Burgh, Richard de (c.1193–1243), magnate, justiciar, and lord of Connacht, was eldest son of William de Burgh (qv) and a daughter of Domnall Mór Ua Briain (qv), and nephew of Hubert de Burgh, justiciar of England. He inherited his father's lands when he reached his majority in July 1214. He probably spent much of his minority in his uncle's household and appears as a witness in several of King John's (qv) charter documents till September 1215. In that month he received a grant of all the lands his father held in Connacht. This was largely incompatible with a grant given to Cathal Mór Crobderg Ua Conchobair (qv), king of Connacht, at the same time, and de Burgh's grant seems to have been held in abeyance as long as Cathal Crobderg acted as a loyal subject of the crown. Although de Burgh tried to get around the provisions of these charters, he had little or no success. In 1219, no doubt bolstered by the increasing influence of his uncle, he attempted to have a new charter concerning Connacht approved but was unsuccessful. However, in August 1220 Hubert de Burgh ordered that he be granted seisin of all the lands of which his father had been dispossessed in 1204, including Connacht. In the same month the justiciar, Geoffrey de Marisco (qv), appointed de Burgh, with Henry of London (qv), archbishop of Dublin, to audit the use of royal lands in Ireland during the royal minority. De Burgh went on pilgrimage to Santiago in 1222. In June 1223 he was made seneschal of Munster and granted custody of the king's castle of Limerick, a post he held for at least three years. By 1225 he had allied himself with the powerful de Lacy family when he married Egidia, daughter of Walter de Lacy (qv), lord of Meath. Through this marriage he increased his own holdings in Tipperary, as the manor and cantred of Ardmayle was transferred to him by his father-in-law. In May 1225 he was granted 250 marks yearly from the royal rents in Decies and Desmond, probably in an attempt to compensate him for not having Connacht. In December 1226 he was granted custody of the lands of Thomas fitz Anthony (qv) and custody of the royal castle of Dungarvan.
The death (1224) of Cathal Crobderg Ua Conchobair destabilised the political situation in the province. Crobderg's son and heir, Áed, was willing to do homage to the king of England for his lands in Connacht and was initially supported by the Dublin administration against rival claimants. This support did not stop the English of Munster and Leinster from invading Connacht to take advantage of the disputes among the O'Connors, and de Burgh was almost certainly one of the invaders. However the royal policy of support for Áed O’Connor soon changed, and in June 1226 Richard de Burgh was given leave to assert his rights in Connacht. The only reason for this shift in policy is that de Burgh and his uncle Hubert, justiciar of England, were convinced that it would be better if Connacht were held by de Burgh rather than by Áed O'Connor, who had proven to be a weak king. This shift in policy was not universally supported, the most vocal critic being William Marshal (qv) (d. 1231), earl of Pembroke, lord of Leinster and justiciar (1224–6). Marshal was removed from the office of justiciar, and Áed was ordered to surrender his lands. De Burgh was to be granted possession of these lands, with the exception of five cantreds around Athlone, for the yearly rent of 500 marks. The invasion of Connacht began in earnest in 1227 when a royal service was proclaimed. De Burgh and the other Englishmen played one O'Connor off against another, and de Burgh finally settled his support behind Fedlimid O'Connor (qv) (d. 1265), son of Cathal Crobderg. In February 1228 de Burgh's position was further strengthened when he was appointed justiciar of Ireland, an indication of the influence his uncle had over the young king, even after Henry III declared his majority. His relations with Fedlimid O'Connor soured, and by 1231 he had imprisoned his former ally and made peace with one of Fedlimid's rivals.
The most surprising thing about the conquest of Connacht was its sheer speed. However, the English occupation came to a swift halt, not through the actions of the O'Connors, but with the fall of Hubert de Burgh (July 1232). Henry III's determination to assert himself as king also extended to a desire to control all Connacht. De Burgh was ordered to release Fedlimid O'Connor (August 1232), stripped of the justiciarship (September), and ordered to submit to an audit of his accounts and actions while justiciar (February 1233). In May 1233 de Burgh was ordered to surrender his castle at Meelick to the new justiciar, Maurice FitzGerald (qv). The royal interference and the release of Fedlimid O'Connor effectively destroyed all the work of the conquest from 1227. De Burgh's disgrace was short-lived, however. His determined opposition to Richard Marshal (qv), earl of Pembroke, who had rebelled against the king's policies, restored his position by May 1234. In September 1234 he was granted a new charter for Connacht, but one that favoured the king's interests more than the earlier ones, as it organised Connacht as a royal county and not a liberty like Meath or Leinster. From 1234 onwards the king and baronage were jointly committed to the conquest of Connacht, and it proceeded quickly, with the English army raiding and devastating the province as far as Boyle. De Burgh and his allies also turned south to deal with Donnchad Cairprech O'Brien (qv), who had taken advantage of the events of 1232–4 to break his long-standing alliance with de Burgh and attack Limerick. The English then turned their attention to the west and north of the province. In 1237 Fedlimid tacitly recognised the English conquest by accepting the king as his lord and agreeing to pay rent for the king's five cantreds.
After the military conquest, the settlement of Connacht began in earnest in 1237. De Burgh made grants of large areas of his new lordship, basing his grants on pre-existing political structures, demanding a service of two knights per cantred (the whole of Connacht was divided into thirty cantreds, of which the king held five) and twenty marks in rent. He retained some three cantreds in southern Galway for his own use, making Loughrea the caput of his new lordship. He also rebuilt his castle at Meelick and built a new fortification in Galway. The organisation of his lordship was well under way when the king summoned him to serve on the royal expedition to Poitou in 1242. Unfortunately, Richard de Burgh fell ill on the sea journey to Poitou and died in France in 1243, leaving his lordship to his son Richard (d. 1248).