This name rolled out on one of my this day in history posted on February 3rd. The name struck me as interesting so I decided to do a little research.
Thomas Fitzgerald – aka Silken Thomas – was an Irish Rebel he was also the 10th Earl of Kildare. His father was, obviously the 9th Earl of Kildare and in that capacity they were technically ‘in charge’ of Ireland. The Fitzgerald family, though Irish, were related to Henry VII. Needless to say, this was how they got their cushy jobs being ‘in charge’ of Ireland and the Irish people.
Our story picks up in February of 1534. Gerald, Thomas’ father and the 9th Earl of Kildare was summoned to London. Now, the postal system back in those days was not very fast. While his father was in London, Thomas gets word that his father has been executed at the Tower of London. He also hears rumors that the same execution is planned for himself and his father’s brothers all of whom are part of the ruling family in Ireland. Thomas decides that he is not going to wait for a supposed execution to take place.
Thomas Fitzgerald gathers a small army of 140 horsemen and others that were allied with him to ride to St Mary’s Abbey in Dublin to renounce his connection to the Crown. The horsemen and Thomas all had fringes amd eof silk on their helmets and this is how he got the name Silken Thomas. He didn’t stop with a public announcement though, he decided to attack Dublin Castle (the main stronghold of Henry VIII in Ireland) and then he ordered the execution of the Archbishop who was the spiritual leader of Ireland. Most of the battles that Silken Thomas started and got involved in, ended with him being routed and falling back further into the rural Irish communities. Thomas had hoped that he would get support from the vastly Catholic masses in Ireland due to Henry VIII reformation and founding of the Church of England. This support did not happen.
Henry VIII appointed Lord Leonard Grey to be Lord Deputy of Ireland and sent him toe Ireland to quell the rebellion of Silken Thomas. Thomas was captured and sent to the Tower of London, along with his uncles in October of 1535. He and his uncles with hanged and beheaded on February 3, 1537, a little over a year later.