Fitzgerald, James Fitzmaurice (d.1579) (DNB00)

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FITZGERALD, JAMES Fitzmaurice (d. 1579), 'arch traitor,' was the second son of Maurice Fitzjohn à totane, i. e. of the burnings, and Julia, second daughter of Dermot O'Mulryan of Sulloghade, co. Tipperary, nephew of James, fourteenth, and cousin of Gerald, fifteenth earl of Desmond Earl James had shown his appreciation of the 'accident' that had removed his competitor, James Fitzmaurice, the so-called thirteenth earl [q. v.], from his path, by rewarding his brother, Maurice à totane, with the barony of Kerrykurrihy. But the cordial relations thus established between the two families came to an end with the accession of Gerald, fifteenth earl [q. v.], who appears to have regarded his uncle with jealousy, and to have treated him in a way that was resented by Maurice and his sons, who were soon at 'hot wars' with him. During the detention of the earl and his brother Sir John in England (1565-73), Fitzmaurice assumed the position of captain of Desmond, in which he was confirmed by the warrant of the earl himself, though not without protest on the part of Thomas Roe Fitzgerald. His conduct gave as little satisfaction to the government as had that of the earl. In July 1568 he entered Clanmaurice, the country of Thomas Fitzmaurice, lord of Lixnaw, nominally to distrain for rent, and, having captured two hundred head of cattle and wasted the country, was returning homewards when he was met by Lord Lixnaw himself (29 July), and utterly defeated by him. Hitherto he had lived on fairly good terms with the earl his cousin ; but about the end of 1568 the earl granted to Sir Warham St. Leger, in return probably for services rendered or to be rendered to him during his confinement, a lease of the barony of Kerrykurrihy. This he naturally regarded as an act of base ingratitude, and from that moment he seems to have entered on a line of conduct which could only have for its ultimate object the usurpation of the earldom of Desmond. 'James Fitzmaurice,' wrote Sir H. Sidney, 'understanding that I was arrived, and had not brought with me neither the earl nor Sir John his brother, which he thought I might and would have done, assembling as many of the Earl of Desmond's people as he could, declared unto them that I could not obtain the enlargement either of the earl or of his brother John, and that there was no hope or expectation of either of them but to be put to death or condemned to perpetual prison. And therefore (saying that that country could not be without an earl or a captain) willed them to make choice of one to be their earl or captain, as their ancestors had done. . . And according to this his speech, he wrote unto me, they forthwith, and as it had been with one voice, cried him to be their captain' (Cal. Carew MSS. ii. 342). Eleanor, countess of Desmond, was a shrewd woman, and she wrote to her husband (26 Nov. 1569) that Fitzmaurice had rebelled in order to bring him into further displeasure, and to usurp all his inheritance 'by the example of his father.' In June 1569 he and the Earl of Clancarty invaded Kerrykurrihy, spoiled all the inhabitants, took the castle-abbey of Tracton, hanged the garrison, and vowed never to depart from Cork unless Lady St. Leger and Lady Grenville were delivered up to him. His policy, even now, seems to have been to create a strong Roman catholic and anti-English sentiment, and to make an alliance with him as the head of the Irish catholic party an object of importance to the catholic powers of Europe. And here perhaps we may trace the finger of Father Wolf, the Jesuit. To this end he seduced the brothers of the Earl of Ormonde, and entered into a bond with the Earl of Thomond and John Burke, son of the Earl of Clanricarde. On 12 July he wrote to the mayor and corporation of Cork, ordering them to 'abolish out of that city that old heresy newly raised and invented.' When Sidney took the field about the end of July the rebellion had extended as far as Kilkenny, while at Cork Lady St. Leger and the English inhabitants were in instant danger of being surrendered to the enemy. By the end of September the deputy had practically broken the back of the rebellion, and, leaving Captain (afterwards Sir) Humphrey Gilbert to suppress Fitzmaurice, he returned to Dublin. Gilbert soon brought him 'to a very base estate,' compelling him to seek safety in the woods of Aharlow. No sooner, however, had Gilbert departed than he succeeded in collecting a new force, with which he spoiled Kilmallock (9 Feb. 1570). On 1 March a commission was given to Ormonde 'to parley, protect, or prosecute' the Earl of Thomond, James Fitzmaurice, and others, but without leading to any result. On 27 Feb. 1571 Sir John Perrot landed at Waterford as lord president, and prepared to put him down with a strong hand. But tie, we are told, 'knowing that the lord president did desire nothing more than the finishing of those wars,' proposed to terminate them by a duel, 'believing that the president's longing for a speedy issue, and his expectation thereof, would keep him for a time from further action.' He had, indeed, no intention of fighting, 'not so much,' he said, 'for fear of his life, but because on his life did depend the safety of all such as were of his party.' When Perrot at last discovered the artifice he was so enraged that he vowed 'to hunt the fox out of his hole' without delay. This he eventually did, but not without undergoing enormous fatigue, for his foe was a past master in the art of Irish strategy. After holding out for more than a year he was forced to sue for pardon, 'which at length the lord president did consent to, and James Fitzmaurice came to Kilmallock, where in the church the lord president caused him to lie prostrate, taking the point of the lord president's sword next his heart, in token that he had received his life at the queen's hands, by submitting himself unto her mercy. And so he took a solemn oath to be and continue a true subject unto the queen and crown of England' (23 Feb. 1573). He gave up one of his sons as hostage, and Perrot wrote to Burghley that from his conduct he almost expected him to prove 'a second St. Paul.' On the return of the Earl of Desmond he exerted himself to induce that nobleman to assume a position of irreconcilable enmity to England, but, finding him more inclined to submit to 'reasonable terms,' he determined to retire to the continent. His object in so doing, he said to some, was to obtain pardon from Elizabeth through the mediation of the French court; to others he declared that he was compelled to leave Ireland by the unkindness of his cousin. One excuse was probably as good as another. In March 1575, accompanied by the White Knight and the seneschal of Imokilly, he and his family sailed on board La Arganys for France, and a few days afterwards landed at St. Malo, where they were all cordially received by the governor. From St. Malo he proceeded to Paris, where he had several interviews with Catherine de' Medici. He promised largely, we are told, offering in return for assistance to make Henry III king of Ireland. During 1575-6 he remained in the neighbourhood of Paris, and received a pension of five thousand crowns, which, considering the scarcity of money, Dr. Dale shrewdly conjectured was not 'pour ses beaux yeux.' But finding that he was merely a pawn in the delicate game that Elizabeth and Catherine were playing, he, early in 1577, left France to try his fortunes at the Spanish court. Here the crown of Ireland was offered to Don John; but Philip, with the Netherlands and Portugal on his hands, had no inclination to break openly with England; so, leaving his two sons Maurice and Gerald under the protection of Cardinal Granvelle, who had taken a fancy to them, he went on to Italy, where he met with a much more satisfactory reception from Gregory XIII. At the papal court he fell in with Stukely, and a plan was soon on foot for the invasion of Ireland, the crown this time being promised to the pope's nephew. Leaving Stukely to follow with the main body of the invading force, Fitzmaurice, accompanied by Dr. Sanders, papal nuncio, and Matthew de Oviedo, sailed from Ferrol in Galicia on 17 June 1579 with a few troops which he had gathered together, having with him his own vessel and three Spanish shallops. In the Channel two English vessels were captured, and on 16 July they arrived in the port of Dingle in Kerry, where they took possession of the Fort del Ore. On the 18th they cast anchor in Smerwick harbour, where on the 25th they were joined by two galleys with a hundred soldiers. Four days later, however, their ships were captured by the English fleet. Fitzmaurice's first concern was to despatch an urgent but ineffectual exhortation to the Earls of Desmond and Kildare, as heads of the Geraldines, to join with him in throwing off the yoke of the heretic, and then, leaving his soldiers in the Fort del Ore to await the arrival of Stukely, he went to pay a vow at the monastery of the Holy Cross in Tipperary. On his way thither he was slain in a skirmish (the merits of which are somewhat uncertain) by his cousin, Theobald Burke. He married Katharine, daughter of W. Burke of Muskerry, by whom he had two sons, Maurice and Gerald, and a daughter.

[The chief authorities for his life are Hamilton's Irish Calendar; Crosby's Foreign Calendar; Geraldine Documents, ed. Hayman and Graves; Rawlinson's Life of Sir John Perrot; Hogan's Ibernia Ignatiana; Moran's Catholic Archbishops of Dublin; Calendar of Carew MSS. i. 397; Kerry Magazine, No. 31; O'Daly's Initium, incrementa, et exitus familiæ Geraldinorum; O'Sullevan's Historiæ Catholicæ Iberniæ Compendium; Annals of the Four Masters; Annals of Loch Cé; Cox's Hibernia Anglicana; Bagwell's Ireland under the Tudors, vol. ii. In the Kilkenny Archæological Society's Journal, July 1859, will be found a collection of Irish letters by Fitzgerald, translated and edited by Dr. O'Donovan.]

R. D.