William FitzGerald, 2nd Duke of Leinster

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
The 2nd Duke of Leinster, by Gilbert Stuart.

William Robert FitzGerald, 2nd Duke of Leinster, etc. KP, PC (Ire) (12/13 March 1749 – 20 October 1804) was an Irish liberal politician and landowner. He was born in London.


FitzGerald made his Grand Tour between 1768 and 1769. During the same time, he also was Member of Parliament (MP) for Kildare Borough. FitzGerald then sat in the Irish House of Commons for Dublin City until 1773, when he inherited his father's title and estates. He was appointed High Sheriff of Kildare for 1772. Politically he was a liberal supporter of Henry Grattan's Irish Patriot Party and he co-founded the Irish Whig Club in 1789. He controlled about six Kildare members of the Irish House of Commons. In 1779 he was elected Colonel of the Dublin Regiment of the Irish Volunteers.

In 1770 FitzGerald was chosen Grandmaster of the Grand Lodge of Ireland, which post he held for two years.[1] He was re-elected for another year in 1777.[1] In 1783 he was among the first knights in the newly created Order of St. Patrick.

In 1788-9 he was Master of the Rolls in Ireland; in theory a senior judicial office, it was then largely a sinecure, but so blatant a choice of a man who wholly unqualified for it gave rise to unfavourable comment, and a few years later it became the rule that the Master must be a lawyer of repute.

FitzGerald was a supporter of Catholic Emancipation and helped to found the Catholic seminary at Maynooth in 1795. Withdrawing from parliament with Grattan in 1797, he moved to England to be with his sick wife and remained there during the 1798 rebellion.


Emilia Olivia St George, the Duchess of Leinster (Hugh Douglas Hamilton)

He was the second, but eldest surviving, son of James FitzGerald, 1st Duke of Leinster and the well-connected Lady Emily Mary Lennox. On 4/7 November 1775 he married The Hon. Emilia Olivia Usher St George, daughter of St George Saint-George, 1st Baron St George and Elizabeth Dominick, who died in London on 23 June 1798.[2] He was also the elder brother of the 1790s revolutionary Lord Edward FitzGerald, and was a first cousin of the English liberal politician Charles James Fox.


  • Lady Mary Rebecca FitzGerald (6 May 1777 – 28 September 1842); married on 15 April 1799 Sir Charles Lockhart-Ross, 7th Baronet (died 8 February 1814)
  • Lady Emily Elizabeth FitzGerald (13 May 1778 – 9 February 1856); married on 13 March 1801 John Joseph Henry of Straffan (died 28 June 1846)
  • George FitzGerald, Marquess of Kildare (Carton, 20 June 1783 – 10 February 1784)
  • Lady Cecilia Olivia Geraldine FitzGerald (3 March 1786 – London, 27 July 1863); married at Boyle Farm, Kingston upon Thames on 18 August 1806 Thomas Foley, 3rd Baron Foley (22 December 1780 – London, 16 April 1833)
  • Lady Olivia Letitia Catherine FitzGerald (9 September 1787 – Bath, 28 February 1858); married in London on 8 May 1806 Charles Kinnaird, 8th Baron Kinnaird (12 April 1780 – Brighton, 12 December 1826)
  • Augustus FitzGerald, 3rd Duke of Leinster (1791–1874), married Lady Charlotte Augusta Stanhope (1793–1859)
  • Lord William Charles O'Brien FitzGerald (4 January 1793 – 8 December 1864); married and had:
    • Geraldine Sydney FitzGerald (died 1896); married on 2 October 1855 Henry William Paget Butler (28 April 1831 – 14 August 1913)
  • Lady Isabella/e Charlotte FitzGerald (died 1868); married on 1 June 1809 Major-General Louis Guy Charles Guillaume de Rohan-Chabot, Comte de Jarnac (1780–1875)
  • Lady Elizabeth FitzGerald (died 28 February 1857); married 22 July 1805 Sir Edward Baker, 1st Baronet (died 1825)

His homes were at Carton, where he died, and Kilkea in County Kildare, and at Leinster House in Dublin (now the home of the Irish parliament). He was a founder member of the Order of St Patrick in 1783 and of the Royal Irish Academy (1785), and was a large investor in the Royal Canal company launched in 1790. His family's estates of 60,000 acres (25,000 Ha) in Kildare were in three main parts, around Maynooth, Rathangan and Athy. He rebuilt the main bridge in Athy over the River Barrow.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Waite, Arthur Edward (2007). A New Encyclopedia of Freemasonry. vol. I. Cosimo, Inc. p. 400. ISBN 1-60206-641-8. 
  2. ^ Lundy, Darryl. "thePeerage.com – Person Page 1206". The Peerage. [unreliable source]


Parliament of Ireland
Preceded by
James Grattan
Charles Lucas
Member of Parliament for Dublin City
With: Charles Lucas 1767–1771
William Clement 1771–1773
Succeeded by
William Clement
Redmond Morres
Preceded by
Henry Sandford
Garret FitzGerald
Member of Parliament for Kildare Borough
With: Maurice Keating
Succeeded by
Simon Digby
Joseph Henry
Masonic offices
Preceded by
The Earl of Kingston
Grandmaster of the Grand Lodge of Ireland
Succeeded by
Viscount Dunluce
Preceded by
The Earl of Mornington
Grandmaster of the Grand Lodge of Ireland
Succeeded by
The Earl of Antrim
Legal offices
Preceded by
Richard Rigby
Master of the Rolls in Ireland
Succeeded by
The Earl of Glandore
and The Earl of Carysfort (joint)
Preceded by
Sir Lucius O'Brien, Bt
Clerk of the Crown in Ireland
Succeeded by
The Lord Glentworth
Peerage of Ireland
Preceded by
James FitzGerald
Duke of Leinster
Succeeded by
Augustus FitzGerald