Fitzgerald, Thomas (d.1328) (DNB00)

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FITZGERALD, THOMAS, second Earl of Kildare (d. 1328), twice justiciar of Ireland, was the son of John Fitzthomas, the first earl, and of his wife Blanche 'de Rupe' [see Fitzthomas, John first Earl of Kildare], and was therefore generally called Thomas Fitzjohn. On 16 Aug. 1312 his marriage at Greencastle, on Carlingford Bay, with Joan, daughter of Richard de Burgh, the 'red earl' of Ulster, was the symbol of the union of the two greatest Norman families in Ireland (Ann. Hib. MS. Laud in Chart. St. Mary's, ii. 341). On 8 Sept. 1316 he succeeded to the new earldom of Kildare on his father's death (ib. p. 352). He at once gathered a great army to fight against Edward Bruce and the Scots, and served against them. His free use of the system of 'bonaght,' or 'coigne and livery,' to support these troops afterwards became a very bad precedent. In 1317 he was thanked by Edward II for his services against Bruce (Fœdera, ii. 327), and in the same year he received from the king the office of hereditary sheriff for his county of Kildare, which involved full jurisdiction and liberties within the earldom (ib. ii. 354). In 1319 and again in 1320 he served on a commission to inquire into the treasons committed during the Bruce invasion (ib. ii. 396, 417). In 1320 he was made justiciar of Ireland, though he only acted as viceroy for a year (Ann. Hib. MS. Laud, p. 361). During his tenure of office Archbishop Bicknor [q. v.] attempted to found a university in Dublin. Kildare received a patent empowering him to subject to English law such of his Irish tenants as chose to be governed by it. In 1322 he was summoned to serve against the Scots, but the truce prevented his services being required (Fœdera, ii. 501, 523). In 1324 he was at the Dublin parliament, where the magnates of Ireland pledged themselves to support the crown (Rot. Claus. Hib. 18 Edw. II, p. 30 b, Record Comm.) In 1324 he was accused of being an adherent of Roger Mortimer and of corresponding with him after his escape from the Tower of London (Parl. Writs, vol. ii. pt. iii. p. 1052). This seems probably true, for one of the first acts of Mortimer's party after the accession of Edward III was to reappoint Kildare justiciar of Ireland. This was before 13 Feb. 1327 (Fœdera, ii. 688). He experienced some difficulty before the partisans of Edward II would accept him. In July several great barons, including John de Bermingham [q. v.], were still refractory (ib. ii. 710). But a local feud which involved the Berminghams, the Butlers, the Poers, and De Burghs in a private war with the Geraldines of Desmond, because Arnold le Poer had called Maurice Fitzthomas, first earl of Desmond [q. v.], a rhymer, was probably at the bottom of this disobedience (Ann. Hib. MS. Laud, p. 365; cf. Gilbert, Viceroys, pp. 163-4). However, Kildare compelled the chief offenders to sue for pardon at the parliament of Kilkenny. During his viceroyalty a native 'king' of Leinster ventured to set up his standard within two miles of Dublin, but was soon subdued. The burning of one of the O'Tooles for heresy was another example of Kildare's vigour (Grace, pp. 107-8). In 1327 he granted the advowson of Kilcullen to the priory of Holy Trinity, Dublin (Hist. MSS. Comm. 9th Rep. pt. ii. p. 269). He died, still in office, on 9 April 1328 at Maynooth, and was buried in the chapel of St. Mary which he had built in the Franciscan convent at Kildare (Archdall, Monast. Hib. p. 312). He is described as wise and prudent (Grace, p. 76). His wife, Joan de Burgh, remarried, on 3 July 1329, his successor as justiciar, John D'Arcy (Ann. Hib. MS. Laud, p. 371). He had by her three sons, of whom John, the eldest, died in 1323 or 1324 at the age of nine (ib. p. 362), being then in the hands of the king as a hostage for his father (Clyn, p. 16). The second Richard succeeded his father as third earl, but died in July 1331 (Hist. MSS. Comm. 9th Rep. pt. ii. p. 268), aged 12. The youngest son, Maurice Fitzgerald (1318-1390) [q. v.], then became the fourth earl.

[Chartularies, &c. of St. Mary's Abbey, Dublin (Rolls Ser.), especially Annales Hiberniæ, MS. Laud, in vol. ii.; Grace's Annales Hib. (Irish Archæol. Soc.); Calendar of Patent and Close Rolls, Ireland (Record Comm.); Book of Howth; Rymer's Fœdera, vol. ii., Record edit.; Gilbert's Viceroys of Ireland; Lodge's Peerage of Ireland (Archdall), vol. i.; Marquis of Kildare's Earls of Kildare; Hist. MSS. Comm. 9th Rep. pt. ii. p. 263 sq.]

T. F. T.