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Thomas Fitzgerald, 7th Earl of Desmond

Posted November 17th, 2013 at 05:16 PM by rionagh
Updated November 20th, 2013 at 01:53 AM by rionagh

Thomas FitzJames Fitzgerald, 7th earl of Desmond also conventionally called "Thomas of Drogheda", born in 1426, was a elder son of James Fitzgerald, 6th Earl of Desmond, and Mary de Burgh.

His father's earliest ancestors came in England with William Ist The Conqueror and maybe fought at the battle of Hastings (1066). Walter FiztOtho was great keeper of Windsor Castle, his son Gerald of Windsor invaded Wales and probably married to Nest ferch Rhys, princess of Deheubarth, who was the daughter of king Rhys ap Tewdwr. Maurice FitzGerald, Lord of Llansteffan (born c. 1100, died 1 September 1176), son of Gerald of Windsor and Nest, founded the FitzGerald of Ireland. Thomas of Shanid, Lord of O'Connelloe, youngest son of Maurice FitzGerald, was the progenitor of the Fitzgeralds of Desmond, and his brother, Gerald FitzMaurice, 1st Lord of Offaly, progenitor of the Fitzgerald of Kildare. Thomas of Shanid married Sadbh, a Gaelic Lady (probably a O'Brien daughter).

By his father, he was a direct descent of King Brian Boru , first king of Ireland, and Gerald of Windsor, constable of Pembroke, and Gerald Fitzgerald, 3rd Earl of Desmond .

By his mother, he was great-great grandson of Katherine Mortimer (sister of Edmund Mortimer, himself great-great-great-grandfather of Richard of York) who married to Thomas de Beauchamp, 11th Earl of Warwick. Anne Beauchamp, Countess of Warwick and wife of the Kingmarker , was a 2nd cousin once removed of Thomas Fitzgerald. Mary de Burgh, his mother, was a direct descendant of William de Burgh , the founder of the de Burgh dynasty of Ireland, by his illegitimate son, Richard Og de Burgh (d.1243), sherriff of Connaugh. Richard of York was a direct descendant of his brother, Richard Mór de Burgh, 1st Baron of Connaught , himself father of Walter de Burgh, 1st Earl of Ulster.

He was constable of Limerick, Lord of Offaly and Earl of Desmond, after his father's death in 1462. For his loyal service for king Edward, on 2nd August 1462, he was keeper of Earldom of Ulster and stewart of Connaugh.
Edward IV granted him the manors of Trym, Rathwere, Kildalke, Rathtouth, Belgard and Foure, which would yield him an annual income of £103.
And on 15th April 1463, he became Lord Deputy of Ireland.

Probably around 1447 or 1448, he married his 2nd cousin, Ellice de Barry, daughter of William Barry, 8th Baron Barry, and Ellen de la Roche. Their commons ancestors were their great grandparents, Gerald Fitzgerald, 3rd earl of Desmond, and his wife, Eleanor Butler.
By his wife, Desmond had nine sons and two daughters ; expectedly two boys died young by murder, in 1468, all of his children survived.
  • James Fitzgerald, 8th earl of Desmond . c.1449-1487, probably murdered by his brother, Maurice.
  • Maurice Fitzgerald, 9th earl of Desmond . c.1450-1520.
  • Katherine Fitzgerald , c.1452 who married with Finghin MacCarthy Reagh, 9th prince of Carbery .
  • Thomas Fitzgerald, 11th earl of Desmond . 1454-1534.
  • Unamed boy, c.1456-1468 who murdered by Worcester.
  • Unamed boy, c.1458-1468 who murdered by Worcester.
  • John, c.1460-1536 which male descendants extinct in 1632.
  • Ellen Fitzgerald , c.1462 who married with Tagd O’Brien of Killaloe.
  • Gerald Oge, c.1464 which male descendants extinct in 1743.

In 1462, Desmond was also victorious in the Battle of Piltown, having sided, as had his father, with the House of York against the Geraldines' Lancastrian rivals the Butlers of Ormond, who suffered over 400 casualties. Local folklore claims that the battle was so violent that the local river ran red with blood, hence the names Pill River and Piltown (Baile an Phuill – Town of the blood). Piltown was the only battle of the Wars of the Roses fought in Ireland.

Both Thomas and his cousin Thomas Earl of Desmond were reasonable and civilized men and ruled Ireland patriotically. They were joint leaders of the patriot and home rule party.
Desmond had a project of the first university of Ireland.
The church is likely to have been a monastic settlement of Saint Declan of Ardmore (c.450). It was rebuilt in Irish Romanesque style (c.750) and the Great Nave was erected in the year 1220. The roof timbers have been carbon dated by Queen's University Belfast to the year 1170. There was an early 13th century re-building and this was under the direction and hand of the Masters of four local guilds of operative masons, whose marks are still to be found on the pillars of the gothic arches.
On St John's day (27th December) 1464, St. Mary's was made a Collegiate Church, with the foundation of Our Lady's College of Yoghill by Thomas FitzGerald, 7th Earl of Desmond (proprietor of Youghal and Lord Deputy of Ireland), for the purpose of training seminarians. It was served by a Warden and Clerks consisting of eight Fellows and eight singing men.
The Earl of Desmond attempted to found a university at Drogheda (first in Ireland - Trinity College, Dublin, was founded in 1592) but failed because, in 1468, he was beheaded by Earl of Worcester.

However Desmond’s rule as deputy was not free of problems, his bitterest enemy in Ireland was the English-born William Sherwood, bishop of Meath, led to emerge an opposition against the Lord deputy. The earl accused the bishop of instigating the murder of some of his followers,
At the same moment, a Drogheda merchant, James Dokeray, went to London to complain that coyne and livery were being levied on the king’s subjects in Meath. These traditional Irish exactions were specifically prohibited by Edward IV, but far from abolishing them in his Irish lands, the seventh earl allegedly began to extend them to the anglicised ‘Pale’.
Not all the Anglo-Irish were opposed to the earl, and ‘letters in commendation of Desmond were ordered by the Parliament of the Colony to be transmitted to the King, his Council, the Chancellor and the Treasurer of England’. Edward’s attention was drawn to the incipient conflict when both the earl and the bishop came to England to put their respective cases to him.

Desmond’s conflict with the bishop of Meath had brought him to Edward IV’s court precisely at the time when the king’s marriage to Elizabeth Woodville became public knowledge. Edward IV was apparently satisfied to Desmond’s work in affairs, and rewarded him with the grant of manors. Edward upheld the earl, who was supported by the Irish parliament, and acquitted him of all charges of disloyalty and treasonable relations with the Irish people.

Edward knew that his marriage was being widely discussed, asked the earl what people were saying. After his conversation, the king subsequently suspect Desmond and his brother-in-law, Kildare, of favouring the projects of the earl of Warwick, which originated in dissatisfaction at the royal marriage with Elizabeth Woodville, and the consequent advancement of her obscure relatives.
Anne Beauchamp, Countess of Warwick, is the second cousin once removed to Desmond, this specific links with the Neville could well have undermined Edward IV’s confidence in Desmond. Also, although Desmond’s government was on the whole enlightened and impartial, and won the praise of the Irish (winning over O’Donnell and others), he had not succeeded in securing the backing of all the Anglo-Irish.
Moreover, in 1466 affairs in Ireland began to go badly from an English point of view. There was widespread unrest, and native Irish support rallied to the cause of Tadheg O’Brien, whose proclamation as king at Tara may only have been prevented by his untimely death. Desmond seemed to have lost control. When, very unluckily, he suffered a military setback and was defeated and captured by the O’Connors of Offaly, Edward IV decided to replace him.

In May 1467, Edward appointed John Tiptoft as new Lord Deputy of Ireland, and, in September, he arrived in Ireland accompanied by a well-established reputation for severe or even excessive tactics. Nevertheless, initially he set a conciliatory tone, co-operating with the earl of Kildare and other Anglo-Irish lords. When parliament opened at Dublin in December, everything proceeded peacefully until the house recessed for Christmas. However, the next session of Parliament was moved to Drogheda which had been at the heart of opposition to the earl of Desmond.
When parliament opened on 4 February a bill was immediately brought forward attainting the earl of Desmond and his brother-in-law, the earl of Kildare, together with the seneschal of Meath, Edward Plunket. The public accusation was of ‘horrible treasons and felonies contrived and done by Thomas Earl of Desmond and Thomas Earl of Kildare and Edward Plunket, Esq., as well in alliance, fosterage and alterage with the Irish enemy of the king, as in giving them horses and harness and armour and supporting them against the faithful subjects of the king’. Other charges were also in the air, and informally levelled against Desmond, in particular the ridiculous and groundless allegation that he had been plotting to make himself king of Ireland.
On 15 February Desmond was extracted from the Dominican friary in Drogheda and summarily executed, profoundly shocking the whole of Ireland.
Edward IV learned the execution of his former friend with initial displeasure.

In Ireland Desmond’s execution had led to an immediate and violent reaction. The dead earl’s elder sons ‘raised their standards and drew their swords, resolved to avenge their father’s murder’. According to a later account, Edward IV admonished the new Earl of Desmond by letters, and promised them his pardon if they would lay down their arms, which they did. The king felt the need to make amends to the dead earl’s family, for in an attempt to conciliate Thomas’ son, James – who was then about twenty years of age, and whose title to the earldom the king clearly acknowledged immediately and unequivocally, despite Tiptoft’s act of attainder against his late father, – Edward IV granted him the palatinate of Kerry, together with the town and castle of Dungarvan. This grant may be thought to imply that in Edward’s view an injustice had been done. He also extended to James and to his successors an extraordinary privilege: that of being free to choose not to appear in person before his deputy or the council in Ireland, but to send a representative instead. This privilege implies that Edward had understood and sympathised with the fact that inevitably the earl’s family now felt very wary of risking putting themselves into the hands of the Anglo-Irish authorities.
In addition to the execution of the earl of Desmond himself, Tiptoft has also been accused of putting to death two of the earl’s young sons and, according to one account, also a member of Desmond’s household.

Soon after his accession, King Richard III endeavoured to attach James, eighth Earl of Desmond to his interests, and sent him conciliatory messages. There was a letter addressed from the king to the earl himself and dated 29 September 1484, by his messenger, Thomas Barrett, Bishop of Annaghdown, who was also to deliver to the earl a livery collar of roses and suns, with a pendant white boar, and it weighed twenty ounces and a promise to find him a wife in England if he would come there, having given up the Gaelic Irish costume and customs.
The king specifically grants permission for the eighth earl to pursue by means of the law those whom he holds responsible for his father’s death. Richard is encouraging James to take action in this way, and actually wants him to do so.
But notwithstanding these blandishments, the Earl augmented his Irish alliances, and retained his Irish habits.
Richard III lost his Irish affinities in Ireland.
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  1. Old Comment
    rionagh's Avatar
    If you want to read my finished article, go in my page Wikia : Thomas Fitzgerald, 7th Earl of Desmond - Rosa Eboracensis Aeterna Wiki
    Posted November 18th, 2013 at 02:20 AM by rionagh rionagh is offline
  2. Old Comment
    Crystal Rainbow's Avatar
    Thank you, for this. It was very interesting. I know that Irish were very interested in the lack of the Tudor claim as well as the Woodvilles.
    Posted December 6th, 2013 at 05:38 PM by Crystal Rainbow Crystal Rainbow is offline

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