Eustace, Roland Fitz (DNB00)

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EUSTACE, ROLAND FITZ, Lord Portlester (d. 1496), chancellor and treasurer in Ireland, was the eldest son of Sir Edward FitzEustace, head of an important Anglo-Norman family which acquired extensive estates in Kildare and Meath in Ireland. The FitzEustaces with the Earls of Kildare and the Geraldines were among the chief and most active supporters in Ireland of the Yorkist party, the head of which was Duke Richard, father of Edward IV. By descent the duke had claims to large demesnes in Ireland, of which kingdom he was appointed viceroy in 1449 for Henry VI. Sir Edward FitzEustace acted as deputy in Ireland in 1454 for the Duke of York, and in the same year his son, Sir Roland, received the appointment of lord treasurer there. Sir Roland married Marguerite, relict of Sir John Dowdall, and daughter of Jenico d'Artois, a Gascon officer who had been employed in military affairs in Ireland by Richard II and Henry IV. A chapel under the patronage of the Blessed Virgin was erected by Sir Roland in the parochial church of St. Audoen, Dublin, in 1455. Edward IV, on his accession to the throne in 1461, confirmed Sir Roland in the treasurership of Ireland, and by patent dated at Westminster 4 March in the same year created him Baron of Portlester in the county of Meath. He was also appointed temporary deputy-governor in Ireland for the viceroy, George, duke of Clarence, and took the oath of office on 12 June 1462. In that year he presided as lord deputy at a parliament held in Dublin. About this time Portlester was accused of treasonable designs in collusion with the Earl of Desmond. Portlester repudiated the charge, offered trial by wager of battle, and was subsequently exonerated by act of parliament. Another charge of treason made against him at Dublin in 1470 does not appear to have been prosecuted. His daughter and coheiress, Alison, became the wife of Gerald, eighth earl of Kildare, lord deputy of Ireland. In 1472 the chancellorship was conferred on Portlester and John Taxton during their lives. Portlester was one of the chief supporters of the Earl of Kildare in his contest in 1478 with Henry, lord Grey, in relation to the office of deputy in Ireland for Edward IV. The name of Portlester stands next to that of the Earl of Kildare on the roll of those appointed in 1479 as chief members of the fraternity of St. George for defence of the English territories in Ireland. Under the arrangements made by Edward IV for the administration of his affairs in Ireland, Portlester was superseded in the chancellorship, but retained in office as lord treasurer, and the post of chief baron of the exchequer was conferred on his son, Oliver Eustace, in 1482. Portlester was reputed to have acquired considerable wealth through his employments under the crown. In 1486 he established at Kilcullen, on the bank of the Liffey, co. Kildare, a convent for Observantine Franciscans, subsequently known as the ‘New Abbey.’ With the Earl of Kildare and other leaders of the Anglo-Irish, Portlester in 1487 took part in the movement of the Yorkists in favour of Lambert Simnel. In 1488 Portlester again became chancellor of Ireland when that office was vacated by Sir Thomas FitzGerald, who took command of the Irish soldiers who fought in the battle at Stoke in 1488. Through the intervention of the royal commissioner, Sir Richard Edgecombe, a pardon was issued to Portlester by Henry VII, under date of 25 May 1488. He died at an advanced age in 1496, and was interred in the Franciscan abbey, which he had founded at Kilcullen. The remains of a stone monument with recumbent effigies of Portlester and his wife are preserved on the site of the chapel which, as above mentioned, he erected in the church of St, Audoen, Dublin.

[Rolls of Parliament, Chancery and Exchequer, Ireland; Patent Roll, England, 3 Hen. VII; Hist. of Viceroys of Ireland, 1865; Hist. of City of Dublin, 1854; Waræi Disquisitiones de Hibernia, 1658; manuscripts in library of Dukes of Burgundy, Brussels; Harleian MS. 433, Brit. Mus.; Cottonian Charters, Brit. Mus.; Letters and Papers of Henry VII, ed. James Gairdner (Rolls Series), 1861.]

J. T. G.