Walter Butler, Chief Butler of Ireland, 18th Earl of Ormonde, Earl of Ossory and Viscount Thurles, 1st Marquess of Ormonde (second creation)


Walter was the son and heir of John Butler, 17th Earl of Ormonde, and Frances – known as Anne – the daughter of Earl Wandesford. He was educated at Eton and, in 1798, was created a Knight of the Order of St Patrick. After voting for the Act of Union in 1800, he took his seat in the House of Lords and was created Baron Butler of Lanthony, County of Monmouth, in 1801. He moved in the circle of the Prince Regent (later George IV) and was said to be a profligate spender. In Personal Sketches of his own Time, Jonah Barrington remarked that Walter had been ‘whirled at an early age into the vortex of fashionable life and dissipation’ and lamented that he had previously shown ‘as engaging a person, as many noble, manly qualities, and to the full as much intellectual promise, as any young man of his country.’


In 1799 Ormonde’s Irish estates were calculated to be worth £22,000 per annum and, in 1811, Parliament granted him compensation of £216,000 for the resumption by the Crown of the hereditary prisage (a duty levied on imported wine) which had been granted to an ancestor in 1327. In 1816, He was created Marquess of Ormonde but, upon his death, this and the Barony of Butler of Lanthony became extinct.


In 1805 Walter married the wealthy heiress Anna Maria Catherine Price-Clarke (1789–1817). This impressive full-length portrait was painted at the time of his wedding and shows the earl in his parliamentary robes and the collar of the Order of St Patrick. There is a receipt for the work, dated 30 May 1805 and signed by the artist, Sir William Beechey (1753–1839), but no price is mentioned.


William Beechey, Portrait of Walter Butler, 1805,

oil on canvas, 261 x 183 cm

Kilkenny Castle Collection (KKC.00322)