THE FITZ-GERALDS OF KILDARE.
frIHE FITZ-GERALDS,* or GERALDINES7 have the reputation
of being the best loved of all the Anglo-Norman and English settlers in Ireland, the most closely identified with 'native Irish feelings and aspirations, and in short, the most Irish of the alien families of Ireland. Davis, the poet of the "Young Ireland" party, rhapsodizes respecting them, that
"These Geraldines, these Geraldines, not long our air they breathed! Not long they fed on venison in Irish water seethed, Not often had their children been by Irish mothers nursed. When from their full and genial hearts an Irish feeling burst, The English monarchs strove in vain by law, and force, and bribe, To win from Irish thoughts and ways 'this more than Irish tribe.'"
Yet in reality the Geraldines were rather masters of the affections of the English Pale in Ireland than of the Irish nation, properly so called. In a despatch to Thomas Cromwell in the reign of Henry VIII., it is said that "this English Pale, except the towns and very few of the possessionists, be so affectionate to the Geral- dines, that for kindred, marriage, 'fostering, and adhering as fol- lowers, they care more to see a Geraldine reign and triumph than to see God come among them." The partizans of the family were marked on the breast with a "G.," in token that they "owed their hearts to the Geraldines." The Desmond branch acquired consider- able popularity with the native Irish by their long struggle against the English Government, and the memory of the unlucky " rebel " in later days, Lord Edward Fitz-Gerald, has kept alive a somewhat factitious partiality for the family of which he was a member, but the Fitz-Creraids are after all historically an Anglo-Irish family, and the tale of their good and ill fortunes is quite as much one of struggles against the native chiefs and population as against the English Government. The chronicler, Giraldus Cambrensis, himaalf by the mother's side a Geraldine, whose father's family, the De Barris, were also prominently engaged in Earl Strongbow's enterprise, and who himself visited Ireland in the train of Prince John, puts into the mouth of the ancestor of the Kildare Fitz-Geralds in 1171 a statement which, though thrown into the oratorical fashion of classical times (now replaced by philo- sophical expositions of motives in writers of the Macaulay school) gives us no doubt a true picture of the position in which the Anglo- Norman conquerors of Ireland then stood :—"Though English to the Irish, we are as Irish to the English, for this island does not show us greater hatred than that." To be hated alike by the English Government and the Irish natives was for many centuries at any rate the fate of the Geraldines.
The pedigree of the Fitz-Geralds has been in its earlier stages already given by Us, in speaking of the kindred house of the (Petty) Fitz-Maurices. We know for certain that its head in Eng- land, in the reign of Edward the Confessor, was named Other, or Oxno, since his sonWalter is mentioned in Domesday Bookas inherit- ing his lands, viz., three lordships in Surrey, three in Bucking- hamshire, two in Berkshire, four in Middlesex, nine in Wiltshire, ten in Hampshire, three in Dorsetshire, and one in Somersetshire —a distribution of estates which seems to show that the last Saxon King of the House of Wessex had, in some cases at any rate, anticipated the policy attributed afterwards to the Conqueror, of scattering his gifts of land over different counties. The Geraldines are not content with this undoubted ancestry anterior to the Conquest, but seek to attach themselves to the great house of the Gheurdini, at Florence, and the latter seem to have in after days acknowledged the claim as just. There is no evidence beyond tradition, and we must leave the claim as a doubtful one. Walter, son of Otho, was Castellan of Windsor and Warden of the forests of Berkshire under the first Anglo- • Our account of Oda family is Wised on the clear account published by the present Marquis of Kildare. Norman princes. He is said to have married Gladys, daugh- ter of Rhiwallon-ap-Cynvyn, Prince of North Wales, and to have had by her three sons, of whom the youngest, William, styled "De Windsor," was ancestor of the family of that name, now extinct in the male line. The eldest son, Gerald Fitz-Walter, was appointed Constable of Pembroke Castle and President of the county of Pembroke. He married the celebrated Neste, daughter of Rhys-ap-Gryffydh, Prince of South Wales, the beautiful mistress of Henry I., whose adventures we have already alluded to in giving an account of the Petty Fitz-Maurices. Gerald had three sons and one daughter by her. The priority in age of the two elder is a matter of dispute between the two families of Fitz-Gerald and Fitz-Maurice, but the probability seems to be that MAURICE the ancestor of the Fitz-Geralds was the elder son. The third son, David, was celebrated as Bishop of St. David's, and very instrumental in forwarding the first Anglo- Norman invasion of Ireland. The daughter, Angereth, married. William De Barn i (whose family also settled in Ireland), and by him was the mother of the historian Giraldus Cambrensis. When the exiled King of Leinster, Dermot MacMurragh, was returning to Ireland after his mission to enlist Earl Strongbow in his cause, he was entertained hospitably by the Bishop of St. David's, who proposed to him that his brother Maurice Fitz- Gerald and his half-brother Robert Fitz-Stephen should join him, with a body of troops in the spring, while Strongbow was pre- paring his larger armament. Dermot assented, and promised to grant them the town of Wexford and two cantreds of land or baronies in his neighbourhood. Fitz-Stephen accordingly landed in Ireland at the head of 400 men in May, 1169, and took Wex- ferny assault. Hither he was soon followed by Maurice with two ships, having on board ten knights, thirty men-at-arms, and, about 100 archers. Dermot invested the two brothers with the lordship of Wexford, and marched with Maurice to attack the Ostmen of Dublin. That city was taken, and Dermot (believing that Strongbow had given up his enterprise) offered his daughter Eva to either Maurice or Fitz-Stephen, if they would bring over a. larger force from England. But being already married, they declined the offer on that plea, much no doubt to the surprise of Dermot. In 1171 Maurice and Strongbow (who had now arrived) were besieged in Dublin by King Roderick O'Connor, at thelead of 30,000 men, and blockaded by sea by the Manx fleet of thirty vessels. At a council of war Maurice advised a sally on the enemy, which accordingly took place at daybreak, and resulted in the surprise and complete rout of the Irish army. When Henry IL left Ireland in April, 1172, he appointed Maurice and Fits-Stephen Wardens of Dublin, under Hugh De Lacy, Chief Governor of Ire- land. Maurice and his nephew Griffydh are said to have saved the life of De Lacy in an interview between him and Tiernan O'Rourke, the husband of the lady whose elopement with Der- mot MacMurragh led to the English invasions, and on the recall of De Lacy in 1173 Maurice also retired into Wales, in consequence of the jealousy of Strongbow. The latter, however„ finding he could not maintain himself without the aid of the Geraldines, in 1176 recalled Maurice, and made him a grant of the barony of Offaly, in which was Rathangan, but from which Kildare. was excluded, and of the territory of Offelan, in which were Maynooth and Naas. At the same time Maurice obtained a grant. of the castle of Wicklow, in lieu of his share of Wexford, which the jealous King had, together with other towns, claimed and appropriated to himself. Maurice then built the castle of May- nooth as a defence to his property. He died at Wexford in September, 1177, and was buried in the abbey of Grey Friars. which once existed outside the walls of that town. His nephew, the chronicler, describes him as follows :—" Maurice was indeed. an honourable and modest man, with a face sunburnt and well- looking, of middle height ; a man well modelled in mind and body ; a man of innate goodness, desiring to be rather than to seem good. A man of few words, but full of weight, having more of the heart than of the mouth, more of reason than of volubility, more wisdom than eloquence, and yet, when it was required, earnest to the pur- pose. In military affairs valiant, and second to few in activity, neither impetuous nor rash, but circumspect in attack and resolute in defence; a sober, modest, and chaste man ; constant, trusty, and. faithful ; a man not altogether without fault, yet not spotted witlr any notorious or great crime." Making allowance km the family pride and partiality, enough praise remains, when we consider- the trustworthy character of Giraldus, to make a noble monu- ment to the memory of the first of the Anglo-Irish Geraldine& He married Alice De Montgomery, a granddaughter of that Roger De Montgomery who led the centre of the Norman army at the battle of Hastings, and of whom the Roman de Rou records on that day :— "William upon his war-horse went,
Unto Roger his way he bent (He who is called of Montgomery), 'Form!' he said, I trust in ye ;' On this side shall your battle go, On this side shall ye charge the fo3 !"
By his marriage with Alice De Montgomery Maurice had four sons and a daughter. The third son, Thomas, surnamed "the Great," who obtained with his wife, Ellinor, daughter of Sir William Morrie, large property in Munster, was the ancestor of the cele- brated house of the Earls of Desmond, extinct in the male line, —of the White Knight, the Knight of Glyn, the Knight of Kerry, and the Mackenzies. His eldest brother, Gerald, who had served along with his father in most of his campaigns, made an exchange of property after his father's death which reminds us of the manner in which the Scotts of Buccleuch obtained their well known seat. William Fitz-Adelm held the castle of Ferns, in Wexford, in the heart of the lands of the independent Irish, and he gladly exchanged this exposed territory with the bolder Gerald for the castle of Wicklow. In 1205 Gerald sat in Parliament as Baron of Offaly, in the county of Kildare, and died the same year, and was succeeded by his son Maurice, second Baron, who was at this time very young. In 1216 he received from the King a grant of the castle of Croom and of Dungarvan, in Oglassin, but after his death the latter grant was resumed by the Crown, and bestowed on the Desmond branch of the Geraldines. Maurice seems to have been a great ally of the Church. In 1215 he introduced into Ireland the Order of the Franciscans, and in 1216 that of the Dominicans, and in 1232 he built the Franciscan Abbey of Youghal, of which there are some portions remaining. In 1229 he was appointed Lord Justice of Ireland, served with the King abroad in 1232, and on his return was reappointed, and con- tinued Lord Justice till 1245. On the 1st of April, 1234, he became involved in an unpleasant feud, in consequence of the death of Richard, Earl Marshal, who was killed on the Curragh of Kildare, while resisting the execution of Royal letters for his arrest. Lord Maurice upon this thought it prudent to repair to London, and ex- culpate himself by a solemn oath, in the presence of the King and principal nobles, from all participation in his death, and to conci- liate Heaven he founded the Dominican Abbey of Sligo, the ruins of which still remain, whose monks were for ever to pray for the soul of the murdered Earl. In 1235 Maurice reduced the Province of Connaught to submission. In 1245, being summoned by Henry III. to attend him with his force in Wales —the summons being accompanied by a declaration that this attendance beyond sea should not be considered as a precedent—but delaying for some time to comply, the King in November dismissed him from his office of Lord Justice on that account. The rest of his life was passed in continual contests with the O'Donnells and O'Neills. In 1257 he and Godfrey O'Donnell, chief of Tyrconnell, met in single combat, and wounded each other severely. Soon after this Maurice retired into his Franciscan Abbey of Youghal, assumed the habit of the Order, and died in the same year, 1257. Mathew Paris describes him as "a valiant knight, a very pleasant man, inferior to none in the kingdom, having lived all the days of his life with commendation." He married into the Cogans, a family which came over with Strongbow, and is still of position in Leinster, and had three sons, Maurice, Gerald, and Thomas. Maurice, third Baron, became engaged in a feud with the De Burghs, who were supported by the Butlers and Cogans. In June, 1272, he was elected by the Council Lord Justice, in room of Lord James De Andley, killed by a fall from his horse, and Edward L, on his accession in November, confirmed him in this office. However, in 1273 he was betrayed by his own people into the hands of the O'Connors, and on his imprisonment his Lord Justiceship was conferred on the husband of one of his nieces. Being released on giving hostages, he retired into Munster, and next with the Butlers invaded Thomond, and obliged the O'Briens to give hostages. In 1277 he repeated the invasion, and taking prisoner the chief of Thomond, Brien O'Brien Roe, he beheaded him ; but being surrounded in a mountain pass, he and his followers had first to eat horse-flash and afterwards to surrender, nor were they released till they gave hostages and made com- pensation to the Irish for O'Brien's death by surrendering the castle of Roscommon. He soon after, in the same year, died at Ross. His career will give the reader some idea of the relations at that time between the Geraldines and the native Irish. Accord- ing to the Marquis of Kildare, the ancient war-cry of the Geraldines of Kildare was " Crow-a-boor and that of the Desmond branch " Shamet-a-boo !" "A-boo" being a mere expletive sound of defiance common in Ireland. " Crom " (Croom) and " Shamet "
(Shamid) were two castles about sixteen miles apart, in the county Limerick, the ruins of which still remain. They belonged to the two branches of the Geraldines, and being on the borders of the O'Briens' country, became the war-cries of the Geraldines in answer to the O'Brien cry of " Lamhlaider [' the strong hand of victory Ta-boo!" Henry VII. prohibited the words " Crom-a-
boo " and " Butler-a-boo " by Act of Parliament. Maurice
married Emelina De Longespee, great granddaughter of Fair Rosamond. The grandson of that celebrated mistress of Henry IL had obtained by marriage the territory of O'Murthy, in which were Kilkea and Castle-Dermot, and these passed with his daughter to the Geraldines. Her son, Gerald, fourth Baron of Offaly, in
1260 completed the Franciscan or Grey Abbey of Kildare, and in 1271 founded the Franciscan Abbey at Clane. He was very unlucky in his warlike enterprises, for in 1285 he fell into the hands of the O'Connors, in an unsuccessful battle in Offaly, and in 1287 he was wounded in a battle with the O'Briens in Thomond, his brother- in-law and several of his allies being killed. He died soon after at Rathmore, having settled Offaly and the manor of Maynooth on his cousin John Fitz-Thomas, son of the youngest brother of the third Baron. The second brother of the same Baron, Gerald Fitz-Maurice, was drowned in 1277 in passing from England to Ireland, but his son Maurice is said to have succeeded as fifth Baron of Offaly. Here, however, there is some doubt as to the pedigree,—at any rate Maurice died without issue. Thomas Fitz-Maurice, the third son of the third Baron, has told of him, under several varying forms, the same story about being carried off by a monkey or ape which is told of Oliver Cromwell, and when Swift was writing Gulliver's Travels, in order to annoy the Earl of Kildare he introduced into his story the part in which his hero is carried off *and fed by the Brobdignag,ian ape—a monkey being the crest of the Offaly Geraldines. Thomas Fitz-Maurice's son John succeeded his cousin as Baron of Offaly. He had about the year 1293 a great feud with the De Vesci family, the head of whom was Lord Justice of Ireland. The facts are told quite differently by the friends of each family, and long speeches are put into the mouths of the actors, which we may dismiss as purely imaginary. There seem to have been mutual accusations of treason, and recriminations on the ancestry of each, in which the Geraldines, when stigmatized as descendants of a Welsh bankrupt, do not seem to have appealed to the Florentine pedigree, but to have relied on their seisin and tenure by the sword in Ireland. The barons challenged each other, were thereupon summoned to England by the King, when one was a defaulter (as to which the family annalists do not agree). However, De Vesci seems to have proved the weaker in the con- test, for he resigned his lands in Ireland, derived from his mother, Agnes De Ferrers, and out of them the manor and town of KILDARE were afterwards granted to Fitz-Thomas. Lord John engaged in 1294 in a successful contest with the native Irish, and especially the O'Connors, and also with the De Burghs, making the "Red Earl of Ulster" prisoner. But the latter was released, by order of Parliament, the next year, and a formal truce of two years between the two families was concluded.
In 1296 these rival nobles served with Edward I. in his campaign in Scotland, and in 1298 their disputes were finally settled by the marriage of the Earl of Ulster's daughter with Thomas Fitz-Gerald, the Baron of Offaly's son, Offaly in return giving an indemnity for losses to the Earl of 3,000 marks, for a thousand of which Sligo and its appurtenances were to be assigned, the Baron's silver plate for another thousand, and the third thousand to be considered the
portion of the Earl's daughter. ,The:marriage did not take place till 1312. In 1299 and 1301:Lord John was again summoned to the King's Scotch wars. In 1307 and 1312 he was engaged against the native Irish in Connaught:and Munster. In 1315 his name ap- pears at the head of the Irish magnates who signed a letter of alle- giance to Edward II. on the invasion of Edward Bruce, but he and the otherAnglo-Irish lords were linable (through feuds among them- selves) to make head against the gallant brother of King Robert. In the same year Lord John built and endowed the abbey of Adare, the
ruins of which still remain. On the 14th of May, 1316, he was created Earl of Kildare by Edward IL, by a patent dated at Westminster, and granting toIhim, "for his good service," the castle and town of Kildare. He died, however, on the 10th of September in the same year. This first Earl of Kildare of the Fitz-Gerald family married Blanche Roche, daughter of John, Baron of Fermoy and was succeeded by his son Thomas, second Earl of Kildare.