Richard Preston, 1st Earl of Desmond

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Richard Preston, 1st Earl of Desmond (died 28 October 1628),[1] already created Lord Dingwall in 1609, a Scottish court favorite of King James VI of Scotland, was created Earl of Desmond, in Munster, in southwestern Ireland, by King James under his character of King James I of England and Ireland in 1619. He was also created Viscount Cullen and Baron Dunmore in Ireland.[2]

He married Lady Elizabeth Butler, daughter and heiress of the 10th Earl of Ormonde by his second wife Elizabeth Sheffield, and widow of Theobald Butler, 1st Viscount Butler of Tulleophelim. They had one daughter, Elizabeth, who married James Butler, 1st Duke of Ormond.

This was the third creation of the title; in its first creation, the Earldom of Desmond had been held by the Hiberno-Norman FitzGerald dynasty. After the failure of the Second Desmond Rebellion against Queen Elizabeth I of England, the Geraldine earldom was forfeit to the Crown in 1582 and all its heirs attainted. The title was created for the second time for James Fitzgerald – a pathetic creature of the Crown who died penniless and without issue. After Richard Preston's death, this creation became extinct in its turn. A fourth creation of the title passed to the family of the Earls of Denbigh.

Alfred Webb tells us of this creation of the earldom of Desmond that:

Thomas Butler, 10th Earl of Ormond, in right of his mother, Joan FitzGerald, daughter of the 11th Earl of Desmond, claimed the Earldom after the death and attainder of all the heirs male. When his daughter was married to James I.'s Scotch favourite, Sir Richard Preston, the title was conferred on him. When the only child of the latter, a daughter, was about to be married to the son of the Earl of Denbigh, the title was passed to the intended bridegroom. The marriage never took place; yet the title was retained [by] the Earls of Denbigh.[3]

Peerage of Ireland
New creation
Earl of Desmond
3rd creation


  1. ^ Cokayne, George Edward, Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct, or Dormant. Volume III. London: George Bell & Sons. 1890. p. 89
  2. ^ John Hough. A Contemporary's Account of the Life and Times of James, 1st Duke of Ormonde. p. xii.
  3. ^ Webb, Alfred (1878). A Compendium of Irish Biography. Dublin: M. H. Gill & Son. p. 146 – via Wikisource. [scan Wikisource link]