James Butler, 2nd Duke of Ormonde

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The Duke of Ormonde

James Butler, 2nd Duke of Ormonde by Michael Dahl.jpg
Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
In office
19 February 1703 – 30 April 1707
Monarch Anne
Preceded by The Earl of Rochester
Succeeded by The Earl of Pembroke
In office
26 October 1710 – 22 September 1713
Monarch Anne
Preceded by The Earl of Wharton
Succeeded by The Duke of Shrewsbury
Personal details
Born (1665-04-29)29 April 1665
Dublin, Leinster
Died 16 September 1745(1745-09-16) (aged 80)
Papal Enclave of Avignon
Spouse(s) Lady Anne Hyde
Lady Mary Somerset
Children 4
Parents Thomas Butler, 6th Earl of Ossory
Emilia van Nassau-Beverweerd
Awards Knight of the Garter
Military service
Allegiance  Kingdom of England
 Kingdom of Great Britain
Spain Spain
Branch/service English Army
British Army
Spanish Army
Rank General
Battles/wars Monmouth Rebellion
Williamite War in Ireland
Nine Years' War
War of the Spanish Succession
Jacobite rising of 1715
Coat of arms of James Butler, 2nd Duke of Ormonde, KG

James FitzJames Butler, 2nd Duke of Ormonde, KG (29 April 1665 – 16 November 1745)[1] was an Irish statesman and soldier. He was the third of the Kilcash branch of the family to inherit the earldom of Ormond. Like his grandfather the 1st Duke, he was raised as a Protestant, unlike his extended family who held to Roman Catholicism. He served in the campaign to put down the Monmouth Rebellion, in the Williamite War in Ireland, in the Nine Years' War and in the War of the Spanish Succession but was accused of treason and went into exile after the Jacobite rising of 1715.

Military career

The son of Thomas Butler, 6th Earl of Ossory and his wife Emilia (née van Nassau-Beverweerd),[2] and grandson of James Butler, 1st Duke of Ormonde, Butler was born in Dublin and was educated in France and afterwards at Christ Church, Oxford.[3] On the death of his father on 30 July 1680 he became Baron Butler in the English peerage and Earl of Ossory by courtesy.[3] He obtained command of a cavalry regiment in Ireland in 1683,[3] and having received an appointment at court on the accession of James II, he served against the Duke of Monmouth at the Battle of Sedgemoor in July 1685.[3] Having succeeded his grandfather as Duke of Ormonde on 21 July 1688, he was appointed a Knight of the Order of the Garter on 28 September 1688.[4] In 1688 he also became Chancellor of Trinity College, Dublin[5] and Chancellor of the University of Oxford.[6]

The Battle of the Boyne, at which Butler commanded the Queen's Troop, during the Williamite War in Ireland

In January and February 1689 he voted against the motion to put William of Orange and Mary on the throne and against the motion to declare that James II had abdicated it.[3] Nevertheless, he subsequently joined the forces of William of Orange, by whom he was made colonel of the Queen's Troop of Horse Guards on 20 April 1689, and commanded the Queen's Troop at the Battle of the Boyne in July 1690 during the Williamite War in Ireland.[3] In February 1691 he became Lord Lieutenant of Somerset.[3]

He served on the continent under William of Orange during the Nine Years' War and, having been promoted to major-general, he fought at the Battle of Steenkerque in August 1692 and the Battle of Landen in July 1693, where he was taken prisoner by the French and then exchanged for the Duke of Berwick, James II's illegitimate son.[3] He was promoted to lieutenant-general in 1694.[3]

After the accession of Queen Anne in March 1702, he became commander of the land forces co-operating with Sir George Rooke in Spain, where he fought in the Battle of Cádiz in August 1702 and the Battle of Vigo Bay in October 1702 during the War of the Spanish Succession.[3] Having been made a Privy Councillor, Ormonde succeeded Lord Rochester as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in 1703.[3]

Following the dismissal of the Duke of Marlborough, Ormonde was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Forces and colonel of the 1st Regiment of Foot Guards on 4 January 1711[7] and Captain-General on 26 February 1711.[8] In the Irish Parliament Ormonde and the majority of peers supported the Tory interest.[9]

The Guiscard affair

He played a dramatic role at the celebrated meeting of the Privy Council on 8 March 1711 when Antoine de Guiscard, a French double agent who was being questioned about his treasonable activities, attempted to assassinate Robert Harley, 1st Earl of Oxford, against whom he had a personal grudge for drastically cutting his allowance, by stabbing him with a penknife (how he managed to get into the Council room with a weapon remains a mystery).[10] Harley was wounded, but not seriously, due largely to the fact that he was wearing a heavy gold brocade waistcoat, in which the knife got stuck. Several Councillors, including Ormonde, stabbed Guiscard in return.[11] Guiscard implored Ormonde to finish the deed, but Ormonde replied that it was not for him to play the hangman.[12] In any case he had the sense to see that Guiscard must be kept alive at least long enough to be questioned, although as it turned out Guiscard's wounds were fatal and he died a week later.[13]

The last campaign

In April 1712 he left Harwich for Rotterdam to lead the British troops taking part in the war.[14] Once there he allowed himself to be made the tool of the Tory ministry, whose policy was to carry on the war in the Netherlands[15] while giving secret orders to Ormonde to take no active part in supporting their allies under Prince Eugene of Savoy.[3] In July 1712 Ormonde advised Prince Eugene that he could no longer support the siege of Quesnoy and that he was withdrawing the British troops from the action and instead intended to take possession of Dunkirk.[16] The Dutch were so exasperated at the withdrawal of the British troops that they closed the towns of Bouchain on Douai to British access despite the fact that they had plenty of stores and medical facilities available.[17] Ormonde took possession of Ghent and Bruges as well as Dunkirk in order to ensure his troops were adequately provided for.[17] On 15 April 1713 he became Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk.[18]


Ormonde's position as Captain-General made him a personage of much importance in the crisis brought about by the death of Queen Anne and, during the last years of Queen Anne, Ormonde almost certainly had Jacobite leanings and corresponded with the Jacobite Court including his cousin, Piers Butler, 3rd Viscount Galmoye, who kept barrels of gunpowder at Kilkenny Castle.[19] King George I on his accession to the throne in August 1714 instituted extensive changes and excluded the Tories from royal favour.[20] Ormonde was stripped of his posts as Captain-General, as colonel of the 1st Regiment of Foot Guards and as Commander in Chief of the Forces with the first two posts going to the Duke of Marlborough and the role of Commander-in-Chief going to the Earl of Stair.[20] On 19 November 1714 Ormonde was instead made a member of the reconstituted Privy Council of Ireland.[21]

James Butler c. 1725–1730

Accused of supporting the Jacobite rising of 1715, during which the rebels had shouted "High church and Ormonde",[22] he was impeached for high treason by Lord Stanhope on 21 June 1715.[23] He might have avoided the impending storm of Parliamentary prosecution, if he had remained in England and stood trial but instead he chose to depart for France on 8 August 1715 and initially stayed in Paris with Lord Bolingbroke.[24] On 20 August 1715 he was attainted, his estate forfeited, and honours extinguished.[25] The Earl Marshal was instructed to remove the names and armorial bearings of Ormonde and Bolingbroke from the list of peers[26] and Ormonde's banner as Knight of the Garter was taken down in St George's Chapel.[26]

On 20 June 1716, the Parliament of Ireland passed an act extinguishing the regalities and liberties of the county palatine of Tipperary; for vesting his estate in the crown[27] and for giving a reward of £10,000 for his apprehension, should he attempt to land in Ireland.[28] But the same parliament passed an act 24 June 1721, to enable his brother Charles Butler, 1st Earl of Arran, to purchase his estate, which he accordingly did.[29]

Ormonde subsequently moved to Spain[30] where he held discussions with Cardinal Alberoni.[31] He later took part in a Spanish and Jacobite plan to invade England and put James Francis Edward Stuart on the British throne in 1719, but his fleet was disbanded by a storm near Galicia.[32][33] In 1732 he moved to Avignon,[3] where he was seen in 1733 by the writer, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu.[3] Ormonde died in exile on 16 November 1745, and was buried in Westminster Abbey on 22 May 1746.[3]

Marriage and children

In 1682 he married Lady Anne Hyde, daughter of Viscount Hyde of Kenilworth; they had one daughter.[2] Following the death of his first wife (which is known to have caused him intense grief) in 1685, he married Lady Mary Somerset,[34] daughter of the Duke of Beaufort and Mary Capel in 1685;[2] they had a son and two daughters.[3] Mary was a Lady of the Bedchamber to Queen Anne.[35]

See also


  1. ^ Faculty of Advocates (Scotland). Library (1867). Catalogue of the Printed Books in the Library of the Faculty of Advocates: A-Byzantium. 1867. W. Blackwood and sons. p. 812.
  2. ^ a b c "The Peerage.com". Retrieved 11 May 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p "James Butler, 2nd Duke of Ormonde". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 11 May 2012.
  4. ^ "No. 2386". The London Gazette. 1 October 1688. p. 2.
  5. ^ "Former Chancellors". University of Dublin. Retrieved 12 May 2012.
  6. ^ Salter, pp.38–39
  7. ^ "No. 4948". The London Gazette. 3 January 1711. p. 1.
  8. ^ "No. 4971". The London Gazette. 26 February 1711. p. 1.
  9. ^ Smollett, p.188
  10. ^ Gregg, Edward Queen Anne Yale University Press 1980 p.337
  11. ^ Gregg p.337
  12. ^ Hamilton, p.181
  13. ^ Hamilton, pp.181–2
  14. ^ "No. 4994". The London Gazette. 19 April 1712. p. 1.
  15. ^ Smollett, p.210
  16. ^ Smollett, p.219
  17. ^ a b Smollett, p.222
  18. ^ "No. 5112". The London Gazette. 14 April 1713. p. 1.
  19. ^ "Treason". Kilkenny Castle. Archived from the original on 3 March 2012. Retrieved 11 May 2012.
  20. ^ a b Smollett, p.264
  21. ^ "No. 5278". The London Gazette. 16 November 1714. p. 4.
  22. ^ Smollett, p.275
  23. ^ Smollett, p.277
  24. ^ "No. 5352". The London Gazette. 2 August 1715. p. 1.
  25. ^ "No. 5357". The London Gazette. 20 August 1715. p. 1.
  26. ^ a b Smollett, p.283
  27. ^ Moody, T. W.; et al., eds. (1989). A New History of Ireland. 8: A Chronology of Irish History. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-821744-2.
  28. ^ "No. 5715". The London Gazette. 24 January 1719. p. 1.
  29. ^ Lodge, p.63
  30. ^ "No. 5727". The London Gazette. 7 March 1719. p. 1.
  31. ^ Smollett, p.336
  32. ^ "The battle of Glen Shiel 1719". The Sons of Scotland. Retrieved 11 May 2012.
  33. ^ "No. 5799". The London Gazette. 14 November 1719. p. 1.
  34. ^ Dahl, Michael. "Portrait of Lady Mary Somerset, Duchess of Ormond (1665–1733)". Fergus Hall Master Paintings.
  35. ^ "Mary (née Somerset), Duchess of Ormonde, 1665–1733. Lady of the Bedchamber and second wife of 2nd Duke of Ormonde". National Galleries Scotland. Retrieved 10 February 2018.


  • Hamilton, Elizabeth (1969). The Backstairs Dragon – a life of Robert Harley, 1st Earl of Oxford. Hamish Hamilton. ISBN 978-0800805876.
  • Lodge, John (1789). The Peerage of Ireland or, A Genealogical History of the Present Nobility of That Kingdom, Vol. IV.
  • Salter, H.E. (1954). Chancellors of the University of Oxford, A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 3: The University of Oxford. Retrieved 12 May 2012.
  • Smollett, Tobias (1827). The history of England, Volume 2. William Pickering.

Further reading

  • Earl of Clarendon, Edward (1736). A vindication of the conduct of James, Duke of Ormonde during his long and faithful administration in Ireland.
  • Wilson, Rachel (2015). Elite Women in Ascendancy Ireland, 1690–1745: Imitation and Innovation. Boydell and Brewer, Woodbridge. ISBN 978-1783270392.

External links

  • Media related to James Butler, 2nd Duke of Ormonde at Wikimedia Commons
  • "Archival material relating to James Butler, 2nd Duke of Ormonde". UK National Archives.
Political offices
Preceded by
The Earl of Rochester
Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
Succeeded by
The Earl of Pembroke and Montgomery
Preceded by
The Earl of Wharton
Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
Succeeded by
The Duke of Shrewsbury
Honorary titles
Preceded by
The Earl of Dorset
Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports
Succeeded by
The Earl of Leicester
Title last held by
The Duke of Grafton
Lord High Constable of England
Title next held by
The Duke of Bedford
Preceded by
The Marquess of Carmarthen
The Earl of Devonshire
The Earl of Dorset
Lord Lieutenant of Somerset
Succeeded by
The Earl of Orrery
Preceded by
The Viscount Townshend
Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk
Succeeded by
The Viscount Townshend
Military offices
Preceded by
Regiment raised
Colonel of the Irish Foot Guards
Succeeded by
William Dorrington
Preceded by
The Duke of Northumberland
Captain and Colonel of
The Queen's Troop of Horse Guards

Succeeded by
The Duke of Northumberland
Preceded by
The Duke of Marlborough
Succeeded by
The Duke of Marlborough
Preceded by
The Duke of Marlborough
Colonel of the 1st Regiment of Foot Guards
Succeeded by
The Duke of Marlborough
Title last held by
Duke of Marlborough
Commander-in-Chief of the Forces
Title next held by
The Earl of Stair
Academic offices
Preceded by
The Duke of Ormonde
Chancellor of the University of Oxford
Succeeded by
Earl of Arran
Preceded by
The 1st Duke of Ormonde
Chancellor of the University of Dublin
Succeeded by
HRH The Prince of Wales
Peerage of England
Preceded by
James Butler
Duke of Ormonde
Preceded by
Thomas Butler
Baron Butler
Peerage of Scotland
Preceded by
Elizabeth Butler
Lord Dingwall
Peerage of Ireland
Preceded by
James Butler
Duke of Ormonde
Succeeded by
Charles Butler
Preceded by
Thomas Butler
Earl of Ossory

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