James Butler, 3rd Earl of Ormond

James Butler, 3rd Earl of Ormond (c. 1359 – 7 September 1405), was a noble in the Peerage of Ireland. He acceded to the title in 1382 and built Gowran Castle three years later in 1385 close to the centre of Gowran making it his usual residence, whence his common epithet, The Earl of Gowran. James died in Gowran Castle in 1405 and is buried in St. Mary's Collegiate Church Gowran together with his father James Butler, 2nd Earl of Ormond, his grandfather James Butler, 1st Earl of Ormond and his great great grandfather Edmund Butler, Earl of Carrick and 6th Chief Butler of Ireland.[1] James the 2nd Earl was usually called The Noble Earl, being a great-grandson, through his mother, of King Edward I of England.


In 1391 he purchased Kilkenny Castle[2] by deed from Sir Thomas le Despencer, 1st Earl of Gloucester and Isabel his wife, daughter of Gilbert de Clare. He also built the castle of Dunfert (also called Danefort) and in 1386 founded a Friary of minorities at Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire.[3]

In 1384 he was deputy to Sir Philip Courtenay the then Lieutenant of Ireland who was the nephew of the Archbisop of Canterbury, William Courtenay. Butler's title was Governor of Ireland. A rift occurred between them over the disagreement between the Archbishop of Canterbury and Richard II with Butler taking the side of the latter. Insurrection followed which prompted Richard II to send an expedition under the banner of his close friend Robert de Vere, Duke of Ireland to quell it. This enterprise was led by John I Stanley of the Isle of Man who was accompanied by Bishop Alexander de Balscot of Meath and Sir Robert Crull.[4] Butler joined them upon their arrival in Ireland. The result of its success was Stanley's appointment as Lieutenant of Ireland, Bishop Alexander as chancellor, Crull as treasurer, and Butler again as governor.[5] On 25 July 1392, he was appointed Lord Justice of Ireland as he was again in 1401. On the departure of Sir Stephen Scrope to England on 26 October 1404, by commission, dated at Carlow, 12 February 1388-9, he was appointed keeper of the peace and governor of counties Kilkenny and Tipperary. He was vested with full power to treat with, to execute, to protect, and to give safe conduct to any rebels, etc. In 1397 he assisted Edmond Earl of March, L.L. against O Brien, and in 1390 took prisoner Teige O Carrol, Prince of Elye.

Marriage and Children

Some time before 17 June 1386, he married Anne Welles, the daughter of John de Welles, 4th Baron Welles by his spouse Maud (née de Roos). Anne Welles died on 13 November 1397, around the age of 37. They had five children:

In 1399 the Earl married Katherine FitzGerald of Desmond. They had four children:

By an unknown mistress he had at least one illegitimate son, Thomas Le Boteller (died 1420) aka Thomas Bacach (the lame). Thomas was Lord Deputy of Ireland and Prior of Kilmainham, a distinguished soldier who led an Irish force of 700 men at the Siege of Rouen in 1419.

See also

Butler dynasty


  1. A History of St. Mary’s Church. Text by Imelda Kehoe. Published by the Gowran Development Association 1992
  2. http://www.kilkennycastle.ie/en/TouroftheCastle/TheBuildingoftheCastle/TheButlerCastle/ Purchased Kilkenny Castle.
  3. Lodge, John The Peerage of Ireland or, A Genealogical History Of The Present Nobility Of That Kingdom, 1789, Vol IV, p 10.
  4. Rolls of 9 Richard II- Part I Membrane 1, cont. June 18, 1386 Westminister {as before Membrane 6}, 163. See Peter Crooks. The 'Calculus of Faction' And Richard II's Duchy of Ireland, c. 1382-9 ,in Fourteenth Century England, V, ed. Nigel Saul. Woodbridge: England: The Boydel Press, 2008. 94-115. ISBN 978-1-84383-387-1. This serves as an excellent overview of the history and capsulates the relationship between Bishop Alexander Balscot, Butler, Crull and Stanley
  5. Calendar of Patent Rolls 1385-9. 125-6, 128, 130-31
  6. http://thepeerage.com/p13766.htm#i137652
  7. http://megankeith.com/past/wc05/wc05_284.html
  8. John Boteler of Woodhall on RootsWeb
Peerage of Ireland
Preceded by
James Butler
Earl of Ormond
Succeeded by
James Butler
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