Arthur Plunkett, 8th Earl of Fingall

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Arthur James Plunkett, 8th Earl of Fingall KP (9 September 1759 – 30 July 1836) was a Roman Catholic Irish peer, styled Lord Killeen until 1793, and a leading supporter of the cause of Catholic Emancipation.


He was the eldest son of the 7th Earl and his wife Henrietta Wollascot of Woolhampton, Berkshire. He became Earl of Fingall in 1793 after the death of Arthur James Plunkett, 7th Earl of Fingall and was appointed a Knight of the Order of St Patrick on 20 October 1821, on the occasion of the Royal Visit to Ireland of King George IV.[1] His creation as Baron Fingall in 1831 made him a member of the United Kingdom House of Lords.

He married in 1785 Frances Donelan of Ballydonellan, County Galway who died in 1835. They had a son, Arthur Plunkett, 9th Earl of Fingall, and a daughter, Harriet (died 1871), who married John Jones of Llanarth, Monmouthshire.

Cause of Catholic Emancipation[edit]

For many years he was a champion of the cause of Catholic Emancipation, and for a time worked closely with Daniel O'Connell to secure it. In 1807 he obtained an interview with the 1st Duke of Wellington, the Chief Secretary for Ireland, who explained that Catholic Emancipation was not at that time practical politics, but that the remaining Penal Laws would be enforced with all possible moderation.[2] As one of the leaders of the Catholic Association in its original form, which the Government maintained was illegal, he was briefly arrested, but never prosecuted. His role led to the unofficial title "head of the Irish Catholic laity".[3]

Lord Byron violently attacked Fingall in verse for accepting the Order of St. Patrick from George IV - wears Fingall thy trappings? -and for his deferential behaviour during the Royal Visit.[4] However Fingall and his fellow Irish Catholic peers were not and did not pretend to be republicans: they sought equal rights under the Crown, not separation from it.


  1. ^ Rayment, Leigh. "Knights of the Order of St Patrick". Retrieved 2008-12-13. 
  2. ^ Longford, Elizabeth Wellington-the Years of the Sword Panther Books 1971
  3. ^ O'Faoláin, Sean King of the Beggars- a life of Daniel O'Connell Alan Figgis Ltd Dublin 1970
  4. ^ Byron The Irish Avatar
Peerage of Ireland
Preceded by
Arthur Plunkett
Earl of Fingall
Succeeded by
Arthur Plunkett
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baron Fingall
Succeeded by
Arthur Plunkett