Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Cusack, Thomas

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CUSACK or CUSAKE, Sir THOMAS (1490–1571), lord chancellor of Ireland, of an ancient family in Meath, was sheriff of Meath in 1541, and took an active part in the pacification of Ireland by Henry VIII, who granted lands and honours to the chieftains out of the spoil of the church. He was master of the rolls in Ireland from 1542 to 1550, and he acted as lord chancellor in 1551. Next year he received the patent for the latter office. Hugh Curwen [q. v.] succeeded him in 1553. For his exertions in the English cause he was presented by the council of Edward VI with the site of Clonard Abbey, and several parsonages, and was allowed augmentations of his fees. In 1552 he sent to the Duke of Northumberland a long epistle or ‘book’ on the state of Ireland, of which there are three manuscript copies, one in the Record Office, another in the Lambeth Library, and a third in the library of Trinity College, Dublin (Hamilton, Cal. of Irish State Papers, p. 126; Leland, Hist. of Irel. ii. 202). He urged the settlement of the island by extending English law to every part, and putting an end to the ancient Brehon jurisdictions. In the same year he was chosen one of the two lords justices, along with Aylmer, in which office he was continued under Mary; and, in the absence of the lord deputy, at the head of the Dublin militia, he defeated the great northern rebel, O'Neal, at Dundalk on 8 Sept. 1553 (Cox, Hibern. Anglicana, pp. 293, 298). In Elizabeth's time he was active in reconciling the wild Irish, and engaged in extensive journeys with that design. In 1563 he seems to have visited England, bearing a recommendation from the lord deputy Sussex (Hamilton, Cal. 214). In the same year he was much concerned in the reduction of Shane O'Neal by Lord Sussex, and drew up the conditions on which that chieftain was pardoned and received into favour (ib. 219–24). He applied in the course of these negotiations for a grant of lands belonging to the dissolved religious house of Thomas Court (ib. p. 229). He was occupied with business as a commissioner in the west of Ireland and elsewhere almost to the time of his death in 1571, and declared to Cecil of himself that his services in Munster would not be forgotten for a hundred years.

[Most of the particulars above given are from Hamilton's Calendar of State Papers, Ireland; see also Ware's Works concerning Ireland, transl. by Harris.]

R. W. D.