The antiquity of this family is indisputable; but whence it immediately derives its origin is not so clearly established.
The surname, however, admits of no doubt as springing from the office of CHIEF BUTLER OF IRELAND, conferred by HENRY II upon
This Theobald was eldest son of Hervey Walter (one of the companions of WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR), by Matilda de Valoignes, and brother of Hubert, Lord Archbishop of Canterbury in 1193 (translated from the see of Salisbury while a prisoner in the Holy Land), and subsequently Chancellor, Chief Justice, and Treasurer of England.
Theobald Walter having returned into England, afterwards accompanied PRINCE JOHN into Ireland, in 1185.
He was possessed of the baronies of Upper Ormond, Lower Ormond, and numerous other territories; and dying in 1206, was succeeded by his only son, by his wife, Maud, daughter and heir of Robert de Vavasour,
THEOBALD, 2nd Butler, who first assumed the surname of Le Botiler or Butler, in 1221.
He married Joan, eldest sister and co-heir of John de Marisco, a considerable baron in Ireland, to whose estates in Ireland and England his posterity succeeded; and dying about 1230 was succeeded by his eldest son,
THEOBALD, 3rd Butler, who wedded Margery, eldest daughter of Richard de Burgh (ancestor of the Earls of Clanricarde), by whom he acquired a considerable accession of landed property.
He died in 1248, and was succeeded by his son,
THEOBALD, 4th Butler (1242-85), who sat as a Baron in the Parliament of Ireland, and assisted EDWARD I in his wars in Scotland.
He espoused Joan, youngest daughter of John Fitzgeoffrey, Lord of Kirtling and Sheriff of Yorkshire, Lord Justice of Ireland, and youngest son of the famous Geoffrey FitzPeter, Earl of Essex, by whom he had a numerous family.
This Theobald, who obtained a grant from EDWARD I of the prisage of wines in Ireland, died in 1285, and was succeeded by his eldest son,
THEOBALD, 5th Butler (1269-99), who sat in parliament as a Baron, his name appearing fifth upon the roll.
who died unmarried, and was succeeded in his barony and estates by his brother,
SIR EDMOND, 6th Butler (c1270-1321).
This feudal Lord received the honour of knighthood in London, 1309.
In 1312 he was appointed Lord Deputy of Ireland; in 1314, Chief Governor, under the title of Lord Justice; and in 1315, created EARL OF CARRICK.
His lordship wedded, in 1302, Joan, daughter of John, 1st Earl of Kildare, by whom, with two daughters, he had three sons,
JAMES, his successor;Lord Carrick, going on a pilgrimage to Spain, to the shrine of Santiago de Compostela, died in 1321 after his return to London, and was succeeded by his eldest son,
John, from whom the Earls of Carrick derive;
JAMES, 2nd Earl and 7th Butler (c1305-38), who was a minor at the decease of his father, but obtained licence four years later, for the sum of 2,000 marks, to marry whomsoever he pleased.
He accordingly wedded Eleanor, second daughter of Humphrey, 4th Earl of Hereford, High Constable of England, by the Lady Elizabeth, daughter of EDWARD I; and was created, in consequence of this alliance, by EDWARD III, in 1328, EARL OF ORMOND.
His lordship had a renewed grant of the prisage of wines (which had been resumed by the Crown), and a grant of the regalities, liberties, etc, of County Tipperary, with the rights of a palatine in that county for life.
He was succeeded by his elder son,
JAMES, 2nd Earl (1331-82), called The Noble Earl on account of being great-grandson of EDWARD I.
In 1359 and 1360, his lordship was appointed Lord Justice of Ireland; and was succeeded by his son (by Elizabeth, daughter of Sir John Darcy (Lord Justice of Ireland),
JAMES, 3rd Earl (c1359-1405); who by building and making Gowran Castle his usual residence, was commonly called Earl of Gowran.
His lordship purchased, in 1391, Kilkenny Castle from the heirs of Sir Hugh le Despencer, which he made his chief place of abode.
In 1392, 1401, and 1404, his lordship was Lord Justice of Ireland.
He wedded firstly, Anne, daugher of John, 4th Baron Welles, and had issue,
JAMES, his successor;His lordship espoused secondly, in 1399, Katherine FitzGerald, of Desmond, by whom he four children.
Richard (Sir), of Polestown;
He was succeeded by his eldest son,
JAMES, 4th Earl (1392-1452), who was called The White Earl, and was esteemed for his learning.
His lordship prevailed upon HENRY V to create a king-of-arms in Ireland by the title Ireland King-of-Arms (a designation altered by HENRY VIII to Ulster King-of-Arms, and he gave lands forever to the heralds' college.
He was Lord Justice of Ireland in 1407, and again in 1440, in which latter year he had a grant of the temporalities of the see of Cashel for ten years after the decease of the archbishop, Richard O'Hedian.
His lordship married firstly, in 1413, Joan, daughter of William de Beauchamp, 1st Baron Bergavenny, by whom he had three sons, successive earls, and two daughters; and secondly, in 1432, Elizabeth, daughter of Gerald, 5th Earl of Kildare, by whom he had no issue.
His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,
JAMES, KG, 5th Earl (1420-61); who was created, by HENRY VI, in 1449, for his fidelity to the Lancastrian interest, EARL OF WILTSHIRE.
In 1451, was was made Lord Deputy of Ireland; and the next year, succeeding his father in the title of ORMOND, was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland for ten years.
In 1455, he was constituted LORD HIGH TREASURER OF ENGLAND, and afterwards made a Knight of the Garter.
Falling into the hands of the Yorkists, after the battle of Towton, his lordship was beheaded, in 1461, when the earldom of Wiltshire expired, as would that of Ormond, the Earl's brother and heir being also at the battle of Towton, and in consequence attainted, had not EDWARD IV restored him in blood, and so enabled him to succeed as
JOHN, 6th Earl, who was considered one of the first gentlemen of the age in which he lived; and EDWARD IV is reported to have said that "if good breeding and liberal qualities were lost in the world, they might all be found in the Earl of Ormond."
He was complete master of the languages of Europe, and was sent ambassador to its principal courts.
His lordship died in 1476, in the Holy Land, having, in a fit of devotion, made a visit to Jerusalem, and was succeeded by his brother,
THOMAS, 7th Earl (1426-1515); who was also attainted, but restored by HENRY VII's first parliament in 1485, and the statutes made at Westminster, in the reign of EDWARD IV, which declared him and his brothers traitors, were utterly abrogated.
He was afterwards sworn of the Privy Council, and was summoned to parliament as Lord Rochford.
Lord Ormond left two daughters, who inherited the English estates, namely,
ANNE;At the demise of his lordship, in 1515, the peerage passed to his kinsman,
SIR PIERS BUTLER (1467-1539), as 8th Earl (great-grandson of 3rd Earl); but this nobleman was obliged to relinquish it to Sir Thomas Boleyn, Viscount Rochford.
In consideration of which adandonment, however, Sir Piers was created by HENRY VIII, in 1528, EARL OF OSSORY.
Soon after this, he returned to Ireland, where he was chosen Lord Deputy by the Council, and proceeding through the city of Dublin on horseback to St Mary's Abbey, was there sworn into office.
Thomas Boleyn, Earl of Ormond, dying without issue, 1539, the King restored the Earl of Ossory to his original title of Ormond.
He wedded Margaret, second daughter of Gerald, 8th Earl of Kildare (which lady was called the Good Countess of Ormond), and had, with other issue,
JAMES, his successor;His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,
Richard, 1st Viscount Mountgarret;
JAMES, 2nd Earl of Ossory (1496-1546), who had been created, in 1535, Viscount Thurles; and was subsequently restored, 1541, to the earldom of Ormond, as 9th Earl.
His lordship wedded Joan, daughter and heir of James, 10th Earl of Desmond, and had seven sons, namely,
THOMAS, his successor;His lordship died by poison administered at a supper at Ely Palace, Holborn, and was succeeded by his eldest son,
THOMAS, KG, 10th Earl (c1531-1614), called, from the darkness of his complexion, The Black Earl.
This nobleman was the first of his family who conformed to the Church of England.
His died without surviving male issue, and was succeeded by his kinsman,
WALTER, 11th Earl, son of John, third son of the 9th Earl; who died in 1632, and was succeeded by his grandson,
JAMES, KG, 12th Earl (1610-88), six times Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.
His lordship was created, in 1642, MARQUESS OF ORMONDE, and Baron Butler, of Llanthony, and Earl of Brecknock, 1660.
This nobleman, for his fidelity to the house of STUART, and his eminent services in the royal cause, was elevated at the restoration of the monarchy, 1661, to the DUKEDOM OF ORMONDE.
His Grace was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in 1662, and continued in that high office until 1668.
He married his cousin, Elizabeth Preston, in her own right Baroness Dingwall, and had surviving issue,
THOMAS (1634-80), father of JAMES, 2nd Duke;His Grace was succeeded by his grandson,
Richard, 1st EARL OF ARRAN;
John, 1st EARL OF GOWRAN;
JAMES, KG, 2nd Duke (1665-1745), who inherited the Scottish barony of DINGWALL from his grandmother.
This nobleman was appointed a Lord of the Bedchamber in 1685; and serving in the army, participated in the victory over the unfortunate Duke of Monmouth, at Sedgemore.
He was afterwards, however, one of the first to join the standard of the Prince of Orange; and when that prince ascended the throne, His Grace obtained the Garter, and was constituted HIGH CONSTABLE OF ENGLAND for the coronation.
He attended WILLIAM III into Ireland, was at the Boyne, and subsequently entertained His Majesty most sumptuously at Kilkenny Castle.
In 1693, he was at the battle of Landen, where he received several wounds, and had a horse shot under him.
In 1702, His Grace was constituted, by QUEEN ANNE, COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF of the land forces sent against France and Spain, when he destroyed the French fleet, sunk the Spanish galleons in Vigo harbour, and took Redondela Fort, for which important services he received the thanks of both houses of parliament.
In 1711, he was declared CAPTAIN-GENERAL and COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF of the land forces in Great Britain, or which were, or should be, employed abroad inconjunction with the troops of the allies; which post he held till the treaty of Utrecht, in 1713; in which year he was made Warden of the Cinque Ports and Constable of Dover Castle.
But two years later (GEORGE I in the interim having succeeded to the throne), His Grace was impeached of high treason, and having retired into France, was attainted, when his estates became forfeited, his English honours extinguished, and Parliament passed an act which annulled the regalities and liberties of the County Palatine of Tipperary, vested his lands in the Crown, and proclaimed a reward of £10,000 for his apprehension, should he attempt to land in Ireland.
But the same parliament also passed an act, in 1721, to enable the Duke's brother, the Earl of Arran, to purchase the estate, which his lordship did accordingly.
This great but unfortunate nobleman married firstly, Anne, daughter of Viscount Hyde of Kenilworth, and had one daughter; and secondly, in 1685, Mary, eldest surviving daughter of Henry, 1st Duke of Beaufort, and left one surviving child, MARY.
The Duke resided in his exile chiefly at Avignon.
He had a pension from the Spanish court of 2,000 pistoles, and died in 1745, when his remains were brought into England, 1746, and deposited in the family vault, in HENRY VIII's chapel, Westminster Abbey.
At this period, it was supposed that the Duke's honours were all forfeited under the act of attainder passed by Parliament; but it was subsequently decided that no proceeding of the English legislature could affect Irish dignities.
According to that decision, His Grace's brother,
CHARLES (1671-1758), who in 1683 had been created Baron Butler, and in 1693, Baron Cloughgrenan, Viscount Tullogh, and Earl of Arran.
This nobleman assumed the style of 14th Earl of Ormond and 3rd Duke and Marquess; but his lordship never enjoyed, assumed, or was aware of possessing the English and Irish Dukedom of Marquessate.
He wedded Elizabeth, fourth and youngest daughter of Thomas, 2nd Baron Crew, but had no issue.
He died in 1758, when his own honours expired, with the marquessate and dukedom of ORMONDE.
The Scottish barony of Dingwall passed from the Butler family to the heir of the Prestons, and the Irish earldom of Ormonde and Viscountcy of Thurles, supposed to have fallen under the English attainder, became dormant, in which state those honours remained, until restored, in 1791, by the decision of the Irish House of Lords, to
JOHN BUTLER (c1744-66), of Garryricken, great-grandson of Richard Butler, of Kilcash, younger brother of the 12th Earl.
His lordship espoused, in 1763, Bridget Stacy, but had no issue, when the family honours reverted to his cousin,
WALTER (1703-83), who did not assume the titles.
He married, in 1732, Ellen (Eleanor), eldest daughter of Nicholas Morris, of The Court, County Dublin, and had issue,
JOHN, his successor;He was succeeded by his only son,
Frances; Susanna; Eleanor.
JOHN, 17th Earl (1740-95), by decision of the House of Lords, 1791, who wedded, in 1769, the Lady Anne Wandesford, daughter and sole heir of John, last Earl of Wandesford, and had issue,
WALTER, his successor;His lordship was succeeded by his eldest son,
WALTER, KP, 18th Earl (1770-1820); created MARQUESS OF ORMONDE, who wedded, in 1805, Anna Maria Catherine, daughter and sole heir of Joseph Hart Pryce Clarke, but had no issue.
His lordship died in 1820, when the marquessate and English barony expired, and the other honours reverted to his brother,
JAMES, KP (1777-1838), 19th Earl; who was created, at the coronation of GEORGE IV, 1821, a peer of the United Kingdom, as Baron Ormonde; and in 1825 advanced to the dignity of MARQUESS OF ORMONDE.
His lordship was installed a Knight of St Patrick, 1821.
He wedded, in 1807, Grace Louisa, daughter of the Rt Hon John Staples, and had issue,
JOHN, his successor;His lordship was Hereditary Chief Butler of Ireland, a Knight of St Patrick, Lord-Lieutenant of County Kilkenny, and Colonel of the Kilkenny Militia.
Anne; Louisa Grace; Elizabeth; Mary Charlotte.
He was succeeded by his eldest son,
JOHN, KP, 2nd Marquess (1808-54), who espoused, in 1843, Frances Jane, daughter of General the Hon Sir Edward Paget GCB, and was succeeded by his son,
JAMES EDWARD WILLIAM THEOBALD, KP (1844-1919), 3rd Marquess, Commodore of the Royal Yacht Squadron, who wedded, in 1876, the Lady Elizabeth Harriett Grosvenor, daughter of the 1st Duke of Westminster, though had no issue, and the honours reverted to his brother,
JAMES ARTHUR WELLINGTON FOLEY, 4th Marquess (1849-1943), who married, in 1887, Ellen, daughter of General Anson Stager, USA, and was succeeded by his son,
JAMES GEORGE ANSON, 5th Marquess (1890-1949), Major, the Life Guards, who espoused, in 1915, Sybil Inna Mildred, daughter of the 2nd Baron de Ramsey, though had no issue, and was succeeded by his brother,
(JAMES) ARTHUR NORMAN, CVO, MC, 6th Marquess (1893-1971), who married, in 1924, Jessie, daughter of Charles Carlos Clarke, though died wthout issue, and the titles reverted to his cousin,
JAMES HUBERT THEOBALD CHARLES, MBE (1899-1977), 7th Marquess, also Earl of Ormond, Earl of Ossory, Viscount Thurles, and Baron Ormonde.
His lordship wedded, in 1935, Nan, daughter of Garth Griffith Gilpin, and had two daughters,
CONSTANCE ANN;He married secondly, in 1976, Elizabeth, daughter of Charles R Rarden, though had no issue.
VIOLET CYNTHIA LILAH.
Without a male heir the marquessate became extinct in 1997, while the earldom is dormant.
The 18th Viscount Mountgarret, who succeeded his father in 2004, is understood to be the likely heir of the 7th Marquess's related title, Earl of Ormond, but has not successfully proven the claim.
Having origins in a late 12th century earthwork castle, the site has been continuously occupied ever since, with the present Kilkenny Castle surviving from a comprehensive early to mid-19th century redevelopment programme, completed to plans devised by William Robertson (1770-1850), retaining an important element dating from the early 18th century.
An elegantly composed Classical frontispiece built for James Butler (1665-1745), 2nd Duke, possibly to designs prepared by William Robinson (d 1712) or Francis Place (1647-1728), exhibiting high quality stone masonry, is positioned almost on line with a similar breakfront in the associated stable complex, thereby enhancing the formal quality of the streetscape of The Parade.
Of particular renown is the great hall accommodated in a later range, built to the designs of Sir Thomas Newenham Deane (1827-99) and Benjamin Woodward (1816-61).
This is an exposed timber roof construction identifying the technical or engineering importance of the site, featuring a decorative scheme of artistic significance by John Hungerford Pollen (1820-1902).
A chimney-piece carved by Charles William Harrison (c.1835-1903) (also responsible for carved embellishments in the arcaded stair-hall) exhibits particularly fine craftsmanship.
|The Long Gallery|
|EDWARD VII leaving the Castle|
In 1967, however, the 6th Marquess presented it to the local committee and it has been largely restored as a state possession.
Having been carefully restored over the course of the late 20th century by the Irish state, the castle remains a valuable anchor site contributing significantly to the character of the townscape.
First published in September, 2012.