Saturday, February 28, 2015

Thomas an Apa Fitz Maurice of Desmond: Survival, restoration and missed opportunities

Thomas an Apa Fitz Maurice of Desmond:
Survival, restoration and missed opportunities

Niall C.E.J. O’Brien


    The Fitzgerald house of Desmond has produced many notable persons. The first and last Earls of Desmond seem to command the most published print. This is understandable considering the impact both people had on their family and in their region. Recent studies have moved outwards from these two giants to explore other members of the family.

Towards the Battle of Callann
By the 1240s the expansion westwards by the Normans and English had reached its apparently furthest limit. Yet still some in the government wished to go onwards. In 1249 the justiciar led a seaborne attack on the coast line of south-west Cork and south Kerry with Fingen McCarthy and thirteen other Irish chiefs as the target. The attack weakened Fingen McCarthy’s hold on his kingdom and he was subsequently murdered by his uncle Domhnall (supported by the Dublin government) who took the throne. In 1252 Domhnall was murdered by John Fitz Thomas Fitzgerald who was acting in support of his own ambitions. Domhnall’s son Fingen became king and sought revenge.[1] It is said that the royal charter which John Fitz Thomas got from Prince Edward to have all the lands of Desmond instigated this warfare but London was far from the local power play in south-west Munster.[2] Fingen ravaged the Norman settlements of south Munster over the following few years. By 1261 the Dublin government was called in to help as the war that John Fitz Thomas started went beyond his ability to control.[3]
Shanid Castle, Co. Limerick - original chief castle of the Munster Fitzgeralds 

A royal service was declared and a loan was borrowed from some merchants which the barons of Desmond guaranteed. William de Dene was justiciar of Ireland at the time and was a cousin of John Fitz Thomas Fitzgerald. If anybody else was justiciar it is unlikely that any troops or money would have entered Desmond. It appears the army mustered at Waterford as the provision stores were located there. The army made good progress into south-west Cork and over the mountains into Kerry. This seemed to be organised by the McCarthys to lead the English deep into their territory and far from their natural battle ground. In a valley called Callann, near Kenmare in south Kerry and as far from an English castle as you could get the McCarthys made their attack. The English horses were of no use in the boggy terrain and the lightly armoured Irish could cross the ground faster than the heavy armoured foot soldiers of the English could react. The annals record that not only did John Fitz Thomas of Shanid lose his life, but his son Maurice was also killed along with eight barons and twenty-five knights not to mention the ordinary soldiers. William de Dene escaped from the battle but died shortly from his wounds.[4]

Baby Thomas Fitz Maurice gets a nickname
The story of how Thomas got his nickname of “The Ape” – An Apa – is said to have come from shortly after the battle of Callann. When news of the major defeat came and more the deaths of the two Fitzgeralds, father and son, reached Tralee, the garrison there went into panic. People ran in all directions and none, with no sense of what to do or where to go. The McCarthy forces would surely follow up on their victory and seek to wipe out the Norman settlements of Kerry. Fingen McCarthy did advance northwards but only as far as Killorglin which he destroyed. From there he turned eastward towards Cork taking the castles of Macroom, Dunnamark and Dunlo along the way.
Yet it was not this turn of direction which claimed the people of Tralee but a pet ape. While the panic was in full swing the baby boy and heir, Thomas Fitz Maurice Fitzgerald (about nine months old) was left in his room with the pet ape. This animal then followed the custom of his own land when danger was approaching and went for high ground with his young. Thus he carried the baby up to the highest turret of the castle in the hope of a passing storm. From here the large ape, as he was described, carried the young Fitzgerald around the battlements. When the headless people below saw the ape with baby Thomas in his arms, the panic eased. With the fear of danger abating the ape returned the baby to its cradle. Soon order came and the scene of the ape was regarded as a good omen. The people rallied around the heir and prepared to defend the Norman part of north Kerry.[5]
The reliability of this story as a true account is in doubt chiefly because the Kildare Fitzgeralds also have an ape story. In this example the boy is John Fitz Thomas Fitzgerald who would later become first Earl of Kildare.[6] The coat of arms of the Kildare Fitzgeralds has an ape but the arms of the Desmond Fitzgeralds does not have any ape. This would suggest that the ape story was taken by the Desmonds from their Kildare cousins.
Yet the monkey legend is not to be totally dismissed. The use of nick names is something more to do with Irish than with the English. It would appear that as Thomas Fitz Maurice was growing up he mixed with the Irish people of Kerry or Limerick. Yet these people knew that it was the Irish who killed Thomas’s father and grandfather and they laughed at this fool playing with his enemies. The monkey was often associated with the court jester and the comedian. By this action Thomas got the nick name of the ape or monkey.
The later chroniclers of the Fitzgeralds didn't like this possible way that Thomas got his name and so they adopted the Kildare story. As both occurred about the same time it was easy for the Munster people to use the Kildare story. Legends often hide some element of truth within their stories but also legend stories are often changed over time to make the story sound better. It seems to be the latter scenario in this case.  

Life after the Battle
The loss of two generations of Fitzgerald in north Kerry was compounded by bad weather in the following year. The Annals of Clonmacnoise record 1262 as a year of great drought with a very hot summer.[7] Yet the disparate situation soon settled itself. Fingen McCarthy was killed in a raid on Kinsale and his successor Cormac McCarthy was defeated by a royal army in 1262.[8] The battle of Callann marked the end of English expansion into south Kerry. In future years the River Maine would divide English north Kerry from Gaelic south Kerry. No side was strong enough to dislodge the other and so it remained until the seventeenth century.
The defeat was disastrous for the Desmond Fitzgeralds. The infant Thomas Fitz Maurice could not provide any much needed leadership and the Fitzgerald’s old ally Domhnall Ruadh McCarthy, now king of Desmond, took opportunity to attack the Fitzgerald lands until his death in 1302. Many of Fitzgerald’s southern property lost its value or disappeared. The half cantred of Dunlo fell from a value of £40 to £13 6s 8d by 1282. That of the half cantred of Corkely fell from 40 marks to 10 marks while the district of Ogenathy Donechud was worth nothing by 1282 as it lay “wholly in the power of the Irish.[9]  
Yet the defeat at Callann and the loss of so many leaders did not signal the end of Norman north Kerry. Some fifty years later, in 1318 at a skirmish at Disert O’Dea the chief English lord of Thomond, Richard de Clare was killed. Richard left a minor as heir like with the Fitzgeralds. Three years later the minor died leaving his estates to two aunts. Although the escheator placed a garrison in Bunratty Castle, de Clare’s chief castle, the English position in Thomond quickly became unattainable.[10] The English did not return to Thomond until the late Tudor period.
Bunratty Castle as later rebuilt by the O Brien Kings of Thomond

Why did north Kerry not fall apart like what happened in Thomond? At first the two places appear to be the same in terms of a battle leaving a minor as heir. But we see Kerry through the eyes of following centuries when the Fitzgeralds dominated the county which was created into a county palatine (1329) for their greater glory.[11] Kerry had other important people in the second half of the thirteenth century to hold the colony against the Gaelic revival in south Kerry. Thomas Fitz Robert, head of the family later to become known as Fitzmaurice, was not just an important local lord but during the 1260s he expanded his estates by acquisitions around Listowel. Further southwest, Maurice Fitz Maurice of the Kildare Fitzgeralds acquired by purchase from his cousin, Christiana de Marcis the area around Killorglin.[12] Maurice was justiciar of Ireland in 1272.[13]

The minority of Thomas Fitz Maurice
In the accounting term of Michaelmas 1276 to Michaelmas 1277 Geoffrey de Geneville received £299 19s 12d for the marriage of Thomas Fitz Maurice.[14] It is not clear who made the payment for the marriage but the contract did not proceed to affect as Thomas Fitz Maurice did not get married for a few years after.
Instead of marriage Thomas Fitz Maurice had to try to keep his estates intact. In about 1279 Thomas Fitz Maurice was forced by the king or by pressure from those around him to surrender land and churches to the king. This property comprised of the cantred of Occassin, the half cantred of Oblyc (also called Drochedoblic, Co. Clare) with the advowsons of the churches and chapels within along with thirteen vills in the land of Corcumroch (Corcomroe, Co. Clare). The transaction was witnessed by Robert, Bishop of Bath and Wells, then chancellor of England, William de Valence, John de Vescy, Otto de Grandison, Robert Tybetot, Roger Andreu, Gerald Fitz Maurice, John de Barry and John Cogan.[15]  
In the days of his grandfather these Thomond lands were worth 270 marks per year but by 1270 generated nothing as they were controlled by the Irish.[16] To add further bad news to the situation a debt of 2,000 marks was owed by John Fitz Thomas (grandfather of Thomas) to the king for these three areas in Thomond. This debt was not written off by the transfer of ownership as the debt was still listed among those of John Fitz Thomas in 1283.[17] King Edward I lost little time in trying to get people presented to various churches in Occassin in December 1279 and February 1280.[18] As much of the property was situated deep into O’Brien territory it is unlikely that the agents of Thomas Fitz Maurice’s estate derived much in the way of income from there.
Consideration also has to be given to the on-going disturbances and war in Thomond (Co. Clare) since 1257. It began in that year when Tadhg O’Brien lost his patience with the English expansion of settlements and over-lordship in Thomond. In 1258 Tadhg’s father ravaged the Geraldine manors of north Thomond and Galway. By 1268 the new king of Thomond Brian O’Brien was attacking the settlements along the north side of the Shannon. Yet his nephew, Toirdelbach opposed this policy and civil war began. In 1276 the king granted the whole of Thomond to Richard de Clare, brother of the Earl of Gloucester and friend of the king. Soon de Clare aided Brian O’Brien while the de Burgh family of Connacht supported Toirdelbach.[19] The surrender by Thomas Fitz Maurice of his Thomond lands was part of the king’s effort to get control of the situation.

Thomas Fitz Maurice comes of age
Thomas Fitz Maurice came of age in 1282 and his scattered inheritance was his own.[20] Having waited all his life for this hour he lost no time in establishing his authority. Up to the battle of Callann the Fitzgerald’s had increased their small initial holdings with large grants from the king, purchases and inheritances. Yet much of their property was scattered across Munster and into Leinster and Connacht. Some of it was substantial like the Decies area of Co. Waterford but you also had small properties. There was little in the way of a strategic policy on land acquisition, just simple expansion in any and all directions.
Thomas Fitz Maurice changed this uncoordinated policy. From 1282, and through many generations of future Fitzgeralds (created Earls of Desmond in 1329), consolidation and strategic acquisitions became the policy.[21] Thomas was not the only landlord to adopt such consolidation. The family of his future in laws (Berkeley) adopted such in about 1280. From that date the Berkeley generations developed the core of their estate while at the same time selling outside lands. Thomas de Berkeley II (the father-in-law of Thomas Fitz Maurice), succeeded his father in 1281 and began the policy of consolidation even though he got land in outreach areas from his wife. The son and grandson of Thomas also got outside lands from their wives but all three developed the core estate and acquired land around outlying manors to expand the size of the property adjacent to those lands which was then given to a cadet branch of the family. Other distant land was simply sold.[22]
Another English landlord who followed consolidation after he came of age and had Irish connections was John de Mohun of Dunster Castle in Somerset. From his grandmother and her elder sister, John inherited part of the Marshal lands in Kilkenny and Kildare as well as numerous scattered lands across the west of England. In 1299 he gave his Irish lands to the king in exchange for the manor of Long Compron in Warwickshire which adjoined his own manor of Whichford. John de Mohun also exchanged the manor of Ile Brewer, some twenty-four miles from Dunster (his chief seat), for that of Goring in Oxfordshire which was separated by the Thames from his own manor of Streatley.[23]  
Affairs of Munster were not the only news to concentrate Fitz Maurice. In his first year of lordship he wrote to the Robert, Bishop of Bath and Wells about news that “because of the war in Wales the Irish in parts of Ireland are more elated than is their custom and some are stirred by the war, others are prompted to make war”.[24] The Irish were very much seen by Fitz Maurice as those people who killed his father and grandfather. Yet the letter also shows us that the later notion, popular among the Irish Republican Brotherhood, of England’s difficulties were Ireland’s opportunity was an old idea and not some new nineteenth century invention.

His marriage to Margaret de Berkeley
In the year 1284 Thomas Fitz Maurice came to concentrate on marriage. In that year Thomas de Berkeley II purchased the right of marriage to Fitz Maurice for his daughter Margaret.[25] The fine to the king was 700 marks but because of Berkeley’s previous good service to Edward I, he got a pardon to reduce this by 200 marks in December 1284. Further allowance was made in January 1285 allowing Thomas to pay 100 marks per year to the Exchequer until the 500 marks is fully paid.[26]
Margaret’s mother was Joan de Ferrers, a daughter of William de Ferrers, fifth Earl of Derby by his second wife Margaret, daughter of Roger de Quincy, second Earl of Winchester. The Earl of Derby’s first wife was Sibyl Marshal, heiress of lands in Kildare, with portions in Kilkenny and Wexford.[27] We saw above how the de Ferrers family was married to that of de Mohun by which Thomas Fitz Maurice was connected with a number of heirs to the Marshal lands in Leinster.
This connection by marriage with England was something different for the Desmond Fitzgeralds who on coming to Ireland seem to favour fellow settlers in Ireland. The marriage also raises a few maybes about the subsequent history of the Desmond Fitzgeralds. We see in other places how the Butler family of Kilkenny took English wives and acquired property in that country. This connection with England furthered their own attachment to England such that they became one of England’s chief supporters in Ireland.
In County Clare from 1571 onwards successive Earls of Thomond began to admire and embrace English culture and civilisation. They took English wives and acquired property there. By 1741 the O’Briens had gone from Gaelic warlords to English country gentlemen.[28] If this transformation had happened to the Desmond Fitzgeralds in the thirteenth century or at some later time then history would have been very much different.

Establishing his authority across Munster
Towards the end of 1284 Thomas Fitz Maurice toured County Waterford where he displayed his authority. It seems that many were pleased with the new lord and he was entrusted with 113s 4d as debts due by various people to the Dublin exchequer.[29]
In the spring of 1285 Thomas Fitz Maurice was rumoured to be preparing to cross over to England. This action caused anxiety among certain people who had encroached upon the ancient rights of Thomas during his long minority. One of these people was Stephen, Bishop of Waterford. During the minority the custody of counties Cork and Waterford were seized by the king. Using his authority as a royal official Bishop Stephen granted the shrievalty of County Waterford to Robert de Stapleton. When later Robert took up the shrievalty of Connacht, Bishop Stephen appointed Robert’s son Roger de Stapleton to have Cork and Waterford. A series of letters were sent to the Bishop of Bath and Wells in the spring of 1285 which were successful as the king issued a patent on February 23rd accepting the commission of the two counties to Robert de Stapleton. This success arrived just on time as Thomas Fitz Maurice was in England by February 28.[30] 
Dungarvan Castle - chief castle of the Fitzgeralds in County Waterford in 1280s

Thomas Fitz Maurice remained in England for all of 1285. In January 1286 he got letters of attorney for one year for Nicolas de Waleys and William Ermy to continue to represent his interests in Ireland.[31] We are not fully aware what Thomas Fitz Maurice was doing in England for such a long time but fully recovering his ancient property seems to have taken up much of his time.
Back in Ireland Thomas Fitz Maurice’s influence and authority was growing in some parts. In October 1285 he conveyed £50 of Limerick debts from John Fitz Thomas to the Dublin exchequer which was repeated on subsequent occasions. At the same time he began to pay some of the crown rents due for County Waterford (Decies) to the amount of £90. Others such as Maurice Russell also paid Decies rent to the amount of £10.[32]
It would appear that Thomas Fitz Maurice experienced difficulties in paying the Decies rent or collecting the money to pay same. We find £10 paid in October 1286 was followed a few days later by another payment of £50 while £40 was paid in April 1287. In October 1287 Thomas paid two instalments amounting to £60 while in April 1288 he paid over £77 in Decies rent. This was followed in October 1288 with a payment of over £88 in rent.[33]
In June 1286 Thomas Fitz Maurice was entrusted by some people of Kerry to pay their debts due to the Dublin exchequer.[34] Clearly he was regarded as a solid person and an important lord in Norman north Kerry.

Recovery and development of his lands
Thomas Fitz Maurice was also interested in the further development of his estates and getting government licences to assist. On April 28, 1286 Thomas secured a murage grant for the towns of Tralee, Mallow and Ard for the ensuring seven years. A long list of products and services were included in the murage custom including fish, salt, onions, and garlic, iron, cheese, butter, honey, cloth and cat skins. Trade with the Irish was also allowed but at a price as each hundred of Irish cloth paid one penny while other cloth only paid a half penny or less .[35]
In April 1286 Thomas Fitz Maurice began proceedings in England to recover the lands of Decies and Desmond (Counties Waterford and Cork). For this purpose he appointed Matthew de Snawedon and Thomas le Gurney as his attorneys.[36]
Sometime in 1286 Thomas Fitz Maurice returned to Ireland as the military situation there was getting the better of the English interest. Thomas wrote to the bishop of Bath and Wells that the Irish were coming out to war because of the resistance of the Welsh to the English was giving them hope.[37] 
In 1287 Thomas Fitz Maurice gave assurances that he would returned to England to further secure his lands and his marriage.[38]
In May 1290 Thomas Fitz Maurice was due to go to England to further his legal cases before the king’s court. But war in the province of Munster threatened his lands and challenged his authority. John, Archbishop of Dublin wrote to the king on behalf of Thomas that the latter would travel to England in July if the weather does not impede his sea journey. It would appear that no bad weather stopped Fitz Maurice in July as on the 16th of that month he got one year’s protection in Ireland for remaining in England.[39]
From later documents it would appear that Fitz Maurice was in no rush to return to Ireland as in May 1291 he got further legal protection in Ireland for another year while he stayed in England.[40] Two chief factors may be at cause in this extended stay; namely, that his English born wife wished to spend more of her time in England than out in the furthest reaches of the universe which Kerry was until people discovered America. Another reason was that Thomas Fitz Maurice still had not fully recovered all his ancient inheritance and judgement of the king was the best way of achieving recovery.
The protracted legal route of recovery may have had a strong influence upon Thomas’s son, Maurice Fitz Thomas who decided that military might and warfare in Ireland was a more sure way of recovery the family’s ancient lands. This show of military might was something that the Irish chieftains understood and appreciated.
This absence of the chief lord of County Kerry must have unsettled some in the county. Two estates had become vacant at that time because of deceased lords (John de Courcy and Thomas de Clare). Both estates were granted to Hugh de Bruges in June 1291 and he was to hold them until the heirs to both came of age. Yet it was November before Hugh got legal protection in England while he was still only departing for Ireland. In addition the same Hugh got custody of two manors in south Kilkenny to further distract him from affairs in Kerry.[41]
These concerns seem not to have overly disturbed Thomas Fitz Maurice in England. In June 1291 Thomas Fitz Maurice nominated John Tintaged and Philip Bifort as his Irish attorneys for the ensuing year. In August 1291 Thomas Fitz Maurice did change one of his Irish attorneys as Philip Bifort was replaced by William Fitz Robert.[42]

The ancient Waterford inheritance
Early in the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland the crown acquired much of the County of Waterford as crown land. When the greater portion of the county was granted to Thomas Fitz Anthony and his heirs an annual rent of 250 marks was charged upon the land to compensate the Dublin exchequer for loss of direct revenue. Over time parts of the Decies, as the county was often described in the medieval documents, were granted by Thomas Fitz Anthony and his heirs to various people. Part of the crown rent passed with these grants and became payable by the new owners. By this means in 1290 we note that John de Weyland was charge for 26 marks of the Decies rent upon his lands at Ballyconner.[43] The other people charged with paying some of the Decies rent were Walter de la Haye, Jordan de Exeter and the heirs of Robert de Stapleton.[44]
Sometime before October 1291 Thomas Fitz Maurice granted to King Edward a fifteenth charge upon his men and tenants within his liberty in Ireland. In turn King Edward declared on October 26, 1291 that this grant would in no way be converted into a precedent.[45]
On February 6, 1292 Thomas Fitz Maurice recovered his lawful lands in Decies and Desmond for himself and his wife Margaret. The annual rent which began as 250 marks and increased to 500 marks was reduced to 200 marks. The king reserved the episcopal and abbatial appointments while all the tenants of Decies and Desmond were to be in obedience to Thomas Fitz Maurice.[46]
Yet there was still the possibility of successful legal claimants not to mention the re-conquests of Irish chieftains which could reduce the family estate at some future time. On February 25, 1292 Thomas Fitz Maurice indemnified the king against the other heirs of Thomas Fitz Anthony who could lodge claims upon Decies and Desmond.[47] But the descendants of Thomas Fitz Maurice kept the Decies against any counter claims and descendants of the Fitzgerald family still hold onto the area around Dromana House to this day. In July 2015 the family celebrate 800 years of a connection with County Waterford.   

Dromana House, present home of the descendants of Thomas Fitz Maurice

Killorglin and the courts
The long minority of Thomas Fitz Maurice had created a vacuum into which others had entered by lawful and unlawful means. Towards the end of 1289 Thomas Fitz Maurice tried to recover the manor of Killorglin from Emelina de Longespee. But Emelina was too fast for Thomas Fitz Maurice and it was she who began legal proceedings. The first court case was held in Limerick in January 1290 where Emelina de Longespee demanded the manor of Killorglin, except the advowson of its church, from Thomas Fitz Maurice as her right that she received from Christina de Mariscis. The latter had enfeoffed the manor to Maurice Fitz Maurice and his wife Emelina and they had only allowed Thomas de Clare to have entry into the manor. Thomas said the writ was defective and had the case adjourned for a month.
Emelina de Longespee used her court influence between the two sittings to get a royal writ that the case should be heard in February regardless of the defective writ. At the February sitting Thomas Fitz Maurice produced a charter he got from Thomas de Clare through the latter’s son and heir Gilbert de Clare. This charter granted the manor and castle of Killorglin to Thomas Fitz Maurice and his heirs. Further lands were granted by de Clare to Thomas in the same charter included the cantreds of Moyconchyn and Orathath, the island of Darfy along with other unspecified lands. The case was adjourned to April 10th but without a decision. After this latter sitting a royal writ was issued that the case would transfer from Limerick to Dublin for May 1st, 1290. Yet this was further adjourned until July because of disputes over the legal process. Further points of legal process dragged the case slowly through the courts to the end of 1293.[48]  
The new year of 1294 saw little change with lawyers again arguing points of law, the legal bills rising and the end no way nearer. Easter of 1295 came and went as the road show dragged on into 1296 and went onwards again into 1297 with still no conclusion.[49]
On February 6, 1292 Thomas Fitz Maurice appointed Thomas de Swenhangre and John Attechurch as his English attorneys for the following three years. We are told that Thomas Fitz Maurice was at that time about to proceed back to Ireland.[50] The heavy legal bills in Ireland and in England must have had an impact upon his fragile estates. Despite these commitments Thomas Fitz Maurice was still able to contribute financial support when the Dublin government called out the troops. At Michaelmas 1293 Thomas Fitz Maurice gave 4s to support the army of Roscrea.[51] In June 1294 he was asked with a number of other Irish landowners to come to London with horses and arms for a planned army campaign by King Edward in Gascony.[52]

Justiciar of Ireland
William D’Odingeseles had been appointed justiciar on October 18, 1294 and was paid his salary from then until April 19, 1295 but others would suggest that William had died previous to that date.[53] The two senior magnates of Ireland, Richard de Burgo, Earl of Ulster and John Fitz Thomas Fitzgerald of Kildare, were in a state of war for a few years past. Indeed Fitzgerald had imprisoned De Burgo at the former’s castle of Lea in December 1294 and did not release him until after the council meeting held at Kilkenny in March 1295.[54] Neither of these people could be appointed as head of the government. The council decided to appoint Thomas Fitz Maurice as justiciar.
Thomas Fitz Maurice was pressed to deal with the war in Leinster which erupted because of the infighting between the Anglo-Irish magnates. The war continued over the winter of 1294/5 and on into the late spring of 1295. Eventually Fitz Maurice got Maurice MacMurrough to come to the king’s peace. Hostages were given by the MacMurrough, O’Byrne and O’Toole to keep the peace. MacMurrough further pledged to make war on any member of his nation that broke the peace and made war on the English. They also pledge to give six hundred cows for depredations done by them.[55]   
No account is given of what happened to the O’Connor Faly who had attacked de Vescy’s castle of Kildare and destroyed the county records held there in 1294.[56] The government of Thomas Fitz Maurice also had battles of a financial nature to keep an army in the field. We find that in 1297 and 1298, over two years after Thomas Fitz Maurice had retired, that people were still paying their contributions to the army service of Castledermot that Thomas Fitz Maurice had called for Leinster.[57]
The justiciar’s day was not totally filled with wars and rumours of war. Various court cases travelling through the justice system cross his desk. Sometime in 1295 John de Langton, chancellor of England, asked Fitz Maurice to be aiding and favourable to Christiana de Mariscis in her court case.[58]
The various wars and the wants of an administration coupled with the needs of trade and commerce had by the 1290s created a shortage of coined silver. The two Irish mints Dublin and Waterford had closed in 1283 and 1282 respectively because of a dearth of silver. Yet about £40,000 worth of coins had been made and these kept the country operating for a few years. In 1294 the Dublin and Waterford mints returned to production even though silver was still hard to acquire. The Waterford mint was the brain child of Stephen de Fulbourne, bishop of Waterford and later archbishop of Tuam, during his time as treasurer of Ireland. His brother Walter de Fulbourne succeeded to the bishopric of Waterford and treasurership of Ireland. In 1295 justiciar Thomas Fitz Maurice ordered the closure of the Waterford mint and a new mint was opened in Cork. This was a royal city just like Waterford but it also was a major port for the south Munster region and new to Fitz Maurice’s lands and commerce.[59]
On October 18, 1295 John Wogan of Picton in Pembrokeshire was appointed justiciar and remained in office until June 1308 and was again in office from May 1309 to August 1312. He made Ireland his home and his descendants were important people in north Kildare until they died out in co-heiress in the early eighteenth century.[60]
Thomas Fitz Maurice remained as acting justiciar until Wogan arrived in Ireland in December 1295. During those two months he completed an eyre in his own south-west, travelling through the counties of Tipperary, Limerick, Kerry and Cork.[61] One of the earliest acts of Wogan was to close the Cork mint and leave Dublin as the only centre of coin production.[62]

After the justiciary
After leaving office Thomas Fitz Maurice returned to Munster to manage and defend his property and care for his wife and children. His mother, Matilda de Barry was still alive and had plenty to say to her pride and joy about life and property.
If Ireland was allowed to develop at this period towards the end of the thirteenth century it is said that the increasingly rapid decline of the English sphere of influence in the fourteenth century would not have been as dramatic. The many wars of King Edward I in Scotland, Wales and France drew the surplus resources out of Ireland when there application within the country could have achieved marked results at little effort. In January 1296 Thomas Fitz Maurice was summoned with other Irish lords to appear with as strong a military force as possible at the port of Whitehaven for an attack upon Scotland.[63] Two years later at Michaelmas 1298 Thomas contributed £4 to the fifteenth tax raised for the king.[64]

Death of Thomas; his wife and children
Thomas Fitz Maurice died on June 4, 1298 at Knockainy, Co. Limerick. He was later buried at the Dominican friary at Tralee.[65] This friary was founded by the grandfather of Thomas, John Fitz Thomas, in 1243. It was to here that John and his son Maurice were brought after the battle of Callann in 1261.[66]

Font from the medieval Dominican Friary at Tralee
On June 26 King Edward directed a series of instructions to Chancellor John de Langeton concerning the widow, children and debts of Thomas Fitz Maurice. In the first incidence the justiciar of Ireland was to search the records and quickly establish that Margaret de Berkeley had joint ownership of her late husband’s lands. She was then to have her dower lands while the king would arrange a fit person to receive her homage.
The heir to the Fitzgerald property, Thomas Fitz Thomas appears to have been in England at the time of his father’s death as it is Thomas de Berkeley who is instructed to deliver the boy into the hands of his mother. This instruction was renewed on July 9.[67]
At the time of Thomas Fitz Maurice’s death he owed debts to Thomas de Berkeley and the latter was to have first call on the assets of Thomas Fitz Maurice so as to recover the debts owed to him.[68] Thomas Fitz Maurice also had outstanding debts to the crown. In October 1289 John Barrett, sheriff of Waterford, paid £20 in part payment of these debts and in January 1299 John Barrett paid another £10 to the Dublin exchequer.[69]
In County Limerick, Matilda de Barry (Thomas’s mother) and Nicholas le Deveneys, county sheriff, paid £10 and £28 respectively out of the chattels of Thomas Fitz Maurice. Later Matilda paid nearly £3 from more chattel sales. A further £24 was realised from County Limerick while over £14 was raised by selling additional chattels in County Waterford.[70] Further debts to the crown were paid over in the succeeding years such as in June 1302 when the sheriff of Kerry paid 55s from the debts at Anach.[71]
An inquisition in March 1300 found that Thomas’s widow, Margaret de Berkeley, held manors and tenements to the value of £120. Yet she didn’t stay long as the wealthy widow. Sometime before March 1300 she married Reginald Russell without the king’s permission. King Edward often noted that she was his cousin but still fined her £500 for this transgression.[72]
In her new married life Margaret did not abandoned Ireland. As a widow she got one third of the Fitzgerald property but that is no reason for her to stay in Ireland. She could easily have gone back to England and make arrangements for her income to be sent over.
In around 1311 Margaret de Berkeley was the subject of an attempted abduction. Stephen le Poer, a brother of Eustace le Poer I, was involved in this attempted abduction with a group of Irishmen. The same Stephen then called on Baron John le Poer to assemble a military force to help ‘rescue’ Margaret. A short time before many of the ‘kidnappers’ were involved with the violent attack upon the manor of John le Grant near Waterford city.[73] The abduction and rescue appears therefore to have been put on as a show of how ‘lovely’ some people of the extended le Poer family were.
King Edward lost little time in using the vast Fitzgerald property to satisfy his friends and servants. In July 1300 he instructed the justiciar, John Wogan to give custody of 100 librates of Fitzgerald land to Gerard Dorim until the heirs come of age. Gerard Dorim was the king’s valet for many years and the land was to be located in an area that would be of greatest advantage to Gerard.[74]
In February 1302 King Edward granted certain lands from the estate of Thomas Fitz Maurice to John fitz Thomas of the Kildare Fitzgeralds. John had previously held these lands at a rent of £100 per year until Thomas’s heir came of age. Now King Edward cancelled this payment because of the services rendered by John Fitz Thomas in Scotland and elsewhere. The previous grant to Gerard Dorim was not overlooked and John was instead to pay the £100 to Gerard for the land granted to the latter.[75] 
In August 1304 William de Burgh was granted custody of fifty marcates a year from the Connacht lands of Thomas Fitz Maurice until the heir came of age. This grant was also a reward for services rendered in the English campaigns in Scotland.[76]

Heirs and legacy
In February 1301 King Edward I granted to Thomas de Berkeley, senior, the marriage of Thomas, the son of Thomas Fitz Maurice, who was under age and in the king’s custody at the time. If young Thomas should die before marriage then Thomas de Berkeley was to have the marriage of each and subsequent heir until a successful marriage was made.[77] This arrangement may have sounded good but Thomas de Berkeley had grown tired of the Fitzgeralds. The remarriage of his daughter Margaret may have gained an appreciation in his mind that things could turn out bad. Sometime before November 1302 Thomas de Berkeley sold the right of marriage for the Fitzgerald heirs to Edmund de Mortimer.[78] The latter had Irish estates around Dunamase in modern County Laois and elsewhere whereas Berkeley had little interest in Ireland. The right of marriage soon after returned to the crown as Edmund de Mortimer died in July 1304.[79]
Thomas Fitz Thomas died sometime before April 2, 1309 and was succeeded by his sixteen year old brother, Maurice Fitz Thomas. Five years later, on April 5, 1314 Maurice Fitz Thomas gave fealty to Edward I and received his inheritance. In 1329 after a stormy first career Maurice became first Earl of Desmond and then became his second stormy career.[80] Such is a story for another day of which much has already been written.

Follow other stories and events relating to the Fitzgerald family of Munster as part of the Dromana 800 celebrations at


End of post


[1] James Lydon, ‘A land of war’, in A new history of Ireland, Vol. II: medieval Ireland 1169-1534, edited by Art Cosgrove (Oxford, 2008), p. 251
[2] Bernadette Williams (ed.), The Annals of Ireland by Friar John Clyn (Dublin, 2007), pp. 144, 145n
[3] James Lydon, ‘A land of war’, in A new history of Ireland, Vol. II: medieval Ireland 1169-1534, edited by Art Cosgrove (Oxford, 2008), p. 251
[4] James Lydon, ‘A land of war’, in A new history of Ireland, Vol. II: medieval Ireland 1169-1534, edited by Art Cosgrove (Oxford, 2008), p. 252
[5] Goddard Henry Orpen, Ireland under the Normans 1169-1333 (Dublin, 2005), vol. III, p. 143; John T. Gilbert, History of the Viceroys of Ireland (Dublin, 1865), p. 106
[6] A.J. Otway-Ruthven, A history of Medieval Ireland (London, 1980), p. 232
[7] Rev. Denis Murphy (ed.), The Annals of Clonmacnoise (Dublin, 1896), 1262
[8] James Lydon, ‘A land of war’, in A new history of Ireland, Vol. II: medieval Ireland 1169-1534, edited by Art Cosgrove, p. 252
[9] Anthony McCormack, The Earldom of Desmond 1463-1583: The Decline and Crisis of a Feudal Lordship (Dublin, 2005), p. 30
[10] A.J. Otway-Ruthven, A history of Medieval Ireland, p. 236
[11] A.J. Otway-Ruthven, A history of Medieval Ireland, p. 175
[12] Paul MacCotter, ‘Lordship and Colony in Anglo-Norman Kerry, 1177-1400’ in Journal of the Kerry Archaeological and Historical Society, Series 2, Vol. 4 (2004), pp. 63-4, 68
[13] A.J. Otway-Ruthven, A history of Medieval Ireland, p. 201
[14] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland (Liechtenstein, 1974), vol. II (1252-1284), p. 260
[15] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland (Liechtenstein, 1974), vol. II (1252-1284), no. 1622
[16] Anthony McCormack, The Earldom of Desmond 1463-1583, pp. 30-1
[17] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, vol. II (1252-1284), no. 2154
[18] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, vol. II (1252-1284), nos. 1624, 1641
[19] James Lydon, ‘A land of war’, in A new history of Ireland, Vol. II: medieval Ireland 1169-1534, edited by Art Cosgrove (Oxford, 2008), pp. 252-3
[20] Goddard Henry Orpen, Ireland under the Normans 1169-1333, vol. III, p. 143
[21] Anthony McCormack, The Earldom of Desmond 1463-1583, p. 31
[22] Bridget Wells-Furby (ed.), A catalogue of the medieval muniments at Berkeley Castle (2 vols. Bristol & Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, 2004), vol. 1, pp. xxxi-xxxiii, xxxv
[23] Sir H.C. Maxwell Lyte, A history of Dunster (2 vols. London, 1909), vol. 1, pp. 33, 37
[24] James Lydon, ‘A land of war’, in A new history of Ireland, Vol. II: medieval Ireland 1169-1534, edited by Art Cosgrove (Oxford, 2008), p. 241
[25] Bridget Wells-Furby (ed.), A catalogue of  muniments at Berkeley Castle, vol. 1, p. xxxiv, note 2
[26] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, vol. II (1252-1284), no. 2357; ibid, vol. III (1285-1292), no. 14
[27]; accessed on 11 September 2011: Goddard Henry Orpen, Ireland under the Normans 1169-1333, vol. III, pp. 98-103
[28] Brian Ó Dálaigh, ‘From Gaelic Warlords to English Country Gentlemen’, in The Other Clare, vol. 25 (2001), pp. 40-42
[29] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, vol. III (1285-1292), no. 45
[30] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, vol. III (1285-1292), nos. 16-19, 22
[31] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, vol. III (1285-1292), nos. 181, 184
[32] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, vol. III (1285-1292), pp. 54bis, 97
[33] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, vol. III (1285-1292), pp. 123, 125, 139, 152bis, 167, 187
[34] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, vol. III (1285-1292), p. 111
[35] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, vol. III (1285-1292), no. 226
[36] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, vol. III (1285-1292), no. 231
[37] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, vol. III (1285-1292), no. 360
[38] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, vol. III (1285-1292), no. 360
[39] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, vol. III (1285-1292), no. 630, 733
[40] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, vol. III (1285-1292), no. 893
[41] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, vol. III (1285-1292), nos. 894, 913, 983, 985, 987
[42] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, vol. III (1285-1292), nos. 900, 939
[43] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, vol. III (1285-1292), no. 646
[44] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, vol. III (1285-1292), no. 1051
[45] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, vol. III (1285-1292), no. 973
[46] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, vol. III (1285-1292), no. 1051
[47] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, vol. III (1285-1292), no. 1061
[48] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, vol. III (1285-1292), nos. 1023, 1028
[49] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, vol. IV (1293-1301), nos. 3, 144, 205, 262, 292, 331, 444
[50] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, vol. III (1285-1292), no. 1042
[51] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, vol. IV (1293-1301), no. 86
[52] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, vol. IV (1293-1301), no. 153
[53] A.J. Otway-Ruthven, A history of Medieval Ireland, p. 211, note 58
[54] A.J. Otway-Ruthven, A history of Medieval Ireland, p. 211
[55] A.J. Otway-Ruthven, A history of Medieval Ireland, pp. 211-2
[56] A.J. Otway-Ruthven, A history of Medieval Ireland, p. 212
[57] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, vol. IV (1293-1301), nos. 389, 412, 442, 509, 547
[58] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, vol. IV (1293-1301), no. 202
[59] Michael Dolley, ‘Coinage to 1534: the sign of the times’, in A new history of Ireland, Vol. II: medieval Ireland 1169-1534, edited by Art Cosgrove (Oxford, 2008), p. 821
[60] A.J. Otway-Ruthven, A history of Medieval Ireland, p. 212
[61] A.J. Otway-Ruthven, A history of Medieval Ireland, p. 213
[62] Michael Dolley, ‘Coinage to 1534: the sign of the times’, in A new history of Ireland, Vol. II: medieval Ireland 1169-1534, edited by Art Cosgrove, p. 821
[63] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, vol. IV (1293-1301), no. 276
[64] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, vol. IV (1293-1301), no. 549
[65] George Edward Cokayne, The Complete Peerage (Alan Sutton, Gloucester, 1987), vol. ii, p. 236
[66] Aubrey Gwynn and R. Neville Hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses Ireland (Irish Academic Press, Blackrock, 1988), p. 230
[67] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, vol. IV (1293-1301), nos. 531, 533
[68] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, vol. iv (1293-1301), no. 531
[69] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, vol. iv (1293-1301), pp. 248, 279
[70] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, vol. iv (1293-1301), pp. 250, 296-7, 314
[71] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, vol. v (1302-1307), p. 28
[72] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, vol. iv (1293-1301), nos. 727, 728
[73] Ciarán Parker, ‘Local government in County Waterford in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries’, in Decies, no. 51 (1995), p. 103; Ciarán Parker, ‘Paterfamilias and Parentela: the le Poer lineage in fourteenth-century Waterford’, in Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, vol. 95C (1995), p. 97
[74] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, vol. iv (1293-1301), no. 756
[75] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, vol. v (1302-1307), nos. 38, 43
[76] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, vol. v (1302-1307), no. 338
[77] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, vol. iv (1293-1301), no. 773
[78] H.S. Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, vol. v (1302-1307), no. 142
[79] George Edward Cokayne, The Complete Peerage, vol. ix, p. 283
[80] George Edward Cokayne, The Complete Peerage, vol. ii, pp. 236-7


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. According to the American Heart Association web site statistics, almost half of the adult population in the United States of America can be considered to have high blood pressure. A hard to believe 45 percent of those who have hypertension do not have it adequately controlled. That sounds pretty terrible to me.

    APA continuing Credits