Butler, James (a.1360–1405), 3rd earl of Ormond, second son of James Butler (qv), 2nd earl of Ormond, and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Sir John Darcy (qv), succeeded to his lands and titles after his father's death (October 1382). Like his father, Ormond was by birth and ability one of the foremost magnates in Ireland, and he also continued the family tradition of close connections with England by marrying Anne, daughter of John, Lord Welles, sometime before June 1386.
Ormond served in the capacity of chief governor of Ireland, either as deputy lieutenant or justiciar, several times and continued as justiciar while Richard II (qv) was in Ireland in 1394–5. Despite this loyal service to Richard II, (qv) Ormond seems to have had no difficulty accepting Henry IV as his king, and even served as deputy to Thomas of Lancaster in 1405. In the early 1390s (c.1392) Ormond purchased the Despenser lands in Kilkenny, including Kilkenny castle, which then became the family seat for the next 500 years. This move clearly shows that the family's centre of influence and power had shifted south and east into Kilkenny, and allowed the Butlers to dominate much of the Nore–Suir–Barrow basin.
Despite his English connections, Ormond had no difficulty in using Gaelic law and culture when it suited him, and is said to have acted as an interpreter for Richard II. His greatest legacy, after the acquisition of Kilkenny, was his large brood of children, both legitimate and illegitimate. These children would found several minor Butler clans, which became one of the major problems facing the earls of Ormond in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.