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Piers Butler, 1st Earl of Ormonde

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Title: Piers Butler, 1st Earl of Ormonde  
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Subject: Earl of Ormond (Ireland), List of Kilkenny people, List of nicknames of European royalty and nobility: P-Q
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Piers Butler, 1st Earl of Ormonde

Piers Butler, 8th Earl of Ormond and 1st Earl of Ossory (c. 1467 – 26 August 1539), also known as (Irish Piers Ruadh) Red Piers, was from the Polestown branch of the Butler family of Ireland.

Claims to the title

During the prolonged absence from Ireland of the earls, his father Sir James Butler (d.1487) had laid claim to the Ormond land and titles. This had precipitated a crisis in the Ormond succession when the seventh earl later died without a male heir. On 20 March 1489, King Henry VII appointed him High Sheriff of County Kilkenny. He was knighted prior to September 1497. The following year (1498) he seized Kilkenny Castle and with his wife, Margaret FitzGerald (d.1542), the dynamic daughter of the earl of Kildare, probably improved the living accommodation there.

On 28 February 1498 he received a pardon for crimes committed in Ireland, including the murder of James Ormonde, heir to the 7th Earl. He was also made Senechal of the Liberty of Tipperary on 21 June 1505. On the death of Thomas Butler, 7th Earl of Ormonde on 3 August 1515, Piers Butler became the 8th Earl of Ormond. On 6 March 1522, the King appointed him Chief Governor of Ireland as Lord Deputy; he held this office until 13 May 1524 when he became Lord Treasurer.

Loss of title

One of the heirs general to the Ormond inheritance was Thomas Boleyn, whose mother was a Butler. Boleyn was the father of Anne, who would become a wife of Henry VIII. As the king wanted the titles of Ormond and Wiltshire for Thomas Boleyn, he induced Butler and his coheirs to resign their claims on 18 February 1528. Aided by the king's Chancellor, Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, Butler was granted the earldom of Ossory.

Restoration of title

On 22 February 1538, the earldom of Ormond was restored to him. He died on 26 August 1539 and was buried in St Canice's Cathedral, Kilkenny city .

Marriage and issue

In about 1485, he married Lady Margaret FitzGerald, daughter of Gerald FitzMaurice FitzGerald, 8th Earl of Kildare and Alison FitzEustace. The marriage was political; arranged with the purpose of healing the breach between the two families.[1] In the early years of their marriage, Margaret and her husband were reduced to penury by James Dubh Butler, a nephew, heir to the earldom and agent of the absentee 7th Earl, who resided in England.[2] Piers Butler retaliated by murdering James Dubh in an ambush in 1497. He was pardoned for his crime on 22 February 1498.

They had 3 sons and six daughters.

  • James Butler, 9th Earl of Ormond (c. 1501 – 1546), also called "the lame", who married Lady Joan FitzGerald, daughter and heiress of James FitzGerald, 10th Earl of Desmond, and had issue.
  • Richard Butler, 1st Viscount Mountgarret (1500 – 20 May 1571), married his first cousin Eleanor Butler, daughter of his uncle Theobald Butler. They had issue.
  • Thomas Butler, who was slain by Dermoid Mac Shane, Mac GillPatrick of Ossory, and left an only daughter Margaret, first married to Rory O'Moore of Laois, and lastly to Sir Maurice Fitzgerald of Lackagh.


The Earl had an illegitimate son, Edmund Butler, who became the Archbishop of Cashel. The Earl also had an illegitimate elder brother, Theobald Butler.


  • Royal Descents and Pedigrees of Founders' Kin, Pedigree CXXI, by Sir Bernard Burke (1864)

See also


  • The Lineage and Ancestry of H.R.H. Prince Charles, Prince of Wales Edinburgh, by Gerald Paget (1977)
Peerage of Ireland
New creation Earl of Ossory
Succeeded by
James Butler
Preceded by
Thomas Butler
Earl of Ormond
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