Walter (Butler), Theobald (a.1150–1206?), magnate and chief butler of Ireland, was eldest son of Hervey Walter and Maud, daughter of Theobald de Valoignes. Little or nothing is known for certain about his family background, but he clearly came from what later centuries would call the landed gentry, and was probably educated in the household of his uncle by marriage, Ranulf de Glanville, Henry II's (qv) justiciar. Walter transferred to the household of John (qv), lord of Ireland, before the latter's expedition to Ireland in 1185, almost certainly to take advantage of the opportunities provided by the new colony. Gerald of Wales (qv) implicates Walter in the assassination of Diarmait Mór Mac Carthaig (qv) (d. 1185), and he was an active participant in the conquest of the kingdom of Limerick. He was granted a large block of land in what is now northern Tipperary and Limerick, which formed the basis of his family's lordship in Ireland for over a century. Walter also received the manors of Gowran, Tullow, and Arklow from John. These grants ignored the rights of Isabella de Clare (Isabella Marshal (qv)), heiress of Richard de Clare (qv), lord of Leinster, and Walter was later forced to surrender them, although they were returned to him to hold of the lord of Leinster instead of John as lord of Ireland. A regular attendant of John, Theobald regularly travelled between England and his new lordship in Ireland. Sometime before 1192 Walter was granted the hereditary office of chief butler of Ireland, from which his descendants took their family name. Although he tended to support John, he bowed to the authority of Richard I on several occasions, which lost him the favour of John, especially after the latter's accession in 1199. He was stripped of some offices and lands in England, but was generally protected from the full extent of the royal wrath by his brother Hubert Walter, archbishop of Canterbury, who served as justiciar of England (1193–98) for Richard I and as chancellor (1199–1205) under John. At a date before 1200 he married (possibly as his second marriage) Maud, daughter of Robert le Vavasour. Despite long absences in England, he successfully conquered and organised his new lordships in Ireland, bringing in settlers and developing several towns (Thurles, Nenagh, Gowran, and Arklow) to serve as the manorial centres of his lordships. He also founded religious houses in Nenagh, Arklow, and Abbington in Limerick. He died in the winter of 1205–6 and was buried in Abbington (Wotheney) abbey, leaving his lordships to his 6-year-old son, Theobald (qv) (d. 1230).
CDI; Ormond deeds, 1172–1350; C. Adrian Empey, ‘The Butler lordship in Ireland, 1185–1515’ (Ph.D. thesis, Dublin, 1970); id., ‘The settlement of the kingdom of Limerick’, Lydon, Eng. & Ire., 1–25