The coat of arms of the Fitzgeralds of Kildare, Viscounts of Leinster, by Charles Catton (1790).
|Place of origin||Wales|
|Name origin and meaning||"son of the spear ruler"|
The FitzGerald dynasty is a Hiberno-Norman or Cambro-Norman dynasty, and have been Peers of Ireland since at least the 14th century. The dynasty has also been referred to as the Geraldines, from the conquest of large swathes of Irish territory by the sons and grandsons of Gerald FitzWalter of Windsor, the progenitor of the dynasty. 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 (d. 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 Dail Eireann 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 Gerald). Although made Lord Chief Justice of Ireland in 1367, Gerald wrote poetry in the Irish language, most famously the poem Mairg adeir olc ris na mnáibh ("Speak not ill of womenkind"). Indeed, although an accomplished poet in Norman French, Gerald was instrumental in the move by the FitzGeralds of Desmond toward greater use of the Irish language.
- 1 Etymology of name
- 2 House of Kildare
- 3 House of Desmond
- 4 Cambro-Norman Origins
- 5 Legacy
- 6 See also
- 7 References
Etymology of name
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 Kildare
For more on the Kildare Geraldines, see Duke of Leinster.
Lords of Offaly
- 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 Kildare
- 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 (d. 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 (d. 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 (d. 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
- Thomas FitzGerald, 10th Earl of Kildare (d. 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 (d. 1599), third and youngest son of the 11th Earl, died unmarried
- Gerald FitzGerald, 14th Earl of Kildare (d. 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 (1761)
- James FitzGerald, 1st Marquess of Kildare (1722–1773) was created Duke of Leinster in 1766
Dukes of Leinster, second Creation (1766)
- 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 (b. 1948), elder son of the 8th Duke
|Maurice FitzGerald : 6th Duke of Leinster : Premier Duke, Marquess, and Earl of Ireland|
The Most Noble Maurice (FitzGerald), 6th Duke of Leinster. (1887–1922).
Marquess and Earl of Kildare, co. Kildare, Earl and Baron of Offaly, all in the Peerage of Ireland;
House of Desmond
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 (1259)
- John FitzThomas FitzGerald, 1st Baron Desmond (d. 1261) (son of Thomas FitzMaurice FitzGerald)
- Thomas FitzMaurice FitzGerald, 2nd Baron Desmond (d. 1298) (grandson of preceding)
- Thomas FitzThomas FitzGerald, 3rd Baron Desmond (1290–1307) (son of preceding)
- Maurice FitzThomas FitzGerald, 4th Baron Desmond (d. 1356) (brother of preceding; created Earl of Desmond in 1329)
Earls of Desmond, First creation (1329)
- Maurice FitzGerald, 1st Earl of Desmond (d. 1356) (new creation)
- Maurice FitzGerald, 2nd Earl of Desmond (1336–1358) (son of preceding)
- Gerald FitzGerald, 3rd Earl of Desmond (d. 1398) (half-brother of preceding)
- John FitzGerald, 4th Earl of Desmond (d. 1399) (son of preceding)
- Thomas FitzGerald, 5th Earl of Desmond (c. 1386–1420) (son of preceding)
- James FitzGerald, 6th Earl of Desmond (d. 1463) (the "Usurper," paternal uncle of preceding)
- Thomas FitzGerald, 7th Earl of Desmond (d. 1468) (son of preceding)
- James FitzGerald, 8th Earl of Desmond (1459–1487) (son of preceding)
- Maurice FitzGerald, 9th Earl of Desmond (d. 1520) (brother of preceding)
- James FitzGerald, 10th Earl of Desmond (d. 1529) (son of preceding)
- Thomas FitzGerald, 11th Earl of Desmond (1454–1534) (paternal uncle of preceding)
- John FitzGerald, de facto 12th Earl of Desmond (d. 1536) (brother of preceding, paternal granduncle of James FitzGerald, de jure 12th Earl of Desmond)
- James FitzGerald, de jure 12th Earl of Desmond (d. 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 (d. 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 (1598–1601)
Earls of Desmond, Second creation (1600)
- James FitzGerald, 1st Earl of Desmond (1571–1601) (known as the "Tower Earl of Desmond")
Lords of Decies
FitzMaurice of Kerry
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.
- 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
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 Wales. 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.
While, 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  and they left Florence to joint Henry II of England to go and conquer Ireland. Some historians think they initiated the FitzGerald branch. 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 House).
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 Fitz-Stephen, 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.
|Ancestors of FitzGerald dynasty|
According to the 1890 Matheson report, Fitzgerald/FitzGerald was the 36th most common surname in Ireland.
Fitzgerald/FitzGerald is the 692nd most frequent surname in the United Kingdom. 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)."
"Fitzgerald" (including "FitzGerald," as the survey was not case-sensitive), was the 390th most common surname in the 2000 United States Census. 73,522 Fitzgeralds were counted, with 27.25 Fitzgeralds per 100,000 members of the population. Respondents surnamed Fitzgerald had self-reported ethnicities of 88.03% non-Hispanic white only, 8.44% non-Hispanic black only, 0.32% non-Hispanic Asian or Pacific Islander only, 1.28% non-Hispanic Asian only, 1.43% of two or more non-Hispanic races, and 1.43% Hispanic.
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 subject of the air "Desmond's Song" by the Irish poet Thomas Moore.
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.
- Gearóid Iarla FitzGerald (1335–1398)
- Webb, Alfred. A Compendium of Irish Biography. Dublin: 1878.
- Fox-Davies, Arthur Charles (1904) . The Art of Heraldry: An Encyclopædia of Armory. London: Bloomsbury Books. p. 485. ISBN 0-906223-34-2.
- John O'Donovan, "The Descendants of the Last Earls of Desmond", Ulster Journal of Archaeology, Volume 6. 1858.
- Walter fitz Otho at thePeerage.com
- 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.
- "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
- Sette, Corriere della Sera, 28 March 2014, n.13. 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".
- 100 Most Common Irish Surnames, 1890
- Geographical distribution of the name 'Fitzgerald' in the UK
- U.S. Census 2000
- Webb, Alfred. A Compendium of Irish Biography. Dublin: 1878.
- Moore, Thomas, The poetical works of Thomas Moore, including melodies, ballads, etc.. Philadelphia: 1835. p. 349
- 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.