Thomas Butler, 10th Earl of Ormond

Thomas Butler, 10th Earl of Ormonde, 3rd Earl of Ossory, Viscount Thurles KG (Irish: Tomás Dubh de Buitléir, Iarla Urmhamhan; c. 1531  22 November 1614), was an Irish peer and the son of James Butler, 9th Earl of Ormond and Lady Joan Fitzgerald daughter and heiress-general of James FitzGerald, 10th Earl of Desmond. He was Lord Treasurer of Ireland and a very prominent personage during the latter part of the 16th century.[1]

Sir Thomas Butler
(Tomás Dubh de Buitléir)
Thomas Butler, Earl of Ormonde, by Steven van der Meulen
10th Earl of Ormond; 3rd Earl of Ossory
PredecessorJames Butler, 9th Earl of Ormond
SuccessorWalter Butler, 11th Earl of Ormond
BornFebruary 1531
Ormond, Ireland
Died22 November 1614(1614-11-22) (aged 83)
Carrick-on-Suir, Ireland
ConsortElizabeth Berkeley (m.1559; divorced 1564)
Elizabeth Sheffield (m.1582; d. 1600)
Helena Barry (m. 1601)
IssueJames Butler
Elizabeth Butler, Countess of Desmond
Thomas Butler
HouseButlers of Ormond
FatherJames Butler
MotherJoan Fitzgerald


He built the Tudor Manor House extension to Ormonde Castle on his estates in Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary. Much of his life was taken up with a fierce feud with his hereditary foe, Gerald FitzGerald, 15th Earl of Desmond, son of James FitzGerald, 14th Earl of Desmond. The two sides fought a pitched battle in 1565, the Battle of Affane. Butler's victory, not only in the field but also in the handling the political fallout, helped to spark the Desmond Rebellions. This struggle (1569–1573 and 1579–1583) desolated Munster for many years. Ormond was a Protestant and threw his great influence on the side of Queen Elizabeth I and her ministers in their efforts to crush the rebels, although he was motivated as much by factional rivalry with the Desmond dynasty as by religion.[1] He had command of the Royal Irish Army tasked with the suppression of the rebellions, which he eventually accomplished.

Elizabeth I

Ormond and Elizabeth I met in London as children. Thomas, the "son of an Irish Earl", and Elizabeth, the "illegitimate daughter of Henry VIII", shared a common experience: Neither was well-treated by the other young nobles at court. They were cousins as well through her mother, Anne Boleyn; Boleyn's paternal grandmother, Lady Margaret Butler, was a daughter of the Ormond dynasty in Ireland. Elizabeth called him her "black husband." In 1588, the Queen bestowed on Ormond what a poet described as áirdchéim Ridireacht Gáirtéir, / ainm nár ghnáth é ar Éirionnach ("the high honour of the Knighthood of the Garter, a title unusual for an Irishman").

Ormond built a Tudor-style castle (Carrick-on-Suir) along the river Suir, which he decorated lavishly and even had red brick chimneys built on, which, at the time, were very expensive. All of this was to provide Elizabeth with a suitable palace at which to stay when she traveled to Ireland. Elizabeth planned twice to visit the castle: once in 1602 (which visit was canceled by her illness); and again in 1603. She died, however, before the visit. It is known that Elizabeth appreciated Thomas' effort, and was - as she was with all of her maternal cousins - very fond of him. Thomas survived Elizabeth by 11 years.

Marriage and children

He first married Elizabeth Berkeley, daughter of Thomas Berkeley, 6th Baron Berkeley and Anne Savage. They separated in 1564 without issue.

He then married Elizabeth Sheffield on 9 November 1582 at London. She was the daughter of John Sheffield, 2nd Baron Sheffield and Douglas, daughter of William Howard, 1st Baron Howard of Effingham. They had three children:

In 1601 he married Helena Barry, daughter of David Fitz-James de Barry, 5th Viscount Buttevant, without issue.

The Earl also had an illegitimate son, Piers FitzThomas Butler of Duisk who married Catherine Fleming, by whom he had a son, Edward Butler, 1st Viscount Galmoye.

As the Earl died without legally recognised male issue, the Earldom reverted in the male line, to the junior branch of the family through his brother John Butler of Kilcash.

Offices held


  • Treasurer of Ireland (1559–1614)
  • Lieutenant of County Tipperary (1575)
  • Lieutenant of County Kilkenny (1575)
  • Lord General of the Forces in Munster (1582–1583)
  • General of the Forces in Leinster (1594–1596)
  • Lieutenant-General of the all Forces in Ireland (1597)
  • Vice-Admiral of Leinster (1602)


See also


  1. Chisholm 1911.
  2. Lundy, Darryl. "Person Page:Thomas Butler, 10th Earl of Ormonde". The Peerage. Retrieved 21 September 2018.
Peerage of Ireland
Preceded by
James Butler
Earl of Ormonde
Succeeded by
Walter Butler
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