Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Burgh, William de

BURGH, WILLIAM de, sixth Lord de Connaught and third Earl of Ulster (1312–1332), was the son of John de Burgh, by his wife Elizabeth, sister of Gilbert de Clare, the last earl of Gloucester. He was born on 13 Sept. 1312, and hence was a minor of some fourteen years old when he succeeded to the title and estates of his grandfather, Richard de Burgh [q. v.] (Fifteenth Cent. Chron.) His uncle dmund and his cousin Walter, son of William de Burgh, were appointed his guardians, with the custody of his Irish lands (Irish Rolls, 3311, 31 b). Edward III dubbed him knight on Whit Sunday 1328, and at the same time gave him possession of his estates. In the same year he was present at Northampton when the truce between England and Scotland was confirmed. From Northampton he went to Berwick for the betrothal of his cousins, David Bruce to the English princess Joan; after which Robert Bruce crossed over to Carrickfergus in company with the young earl, but returned to Scotland almost immediately (Fifteenth Cent. Chron.)

About Lady day 1329 he was present at the great Dublin parliament when it was decreed that each baron should punish his own servants if they broke the peace. In honour of this law he gave a great feast in Dublin Castle. In 1330 the old feud between the De Burghs and the Geraldines broke out again, and Roger Utlawe, the justiciar, committed both Lord Maurice Fitzthomas and the Earl of Ulster to the custody of the marshal at Limerick. They cannot have been confined long, as De Burgh was in England in 1331; while in October of the same year Lord Maurice Fitzthomas was once more a prisoner in Dublin Castle, whence he was not released till 1333 (Fifteenth Cent. Chron.; Book of Howth). His release is probably to be connected with the murder of the Earl of Ulster, who was slain by Robert de Mandeville, between Newtown and Carrickfergus, on 6 June 1333 (ib.; Gilbert's Viceroys, 183).

Like his father and his other ancestors for many generations, De Burgh was constantly at war with the native Irish. He came to Ireland in 1328, and in the same year led an expedition against Brian O'Brian. In this campaign he was assisted by Turlough O'Conor, king of Connaught, and Murtough O'Brian, king of Thomond. True to the policy of his race, the Earl of Ulster supported the claims of the descendants of Cathal Crobdherg, and thus was brought into conflict with his cousin, Walter de Burgh, who, bent on securing the throne of Connaught for himself, was constantly attacking Turlough. On the death of this king (1330) the earl seems to have been at open war with Sir Walter, whom he took prisoner, and starved to death in Greencastle in Galway (1332). Two years previously he had led a second expedition against Brian O'Brian, for the purpose of expelling him from the district of Thurles, near Cashel (Loch Cé; Fifteenth Cent. Chron.)

At the time of his death De Burgh was still a minor (Irish Rolls, 38 b), and, according to a later account, in his twentieth year (Fifteenth Cent. Chron.) His wife was the daughter of Henry Plantagenet, third earl of Lancaster (Lodge, Book of Howth, 327). By her he left a daughter and heir, Elizabeth, who was entrusted to the custody of her great-uncle, Edmund de Burgh (Irish Rolls, 40). This lady married Lionel, third son of Edward III, who thus, by right of his wife, became nominal lord of the immense Irish estates of the De Burghs (Fifteenth Cent. Chron.) De Burgh’s widow married Ralph Ufford, justiciar of Ireland (d. 1346), whom she survived (ib.)

[For authorities see Burgh, Richard ed and Walter de.]

T. A. A.