This illustrious and ancient family is descended from a common ancestor with the house of FITZMAURICE, Earls of Kerry (an earldom now merged with the marquessesate of Lansdowne) and that of WINDSOR, Earls of Plymouth; namely,
MAURICE FITZGERALD, LORD OF LANSTEPHAN, through whose exertions the possession of Ireland was chiefly accomplished by HENRY II.
This Maurice was the son of Gerald FitzOtho (son of Walter FitzOtho, who, at the general survey of the kingdom in 1078, was castellan of Windsor, and was appointed by WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR, warden of the forests of Berkshire; which Walter was the son of
OTHO, a rich and powerful lord in the time of ALFRED THE GREAT, descended from the Dukes of Tuscany, a baron of England, according to Sir William Dugdale, in the reign of EDWARD THE CONFESSOR, by Nesta, daughter of Rees, Prince of South Wales.
The said Maurice obtained for his services a grant of extensive territories in the province of Leinster, and was constituted, in 1172, one of the governors of Ireland; in which year he slew O'Rourke, Prince of Meath, then in rebellion against the English Government.This feudal chief died, full of honour, in 1177, and was succeeded by his eldest son,
GERALD FITZGERALD (c1150-1204), 1st Baron of Offaly, who was with his father in the memorable sally out of Dublin, in 1173, when that city was besieged by O'Connor, King of Connaught, with an army of 36,000 men, over whom the FitzGeralds obtained a complete victory.
This Gerald, dying at Sligo, was succeeded by his son,
MAURICE FITZGERALD (1194-1257), 2nd Baron, Lord Chief Justice of Ireland,
who was put into possession, by a mandatory letter of HENRY III, dated 1216, of Maynooth and all the other lands of which his father died seized in Ireland, and was put also into possession of the castle of CRUM, County Limerick.
This nobleman is said to have been the first who brought the Orders of the Franciscans and the Dominicans into Ireland. In 1229, the King, appreciating the good services of the family since its settlement in Ireland, constituted his lordship lord-justice of the kingdom. In 1236, Lord Offaly built the castle of Armagh; and, in 1242, he erected a similar edifice at Athlone.His lordship died in 1257, in the habit of St Francis, leaving the reputation of having been a "valiant knight, a very pleasant man, inferior to none in the kingdom, having lived all his life with commendation."
By his wife he had issue,
Gerald FitzMaurice;His lordship was succeeded by his eldest surviving son,
MAURICE FITZGERALD, of whom we treat;
MAURICE FITZGERALD (1238-c1286), 3rd Baron, Chief Governor of Ireland,
then in minority; and Prince EDWARD having obtained the dominion of Ireland from his father, HENRY III, claimed his wardship as a part of the prerogative; but the barony of OFFALY being held by the minor and his deceased father under Margaret, Countess of Lincoln, to whom belonged the county of Kildare, as widow of the Earl of Pembroke, that lady contested the right of wardship, and brought the case before the King himself for decision. This nobleman was afterwards Chief Governor of Ireland.He espoused firstly, Maud, daughter of Sir Gerald de Prendergast, by who he had issue, a daughter, Amabel; and secondly, Emmeline, daughter of Stephen Longespee, by whom he had a daughter, JULIANA FITZGERALD, LADY OF THOMOND.
Lord Offaly was succeeded at his decease by his cousin,
JOHN FITZGERALD, designated of Callann, who wedded firstly, Margery, daughter of Sir Thomas Anthony, with whom he acquired the lands of Decies and Desmond, and had an only son, MAURICE.
He espoused secondly, Honora, daughter of Hugh O'Connor (the first Irish lady chosen for a wife by any member of the family), and had four sons,
Gilbert, ancestor of The White Knights;This John being killed with his eldest son, Maurice, at Callann, by MacCarthy Mor, against whom the FitzGeralds had raised a great army in 1261, was succeeded by his grandson,
John, ancestor of The Knights of Glin;
Maurice, first Knight of Kerry, or The Black Knight;
Thomas, ancestor of the FitzGeralds, of The Island, County Kerry.
THOMAS, nicknamed Nappagh Simiacus, or the APE,
a surname thus acquired - being only nine months old when his father and grandfather fell at Callann, his attendants rushing out at the first astonishment excited by the intelligence, left the child alone in its cradle, when a baboon, kept in the family, took him up, and carried him to the top of the steeple of Tralee Abbey;
whence, after conveying him round the battlements, and exhibiting him to the appalled spectators, he brought him down safely, and laid him in his cradle. From this tradition the supporters of the house of LEINSTER are said to have been adopted.
This thomas was constituted a Lord Justice of Ireland, and captain of all Desmond, in 1295; and being of so much power, was generally styled Prince and Ruler of Munster.He married Margaret, daughter of John, Lord Barry, of Oletham; and dying in 1298, left two sons,
JOHN, his successor;
Maurice, created EARL OF DESMOND in 1329.
JOHN, 5th Baron (c1250-1316).
This nobleman being at variance with William de Vescy, Lord of Kildare, and Lord Chief Justice of Ireland in 1291, and having various charges to prefer against him, came over to England, and confronted, and challenged the said Vescy, Lord of Kildare, before the King.
Lord Kildare first took up the glove, but subsequently withdrawing to France, His Majesty EDWARD I pronounced against his lordship, and conferred upon Lord Offaly Vescy's manors and Lordship of Kildare, Rathangan, etc.
Lord Offaly returned triumphantly to Ireland, and having continued to promote the English interest there, was created by EDWARD II, in 1316, EARL OF KILDARE.His lordship died in the same year.
FROM this nobleman the family honours descended, without anything remarkable occurring, to
GERALD, 5th Earl,
who died, leaving a daughter and heir, Elizabeth, who marrying James Butler, 4th Earl of Ormonde, the King's sheriff, in 1434, was ordered, on payment of the usual fine to the Exchequer, to give full livery of the Earl of Kildare's estates to this latter nobleman and his wife; and on the same roll, in that year, we find that Lord Ormonde and his wife paid the accustomed "relief" due to the Crown out of the estates of the said Gerald, Lord Kildare.But no claim was ever made by the Earls of Ormonde to the parliamentary barony of the Kildare family in right of their marriage with the heir; for we find it with the earldom inherited by
THOMAS (c1421-78), 7th Earl, who succeeded his father John, the 6th Earl, in 1427.
This nobleman was appointed, in 1454 and 1455, Lord Deputy of Ireland; in the latter of which years he held a great council, or parliament, in Dublin, and subsequently one at Naas, wherein, amongst other proceedings, it was resolved "that as no means could be found to keep the King's coin within the Kingdom of Ireland, that all Frenchmen, Spaniards, Britons, Portugese, and other sundry nations, should pay for every pound og silver they carried out of the land, 40 pence of custom to the king's customer, for the use of the King."
His lordship was continued in the government of Ireland until 1459, when Richard, Duke of York, was constituted Lord Lieutenant of Ireland; but the following year, Lord Kildare was appointed Deputy to the Duke of York.
This tide of prosperity continued to flow until 1467, when, being involved with the Earl of Desmond, he was attainted with that nobleman (who suffered death), but subsequently pardoned, set at liberty, and restored in blood, by act of parliament.His lordship was afterwards a Lord Justice of Ireland; and, in 1471, Deputy to George, Duke of Clarence.
He died in 1478, and was succeeded by his eldest son (by Joan, daughter of James, 6th Earl of Desmond),
GERALD (c1456-c1513), 8th Earl, KG;
who was constituted, on his accession to the peerage, Lord Deputy to Richard, Duke of York, and held a parliament at Naas. In 1480, he was re-appointed Lord Deputy; and again, upon the accession of HENRY VII, Deputy to Jasper, Duke of Bedford, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.
Upon the arrival, however, of Lambert Simnel, and his tutor, Richard Simon, an Oxford priest, in Ireland, the Lord Deputy, the Chancellor, Treasurer, and other nobles in the York interest, immediately acknowledged the imposter, and had him proclaimed in Dublin, by the style of EDWARD VI;
and the Lord Deputy assisted with the others at his coronation at Christ Church Cathedral, in 1487, where the ceremony was performed with great solemnity, the Chancellor, the Archbishop of Dublin, the Earl of Lincoln, Lord Lovell, Jenico Marks, Mayor of Dublin, and several other persons of rank attending.
The crown was borrowed from the image of the Virgin Mary; John Pain, the Bishop of Meath, preached the coronation sermon; and the Pretender was subsequently conveyed upon the shoulders of Darcy, of Platten, a person of extraordinary height, to Dublin Castle, amidst the shouts of the populace.
In the engagement which afterwards decided the fate of Simnel, near Stoke, the Chancellor, FitzGerald, fell; but the Lord Deputy had the good fortune to make his peace with the King.His lordship was nominated Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in 1496, when he was succeeded by his son,
GERALD (1487-1534), 9th Earl; who, with his five uncles, having revolted, was imprisoned in the Tower, where he died, in 1534, and an act was passed in the parliament of Ireland attainting him of high treason, and forfeiting the family honours and estates.
His eldest son,
THOMAS, 10th Earl, shared in the misfortunes of his father, and leaving no issue, was succeeded by his brother,
GERALD (1525-85), 11th Earl;
of whom a most remarkable account is given by a contemporary historian, Richard Stanihurst. It appears that, at the age of 10, he was preserved from the power of HENRY VIII by the precaution of his female relatives, and his tutor, Thomas Leurense, his father's foster-brother.
He wandered from court to court upon the Continent, until Cardinal Pole, who was related to his lordship's mother, sent for him into Italy and completed his education. He wedded Mabel, daughter of Sir Anthony Brown, and through the medium of that connection, obtained the favour of EDWARD VI, who conferred upon him, in 1552, the Lordship of Maynooth and other of his father's estates.
In the ensuing reign, he was fully restored, by letters patent, to the earldom of KILDARE and barony of Offaly, with the precedence of his ancestors.
It is a remarkable circumstance that, though attainted by act of parliament, this Gerald, under such grants from the Crown, but without any new statute, was summoned to, and actually sat as a peer in, the parliament of 1560, and it was not until the 11th year of ELIZABETH I that the attainter was removed by parliament.
His lordship's eldest son, GERALD, Lord Offaly, dying in the lifetime of the 11th Earl, left an only daughter, Lettice, who married Sir Robert Digby, and for a long time claimed the BARONY OF OFFALY, as heir of her father, but which claim, after being referred by JAMES I to the judges of England, was decided by His Majesty himself, who confirmed the barony of Offaly to the Earls of Kildare and their heirs male, and created Lady Digby BARONESS OFFALY for life;whereupon that ancient title devolved on the deceased Earl's second son and successor,
HENRY, 12th Earl. This nobleman wedded Lady Frances Howard, daughter of Charles, Earl of Nottingham, and had surviving issue,
Bridget;His lordship dying thus without male issue, was succeeded by his brother,
WILLIAM, 13th Earl; who died unmarried, when the honours devolved upon (the son of Edward FitzGerald, brother of the 11th Earl, his kinsman,
GERALD, 14th Earl; whose grandson,
GEORGE, 16th Earl, was the first of the family brought up in the reformed religion, being so educated by his guardian, the Duke of Lennox.
His lordship wedded Lady Jane Boyle, daughter of the 1st Earl of Cork, and had, with other issue,
WENTWORTH, his successor;George, 16th Earl, was succeeded by his elder surviving son,
Robert, father of ROBERT, 19th Earl.
WENTWORTH, 17th Earl, who was succeeded by his son,
JOHN, 18th Earl, who dsp in 1707, when the honours reverted to his cousin (refer to Captain Robert FitzGerald, second son of the 16th Earl),
ROBERT (1675-1743), 19th Earl, third son of Captain Robert FitzGerald, seconnd son of the 16th Earl, who took a distinguished and active part in favour of WILLIAM III, during the contest in Ireland between that prince and his father-in-law, JAMES II.
This nobleman was an eminent statesman in the reigns of Queen ANNE, GEORGE I and GEORGE II.
His lordship espoused, in 1708, Mary, eldest daughter of William, 3rd Earl of Inchiquin, by whom he had four sons and eight daughters; and dying in 1743, was succeeded by his only son then living,
JAMES, 20th Earl, who was created Viscount Leinster, of Taplow, in 1747; and in 1761, advanced to a marquessate, as Marquess of Kildare.
In 1766, his lordship was further advanced to the dignity of a dukedom, as DUKE OF LEINSTER.
His Grace wedded Lady Amelia Mary, daughter of Charles, Duke of Richmond and Lennox, by whom he had seventeen children, of whom were
WILLIAM ROBERT, his successor;The Duke died in 1773, and was succeeded by his eldest son,
Charles James, 1st Baron Lecale;
Henry, m Charlotte, Baroness de Ros;
Emilia Maria Margaret;
Charlotte Mary Gertrude;
Sophia Sarah Mary; Lucy Anne.
The Dukes of Leinster are premier dukes, marquesses and earls of Ireland.
The heir presumptive is the 9th Duke's younger brother Lord John FitzGerald (born 1952)
- Charles FitzGerald, 4th Duke (1819–1887);
- Gerald FitzGerald, 5th Duke (1851–1893);
- Maurice FitzGerald, 6th Duke (1887–1922);
- Edward FitzGerald, 7th Duke (1892–1976);
- Gerald FitzGerald, 8th Duke (1914–2004);
- Maurice FitzGerald, 9th Duke.
CARTON HOUSE, near Maynooth, County Kildare, remains one of the grandest stately homes in Ireland.
Formerly the ancestral seat of the Dukes of Leinster, the demesne presently comprises 1,100 acres.
During a history spanning more than eight centuries, Carton House Hotel, County Kildare, has seen many changes.
The estate first came into the ownership of the FitzGerald family shortly after Maurice FitzGerald played an active role in the capture of Dublin by the Normans in 1170 and was rewarded by being appointed Lord of Maynooth, an area covering townlands which include Carton House.
His son became Baron Offaly in 1205 and his descendant, John FitzGerald, became Earl of Kildare in 1315.
Under the 8th Earl, the FitzGerald family reached pre-eminence as the virtual rulers of Ireland between 1477 and 1513.
However, the 8th Earl's grandson, the eloquently titled Silken Thomas was executed in 1537, with his five uncles, for leading an uprising against the Crown.
Although the FitzGeralds subsequently regained their land and titles, they did not regain their position at Court until the 18th century when Robert, the 19th Earl of Kildare, became a Privy Counsellor and a Lord Justice.
The first record of a house at Carton was in the 17th century when William Talbot, Recorder of the city of Dublin was given a lease of the lands by the 14th Earl of Kildare and is thought to have built a house.
The house and lands were forfeited to the crown in 1691 and in 1703 sold to Major-General Richard Ingoldsby, Master-General of the Ordnance.
In 1739, Richard Castle was employed by the 19th Earl of Kildare to build the existing house after it was bought by the 19th Earl of Kildare.
This was the same year the FitzGerald family bought Frescati House. Castle (originally Cassels) was also responsible for some other grand Irish houses including Westport House, Powerscourt House and in 1745, Leinster House, which he also built for the FitzGeralds.
In 1747 James the 20th Earl of Kildare and from 1766 first Duke of Leinster, married Lady Emily Lennox, daughter of the Duke of Richmond and great-granddaughter of King Charles II.
LADY EMILY played an important role in the development of the house and estate as it is today. She created the Chinese room (bedroom to Queen Victoria) and decorated the famous Shell Cottage on the estate with shells from around the world.
One of Lady Emily's 23 children was the famous Irish Patriot Lord Edward FitzGerald, leader of the 1798 rebellion.
|Leinster House (formerly Kildare House)|
Carton remained unaltered until 1815 when the 3rd Duke decided to sell Leinster House to the Royal Dublin Society and make Carton his principal residence. He employed Richard Morrison to enlarge and re-model the house.
Morrison replaced the curved colonnades with straight connecting links to obtain additional rooms including the famous dining room. At this time, the entrance to the house was moved to the north side.
Carton remained in the control of the FitzGeralds until the early 1920s when the 7th Duke sold his birthright to a moneylender, Sir Harry Mallaby Deeley, in order to pay off gambling debts of £67,500.
He was third in line to succeed and so did not think he would ever inherit, but one of his brothers died in the war and another of a brain tumour and so Carton was lost to the FitzGeralds.
In 1923 a local unit of the IRA went to Carton with the intention of burning it down. However, they were stopped when a member of the FitzGerald family brought a large painting of Lord Edward FitzGerald to the door and pointed out that they would be burning the house of a revered Irish patriot.
Ronald Nall-Cain, 2nd Baron Brocket, whose principal residence was Brocket Hall in Hertfordshire, purchased the house in 1949; and in 1977 his son, the Hon David Nall-Cain, who had by then moved to the Isle of Man, sold the house to its present owners, Lee and Mary Mallaghan.
Carton House was remodelled by Richard Castle in 1739, building an enormous central, pedimented block, curved colonnades and wings.
Their Graces' Dublin residence, Kildare House, later renemed Leinster House, easily the grandest private home in the Irish capital, was erected by the same architect six years later.
The Organ Room or Gold Saloon is probably the most magnificent and important room in the House, with its Victorian Pipe organ at one end; its sumptuous gilded walls, ceiling and plasterwork.
The Chinese Room (below) also retains its 18th century character, resplendent with its Chinese wallpaper of 1759 and the sumptuous gilded embellishments within the room.
It has been unfortunate that Carton no longer belongs to either the Dukes of Leinster who created it; nor the Nall-Cains, whose role was notable, too.
Both families left for reasons of impecuniosity: The 7th Duke squandered the family fortune.
The Dukes of Leinster were, by far, the greatest landowners in County Kildare, with an immense amount of property and ground rents in Dublin and Athy.
There were prosperous tenant farms and the family had to release this land under the terms of the Wyndham Act of 1903.
Carton House and demesne has been lovingly restored to become a de luxe hotel.
First published in May, 2011. Leinster arms courtesy of European Heraldry.