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FitzGerald dynasty

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The FitzGerald dynasty is an Irish Hiberno-Norman or Cambro-Norman dynasty They been peers of Ireland since at least the 14th century, and are identified in The Annals of the Four Masters as being More Irish than the Irish themselves or Galls, due to assimilation with the native Gaelic aristocratic & popular culture The dynasty has also been referred to as the Geraldines They were established by the conquest of large swathes of Irish territory by the sons and grandsons of Gerald FitzWalter of Windsor c 1075 – 1135 Gerald was a Norman castellan in Wales, and is the male progenitor of the Fitzgerald dynasty "fitz", from the Anglo-Norman "fils" indicating "sons of" Gerald

Gerald's Welsh wife Nest ferch Rhys c 1085 – before 1136 is the female progenitor of the Fitzgeralds She was the daughter of Rhys ap Tewdwr, last King of Deheubarth Through her the Fitzgeralds are descended from the Welsh rulers of Deheubarth as well as related to the Tudors who are descended from the same Welsh royal line Consequently, the Fitzgeralds are cousins to the Tudors Tewdwrs through Nest and her Welsh family

In his poetry, Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, referred to Elizabeth FitzGerald 1527–89 as "Fair Geraldine"

The main branches of the family are:

  • the FitzGeralds of Kildare Earls of Kildare from 1316, later Marquesses of Kildare and from 1766 Dukes of Leinster and Premier Peers of Ireland Its current head is Maurice FitzGerald, 9th Duke of Leinster
  • the FitzGeralds of Desmond Barons Desmond, later Earls of Desmond

The progenitor of the Irish FitzGeralds was a Cambro-Norman Marcher Lord, Maurice FitzGerald, Lord of Lanstephan; a younger son of the Norman chieftain Gerald FitzWalter of Windsor and his wife, Nest ferch Rhys of the Welsh royal House of Dinefwr The Lord of Lanstephan was a major participant in the 1169 Norman invasion of Ireland

The FitzGerald dynasty has played a major role in Irish history Gearóid Mór, 8th Earl of Kildare and his son Gearóid Óg, 9th Earl of Kildare, were Lord Deputy of Ireland in the late Fifteenth and early Sixteenth centuries respectively Thomas FitzGerald, 10th Earl of Kildare died 1537, known as "Silken Thomas"', led an unsuccessful insurrection in Ireland, while Lord Edward FitzGerald 1763–1798, the fifth son of the first duke of Leinster, was a leading figure in the 1798 Rebellion The present day seat of the Irish Parliament Dáil Éireann is housed in Leinster House, which was first built in 1745–48 by James FitzGerald, 1st Duke of Leinster as the ducal palace for the Dukes of Leinster

The FitzGerald dynasty became so intermingled with the native Gaelic Irish that they were later often described as "more Irish than the Irish themselves" The best example of this is Gerald FitzGerald, 3rd Earl of Desmond 1335–1398, who was also known by the Irish Gaelic Gearóid Iarla Earl Gerald12 Although made Lord Chief Justice of Ireland in 1367,2 Gerald wrote poetry in the Irish language, most famously the poem Mairg adeir olc ris na mnáibh1 "Speak not ill of womenkind" Indeed, although an accomplished poet in Norman French,2 Gerald was instrumental in the move by the FitzGeralds of Desmond toward greater use of the Irish language1


  • 1 Etymology of name
  • 2 House of Kildare
    • 21 Lords of Offaly
    • 22 Earls of Kildare
    • 23 Marquesses of Kildare 1761
    • 24 Dukes of Leinster, second Creation 1766
  • 3 House of Desmond
    • 31 Barons Desmond 1259
    • 32 Earls of Desmond, First creation 1329
    • 33 16th Earl of Desmond, appointed by Hugh O'Neill 1598–1601
    • 34 Earls of Desmond, Second creation 1600
    • 35 Lords of Decies
    • 36 FitzMaurice of Kerry
    • 37 Hereditary Knights
  • 4 Cambro-Norman Origins
  • 5 Legacy
  • 6 See also
  • 7 References
  • 8 External links

Etymology of nameedit

Maurice FitzGerald, Lord of Lanstephan, progenitor of the Irish Geraldines, from a manuscript of the Expugnatio Hibernica, an account of the 1169 invasion of Ireland written by Maurice's nephew, Gerald of Wales, in 1189

The surname FitzGerald comes from the Norman tradition of adding Fitz, meaning "son of" before the father's name So, "Fitz Gerald" means in Old Norman and in Old French "son of Gerald" Gerald itself is a Germanic compound of ger, spear, and waltan, rule Variant spellings include Fitz-Gerald and the modern Fitzgerald The name can also be used as two separate words Fitz Gerald

House of Kildareedit

For more on the Kildare Geraldines, see Duke of Leinster

Lords of Offalyedit

  • Gerald FitzMaurice, 1st Lord of Offaly c 1150–1204
  • Maurice FitzGerald, 2nd Lord of Offaly 1194–1257, Justiciar of Ireland
  • Maurice FitzGerald, 3rd Lord of Offaly 1238–1286, Justiciar of Ireland

Earls of Kildareedit

  • John FitzGerald, 1st Earl of Kildare 1250–1316, already 4th Lord of Offaly, was rewarded for serving Edward Longshanks, King of England in Scotland
  • Thomas FitzGerald, 2nd Earl of Kildare died 1328, younger only surviving son of the 1st Earl
    • John FitzGerald 1314–1323, eldest son of the 2nd Earl, died in childhood
  • Richard FitzGerald, 3rd Earl of Kildare 1317–1329, second son of the 2nd Earl, died unmarried
  • Maurice FitzGerald, 4th Earl of Kildare 1318–1390, third and youngest son of the 2nd Earl
  • Gerald FitzGerald, 5th Earl of Kildare died 1410, a son of the 4th Earl
    • The 5th Earl had sons, but they presumably predeceased him
  • John FitzGerald, 6th Earl of Kildare de jure; d 1427, a younger son of the 4th Earl
  • Thomas FitzGerald, 7th Earl of Kildare died 1478, son of the 6th Earl
  • Gerald FitzGerald, 8th Earl of Kildare c 1456–1513, "The Great Earl", eldest son of the 7th earl
  • Gerald FitzGerald, 9th Earl of Kildare 1487–1534, "Young Gerald", eldest son of the 8th earl
16th-century woodcut of an attack on Dublin Castle by "Silken Thomas", 10th Earl of Kildare
  • Thomas FitzGerald, 10th Earl of Kildare died 1537, "Silken Thomas", eldest son of the 9th earl, led an insurrection in Ireland and his honours were forfeit, and he died unmarried
  • Gerald FitzGerald, 11th Earl of Kildare 1525–1585, the "Wizard Earl", second son of the 9th earl, was given a new creation in 1554, then restored to his brother's honours in 1569
  • Henry FitzGerald, 12th Earl of Kildare 1562–1597, second son of the 11th earl, died without male issue
  • William FitzGerald, 13th Earl of Kildare died 1599, third and youngest son of the 11th earl, died unmarried
  • Gerald FitzGerald, 14th Earl of Kildare died 1612, elder son of Edward, himself third and youngest son of the 9th earl
  • Gerald FitzGerald, 15th Earl of Kildare 1611–1620, only son of the 14th earl, died in childhood
  • George FitzGerald, 16th Earl of Kildare 1612–1660, a son of Thomas, himself younger brother of the 14th earl
  • Wentworth FitzGerald, 17th Earl of Kildare 1634–1664, elder son of the 16th earl
  • John FitzGerald, 18th Earl of Kildare 1661–1707, only son of the 17th earl, died without surviving issue
    • Henry FitzGerald, Lord Offaly 1683–1684, only son of the 18th earl, died in infancy
  • Robert FitzGerald, 19th Earl of Kildare 1675–1744, only son of Robert, himself younger son of the 16th earl
  • James FitzGerald, 20th Earl of Kildare 1722–1773 was created Marquess of Kildare in 1761
  • Lettice FitzGerald, 1st Baroness Offaly, suo jure Baroness Offaly 1580–1658
  • Lord Edward FitzGerald 1763–1798, Irish aristocrat and revolutionary
  • Lady Edward FitzGerald, known as "Pamela" c 1773–1831, wife of Lord Edward FitzGerald

Marquesses of Kildare 1761edit

  • James FitzGerald, 1st Marquess of Kildare 1722–1773 was created Duke of Leinster in 1766

Dukes of Leinster, second Creation 1766edit

Other titles: Marquesse of Kildare 1761, Earl of Kildare 1316, Earl of Offaly 1761, Viscount Leinster, of Taplow in the County of Buckingham GB 1747 and Lord of Offaly c 1193–
  • James FitzGerald, 1st Duke of Leinster 1722–1773, elder son of the 19th earl
  • William FitzGerald, 2nd Duke of Leinster 1749–1804, second son of the 1st duke
    • George FitzGerald, Marquess of Kildare 1783–1784, eldest son of the 2nd duke, died in infancy
  • Augustus FitzGerald, 3rd Duke of Leinster 1791–1874, second son of the 2nd duke
Other titles 4th Duke onwards: Baron Kildare UK 1870
  • Charles FitzGerald, 4th Duke of Leinster 1819–1887, eldest son of the 3rd duke
  • Gerald FitzGerald, 5th Duke of Leinster 1851–1893, eldest son of the 4th duke
  • Maurice FitzGerald, 6th Duke of Leinster 1887–1922, eldest son of the 5th duke, died unmarried
  • Edward FitzGerald, 7th Duke of Leinster 1892–1976, third and youngest son of the 5th duke
  • Gerald FitzGerald, 8th Duke of Leinster 1914–2004, only legitimate son of the 7th duke
  • Maurice FitzGerald, 9th Duke of Leinster born 1948, elder son of the 8th duke
    • Thomas FitzGerald, Earl of Offaly 1974–1997, only son of the 9th duke, died unmarried in a road traffic collision
    • The heir presumptive is the 8th Duke's younger son Lord John FitzGerald born 1952

House of Desmondedit

For more on the Desmond Geraldines, see Earl of Desmond

The line of the Earls of Desmond has been extinct since the 17th century Their branch of the dynasty continues only in their distant collateral kinsmen, Ireland's hereditary knights for whom see section below

Barons Desmond 1259edit

  • John FitzThomas FitzGerald, 1st Baron Desmond died 1261 son of Thomas FitzMaurice FitzGerald
  • Thomas FitzMaurice FitzGerald, 2nd Baron Desmond died 1298 grandson of preceding
  • Thomas FitzThomas FitzGerald, 3rd Baron Desmond 1290–1307 son of preceding
  • Maurice FitzThomas FitzGerald, 4th Baron Desmond died 1356 brother of preceding; created earl of Desmond in 1329

Earls of Desmond, First creation 1329edit

Carrigafoyle Castle, a Desmond Geraldine stronghold during the Second Desmond Rebellion, captured by the English in 1580
  • Maurice FitzGerald, 1st Earl of Desmond died 1356 new creation
  • Maurice FitzGerald, 2nd Earl of Desmond 1336–1358 son of preceding
  • Gerald FitzGerald, 3rd Earl of Desmond died 1398 half-brother of preceding
  • John FitzGerald, 4th Earl of Desmond died 1399 son of preceding
  • Thomas FitzGerald, 5th Earl of Desmond c 1386–1420 son of preceding
  • James FitzGerald, 6th Earl of Desmond died 1463 the "Usurper," paternal uncle of preceding
  • Thomas FitzGerald, 7th Earl of Desmond died 1468 son of preceding
  • James FitzGerald, 8th Earl of Desmond 1459–1487 son of preceding
  • Maurice FitzGerald, 9th Earl of Desmond died 1520 brother of preceding
  • James FitzGerald, 10th Earl of Desmond died 1529 son of preceding
  • Thomas FitzGerald, 11th Earl of Desmond 1454–1534 paternal uncle of preceding
  • John FitzGerald, de facto 12th Earl of Desmond died 1536 brother of preceding, paternal granduncle of James FitzGerald, de jure 12th Earl of Desmond
  • James FitzGerald, de jure 12th Earl of Desmond died 1540 grandson of Thomas FitzGerald, 11th Earl of Desmond, grandnephew of John FitzGerald, de facto 12th Earl of Desmond
  • James FitzGerald, 14th Earl of Desmond died 1558 son of John FitzGerald, de facto 12th Earl of Desmond
  • Gerald FitzGerald, 15th Earl of Desmond c 1533–1583 son of preceding; forfeit 1582

16th Earl of Desmond, appointed by Hugh O'Neill 1598–1601edit

  • James FitzThomas FitzGerald the Sugán Earl, died in Tower of London c1607

Earls of Desmond, Second creation 1600edit

  • James FitzGerald, 1st Earl of Desmond 1571–1601 known as the "Tower Earl of Desmond"

Lords of Deciesedit

  • Gerald Fitzgerald, 3rd Lord Decies

FitzMaurice of Kerryedit

The closely related FitzMaurice Barons and later Earls of Kerry continue in the male line with the current Petty-FitzMaurice Marquesses of Lansdowne, but they descend from John FitzGerald, 1st Baron Desmond's nephew, Thomas FitzMaurice, 1st Baron of Kerry, son of his brother Maurice FitzThomas Thus in fact they represent a "sister" branch to the FitzGeralds of Desmond However this technically makes them slightly closer to the FitzGeralds of Desmond than either are to the Offaly-Kildare-Leinster Geraldines, represented by the modern Dukes of Leinster, who descend from Gerald FitzMaurice, 1st Lord of Offaly, uncle of the 1st Baron Desmond

Hereditary Knightsedit

These three hereditary knighthoods were created for their kinsmen by the Earls of Desmond,4 acting as Earls Palatine

  • Knight of Kerry Green Knight – the holder is Sir Adrian FitzGerald, 6th Baronet of Valencia, 24th Knight of Kerry He is also a Knight of Malta, and President of the Irish Association of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta
  • Knight of Glin Black Knight – extinct from 2011
  • White Knight Fitzgibbon family – extinct
    • Edmund FitzGibbon

Cambro-Norman Originsedit

The earliest recorded use of the patronymic FitzGerald is that of Raoul fitz Gerald le Chambellan, a Norman baron, chamberlain of Normandy, educator of the young William, future Conqueror of England, and father of William de Tancarville, Earl of Tankerville and chief chamberlain of Normandy and England after the Norman conquest The eponymous ancestor of the various FitzGerald branches, as well as of the de Barry and FitzMaurice families, was Gerald FitzWalter of Windsor Gerald was a Norman adventurer who took part in the 1093 invasion of South Wales upon the death in battle of Rhys ap Tewdwr, last king of South Wales5 Gerald was the youngest son of another Norman adventurer, Walter fitz Otho, William the Conqueror's Constable for the strategic military fortress of Windsor Castle, as well as the King's Keeper of the Forests of Berkshire Domesday Book records Walter fitz Otho as tenant-in-chief of lands formerly held by conquered Englishmen in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire, and Middlesex Walter's positions and most of his lands were inherited by Gerald's older brothers, Robert, Maurice, and William, the oldest, ancestor of the earls of Plymouth, while Gerald inherited the estate of Moulsford, now in Oxfordshire, near to Wallingford, where his father owned a fortified house adjacent to those of other powerful Norman authorities

Various claims were made for Gerald's antecedents: that his father or his grandfather was a Saxon or Florentine baron; that his mother was one Gwladys ferch Ryall, or "princess" Gwladys ferch Gruffydd of Gwynedd, or "princess" Gwladys ferch Rhiwallon ap Cynfyn of Powys; that Gerald's grandfather was one "Dominus Otherus", a Tuscan nobleman descended from a Duke of Florence named Cosmo or Cosimo/Cosimus "Gherardini" The foregoing claims are erroneous Pursuant to Domesday, Gerald's mother was Beatrice, not Gwladys ferch Gruffydd or Gwladys ferch Rhiwallon; the latter, in fact, was Gerald's mother-in-law It's unlikely the Conqueror would have granted Walter lands in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire, Surrey, and Middlesex, let alone entrusted him with a strategic military fortress, had Walter not been a Norman and proven trustworthy The Domesday survey records that Walter held some 22 estates from the king as tenant-in-chief References to the Dominus Cosmo or Cosimo/Cosimus "Duchy of Florence" must be considered hoax, totally lacking sources to be note also that there was no Duchy of Florence until the 15th century, and the only dukes named Cosimo were Medicis

The legendary story of Thomas, Gerard and Maurice, sons of Gherardino, still lives on, and it has been studied: they were members of the well-known Gherardini family of Montagliari 6 and they left Florence to joint Henry II of England to go and conquer Ireland Some historians think they initiated the FitzGerald branch7 Recently, a cover story published by "Sette", in 2014, the Italian weekly magazine of Corriere della Sera, was dedicated to the Gherardini family of Montagliari and their relationship with the FitzGerald Family as well with the Kennedy family For the magazine these families have maintained relationship among them even in recent time for example with John Fitzgerald Kennedy at the White House8

Nest ferch Rhys ap Tewdwr was the daughter of the last king of South Wales by his wife, Gwladys ferch Rhiwallon ap Cynfyn of Powys Their grandchildren, Maurice FitzGerald, Lord of Lanstephan, Raymond le Gros and Philip de Barry were leaders in the Norman invasion of Ireland Nest's son by her second marriage, Robert FitzStephen, was another participant, as was William de Hay, husband of one of Gerald's and Nest's granddaughters Nest's grandson through her son by Henry I of England, Meiler FitzHenry, was appointed Lord Justice of Ireland for his cousin, Henry II The most renowned of Gerald's and Nest's grandchildren, Gerald of Wales, gave an account of the Norman invasion, as well as lively and invaluable descriptions of Ireland and Wales in the late 12th century


Saint Patrick's Saltire Badge of the USS Fitzgerald The Flag of the United Kingdom, incorporating St Patrick's Saltire

According to the 1890 Matheson report, Fitzgerald/FitzGerald was the 36th most common surname in Ireland9

Fitzgerald/FitzGerald is the 692nd most frequent surname in the United Kingdom10 The surname occurs most frequently in the following ten counties, in descending order, with the number of occurrences in parentheses: "1 Greater London, 500, Greater Manchester 191, West Midlands 176, Lancashire 130, Kent 118, Essex 117, West Yorkshire 113, Merseyside 108, Hampshire 84, and Surrey 76"10

"Fitzgerald" including "FitzGerald," as the survey was not case-sensitive,11 was the 390th most common surname in the 2000 United States Census11 73,522 Fitzgeralds were counted, with 2725 Fitzgeralds per 100,000 members of the population11 Respondents surnamed Fitzgerald had self-reported ethnicities of 8803% non-Hispanic white only, 844% non-Hispanic black only, 032% non-Hispanic Asian or Pacific Islander only, 128% non-Hispanic Asian only, 143% of two or more non-Hispanic races, and 143% Hispanic11

The FitzGerald dynasty was the subject of a poem called "The Geraldines" by Thomas Osborne Davis, the chief organizer and poet of the nationalist Young Ireland movement The ill-fated romance of Thomas FitzGerald, 5th Earl of Desmond with Catherine MacCormac was the subject12 of the air "Desmond's Song"13 by the Irish poet Thomas Moore

Saint Patrick's Saltire, sometimes used to represent Ireland in modern flags, may have derived from the arms of the Geraldines14

The Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Fitzgerald in the United States Navy is named for Lieutenant William Charles Fitzgerald, USN The Fitzgerald family coat of arms a white shield with a red saltire provides the foundation for the coat of arms for the USS Fitzgerald

A variety of people, places, and businesses bear the name FitzGerald or Fitzgerald, including the FitzGerald crater on the far side of the Moon, named for physicist George FitzGerald

See alsoedit

  • Ireland portal
  • Normandy portal
  • Irish nobility
  • Hiberno-Norman
  • FitzGerald baronets
  • Butler–FitzGerald dispute


  1. ^ a b c Gearóid Iarla FitzGerald 1335–1398 Archived 11 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ a b c Webb, Alfred A Compendium of Irish Biography Dublin: 1878
  3. ^ Fox-Davies, Arthur Charles 1904 1986 The Art of Heraldry: An Encyclopædia of Armory London: Bloomsbury Books p 485 ISBN 0-906223-34-2 
  4. ^ John O'Donovan, "The Descendants of the Last Earls of Desmond", Ulster Journal of Archaeology, Volume 6 1858
  5. ^ Walter fitz Otho at thePeeragecom
  6. ^ According to a study carried out by Enrico Faini of the University of Florence, there were about ten old aristocratic families who moved to Florence from 1000 and 1100: Amidei; Ardinghi; Brunelleschi; Buondelmonti; Caponsacchi; Donati; Fifanti; Gherardini of Montagliari; Guidi; Nerli; Porcelli; Scolari; Uberti; Visdomini See: Jean-Claude Maire Vigueur and Andrea Zorzi “Il gruppo dirigente fiorentino nell'età consolare” n "Archivio Storico", CLXII 2004, p 210
  7. ^ "The earls of Kildare and their ancestors" by the Marquise of Kildare Hodges, Smith & Co, Dublin 1858; "La leggenda dei tre Valdesani conquistatori dell'Irlanda", V Uzielli, Firenze 1906 To see also: “I Gherardini ed il Castello di Montagliari” C Corazzini, Firenze, 1898 and for a summary of the documentation available in the archives, see “Unpublished Gherardini documents” by Samuel Hayman
  8. ^ Sette, Corriere della Sera, 28 March 2014, n13 Cover: "Kennedy, l'Italiano" Title of the article at page 28: "Dall'America a Firenze passando per l'Irlanda Così andando a ritroso fino ai "figli di Gerald" abbiamo ritrovato Kennedy "l'italiano"
  9. ^ 100 Most Common Irish Surnames, 1890
  10. ^ a b Geographical distribution of the name 'Fitzgerald' in the UK
  11. ^ a b c d US Census 2000permanent dead link
  12. ^ Webb, Alfred A Compendium of Irish Biography Dublin: 1878
  13. ^ Moore, Thomas, The poetical works of Thomas Moore, including melodies, ballads, etc Philadelphia: 1835 p 349
  14. ^ Hayes-McCoy, Gerard Anthony 1979 Pádraig Ó Snodaigh, ed A history of Irish flags from earliest times Dublin: Academy Press p 38 ISBN 0-906187-01-X 

External linksedit

For Thomas Davis poem The Geraldines see : http://wwwuccie/celt/published/E850004-008/text001html http://wwwuccie/celt/published/E850004-008/text001html

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