Fitzgerald, Gerald (d.1513) (DNB00)

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FITZGERALD, GERALD, eighth Earl of Kildare (d. 1513), was son of Thomas Fitzgerald, seventh earl of Kildare [q. v.], by his wife Joan, daughter of James, earl of Desmond. Gerald became Earl of Kildare on the death of his father in 1477, and was elected by the council at Dublin to succeed him as deputy-governor in Ireland. Edward IV, however, nominated Henry, lord Grey, to that office. In connection with the appointment serious complications arose. Kildare and Grey respectively asserted rights as governors, and presided over rival parliaments of the English settlement in Ireland. After the termination of the contest Kildare was, in 1481, appointed as deputy in Ireland for the viceroy, Richard, duke of York, and during the closing years of Edward IV advanced much in wealth and influence. He married Alison, daughter of Sir Rowland Fitzeustace, baron of Portlester, and formed alliances with the most important Irish and Anglo-Irish families. Richard III, on his accession, laboured to secure the interest of Kildare, and appointed him deputy-governor in Ireland for his son, Prince Edward. Kildare identified himself prominently with the Yorkist movement in Ireland, which led to the battle at Stoke. In 1488, through the medium of Sir Richard Edgecombe, Kildare was taken into favour by Henry VII, and received pardon under the great seal. As lord deputy he acted energetically against some of the hostile Irish, but was subsequently suspected of favouring the claims of Perkin Warbeck. Kildare deferred compliance with a royal mandate for his appearance in England. His messengers, sent with despatches to the king, were imprisoned at London, for which no explanation was accorded to him. In a letter to the Earl of Ormonde Kildare complained of this treatment, and mentioned that he understood that he had been falsely accused of having favoured Perkin Warbeck. He declared that he had never aided or supported him, and that his loyalty had been certified to the king by the principal lords of Ireland. At the same time the Earl of Desmond, and other chief personages in Ireland, by letter entreated the king not to require Kildare to attend on him in England, as they alleged that the English interest in Ireland would be severely prejudiced by his absence, and they assured the king that he was a true and faithful subject. Kildare was attainted in a parliament convened by Sir Edward Poynings at Drogheda in November 1494, and sent as prisoner to the Tower of London. After a detention there for two years the earl was pardoned, and appointed lord deputy in 1496. In that year he married, as his second wife, Elizabeth St. John, first cousin to Henry VII. In 1498 Kildare presided at the first parliament held in Ireland under Poynings' law. The statutes enacted on that occasion were afterwards officially declared to have been lost, but they have been brought to light and published by the writer of the present notice. Of Kildare's military operations the most important was that in 1504 at Cnoctuagh, near Galway, in which he obtained a victory over forces commanded by some of the chief nobles of Connacht and Munster. He was installed as a knight of the Garter in May 1505, and continued as deputy in Ireland in the early years of the reign of Henry VIII. Kildare died in September 1513 of a wound which he received in an engagement with a sept of Leinster. He was interred in a chapel which he had erected in the convent of the Holy Trinity, now known as Christ Church, Dublin. Contemporary chroniclers styled him 'the great earl,' and described him as 'a mighty made man, full of honour and courage, soon hot and soon cold, somewhat headlong and unruly towards the nobles whom he fancied not.' His son Gerald succeeded as ninth earl [q. v.] A covenant in the Irish language, executed about 1510, between Kildare and the sept of MacGeoghegan, extant in the British Museum, has been reproduced in the third part of 'Facsimiles of National MSS. of Ireland,' London, 1879.

[Archives of the Duke of Leinster; Unpublished Statute Rolls of Ireland ; Patent Rolls, Henry VII ; State Papers, Public Record Office, London; Harleian MS. 433; Holinshed's Chronicles, 1586 ; Obits of Christ Church, Dublin, 1844; Papers of Richard III, 1861 ; Earls of Kildare, 1862; Hist. of Viceroys of Ireland, 1865 ; Report of Hist. MSS. Commission, 1883.]

J. T. G.