THE FITZ-GERALDS OF KILDARE (CONTINUED).
" SILKEN THOMAS," the tenth Earl of Kildare, who was kJ executed with his five uncles at Tyburn in 1537, is thus described :—" Ile was of stature tall and personable ; in counte- nance amicable ; a white face, and withal somewhat ruddy, deli- cately in each limne featured ; a rolling tongue and a rich utter- ance; of nature flexible and kind ; very soon carried where he fancied ; easily with submission appeased ; hardly with stubborn- ness swayed ; in matters of importance an headlong Hotspur, yet natheless, taken for a young man, not devoid of wit, were it not, as it fell out in the end, that a fool had the keeping thereof." A sufficiently graphic character ! The great blot on the memory of this Earl will always be the murder of Archbishop Allen and his companions in his presence and with his sanction. In other respects much may be excused in a son acting under the in- structions of an imprisoned and dying father. Gerald, the younger and half-brother of the executed Earl, would (but for the attainder and confiscation) have succeeded to the dignity and estates of the family as eleventh Earl of Kildare. lie was a boy of between ten and eleven, ill of the small-pox at the time of his brother's surrender, and was at once conveyed by his nurse in a basket, it is said, to a place of greater security, and was first sheltered among the O'Briens, then by his aunt, Lady Eleanor, and her husband, Manus O'Donnell, of Tyrconnell, whom she had con- sented to marry on that condition. The English Government made several attempts to obtain possession of the young Gerald during this period. At last, in the middle of March, 1540, Lady Eleanor suspecting that her husband was about to surrender the young Earl, sent him off in a merchant vessel to St. Maio. On hearing of his arrival in France King Francis sent for him to Paris, and placed him about the person of the young Dauphin, afterwards Henry II. Lord Grey, who had succeedel Sheffingtou as Deputy, was recalled in 1540 for correspondence with and favouring his connections the Geraldines, at the expense of the friends of the English Government, and in June, 1311, suffered on Tower Hill. Sir Anthony St. Leger, who succeeded as Deputy, was a more able man, and freer from tho dangerous temptation to lean too much on one family at the expense of the rest. Ireland became more tranquil, Desmond, O'Brien, and other chiefs being bribed into quiescence by assignments of abbey lands, Henry taking care to make them the agents in the suppression of the religious houses. He assumed also on their invitation the title of King instead of Lord of Ireland, his old feudal title as suzerain, a significant change, politic in its immediate results, but fraught with future evil by confirming the idea of the distinct nationality of Ireland without securing the substantial advantages of such a constitution. Peer- ages were bestowed on several of the Irish and Anglo-Irish chiefs, and their investiture at Greenwich was made the occasion of the most flattering hospitalities. So closed the Government of Ireland during the reign of Henry VIII.
Meanwhile the young Earl of Kildare remained an exile. The French King, finding his presence embarrassing, sent him to Valenciennes, in Flanders, and subsequently to Brussels, where Charles V. held his Court. His surrender being again demanded by the English Government, he was sent off to the protection of the Bishop of Li6ge. This retreat he left for Italy at the instance of Cardinal Pole, and on arriving in Rome had a pension settled on him by the Cardinal of 300 crowns. He received his edu- cation as a gentleman of those days at first at the Court of the Duke of Mantua, who doubled the pension assigned him by the Cardinal. After eighteen months' stay at Mantua, Pole recalled him to Rome, and in 1544 sent him on his travels with letters of recom- mendation. He went first to Naples, there took service with the Knights of Malta, and served against the Turks and Moors at Tripoli. In 1545 he returned to Rome, had his allowance in- creased by the Cardinal to 3001., and was placed with Cosmo de Medici, Duke of Florence, who made him his Master of the Horse, with a pension for life or till his restoration in Ireland of 300 ducats per annum. Here he remained for three years. While he resided in Italy he had once a narrow escape for his life, falling into a deep pit, and being only saved by his favourite greyhound " Grifhound," who scented out his master, and stood howling by
the mouth of the pit until the attention of those who were seeking for young Gerald was thus drawn to the spot, and he was extricated. On the death of Henry VIII. Gerald ventured to come to London, in the company of some foreign ambassadors. He was well received, and at a supper given by Edward VI. fell in love with Mabel, daughter (by his first marriage) of Sir Anthony Brown, K.G., Master of the Horse to the King, whose second wife was Lady Elizabeth Fitz-Gerald, the Fair Geraldine, sister of Gerald. They were soon afterwards married, and through the influence of his father-in-law, the King received him into favour, knighted him, and on the 25th of April, 1552, restored to him his Irish estates. In thfL reign of Mary he served against the insurgents under Wyat wil
distinction. A commission was directed to him and others on the 23rd April, 1554, to inquire concerning all murders and other offences committed within the counties of Kildare and Carlow, and on the 1st of May he received from the Queen a com- plete restoration of the honours and possessions forfeited by the attainder of his father, and on the 13th he was restored to the titles of Earl of Kildare and Baron Offaly by a new crea- tion under letters patent, with a creation fee of 201. to him and his heirs out of the customs of the port of Dublin. The attainder, however, of the old earldom was not reversed till 1569. In November the Earl returned to Ireland, and this dark chapter in the history of the Kildare Geraldines was closed.
Other exiled and attainted families in Ireland were restored at the same time. The restored Earl employed himself in expeditions against the native Irish chiefs, and in May and July, 1555, was one of the Commissioners of Government during the absence of the Lord-Deputy. He was rewarded by a grant on the 28th of Octo- ber, 1558, of the demesnes of some dissolved religious houses in county Down, to him and his Countess, and their heirs male. On the death of the Countess in 1610 these lands reverted to the Crown. Queen Elizabeth added to this gift one in February, 1559, of the lands formerly belonging to the College of May- nooth. With the exception of one summons to England to answer for his conduct, and one or two accusations of trea- son which came to nothing, Kildare remained as an ostensibly trusted servant of the Crown, acting against the Irish chiefs, and being much employed in negotiations with Shane O'Neill and the Earl of Desmond until the year 1580, when a more serious charge of treason was brought against him, and his son-in-law, Lord Delvin, and together with his son, Lord Offaly, who had fled into the district of that name, they were arrested and sent over to England, where the two former were committed to the Tower, and Lord Offaly to the custody of the Earl of Bedford. After an investigation, however, a sentence of acquittal was pronounced, and the Earl's lands, &c., which had been seized, were restored to him.
In 1583 the " Great Geraldine Rebellion," under the Earls of Desmond, terminated with the death of the fifteenth Earl, who was slain on the 11th of November. The Kildare Geraldines had held aloof as far as any overt acts of adhesion were concerned. The Earl of Kildare himself died in London on the 16th of November, 1585. He is described as of low stature and slender figure, one of the best horsemen of his day, with some good qualities, but passionate and covetous. He was more pliant than his immediate predecessors, and had conformed to Protestantism on the accession of Elizabeth. He had entailed the estates upon his sons and their heirs male, with remainder to his brother and certain of his cousins, and their heirs male respectively. At his death he pos- sessed the manors and advowsons of the rectories of Maynooth, Kildare, Rathangan, Athy, Woodstock, Kilkea, Castledermot, and Gramey, in county Kildare ; Ballyboggan, Newtown, De Moyagher, Moylagh, and Kildalkie, in Meath ; Geashill, in King's County ; Ardglasa, and Strangford, in Down ; Crom and Adare, in Limerick ; and many other lands. His eldest son, Lord Offaly, died before him in 1580, leaving only a daughter, Lettice, married to Sir Robert Digby, of Coleshill, Warwickshire. She claimed the barony of Offaly and the estates of her grandfather as heir general, but the point was decided against her, and in compensation she was created Baroness of Offaly for life, and in 1619 the barony of Geashill was awarded to her and her heirs. She stood more than one siege in her castle there against the Catholic confederates of 1641, sturdily refusing to surrender to them, and being ultimately relieved by Philip, Viscount Lisle (Algernon Sidney's brother), and Sir Charles Coote. She afterwards retired to Warwickshire, and died there in 1658. Her eldest son, Robert, was created Lord Digby of Geashill.
Henry, second son of the last Earl of Kildare, succeeded as twelfth Earl, and was called by the Irish " Henry of the Battle-
axes." He had been committed, as we have seen, to the custody of Lord Bedford when his father was imprisoned in the Tower. His careeras Earl of Kildare lasted only twelve years. While co-operating with the Lord-Deputy in the war against O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone, he was wounded and twice thrown from his horse in a severe engagement, his two foster-brothers, sons of O'Connor Faly, being killed while assisting him to mount again. On his journey home he was obliged to halt at Drogheda, and there died on the 30th September, 1597, from the effects of fever occasioned by his wound, and aggravated by his grief at the death of the O'Connors. By his wife, Lady Frances Howard, daughter of the Armada hero, he left only daughters, one of whom became the wife of Rory O'Donnell, the rebel Earl of Tyrconnell of James I.'s reign. Earl Henry's next brother, William, succeeded him as thirteenth Earl of Kildare. The new Earl, however, was drowned in April, 1599, while following the Earl of Essex on his expedition to Ireland, in a small barque which foundered at sea. On his death the earldom devolved on his cousin Gerald, son of Edward Fitz-Gerald, second son of the ninth Earl by his second wife, Lady Elizabeth Grey. This fourteenth Earl commanded a regiment of infantry in the war against the Earl of Tyrone. He had inherited from his mother, Mabel, daughter and heiress of Sir John Leigh, and widow of Sir John Pesten, of Norfolk, the estates of Helston, Abbotsbury, Abbotatoke, Aller, and Ansty, in Dorsetshire, which were after- wards sold. He appears to have acted loyally towards the English Government during the rest of the reign of Elizabeth, and in 1604 was appointed one of the Commissioners for the civil government of Connaught. During the Queen's reign he had received a pension of 108. per diem, and on the accession of James I. offered to com- promise this claim for lands to the value of 1001. per annum. His litigation with Lady Digby has been already mentioned, but his loss of the estate ceded to her was compensated by his recovering possession of the castle of Maynooth, &c., on the death of the Countess Mabel in 1610. Here there was one of the only two deer parks at that time existing in Ireland. The Earl died on the 11th of February, 1612. He married (by a Papal dis- pensation) Elizabeth Margaret, daughter of Christopher, Lord Delvin, and the Lady Mary Fitz-Gerald, daughter of his uncle, the eleventh Earl. She was a vehement Catholic, and demised Kilkea Castle to the Jesuits, having engaged in the rebellion of 1641, for which the following year she wasoutlawed for hightreason. Her only son, Gerald, succeeded his father as fifteenth Earl of Kil- dare, when only seven weeks old, and he died in his ninth year, the 11th of Nov., 1620. He was succeeded as sixteenth Earl by George, son of Thomas Fitz-Gerald, next brother of the fourteenth Earl. He was only eight years and nine months old at the time when his cousin'sdeath opened to him thesuccession. Hebecame first a ward of the Crown, and then successively of the Duke and Duchess of Len- nox and the Earl of Cork, the last of whom (with the King's per- mission) married him on the 15th of August, 1630, when he was only eighteen, to his daughter, Lady Jane Boyle. 71.-1e had been educated in the Protestant faith, and in October, 1629, entered Christ Church College, Oxford, where he and his tutor, we learn from a letter of the Earl of Cork, were waited on by a favourite dwarf of the young Earl's. He is usually styled the " Fairy Earl," from his diminutive figure in the portrait of him painted in 1632 which is now at Carton, the present chief seat of the Leins- ter family in Ireland. In this last year he received a letter from the last of the Desmond Fitz-Geralds, Gerald, who, but for their attainder, would have been the twentieth Earl. This great branch of the Geraldines, after almost continuous rebellion against the English Governments throughout the Tudor period, had finally fallen as an Irish family. The Gerald who wrote to his more fortunate cousin was a Spanish Count in the Imperial service in Italy. He fell in Germany, in the defence of a strong town which he had sturdily refused to surrender, the same year, with- out issue. The Earl of Kildare had some serious differences with his father-in-law, and there is a letter of Lord-Deputy Wentworth (afterwards Earl of Strafford) to the former strongly, though in a very kind and judicious manner, advising the young Earl for his own good to compose these differences. The letter breathes throughout Wentworth's sterling good sense in matters in which his judgment was not warped by ulterior con- siderations. In 1634 Lord Ranelagh called the Earl to account before the Irish House of Peers for granting a protection from arrest to a certain person, on the plea that he was a necessary at- tendant on him during his attendance on Parliament, and the House declared the protection to be of no force. In the same year the Earl became estranged from Wentworth, opposed the measures of his Government, and being thereupon treated by the Lord-Deputy in his usual imperious manner with opponents, sailed to England without licence, and complained to the King. But Charles received him but coldly, and he was obliged to promise submission
to the Deputy. In 1638, when Wentworth was proceeding to inquire into every title in Connaught, for the purpose of ousting the existing owners unless they paid a sum as composition, and re-granting the lands to the advantage of the Crown, Kildare refused to submit his property to the sentence of the Privy Coun- cil, and was in consequence committed to prison. When the rebellion of 1641 broke out the Earl took a decided part against it, and the confederate Catholics passed a resolution that he must " be put out" of the earldom, "and another put in his place."
On the 7th of January, 1642, a party of Catholics seized and pillaged Maynooth Castle, carrying off the furniture, and the library, which was of great value. The castle was soon retaken, but in 1646 was occupied again by a detachment of the Catholics under General Preston, as he was advancing against Dublin, and on his retreat was dismantled, and has never since been inhabited.
In 1643 a deputation from the Irish Catholics in arms having been sent in September to the King at Oxford, the Protestants in and about Dublin met on the 6th of October, at the Earl of Kildare's house, and drew up a petition to the Lords Justices and Council for licence for such as they should select to wait on the King on their behalf. A deputation was accordingly appointed by both Houses of Parliament then sitting in Dublin, to present to the King a memorial stating their grievances, and praying that no treaty should be made with the Catholicsto the prejudice of the Protestants.
This memorial was signed by Kildare and many others. In June, 1647, he was appointed one of the Colonels of the broken regi- ments in and about Dublin, which were then reduced from eleven to seven, and in August the brave Governor of Dublin, Lieu- tenant-General Michael Jones, entrusted the command of the town to the Earl while he marched out to meet the enemy. The Earl's regiment was one of those disbanded by Oliver Cromwell soon after his arrival in Ireland in August, 1649. His castles being in the campaign which followed retaken from the Catholics, the Earl resided in Kilkea Castle or in Dublin till his death, in the beginning of 1660, a short time before the Restoration. He was succeeded by his son Wentworth, seventeenth Earl, who had
been named after Strafford in the days which preceded the rup-
ture between the Earl and the haughty Lord-Deputy. ye only survived his accession to the dignity four years, dying on the 5th of March, 1664, at the age of thirty. He was made a Privy Councillor after the Restoration in 1661, and was named as one of those who were to report on any reflections on the late Earl of Strafford in the journals of the Irish Houses of Parliament, with a view to their being erased. He also went to England on an official embassy in the name of the Irish Parliament respecting the Act of Settlement, and on the 4th of March, 1663, he was thanked by the Irish House of Lords for the results of his mission, and received 8001. as allowance and for his expenses in the commission. Considering the ancient feuds between the Fitz-Geralds and Butlers, it is significant of the change of times that the Earl held the Duke of Ormonde's proxy in 1661 in the Irish House of Lords. On the 14th of April, 1663, the Lord-Lieutenant was instructed to grant a formal pardon to the Earl for all treasons committed by him against the Crown during the late troubles, a proceeding which is also significant of the side taken by the Kildare Fitz-Geralds in the great Civil War.