Richard Butler, 3rd Viscount Mountgarrett, 1578-1651

Catholic nobleman who supported the Irish Uprising and was appointed President of the council of the Confederate Assembly.

The son and heir of Edmund Butler, second Viscount Mountgarrett, Richard Butler married Margaret O'Neill, daughter of Hugh O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone in October 1596. He joined Tyrone's rebellion against the English occupation of Ulster (the Nine Years War, 1594-1603) and distinguished himself in the defence of the castles of Ballyragget and Cullihill. However, Butler and his father made their peace with Queen Elizabeth and were pardoned in 1600. He succeeded as third Viscount Mountgarrett on the death of his father in 1602.

Although he was regularly under suspicion of plotting rebellion against the Crown, Mountgarrett took an oath of loyalty to King Charles I in 1627. During the administration of the lord-deputy Sir Thomas Wentworth, he was intimidated by Wentworth into surrendering some of his lands for colonisation by Protestant settlers. Mountgarrett's complaints at his treatment eventually formed part of the articles for Wentworth's impeachment in 1641.

When the Irish Uprising broke out in October 1641, Mountgarrett assumed command of rebel forces in County Kilkenny, claiming that it was the only way he could protect the interests of the Irish nobility against the insurgents. Early in 1642, Mountgarret's forces seized control of strategic points in counties Kilkenny, Tipperary and Waterford, then advanced to Limerick and southwards into County Cork to capture Mallow. Following an argument with Lord Roche and the rebels of County Cork, Mountgarrett withdrew to Kilkenny. In April 1642, he was defeated at the battle of Kilrush by government forces under the command of his great-nephew James Butler, Earl of Ormond.

As the most prominent Catholic nobleman to support the rebellion, Mountgarrett was appointed president of the Supreme Council when the first meeting of the Confederate Assembly was held at Kilkenny in May 1642. He negotiated with Ormond to secure the Cessation of Arms in April 1643 despite the opposition of many Confederates and supported the First Ormond Peace in 1646 and the Second Ormond Peace in 1649. Mountgarrett died in 1651, and was succeeded as fourth viscount by his son Edmund.


Sean Kelsey, Richard Butler, 3rd Viscount Mountgarrett, Oxford DNB, 2004