Silken Thomas
Irish History From The Annals

Silken Thomas, Earl of Kildare.

Following his unsuccessful rebellion against King Henry VIII Silken Thomas, Earl of Kildare, and his five uncles were hanged on the 3rd of February 1537 at Tyburn outside London.

In June 1534 Thomas Fitzgerald son of Gerald FitzGerald Earl of Kildare, believing that his father had been executed in the Tower of London, rose in rebellion against King Henry VIII. After an unsuccessful attempt to capture Dublin Castle he retreated to Maynooth Castle in Co. Kildare which was captured by the English in 1535. Following his surrender on the 24th of August 1535 he was sent to the Tower of London. On the orders of Henry VIII Thomas, along with his five uncles, was hanged at Tyburn outside London.

The events are recorded in the Annals of the Four Masters for the years 1535 and 1537.

The Earl of Kildare, Lord Justice of Ireland (Garrett Oge), the son of Garrett, son of Thomas, the most illustrious of the English and Irish of Ireland in his time, for not only had his name and renown spread through all Ireland, but his fame and exalted character were heard of in distant countries of foreign nations, died in captivity in London. After which his son, Thomas, proceeded to avenge his father upon the English and all who had been instrumental in removing him from Ireland. He resigned the King's sword, and did many injuries to the English. The Archbishop of Dublin came by his death through him, for he had been opposed to his father: many others were slain along with him. He took Dublin from Newgate outwards, and pledges and hostages were given him by the rest of the town through fear of him. The son of the Earl on this occasion totally plundered and devastated Fingall from Slieve Roe to Drogheda, and made all Meath as it were tremble beneath his feet.

When the King had received intelligence of this he sent relief to the English, namely, William Skeffington, as Lord Justice, and Leonard Gray, with a great fleet, and these proceeded to plunder all (the territory) that was under the jurisdiction of the Earl's son. They afterwards took Magh Nuadhat, Thomas's town, and expelled himself from his territory. His father's five brothers also rose up against Thomas, to assist the English, namely, James Meirgeach, Oliver, John, Walter, and Richard, for they thought that if Thomas were conquered one of themselves might obtain the earldom. When the aforesaid Englishmen were not able to make a prisoner of Thomas (after having taken his manors and towns from him, and driven him for an asylum to the Irish of the south of Ireland, especially to the O'Briens and O'Conor Faly, who all were a firm and powerful bulwark against them, and at war with them) they resolved in council to proffer him a pretended peace, and take him by treachery; whereupon they sent Lord Leonard to the Earl's son, who promised pardon on behalf of the king, so that he coaxed him with him to England, where he was immediately seized and placed in the King's tower, in bondage and captivity.

Lord Leonard returned to Ireland; and the Lord Justice of lreland William Skeffington, having died, he assumed his place, and he took to him the sons of Garrett, the son of Thomas, the Great Earl of Kildare, namely, James Meirgeach, Oliver, John, Walter, and Richard, and they were for some time in his company and friendship. They were however finally seized on, they being under his protection, and sent to the King of England; and they were immediately clapped into the King's tower, in which was also the heir to the earldom, i.e. Thomas; and there were they all six!

Thomas, the son of the Earl of Kildare, the best man of the English of Ireland in his time, and his father's five brothers, whom we have already mentioned, namely, James Meirgeach, Oliver, John, Walter, and Richard, were put to death in England on the 3rd of the Nones of February; and all the Geraldines of Leinster were exiled and banished. The earldom of Kildare was vested in the King ; and every one of the family who was apprehended, whether lay or ecclesiastical, was tortured and put to death. These were great losses, and the cause of lamentation throughout Ireland.

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