Piers "Wild Peter" Butler, Sr., of Grallagh

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Piers "Wild Peter" Butler, Sr., of Grallagh

Birthdate: (58)
Birthplace: Grallagh Castle, Grellaghmore, Co. Tipperary, IRE, North Tipperary, County Tipperary, Ireland
Death: 1578 (58)
prob Grallagh Castle, Grellaghmore, Co. Tipperary, IRE
Place of Burial: Cashel, South Tipperary, County Tipperary, Ireland
Immediate Family:

Son of James Butler, 10th Baron Dunboyne and Lady Joan Butler (Butler)
Husband of Elinor Butler and Lady Honora FitzGerald
Father of Joan MacCarthy; James Butler; Edmond Butler; Pierce Oge Butler, Jr.; William Butler and 5 others
Brother of Joan, Viscountess Baltinglass; Edmund Butler, 1st/11th Baron Dunboyne; Thomas Le Boteler; Ellen Boteler and 1st/11th Baron Dunboyne Edmond Butler

Occupation: held the office of Sheriff
Managed by: Paul Douglas Van Dillen
Last Updated:

About Piers "Wild Peter" Butler, Sr., of Grallagh

Piers Butler of Grallagh, Co. Tipperary, Ireland was born circa 1521 (2) and died in 1577 (3). He was also known as Peter Butler and Pierce Butler (3) and went by the nick-name of Pierce na Buile (or in English, 'Wild Peter'). (1)

Parents: 5th child and son of James Butler (d. 1538), 10th Baron Dunboyne and Joan Butler.


  1. Elinor Grace, daughter of Olver Grace.1
  2. secondly, Lady Honora FitzGerald, daughter of James FitzMaurice FitzGerald, 10th Earl of Desmond.1

8 Children of Pierce Butler and Lady Honora FitzGerald include:

  1. James Butler+4 d. 1579
  2. John Butler4 d. 1571
  3. William Butler+4 d. Apr 1589
  4. Theobald Butler+4
  5. Richard Butler4 d. bt 1580 - 1583
  6. Joan Butler4
  7. Margaret Butler4
  8. Elisia Butler4


The Butlers of County Clare by Sir Henry Blackall

Grallagh, Boytonrath and Doon

As already mentioned, most of the Clare Butlers descend from the Boytonrath family. The ancestor of this branch of the house of Butler was Piers (als Peter) Butler of Grallagh, Co. Tipperary (1520-78) second son of James, 10th Lord Dunboyne.[9] His immediate forebears on the distaff side included two outstanding figures in the history of their time, for his mother was a daughter of Pierce Roe Butler, 8th Earl of Ormonde, who married Lady Margaret Fitzgerald, daughter of Garrett, the Great (8th) Earl of Kildare. Piers himself was a fiery warrior as is connoted by his Irish nickname “Piers na mBhuile” i.e. Wild Peter or-in the picturesque phrase of the Four Masters- “Piers of the Madness.”[10] His first taste of active service was in 1544 when he took part in Henry VIII’s expedition to France. The English army on that occasion included a contingent of Irish kerne provided by the Earl of Ormonde,[11] who, writing to the King on 6 May in that year said “I have appointed a young gentlemean called Piers Butler, being also a nephew to me and seconde brother to the Baron of Dunboyne, to have the rule and conduct of one hundrethe of my men.”[12]

On reaching France the Ormonde kerne were posted to the Duke of Norfolk’s force that invested Montreuil in July 1544.[13] As the besiegers found provisions very hard to come by, the Irish were sent out on foraging expeditions, where the behaviour of Wild Peter’s wild kerne did not, I fear, make a very good impression on the French, for we read in Hollinshed’s Chronicle that they ravaged the country so ruthlessly that a deputation from the local inhabitants waited on the English King on his arrival at Boulogne and begged him to withdraw his Irish levies, asking him “whether he had brought beasts or men.” Before returning to England in December 1544, Henry held a parade at which he “knighted certain persons of worth.” It would seem from Lord Herbert of Cherbury’s account of the campaign that the captains of Ormonde’s compaies, of which Piers Butler was one, were among those so honoured. But the passage is somewhat ambiguous, and no document of later date had come to light in which Piers is described as a knight.

In September 1551 Piers Butler took part in an expedition of the Lord Deputy against James McDonnell “the Scott”, and in 1563 he was appointed a Commissioner for the Peace for Tipperary during the Lord Deputy’s absence in the North, with power “to treat with enemies and rebels.”[15] Piers married a Geraldine,[16] but this did not deter him from taking the part of the Butlers in their feuds with their traditional rivals. On 7 September 1565 he and his sons carried off six hundred kine belonging to John McGrath, a Geraldine supporter; and on 4 May 1566 we find the Earl of Desmond complaining to the Lord Deputy of the depredations committed by Piers Butler on O’Brien Ui Cuanach during his absence in the Pale.[17]

Piers na mBhuile was possessed of a great estate, for his father settled on him Grallagh, and other lands together with the manor of Drangan, Craghane, and Magowey,[18] comprising in all over 16,000 acres. His elder brother Edmond viewed with resentment so excessive an appanage for a younger son, and after his succession to the title, made strenuous efforts to regain what he regarded as his rightful inheritance. This led to family feuds and protracted litigation.[19] By a decree in Chancery dated 23 November 1562 in the suit of “Sir Edmond Butler Knt. Baron of Dunboyne v Peter Butler of Grallagh, his younger brother” it was ordered that the plaintiff should recover against the defendant, Grallagh, Drangan and other lands. Piers seems to have flouted the decree, for a Remembrance issued on 24 February 1566, whereby Peter Butler was bound over in the sum of £3,000 to deliver up to Lord Dunboyne by the Feast of St. Michael the Archangel, the lands mentioned. But even this did not avail the unhappy Dunboyne, for Piers had a powerful supporter in his uncle Ormonde, and by decree under the Queen’s Letter of 8 September 1566 it was ordered that inasmuch as Peter Butler had failed to defend the suit in Chancery of 1562 at the advice of the Earl of Ormonde, “who claimed sovereignty over the lands,” the suit should be again tried at common law, and Peter Butler should enjoy undisturbed possession until such time as the Baron of Dunboyne obtained judgement thereunder.[20] With such influential backing, Piers was able to retain possession of the greater part of his estate up to the time of his death, which occurred in 1578. In recording that event the Four Masters describe him as “one of the most powerful chiefs of the English in Munster.”[21]

On Piers Butler’s death, his son James (born 1543) succeeded to Grallagh, Drangan and other lands of his father, and he too held them throughout his life.

Honora Fitzgerald, dau. of James, 10th Earl of Desmond, by Elinor, dau. of Robert Walsh of Castle Hoel, Co. Kilkenny. Carew MSS 625/36-7 and 635/166. Four Masters, year 1577. She was Piers Butler’s 2nd wife. He mar. 1st Elinor Grace, dau. Of Sir Oliver Grace, lord of Carney in Lower Ormond (M.P. for Co. Tipperary. 1559) by Mary, dau. of Sir John Fitzgerald, 3rd Lord Decies.


  • On 5 August 1524 he inherited 5000 acres under a settlement made by his father.3
  • On 5 August 1524 2nd s of James, 9th Lord of Dunboyne, by his wife Lady Joan, dau of 8th Earl of Ormonde [inherited 5,000 acres under sett made by his father ].3
  • He fought in the Siege of Boulogne in 1544, as commander of the Earl of Ormonde's Kerne.3
  • He held the office of Sheriff of County Palatine of County Tipperary in 1559.3
  • From 1568 to 1569 he took part in 'Butlers' War' against Sir PeterCarew.3
  • In 1571 he was pardoned.3 He lived at Grallagh, County Tipperary, Ireland.1



  1. [S37] Charles Mosley, editor, Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage, 107th edition, 3 volumes (Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.A.: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, 2003), volume 1, page 1212. Hereinafter cited as Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 107th edition.
  2. [S378] Townsend (Townshend) Family Website, online http://shayol.bartol.udel.edu/townsend-tree/php/home.php. Hereinafter cited as Townsend (Townshend) Family Website.
  3. [S47] Hugh Montgomery-Massingberd, editor, Burke's Irish Family Records (London, U.K.: Burkes Peerage Ltd, 1976), page 192. Hereinafter cited as Burke's Irish Family Records.
  4. [S47] Hugh Montgomery-Massingberd, Burke's Irish Family Records.
  • Military service: he took part in Henry VIII’s expedition to France; led a contingent of Irish kerne provided by the Earl of Ormonde - 1544 - France
  • Military service: fought in the Siege of Boulogne as commander of the Earl of Ormonde's Kerne for King Henry VIII - Circa May 6 1544
  • Military service: the Ormonde kerne were posted to the Duke of Norfolk’s force - July 1544 - Montreuil, France
  • Military service: expedition of the Lord Deputy against James McDonnell “the Scott” - Sep 1551
  • Military service: he and his sons carried off six hundred kine belonging to John McGrath, - Sep 7 1565
  • Census: Survey of Ireland - 1574 - Grallo=Grallagh Castle, Grellaghmore, Co. Tipperary, IRE
  • Reference: MyHeritage Family Trees - SmartCopy: Sep 25 2016, 7:39:01 UTC
view all 15

Piers "Wild Peter" Butler, Sr., of Grallagh's Timeline

January 11, 1510
Cork, County Cork, Ireland
North Tipperary, County Tipperary, Ireland
Age 23
County Tipperary, Ireland
Age 25
Age 27
Age 28
Synone, Tipperary, Ireland
Age 29
Age 30
Rathard, Tipperary, Ireland
Age 32
County Tipperary, Ireland
Age 34