Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Fitzgerald, Peter George

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FITZGERALD, Sir PETER GEORGE (1808–1880), nineteenth Knight of Kerry, eldest surviving son of the Right Hon. Maurice Fitzgerald [q. v.] of Glanleam, by Maria, daughter of the Right Hon. David la Touche of Marlay, co. Dublin, was born 15 Sept. 1808. He began life in the banking-house of his maternal grandfather at Dublin. He subsequently entered the public service, and was appointed vice-treasurer of Ireland in the last ministry of Sir Robert Peel. Succeeding his father in 1849, from that period he resided almost constantly on the island of Valentia, devoting himself indefatigably to the duties of an Irish landlord, the improvement of his estates, and the welfare of his tenantry. He especially earned the thanks of the people by the erection of substantial homesteads in place of the wretched cabins with which the middleman system had covered the west of Ireland. Fitzgerald manifested a keen interest in all questions which had a practical bearing on the progress or prosperity of Ireland; and in able contributions to the 'Times' he deprecated the censure which at that time and since was cast indiscriminately upon all Irish landlords. His own admirable personal qualities, his hatred of abuses, his engaging manners, and his generous nature, made him a great favourite with the Irish peasantry. His hospitality at Glanleam was enjoyed by the Prince of Wales and other distinguished guests. The Atlantic cable had its British termination on his estates, and he evinced much public spirit and energy in connection with the successful laying of the cable. He married in 1838 Julia Hussey, daughter of Peter Bodkin Hussey of Farranikilla House, co. Kerry, a lineal descendant of the Norman family of Hoses, which settled on the promontory of Dingle in the thirteenth century. By this lady he had four sons and seven daughters. Fitzgerald was a magistrate and deputy-lieutenant for co. Kerry, and was high sheriff of Kerry in 1849, and of co. Carlow in 1875. On 8 July 1880 the queen conferred upon him a baronetcy. Fitzgerald was then, however, suffering from a dangerous malady, and he died on 6 Aug. following. He was succeeded in the title and estates by his eldest son, Captain Maurice Fitzgerald, who served with distinction in the Ashantee war, being present at the battles of Amoaful, Becquah, and Ordahau, and at the capture of Coomassie.

[Times, 9 Aug. 1880; Guardian, vol. xxxv.; Kerry Evening Post, 11 Aug. 1880.]

G. B. S.