Thomas Butler, 6th Earl of Ossory

Vice-Admiral Thomas Butler, 6th Earl of Ossory, KG, PC, PC(I) (1634–1680) was an Irish politician. He was born at Kilkenny Castle, the eldest son of James Butler, 1st Duke of Ormond, and Lady Elizabeth Preston.

Thomas Butler

6th Earl of Ossory
Personal details
Born(1634-07-08)8 July 1634
Died30 July 1680(1680-07-30) (aged 46)
Children11, including Charles
ParentsJames Butler, 1st Duke of Ormond
Lady Elizabeth Preston
Military service
AllegianceEngland

Birth and origins

Thomas was born on 8 July 1634, probably at Kilkenny castle, as the eldest son of James Butler and his wife Elizabeth Preston. His father was the 1st Duke of Ormond and an eminent member of the Butler dynasty. Thomas's mother was the heiress of Earl of Desmond. His parents married on Christmas Day 1629.

He appears below among his siblings as the second son:

  1. Thomas (born and died 1632), who died an infant;
  2. Thomas (1634–1680), the subject of this article;
  3. James Butler (1636–1645), who died young;
  4. Richard (1639–1686), who predeceased him;
  5. Elizabeth (1640–1665), who married Philip Stanhope, 2nd Earl of Chesterfield and had affairs with James Hamilton and the Duke of York;
  6. John (1643–1677), who predeceased him; and
  7. Mary (1646–1710), who married William Cavendish, 1st Duke of Devonshire.

Life and career

His early years were spent in Ireland and France. He was an accomplished athlete and a good scholar. Having come to London in 1652 he was rightly suspected of sympathizing with the exiled royalists, and in 1655 was put into prison by Oliver Cromwell. After his release about a year later he went into exile to the Netherlands and married Emilia von Nassau. He accompanied Charles II back to England in 1660.

In 1661 Butler became a member of both the English and the Irish Houses of Commons, representing Bristol in the former and Dublin University in the latter.

Writ of Acceleration

In 1662 he was called to the Irish House of Lords under a writ of acceleration as Earl of Ossory. His father held the title "5th Earl of Ossory" as one of his subsidiary titles. The acceleration made Thomas Butler the 6th Earl of Ossory. This was the only substantial title he ever held, as he would predecease his father and therefore not inherit his father's titles. His son would later be the 2nd Duke and the 7th Earl of Ossory.

Military career

He held several military appointments;

  • lieutenant-general of the army in Ireland (appointed in 1665)
  • created an English peer as Lord Butler (in 1666). Almost as soon as he appeared in the House of Lords he was imprisoned for two days for challenging the duke of Buckingham.
  • Lord of the Bedchamber to Charles II (appointed in 1660), a post he held until his death.
Family tree
Thomas Butler with wife, parents, and other selected relatives.
Walter
11th Earl
Ormond

1559 – 1632/3
Thomas
Viscount
Thurles

bef. 1596 –
1619
Elizabeth
Pointz

1587–1673
Richard
of
Kilcash

1615–1701
Donough
1st Earl
Clancarty

1594–1665
Eleanor
Butler

1612–1682
George
1st Bt.
Donalong

c. 1607 –
1679
Mary
James
1st Duke
Ormond

1610–1688
Elizabeth
Preston

1615–1684
James
Purcell
Baron of
Loughmoe
Elizabeth
d. 1675
Thomas
6th Earl
Ossory

1633–1680
Emilia
von
Nassau

1635–1688
Elizabeth
Countess
of
Chesterfield

1640–1665
James
2nd Duke
Ormond

1665–1745
Charles
1st Earl
Arran

1671–1758
Elizabeth
Butler

d. 1717
Henrietta
Butler

d. 1724
Legend
XXXThomas
Butler
XXXEarls & dukes of
Ormond
This family tree is partly derived from the condensed Butler family tree pictured in Dunboyne.[1] Also see the lists of siblings and children in the text.

In 1665 a fortunate accident had allowed Ossory to take part in the Battle of Lowestoft against the Dutch, and in May 1672, being now in command of a ship, he fought against the same enemies in the Battle of Solebay, serving with great distinction on both occasions. The earl was partly responsible for this latter struggle, as in March 1672, before war was declared, he had attacked the Dutch Smyrna fleet, an action which he is said to have greatly regretted later in life. Whilst visiting France in 1672 he rejected the liberal offers made by Louis XIV to induce him to enter the service of France, and returning to England he added to his high reputation by his conduct during the Battle of Texel in August 1673. From 1677 until 1679, he served alongside his father as a Lord of the Admiralty.

The earl was intimate with William, Prince of Orange, and in 1677 he joined the allied army in the Netherlands, commanding the British section and winning great fame at the siege of Mons in 1678. He acted as deputy for his father, who was lord-lieutenant of Ireland, and in parliament he defended Ormonde's Irish administration with great vigour. In 1680 he was appointed governor of English Tangier, but his death prevented him from taking up his new duties.

One of his most intimate friends was John Evelyn, who eulogizes him in his Diary.

Marriage and issue

He and his wife had eleven children, some prominent including:

Death and succession

Ossory died on 30 July 1680.

References

  1. Dunboyne 1968, pp. 16–17: "Butler Family Tree condensed"
  • Thomas Carte, Life of James, Duke of Ormonde (1851);
  • John Evelyn, Diary, edited by William Bray (1890).
  • Dunboyne, Patrick Theobald Tower Butler, Baron (1968), Butler Family History (2nd ed.), Kilkenny: Rothe House
Attribution

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Ossory, Thomas Butler, Earl of". Encyclopædia Britannica. 20 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 354.

Parliament of England
Preceded by
John Stephens
Sir John Knight
Member of Parliament for Bristol
with Sir John Knight

16611666
Succeeded by
Sir John Knight
Sir Humphrey Hooke
Political offices
Preceded by
The Duke of Ormonde
(Lord Lieutenant)
Lord Deputy of Ireland
16681669
Succeeded by
The Lord Robartes
(Lord Lieutenant)
Peerage of England
New creation Baron Butler
16661680
Succeeded by
James Butler
Peerage of Ireland
Preceded by
James Butler
Earl of Ossory
(writ in acceleration)
16621680
Succeeded by
James Butler
Military offices
Preceded by
Palmes Fairborne
Governor of Tangier
1680–1680
Succeeded by
Charles FitzCharles, 1st Earl of Plymouth
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