Piers Butler, 8th Earl of Ormond and 1st Earl of Ossory (c. 1467 – 26 August 1539), also known as (Irish Piers Ruadh) Red Piers, was from the Polestown branch of the Butler family of Ireland.
During the prolonged absence from Ireland of the earls, his father Sir James Butler (d.1487) had laid claim to the Ormond land and titles. This had precipitated a crisis in the Ormond succession when the seventh earl later died without a male heir. On 20 March 1489, King Henry VII appointed him High Sheriff of County Kilkenny. He wasknighted prior to September 1497. The following year (1498) he seized Kilkenny Castle and with his wife, Margaret FitzGerald (d.1542), the dynamic daughter of the earl of Kildare, probably improved the living accommodation there.
On 28 February 1498 he received a pardon for crimes committed in Ireland, including the murder of James Ormonde, heir to the 7th Earl. He was also made Senechal of the Liberty of Tipperary on 21 June 1505, succeeding his distant relation, James Butler, 9th Baron Dunboyne. On the death of Thomas Butler, 7th Earl of Ormonde on 3 August 1515, Piers Butler became the 8th Earl of Ormond. On 6 March 1522, the King appointed him Chief Governor of Ireland as Lord Deputy; he held this office until 13 May 1524 when he became Lord Treasurer.
Loss of title
One of the heirs general to the Ormond inheritance was Thomas Boleyn, whose mother was a Butler. Boleyn was the father of Anne, whose star was rising at the court of King Henry VIII of England. As the king wanted the titles of Ormond and Wiltshire for Thomas Boleyn, he induced Butler and his coheirs to resign their claims on 18 February 1528. Aided by the king’s Chancellor, Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, Butler was granted the earldom of Ossory.
Restoration of title
Thomas Butler, 7th Earl of Ormond, P.C. (died 3 August 1515) was the youngest son of James Butler, 4th Earl of Ormond. He was attainted, but restored by Henry VII‘ s first Parliament in November 1485, and the statutes made at Westminster, by Edward IV, which declared him and his brothers traitors, were abrogated.
Thomas Butler was the third son of James Butler, 4th Earl of Ormond, by his first wife, Joan de Beauchamp (d. 3 or 5 August 1430). He had two elder brothers, James Butler, 5th Earl of Ormond, and John Butler, 6th Earl of Ormond, as well as two sisters, Elizabeth Butler, who married John Talbot, 2nd Earl of Shrewsbury, and Anne Butler (d. 4 January 1435), who was contracted to marry Thomas FitzGerald, 7th Earl of Desmond, although the marriage appears not to have taken place. 
Thomas Butler, as an Irish peer, should only have sat in the Irish Parliament. However, as a personal friend of Henry VII he was summoned to the English Parliament in November 1488 as “Thomas Ormond de Rochford chevaler“. At this time he was already 8th Earl of Carrick and 7th Earl of Ormond, having succeeded his elder brothers James Butler, 5th Earl of Ormond and John Butler, 6th Earl of Ormond, neither of whom left legitimate issue.
He was afterwards sworn of the Privy Council of England.
He was known as The Wool Earl, due to his enormous wealth. Besides being in the possession of major lands in the Irish counties ofKilkenny and Tipperary, he owned 72 manors in England, making him one of the richest subjects in the realm.
Marriages and issue
He married firstly Anne Hankford (c.1431-1485), daughter and co-heiress of Sir Richard II Hankford (c.1397-1431) of Annery, Monkleigh, Devon, jure uxoris feudal baron of Bampton (grandson of Sir William Hankford (c.1350-1423), Chief Justice of the King’s Bench) by his 2nd wife Anne Montagu (d.1457), a daughter of John Montacute, 3rd Earl of Salisbury (c.1350-1400). By Anne Hankford he had two daughters who inherited the Butler estates in England:
- Anne Butler (d. 5 June 1532), heiress through her mother of Annery, who married firstly Ambrose Cressacre, esquire, by whom she had no issue, and secondly Sir James St Leger (d.1509), by whom she had two sons, Sir George St Leger, and James St Leger.
- Lady Margaret Butler (d. before 20 March 1540), who married Sir William Boleyn, by whom she had six sons and five daughters, including Thomas Boleyn, 1st Earl of Wiltshire, father of Anne Boleyn, second wife of King Henry VIII.
He married secondly Lora Berkeley (d.1501), widow successively of John Blount, 3rd Baron Mountjoy, and Sir Thomas Montgomery (d. 2 January 1495) of Faulkbourne, Essex, and daughter of Edward Berkeley (d. March 1506) of Beverston Castle, Gloucestershire, by Christian Holt (d.1468), second daughter and coheir of Richard Holt, esquire. By her first marriage to Lord Mountjoy, Lora Berkeley had two sons and two daughters.
Lady Margaret Butler (c. 1454 or 1465 – 1539) was an Irish noblewoman, the daughter and co-heiress of Thomas Butler, 7th Earl of Ormond. She married Sir William Boleyn and through her eldest son Sir Thomas Boleyn, was the paternal grandmother of Anne Boleyn, second wife of King Henry VIII of England, and great-grandmother of Anne and Henry’s daughter, Elizabeth I of England.
Family and marriage
She was born at Kilkenny Castle in County Kilkenny, Ireland, the daughter and co-heiress of Thomas Butler, 7th Earl of Ormond and Anne Hankford. Her paternal grandparents were James Butler, 4th Earl of Ormond and Joan de Beauchamp. Her maternal grandparents were Sir Richard II Hankford (c.1397-1431) and Anne de Montagu.
She had one younger sister, Anne who married Sir James de St. Leger, by whom she had issue. Anne and Margaret claimed to be co-heiresses of their father and the Earldom of Ormond, but their cousin, Piers Butler, who had physical control of the Irish estates and the backing of the Irish Council, claimed to be the heir through the direct male line. In 1520, the King granted her a pardon for the alienation of Fritwell Manor, Oxfordshire. The issue wasn’t resolved until 1528, by which time Margaret’s position was good, with the influence of her granddaughter, then betrothed to Henry VIII, and Margaret’s son,Thomas Boleyn‘s, status as King’s adviser.
In 1465 Margaret married Sir William Boleyn, and in total they had ten children. Her son, the ambitious courtier Sir Thomas Boleyn, became the first Earl of Wiltshire and by his marriage to Elizabeth Howard, the Duke of Norfolk’s daughter, was the father of Anne Boleyn, Queen consort of England. Thus, Margaret was great-grandmother to Queen Elizabeth I of England.
She was the last of the Boleyns to live in Hever Castle as it was given to Anne of Cleves in 1540 sometime after her death. Margaret’s lands were claimed by her only surviving grandchild, Mary Boleyn. and her husband William Stafford.