Sir Edmund Butler of Cloughgrenan

Sir Edmund Butler (15341602) of Cloughgrenan (and the Dullough), was the second son of James Butler, 9th Earl of Ormond and Lady Joan Fitzgerald. He was a Tudor rebel and scion of the noble House of Ormond.

Life and career

In 1562, was in commission for presentation of the peace in County Carlow, during the Deputy's absence in the North against Shane O'Neill. He was knighted in 1567 and had a grant for the return of all Writs in the cantreds (baronies) of Oremond (Ormond Lower and Ormond Upper), Elyogerth (Eliogarty), and Elyocarrol (Ikerrin) in Tipperary.[1]

Battle of Affane

During the Battle of Affane in 1565, Edmund wounded Gerald FitzGerald, 15th Earl of Desmond in the right hip with a pistol-shot, cracking his thigh-bone and throwing him from his mount. With their leader fallen, the Geraldine troops were routed and the Butlers, led by Edmund's brother Thomas Butler, 10th Earl of Ormond, pursued them to the riverbank killing about 300 Geraldines.

Butler Revolt

His father died in London in 1546 when Edmund was about 12 years of age. By his father's will, he received the Dullough - the western part of the barony of Idrone, which, with the Roscrea property, was considered to be worth £400 yearly.[2] The 9th Earl had purchased the Dullogh from the Kavanaghs who had been in occupation of the land since before the Norman invasion of Ireland. Sir Peter Carew put forward his claims in right of his ancestors, the lords of Idrone. It was in defence of this property that Sir Edmund came into conflict with the Government.

Edmund, then heir to his brother, earned infamy when he led the Butler Revolt in 1569. Alongside his brothers Edward and Pierce, Edmund's rebellion was in direct response to the Lord Deputy of Ireland, Sir Henry Sidney who unjustly granted Edmund's lands in Idrone to the English adventurer Sir Peter Carew. Edmund and his brothers responded by raiding English settlements up and down the breadth of Leinster and were declared traitors by Sidney. This was all the more remarkable because the Butlers had long been famed for their incredible loyalty to the Crown of England.

Eventually Edmund's brother, the Earl of Ormond, fearing for the future of his lands and titles, responded by joining his erstwhile enemy Sidney and marched against Edmund. Under pressure from Earl Thomas, he was attainted by Queen Elizabeth I. But on surrendering his estate to the Queen, 10 October 1570, he was pardoned, (together with his brothers Edward and Piers) dated at Gorhambury 12 March 1573, of all their treasons. While she agreed to save his life, Elizabeth did not remove the attainder on Edmund. His brothers Edward and Piers Butler remained with the Desmond forces.

Nevertheless, the indefatigable Edmund, with the help of Fiach MacHugh O'Byrne, escaped from Dublin Castle where he was imprisoned. He rather ungallantly fell from a rope hung from the battlements and was forced to spend the night roaming around in the castle fosse evading Sidney's troops.

Final days

He remained at large until his death in 1602 when Queen Elizabeth I reversed the attainder on his last remaining legitimate son Theobald. His elder two sons were executed at Thurles by their uncle Earl Thomas during another rebellion in 1596. He was also survived by an illegitimate son Thomas who was made a Baronet by King Charles I in 1628.

Marriage and issue

He married Eleanor Eustace the second daughter of Rowland Eustace, 2nd Viscount Baltinglass, sister to James (who was in rebellion against Queen Elizabeth, and died without issue). Their children were:

  • Piers Butler (d.1596), who married Mary Butler, with issue.
  • James Butler (d.1596)
  • Theobald Butler (c. 1570-1613), created Viscount Butler of Tulleophelim in 1603. He married Lady Elizabeth Butler.
  • Joan Butler, who married Teige, 4th Baron Upper Ossory.
  • Katherine Butler, who married William Fitzjohn Eustace.
  • Sir Thomas Butler, 1st Baronet of Cloughgrenan (d.1642) (illegitimate). He married Anne Bagenal, with issue.

See also

Butler dynasty


  1. Lodge, John: pg 42.
  2. Hughes, James; The Journal of the Royal Historical and Archaeological Association of Ireland, Fourth Series, Vol. 1, No. 1 (1870), pp. 153-192, 211-231.
  • Ormond, Duke of, Life 1610-'88: Thomas A. Carte, M.A. 6 vols. Oxford, 1851
  • The Complete Peerage
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