Ormonde, James (DNB00)
ORMONDE, Sir JAMES (d. 1497), lord-treasurer of Ireland, the illegitimate son of James Butler, fifth earl of Ormonde is said to have been bronght up at the Englsh court by his uncle. Thomas Butler, seventh earl of Ormonde (Ware, Annals of Ireland, ed. 1703, p. 17), and to have been early noted for his expertness in feats of arms; throughout his career he was commonly known as ‘Black James.' He followed the traditions of his family in supporting the Lancastrian house, and received knighthood for useful services rendered in Ireland during the rising of Lambert Simnel, when he proved himself most active in his opposition to the Earl of Kildare, who supported the pretender. In 1491 he was created by grant captain and governor of the army about to be sent to Kilkenny against the rebels, and in the following year received by patent the castle and manors in Meath, Kilkenny, and Tippenay which had belonged to the earldom of Marsh.
Ormonde was appointed lord-treasurer of Ireland on 15 June 1492, in the place of Lord Portlester, the father-in-law of Kildare, an office which he held for not quite two years; on his resignation he was granted an annuity of 100l. and the constableship of Limerick Castle (Patent, 16 June, 9 Hen. VII, m. 28). Owing to the continued absence of Thomas, the seventh earl of Ormonde, in England, the leadership of the Butler family devolved upon Sir James, who was deputed by the earl to act with full authority on his behalf; and so fully was this authority exercised and recognised that the annalists speak of him as Earl of Ormonde (Book of Howth; Cal. State Papers; Carew MS. p. 106), and his enemies accused him of styling himself Earl of Ormonde, and of plotting to secure his legitimation (Gairdner, Letters and Papers, Earl of Kildare to Earl of Ormonde, ii. 66).
While Sir James was thus exercising the headship of the family, the Butlers entered into their great feud with the Geraldines. A skirmish between the two parties had taken place on the appointment of Sir James as treasurer, and was followed by more serious encounters in 1493. The rival factions attacked and harried each other's lands in turn in that year. In the course of the struggle a meeting of the two parties was arranged, and a public discussion of their grievances took place in the church of St. Patrick in Dublin; but the mutual recriminations of the speakers, and the temper of the town populace, led to an interchange of blows and a promiscuous discharge of arrows. Sir James fled to the chapter-house, and there barricaded himself, fearing the treachery of the earl, and from this retreat he only emerged on the lord-deputy putting his hand through a hole in the door cut for the purpose, in order to assure him of his good intentions (Holinshed, iii. 77). The quarrel between Sir James Ormonde and the Earl of Kildare was further embittered owing to the support given by the latter to Sir Piers Butler, the heir-at-law to the earldom of Ormonde, by which policy, says the 'Book of Howth,' 'the Earl of Wormond was kept short and occupied in his own county' (Book of Howth; Carew MS. p. 106). Sir James appears to have gone over to England to state his accusations against Kildare in person. His efforts seem to have been rewarded with success, as the earl was attainted in Poynings' parliament, 1494, and was for two years imprisoned in England before he returned to Ireland again as deputy. in 1496.
In 1494 Ormonde joined Sir Edward Poynings' army and marched into Ulster against the supporters of Perkin Warbeck, and during the next two years he was in frequent communication with the king's council, and received payment for his gallowglasses. In 1497 Sir James met his death at the hands of his kinsman. Sir Piers Butler (Carte, following Stanihurst, gives 1618 as the date; but see History of St, Canice, by Graves and Prim, p. 196). Sir Piers, in a letter to Thomas, earl of Ormonde (quoted ib. p. 194), recounting the circumstances from his point of view, tefls how he had been kept out of his land, and imprisoned by Sir James, and how the latter haa shown lus intention to kill him. 'After the which,' says he, 'it fortuned me sodenly in the open field, not ferr from Kilkenny, to meete with hym, and so, by the grace of God, which wold that every ill dede shold be punyshed the same. Sir James and I . . . rencountred and fought togeders so long till God had wrought his will upon hym.'
[Cal. State Papers; Carew MSS.; Lodge's Hist. Irish Peerage; Sir James Ware's Works; Gairdner's Letters and Papers relating to Henry VII; Holinshed's Hist. of Ireland; Annals of the Four Masters, ed. O'Donovan; Hist. of St. Canice Cathedral (Graves and Prim); Lives of the Earls of Kildare; Carte's Ormonde.]