Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 19.djvu/132

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Fitzgerald

126

Fitzgerald


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