Clare County Library
Clare Genealogy
Home | Search Library Catalogue | Foto: Clare Photo Collection | Maps | Places | Archaeology | History | Search this Website | Copyright Notice | What's New

The Butlers of County Clare by Sir Henry Blackall

Dunboyne; Cregg; Derryclooney; Other Butler Grantees

James 14/4 Lord Dunboyne, raised forces for the Catholic Confederates in 1641 (supra) and took part in the operation that followed. He was outlawed in the counties of Kildare and Cork in 1642,[122] and was later ordered to be transplanted into Clare. But fortune favoured him at the Restoration, for he was one of the 36 Nominees mentioned in the King’s Declaration of 1660 for loyal service, and his estates were expressly saved from confiscation by the Act of Settlement. He did not, therefore, in the event, settle in Clare; nor did any of his direct descendants live there. But towards the end of the eighteenth century another branch of the family (from whom the present peer descends) came to settle in the county. Their ancestor was Edward Butler of Clare, Co. Tipperary, a son of the 12/2 Lord Dunboyne by Lady Catherine O’Brien, daughter of the 3rd Earl of Thomond.[123] Edward Butler, a forfeiting proprietor in 1641, was an officer in the Confederate forces that besieged Cashel in January, 1642.[124] His son, James, married Joan Cantwell, who on 19 March, 1689, filed a Bill of Chancery claiming the recovery of such lands as Edward had settled as her jointure.[125]

Their great-grandson, James, was sent to France to be educated. His uncle, Thomas Butler, one of the Wild Geese, was a major in the Imperial service, and through his interest James obtained a commission in that service, in which he spent the active years of his life. On his retirement he returned to his native land and settled in Co. Clare, where he died in 1784. He was father of James Butler of Ballyvannion, who became heir to the Dunboyne peerage on the death of the 22/12 baron, the erstwhile Bishop of Cork.

This prelate fell a victim to the wiles of an ambitious and intriguing relative, Marie Butler,[126] who induced him to resign his see and apply to the Pope for a dispensation to marry her. His petition was rejected, whereupon the infatuated cleric “abjured the errors of the Church of Rome” and married the lady of his choice, which did not, however, prove a very happy one. The union was unfruitful. At the close of his life the ex-bishop was reconciled to his former communion, and salved his conscience - at the expense of his successors in the title- by leaving the reversion of the family estates in Co. Meath to the Catholic Seminary of Maynooth, subject to the life interest of his sister, Mrs Catherine O’Brien-Butler. And so Dunboyne Castle passed away from the male line of the Butler barons after a tenure of five centuries. It remained, however, in the female line until our own time, by virtue of a settlement made between the O’Brien-Butlers [127] and the Maynooth trustees, whereby the latter relinquished their reversionary rights in consideration of an annuity charged in the estates.

Owing to two attainers in the seventeenth century, the Dunboyne title had not been legally recognised over a long period, the holders being officially described as e.g. “James Butler, calling himself Lord Dunboyne”. But after the death of the bishop-baron in 1800, his successor set himself the formidable task of obtaining a reversal of the outlawries of the 14/4 and 15/5 barons. As to these, James, 14/4 Lord Dunboyne, was outlawed in the counties of Cork and Kildare in 1642. The ingenuity of the petitioner’s lawyers, however, discovered certain technical defects in the record of outlawry.[128] Pierce, 15/5 Baron, had been indicated for high treason in 1691 (for having supported his lawful sovereign King James) and he, too, was outlawed. But as the outlawry was not pronounced until two years after his death, it was contended that this amounted to an error of fact, which vitiated the sentence.[129] The petitioner's submissions were eventually accepted by the Crown, and on 26 October, 1827, the outlawries of both peers were reversed.[130] In announcing the joyful tidings to his son and heir, Lord Dunboyne referred with pardonable pride to “this glorious termination of my long and arduous exertions”. But there was still a long way to go; for he was a distant cousin of his predecessor, the petitioner had to prove that no more closely related heirs were extant, and it was not until 1860 that the Committee for Privileges finally allowed the claim, and confirmed the right of his son and heir, Theobald, to the title.

This peer (the 24/14 Baron) was an antiquary and genealogist. A collection of newspaper cuttings (mainly from Co. Clare journals) from the close of the eighteenth century, made by him, is in the National Library, Dublin; but as it has not been yet catalogued its existence is not generally known. Lord Dunboyne was a Representative Peer for Ireland, as was also the 26/16 Baron. The last mentioned was grandfather of the present peer, Patrick Theobald, 28/18 Lord Dunboyne, who served with the Irish Guards in the Second World War, and is barrister of the Middle Temple. Lord Dunboyne married in 1950, Miss Anne Mallet, daughter of Sir Victor Mallet, G.C.M.G., British Ambassador in Rome, by whom he has a son and heir, the Hon. John Butler

In a pedigree by Sir William Betham,[131] Pierce Butler, of Ballygegan, is shown as a brother of James of Doon and Sir Toby. That James had a younger brother named Pierce is not disputed; but it does not follow that this Pierce was the same Pierce Butler, of Ballygegan. The latter had two grants under the Acts of Settlement and Explanation, totalling 975 acres,[132] so if Betham is correct, grants were made to both father and son, which would be very unusual. But what is more extraordinary is that he, a younger son, should have obtained this extensive grant, seeing that James of Doon, his supposed elder brother, had none. The late Mr. G. D. Burtchaell, Deputy Ulster, commenting on this entry in the Betham pedigree, wrote as follows:-

There is, it would appear, no evidence that Piers Butler, of Ballygegan, Co. Galway, was brother of James of Doone and Sir Theobald. The pedigree here, deducing this family from that of Kiltorcan, Co. Kilkenny, although unreliable in the earlier generations, appears to be correct so far as I have been able to verify it.

The pedigree in Ulster Office to which reference is here made was compiled by Hawkins, Ulster, cir. 1703.[133] Now Pierce Butler, of Ballygegan, was then living, and it may be assumed that he was consulted in its preparation. If he was, it is almost conceivable that if he were a brother of James and Sir Theobald, he would have omitted to mention this. Moreover, both James and Sir Toby were alive in 1703, and the latter was actually living in Dublin, so Hawkins would have no difficulty in ascertaining that all three were brothers, if such were the case. The Kiltorcan descent of the Cregg family (which is to be found in O'Ferrall's Linea Antiqua) is, we think, to be preferred to the Betham pedigree. There are, however, some points about it which need clarification. It is hoped that the Ormond Deeds, now being prepared for publication, may clear these up; until then it would be safer to accept it with some reserve.

Since the date of Mr. Burtchaell's investigations several volumes of Ormond Deeds have been published. They contain a number of references to the Kiltorcan family, the first of whom was Piers Butler, fourth son of the second Earl of Ormonde. This Piers paid 10/- for Royal service for the lands of Kiltorcan on 29 November, 1419.[134] His son, James, paid twelve pence in April, 1455, for pasturing the lands of Lesconthy.[135] He had a son, Walter, whose son, Piers Butler, of Kiltorcan, was in 1536/7 due to pay 10/- Royal service when scutage was enforced.[136] His son, Piers "Oge", was assessed at one -" twelfth of a plowland for Kiltorcan by Francis Lovell in his book of the plowlands called "horsemens' beds" (5 Feb., 1566).[137] Piers "Oge" had two sons -" Theobald, who was pardoned in 1584 and died ante 1589; and James, who is mentioned in the findings of a commission to establish the bounds of the earl of Ormonde's ancient estates. The commissioners in their return (10 Feb. 1592) found:-

That the meare of the lower Derrenehenchy doth stand except a parcel
thereof between Kiltorcan and Dirrenechenchy called Ayte Croghsane
Edowly as the same meare leadeth thro’ turf moore untill it com to
Dromliegh….which meare James Butler fitz Pierce and his tenants dwelling
at Kiltorcan did break this present yere, and encroched within the same meare
12 acres of turf moore and pasture.

Theobald Butler had a son, James, who had two sons, Piers, who died without issue, and Edmond of Kiltorcan, whose name appears among the old proprietors as holding 265 acres in Kilkenny in 1641. He was included in the list of potential Nominees furnished to the Duke of Ormonde,[138] and he is shown in a list of Transplanted persons as having had 100 acres of profitable land granted to him (Decree dated 24 May, 1655: Final Settlement 23 October, 1656). This Edmond, according to Hawkins, was father of Pierce of Ballygegan, Co. Galway, who, as already mentioned, had grants under the Act of Settlement. They included the lands of Cregg and Ballygegan.

Although Pierce Butler was an adherent of James II, he was deprived of considerable property by the repeal of the Act of Settlement in 1689; but he recovered it after the Treaty of Limerick. His eldest son, Theobald, was also a Jacobite, and was one of posse comitatus of Co. Galway in 1689-91, which, under the High Sheriff (John Power), caused considerable discomfiture to the Williamite party. Theobald was an officer in King James’ army, but elected to remain in Ireland after the capitulation of Limerick. His sword was not however, allowed to rust, for he was commissioned in Major-Gen. George’s Regiment of Foot on 5 March, 1708, and later promoted captain in the Earl of Inchiquin’s Regiment.

Theobald Butler married Helena O’Shaughnessy, daughter and co-heiress of Roger O'Shaughnessy, of Gort [139] by the Hon. Helen O’Brien, daughter of the 2nd Lord Clare. Through this alliance the Butlers of Cregg became the representatives in the female line of the chiefs of Cineal Aodh, and the crozier of their ancestor, St. Colman MacDuagh, passed into the custody of the Butlers. This crozier was held in great veneration by the peasantry. Canon Fahey tells us he knew an old man whose father obtained a loan of it from the Cregg family in order to secure the return of goods that had been fraudulently obtained, as the crozier was believed to possess miraculous powers in that respect.[140] But after the Butlers conformed they lost interest in their sacred heirloom, and, it would seem, handed it over to the keeper of Kilmacduagh, from whom Wakefield [141] tried to purchase it in the 1820s. The crozier was then in tolerably good condition; but when he succeeded in buying it a few years later on behalf of George Petrie, the antiquary, it had become injured through being lent out by the keeper.

It is stated by Miss Stokes in Early Christian Art in Ireland that the crozier was obtained from the O'Hynys, "who succeeded the O'Shaughnessies in the custodianship", but no authority is given for this. The O'Heynes alias Hynes were Herenaghs (hereditary tenants-in-chief) of the See of Kilmacduagh, and were at one time overlords of the O'Shaughnessies. But their fortunes began to decline in the reign of James I. though the O'Shaughnessies, we are told, 'remaigned a rich and hable family'.[142] The Cromwellian confiscations well-nigh completed the ruin of the O'Heynes, and there is no record of any later intermarriage between them and the O'Shaughnessies that would account for the acquisition of the crozier by the O'Hynes through descent. It may be that the keeper to whom the Butlers gave the crozier, bore the name of Hynes (a common one in the locality) and that he held himself out as the hereditary custodian in order to enhance the value of the loan in the eyes of superstitious borrowers. The crozier was acquired by the Royal Irish Academy in 1868 after Petrie's death, and the little that now remains of it may be seen in the National Museum, Dublin

Reverting to the Butlers. In 1737, Helena Butler (née O'Shaughnessy) made over considerable property in Co. Galway to her eldest son, Francis,[143] who deemed it prudent to conform to the established Church, since when the Cregg family have been of that persuasion. Francis Butler, who was a magistrate for Cos. Clare and Galway, was succeeded by his son, Walter, who served as High Sheriff of the latter county in 1801. The Butlers of Cregg lived in the lavish style of the old Irish gentry, without taking heed for the morrow, and came to grief in the days of the Great Famine, when their property was sold in the Encumbered Estates Court to a London lawyer named Lattey, in whose family it remained until sold to the tenants under the land purchase Acts.

Thomas Butler fitz John of Derryclooney, Co. Tipperary, was a fellow officer of James Butler of Boytonrath in the 7th Company of Foot raised in the Barony of Middlethird in 1641 (supra), and was tried with him before the Cromwellian Court at Clonmel in 1652/3 for alleged murders at the siege of Golden Castle. But Thomas was more fortunate than his kinsman, for he was acquitted on the ground that, out of affection for the English interest, he had relieved the warders with ammunition and victuals. He was transplanted into Clare under Certificate dated 20 May, 1656, and in 1659 was tenant of the lands of Bunnahow (the coincidence of the name has confused some genealogists, and given rise to the erroneous belief that he was ancestor to the late Butlers of Bunnahow). After the Restoration, Thomas Butler returned to Derryclooney, but he retained his lands in Clare, where his son, Theobald, also had a grant under the Act of Settlement. Some of these (including Sonnagh South and Derrycaliff) he mortgaged to William Butler Rossroe and, as the mortgages were not redeemed, the lands eventually passed into the ownership of the Butlers of Castle Crine.[144]

The ancestry of the Butlers of Derryclooney was discussed by W.F. Butler in The  of James, ninth Earl of Ormond, where he expressed the view that the Butlers of Derryclooney and of Ballycarron (his own family) were descended from the natural son of John Butler of Kilcash, father of the 11th Earl of Ormonde. In this connexion he mentioned a family tradition that at the funeral of John Butler of Ballycarron in 1801, the oldest keener 'cried him back' (i.e. enumerated his ancestors) to 'John of Kilcash'. Mr. Blake Butler agrees that the Butlers of Ballycarron descend from the Derryclooney family, but in The Barons of Dunboyne states that the ancestor of the latter was John Butler, a younger son of James, 9th Lord Dunboyne (ob. 1508), whose son, Theobald of Derryluscan, had a grant of the lands of Derryclooney on 30 April, 1584. Theobald married Katherine, daughter of Sir Cormac McCarthy Reagh, and relict of John Butler of Kilcash, and Mr. Blake Bulter suggests that the keener's reference to Kilcash might be accounted for by the fact that Katherine MacCarthy was ancestress of both the Kilcash and Derryclooney families.

Other Butler Grantees
Of the numerous Butlers whose estates were confiscated under the Commonwealth, only twenty-three in all (including Ormonde himself) had grants under the Acts of Settlement and Explanation. Of these, nine had grants of land in Clare. In addition to those already mentioned, were:-

  • Richard, Earl of Arran (Ormonde's younger son)
  • Ellen and Margaret Butler, daughters of Richard Butler of Derryluscan, Co. Tipperary. Ellen married Hardbread Norman of Garrandrakoy, Co. Tipperary, and, by writing dated 1 October, 1692 they sold their interest in the lands of Clonturnoy, Caparoe, Corrocluain and Carhunoolaghnagg to William Butler of Rossroe. Margaret was wife of Anthony Savage of Glyn. Co. Waterford; and by Lease and Release dated 10/11 August, 1700, she and her husband disposed of their interest in the same lands to William Butler, who thus acquired the whole estate.
  • Pierce Butler and Ellin, his wife, had a grant of Corbally and Ballyhickey (enrolled 2 July, 1677). Pierce was Titulado of this property in 1659.
  • Thomas, son of John Butler, had a grant of Derrycrossane and Aghera in the Barony of Clonderlaw (enrolled 28 February, 1679). He was Titulado of the same in 1659.
  • Richard Butler had a grant of Cappanagarane, Barony of Clonderlaw (enrolled 28 March, 1680), of which he was Titulado in 1629.

Castle Crine