hundred [men]") of a Gaelic chief, for example Éile. However, sometimes baronies combined small territories, or split a large one, or were created without regard for the earlier boundaries. In the Norman period most Gaelic chiefs were killed, expelled, or subordinated by the new Norman lord; in the Tudor period, many Gaelic and Hibernicized lords retained their land by pledging allegiance to the Crown under the policy of surrender and regrant.

In 1837, the remains of the following Butler castles were recorded in County Kilkenny alone by Lewis.
"Granny or Grandison Castle, in Iverk, is one of the most considerable: it was the residence of Margaret Fitzgerald, the great Countess of Ormond, a lady of uncommon talents and qualifications, who is said also to have built the castles of Balleen and Coolkill, with several others of minor note. The Butlers owned the castles of Knocktopher, Gowran, Dunfert, Poolestown, Nehorn, Callan, Ballycallan, Damagh, Kilmanagh, and Urlingford..... The castles of Drumroe, Barrowmount, and Low Grange, are said to have belonged to Lord Galmoy;"[4]

Early figures

Butlers of Dunboyne

Thomas Butler, 1st Baron Dunboyne, the son of Theobald Butler, 4th Chief Butler of Ireland.

Butlers of Clonamicklon and Ikerrin

This branch sprang from John Butler of Clonamicklon, the second son of Edmund Butler, Earl of Carrick. His descendants would later become Viscounts Ikerrin and Earls of Carrick.

Notable family members

Butlers of Cahir

This branch sprang from James Butler, 3rd Earl of Ormond. Cahir Castle is built on an island of the River Suir. Much of the barony of Iffa and Offa West was controlled by the Butler Barons Cahir.

Notable family members

Barons of the first creation

Barons of the second creation

Butlers of Polestown and Roscrea

This branch also sprang from the 3rd Earl. Three distinct branches are associated with this branch of the family. The family tree splits firstly with Edmund MacRichard Butler; his eldest son, Sir James, founded the most illustrious sub-branch with his progeny going on to supply the 8th Earl of Ormond; his second son, Walter, founded the lesser sub-branch with his progeny going on to become baronets of Polestown. This sub-branch split thirdly to found a Roscrea branch in the barony of Ikerrin, County Tipperary, beginning with Walter's grandson.

Note: "Polestown" is also spelled in the records as Poolestown". It is now identified with the town of Paulstown in the Barony of Gowran, County Kilkenny.

Notable family members

Butlers of Mountgarret, Cloughgrennan, Kilcash & Duiske

The common ancestor here is Piers Butler, 8th Earl of Ormond. Three minor family branches sprang from his eldest son – James; Cloughgrenan, Kilcash and Duiske / Galmoye, His younger son, Richard Butler, founded the junior but long lasting Mountgarret line.

Butlers of Mountgarret

Mountgarret may take its name from the townland of "Tifeaghna (Mount Garret)" in the civil parish of Sheefin, in the barony of Galmoy or from "Clomantagh (Mount Garret)" in the civil parish of Clomantagh in the barony of Crannagh. Both baronies are in the northwestern corner of County Kilkenny. The Viscounts are recorded as significant landowners there as well as in neighbouring civil parish of Coolcashin.[5] It may also refer to a district of the town of New Ross in County Wexford. This branch was in turn an off-shoot of the Polestown branch.

Notable family members

Edmund Butler, 1st Earl of Kilkenny and 12th Viscount Mountgarret.

Butlers of Cloughgrenan

The second son of James Butler, 9th Earl of Ormond was Sir Edmund Butler of Cloughgrenan who occupied lands at Cloughgrenan (a townland near Carlow town). Tulleophelim (or Tullowphelim) is near the town of Tullow in County Carlow. The castle of Tulleophlim had been built by James Butler, 4th Earl of Ormond before 1450.

Notable family members

Butlers of Kilcash and Thurles

The third son of James Butler, 9th Earl of Ormond was John who occupied lands in Kilcash, near Clonmel, County Tipperary. His heirs went on to provide four immediate heirs to the earldom of Ormond when the senior line failed through lack of legitimate male issue.

Notable family members

Butlers of Garryricken

This branch is an offshoot of the Kilcash branch. Garryricken is a townland in the barony of Knocktopher, County Kilkenny.

Notable family members

Butlers of Duiske and Galmoye

Duiske takes its name from Duiske Abbey in Graiguenamanagh, County Kilkenny. Galmoy is a village in the Barony of Galmoy, northwestern Kilkenny. This branch also sprang from the 9th Earl. His younger son was James Butler of Duiske.

Notable family members

Family tree

See also


  1. ^ Debrett's Peerage, 1968, p.864
  2. ^ Debrett's Peerage, 1968, p.864
  3. ^ A History of St. Mary’s Church. Text by Imelda Kehoe. Published by the Gowran Development Association 1992
  4. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837.
  5. ^ Griffith's Primary Valuation, Tithe Applotment Books Year, 1825
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