Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Butler, Pierce (d.1539)

BUTLER, Sir PIERCE or PIERS, eighth Earl of Ormonde and first Earl of Ossory (d. 1539), was descended from the Butlers, baronets of Poolestown, and was the son of Sir James Butler and Sawe (Sabina), daughter of Donnell Reogh MacMurrough Cavenagh, prince of his sept. He succeeded Thomas, seventh earl of Ormonde, in 1515. He took a prominent part in suppressing the Irish rebellions, and when the Earl of Surrey, who was his intimate friend, left the kingdom in 1521, he was appointed lord-deputy. Owing to the representations of the Talbots he was removed from the government in 1524, but the king, to indicate his disagreement with the decision of the commissioners, created him on 13 May lord-treasurer of Ireland. At the special request of the king he surrendered the earldom of Ormonde to Sir Thomas Boleyn (or Bullen), grandson of the seventh earl of Ormonde and brother of Anne Boleyn, and in lieu thereof he was created Earl of Ossory by patent dated 23 Feb. 1527–8. By Lodge and other authorities it is stated that the earldom of Ormonde was restored to Sir Pierce Butler on 22 Feb. 1537–8, on the death of Sir Thomas Boleyn; but, as is shown by Mr. J. H. Round (Foster, Collect. Geneal. vol. i.), the grant of the earldom was made before the death of Thomas Boleyn, earl of Wiltshire and Ormonde, and that the earldom was a new one is sufficiently attested by the fact that it was limited to heirs male of his body. After its conferment ‘the Earl of Wilts,’ as is mentioned in the ‘Carew State Papers,’ ‘was content to be so named earl of Ormonde in Ireland, semblably as the two Lords Dacres be named the one of the south and the other of the north’ (Calendar, Carew MSS. 1515–1574, p. 127). The Earl of Ormonde manifested the sincerity of his loyalty by his activity in taking measures for crushing the insurrection of his brother-in-law, Lord Thomas Fitzgerald, and after the latter's execution he was rewarded by a large grant of lands. He afterwards turned his arms against the Earl of Desmond, who submitted and took an oath of fidelity. He died on 21 or 26 Aug. 1539, and was buried in the chancel of St. Canice's Cathedral, Kilkenny. He is stated to have been ‘a man of great honour and sincerity, infinitely good-natured.’ He brought over to Kilkenny artificers and manufacturers from Flanders and the neighbouring provinces, whom he employed in working tapestry, diaper, Turkey carpets, and similar industries. By his wife Margaret, daughter of Gerald Fitzgerald, earl of Kildare, he had three sons and six daughters. His second son, Richard, created Viscount Mountgarret, 23 Oct. 1550, was grandfather of Richard, third Viscount Mountgarret [q. v.] His eldest son, James, created Viscount Thurles in 1535, became ninth Earl of Ormonde, married Lady Joan Fitzgerald, daughter and heiress of James, eleventh earl of Desmond, was suspected of hostility to the English government, and was poisoned while in London at a supper at Ely House. He died on 28 Oct. 1546. His son Thomas (1532–1614) [q. v.] succeeded to the earldom.

[Carte's Life of the Duke of Ormonde (Oxford ed. 1851), i. lxxxvi–xciii; Lodge's Peerage of Ireland, iv. 19–22; Paper on the Barony of Arklow by J. H. Round in Foster's Collectanea Genealogica, vol. i.; and on the Ormonde Attainders in the Genealogist, new ser., vol. i. No. 7, 186–9; State Papers, Irish Series; Calendar of Carew MSS.]

T. F. H.