First Advisor

William A. Speck

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in History






Ireland -- History -- 1625-1649, James Butler (Duke of Ormond : 1610-1688)



Physical Description

1 online resource (141 pages)


On June 19, 1647 Ireland's Lord Lieutenant, the Marquis of Ormond, unconditionally surrendered the city of Dublin to the parliament of England. Ormond's biographer, Thomas Carte, records that in January of this year the marquis received a private dispatch clearly indicating Charles I’s pleasure -- if it were impossible to hold Dublin and the other royalist garrisons in his name they were to be surrendered to the English rather than the Irish. The loss of the major royalist stronghold in Ireland proved, in effect, to be the turning point of the war in that kingdom; its loss has given Ormond’s political character its most ugly stain. In the opinion of his unsympathetic contemporaries, Ormond had traitorously betrayed Ireland; he surrendered Dublin to the parliamentarians in overt opposition to the king’s wish that he ally with the Confederate Irish. The fact, however, remains; Dublin could not be held for the king. Ormond choose what he considered the lesser of two evils.

James Butler, created Duke of Ormond by Charles II in 1661, was born in Clerkenwell England in 1610. His parents were Catholics, but upon the death of his father in 1619 he became a ward of the courts. His education, therefore, was thoroughly Protestant; never in his adult life did Ormond deviate from his constancy to the Protestant English interest in Ireland. He was Irish by descent, but he claimed to be English by birth, extraction, and choice.

Though he was considered to be the “terror of the Irish” by the Celtic population the Anglo-Irish hailed the Lord Lieutenant as the “Great Ormond” and “the jewel of the kingdom;” he was the flower of his age and the Butler family. Ormond, although unsympathetic to Irish Catholicism, was one of the most competent governors in over seven hundred years of English rule in Ireland. It was the lung's cause for which he labored; the interests of Catholic Ireland were of secondary importance.

This study is intended neither to exonerate nor excoriate James Butler; it is an attempt to give proper perspective to the role he played as a staunch royalist in that decisive period of Irish history between the rebellion of 1641 and the Cromwellian conquest. Thomas Carte's biography of Ormond served as an invaluable source for information on Ormond's role in Irish affairs 1641-1650 and for an account of the Protestant and royalist aide of the war. The letters and papers contained in the last two volumes provide all the necessary materials for an account of Ormond's role in public affairs. Carte's references to his subject's personal life were derived from consulting with the Bishop of Worcester who spent several years with Ormond's family, and from a manuscript written by Sir Robert Southwell. A second authority for an account of Ormond's role in the royalist struggle in Ireland is the H. M. C. Ormonde MSS Volumes 1 and 2 New Series, containing Ormond's correspondence relating to Ireland from 1641-1650 and the letters of the Irish Lords Justices, were particularly pertinent to this study. An Aphorismical Discovery of Treasonable Faction and Richard Belling's History of the Irish Confederation and the war in Ireland, the primary sources dealing with Catholic Ireland's stand in the Irish war, were unavailable for examination. It was therefore necessary to rely upon the scholarship of Thomas L. Coonan and his book Irish Catholic Confederacy and the Puritan Revolution. Coonan expresses nothing but disdain for the Marquis of Ormond, but his comprehensive history of the Irish Confederacy provided a valuable source of materials untouched by Carte.


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