Duke of Leinster

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Dukedom of Leinster
Coronet of a British Duke.svg
FitzGerald arms.svg
Argent a saltire gules
Creation date26 November 1766[1]
MonarchGeorge III
PeeragePeerage of Ireland
First holderJames FitzGerald, 1st Marquess of Kildare
Present holderMaurice FitzGerald, 9th Duke
Heir presumptiveEdward FitzGerald
(nephew of the present holder)
Remainder tothe 1st Duke's heirs male of the body lawfully begotten
Subsidiary titlesMarquess of Kildare
Earl of Kildare
Earl of Offaly
Viscount Leinster
Baron Offaly
Baron Kildare
Former seat(s)Maynooth Castle
Kilkea Castle
Leinster House
Carton House

Duke of Leinster (/ˈlɪnstər/;[2][3] Irish: Diúc Laighean[4]) is a title in the Peerage of Ireland and the premier dukedom in that peerage. The subsidiary titles of the Duke of Leinster are: Marquess of Kildare (1761), Earl of Kildare (1316), Earl of Offaly (1761), Viscount Leinster, of Taplow in the County of Buckingham (1747), Baron Offaly (1620) and Baron Kildare, of Kildare in the County of Kildare (1870). The viscounty of Leinster is in the Peerage of Great Britain, the barony of Kildare in the Peerage of the United Kingdom, and all other titles in the Peerage of Ireland. The courtesy title of the eldest son and heir of the Duke of Leinster is Marquess of Kildare.

General The 3rd Duke of Schomberg, K.G. (1641-1719), was created The 1st Duke of Leinster in 1691. However, that creation became extinct upon Schomberg's death in July 1719.

The family seat of the current Duke of Leinster is now Oakley Park, near Abingdon, Oxfordshire.

Earls of Kildare from 1316[edit]

This branch of the Cambro Norman FitzGerald/FitzMaurice dynasty, which came to Ireland in 1169, were initially created Earls of Kildare. The earldom was created in 1316 for John FitzGerald. Two senior FitzGeralds, Garret Mór FitzGerald and his son, Garret Óg FitzGerald served as Lords Deputy of Ireland, the representative of the Lord of Ireland (the King of England) in Ireland. The tenth earl, Thomas FitzGerald, known as Silken Thomas, was attainted and his honours were forfeit in 1537. In 1554, Thomas's half-brother and only male heir, Gerald FitzGerald, was created Earl of Kildare in the Peerage of Ireland. He was subsequently restored to the original letters patent in 1569, as 11th earl. The second (1554-created) earldom became extinct in 1599, although the original earldom survived.

Dukes of Leinster from 1766[edit]

The 1st Duke of Leinster.
The 2nd Duke of Leinster

The family was originally based in Maynooth Castle in Maynooth in County Kildare. In later centuries the family owned estates in Waterford with their country residence being a Georgian house called Carton House which had replaced the castle in County Kildare. In Dublin, the Earl built a large townhouse residence on the southside of Dublin called Kildare House. When the Earl was awarded a dukedom and became Duke of Leinster, the house was renamed Leinster House. One of its occupants was Lord Edward FitzGerald, who became an icon for Irish nationalism through his involvement with the Irish Rebellion of 1798, which ultimately cost him his life.

Leinster House was sold by the Leinsters in 1815. After nearly a century as the headquarters of the Royal Dublin Society, which held its famed Spring Show and Horse Show in its grounds, Oireachtas Éireann, the two chamber parliament of the new Irish Free State, rented Leinster House in 1922 to be its temporary parliament house. In 1924 it bought the building for parliamentary use. It has remained the parliament house of the Irish state.

The Dukes of Leinster had by the early 20th century lost all their property and wealth. Their Carton House seat was sold (though one of Ireland's most historic buildings with perfectly preserved 18th century grounds, it was controversially turned into a hotel and golf course in the late 1990s by the current owner in an act condemned by environmentalists),[citation needed] as later on was their other residence in Waterford. The family now live in a smaller property in Ramsden, Oxfordshire.

Title dispute[edit]

A controversial claim by the supposed descendants of the 5th Duke (largely debunked by Michael Estorick in 1981) was made and failed, with the Lord Chancellor accepting the claim made by the 9th Duke of Leinster.[6]

In 2006, a lawsuit was filed with HMG's Department of Constitutional Affairs by Theresa Pamella Caudill,[7] daughter of Eleanor and Maurice F. “Desmond” FitzGerald, on behalf of her nephew, a California builder, Paul FitzGerald, as claimant to be the rightful Duke of Leinster.[8] FitzGerald purported that he is the grandson of Major Lord Desmond FitzGerald (1888-1916), the second son of The 5th Duke of Leinster, who was recorded as having been killed in action during the First World War while serving with the Irish Guards. When The 6th Duke of Leinster died, mad and childless, in February 1922, the Leinster dukedom [9] – and its considerable wealth and lands – devolved upon his youngest brother Lord Edward FitzGerald, who succeeded as The 7th Duke of Leinster. Paul FitzGerald and his supporters claimed that Lord Desmond faked his death and emigrated to California (by way of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada) where he lived until his death in 1967. It was further claimed by Mrs Caudill that a package of documents, witnessed by the Prince of Wales and Sir Edgar Vincent, Lord Feversham, had been lodged by her father with the Crown Office of the House of Lords in 1929, and the family had been denied access to them. Mrs Caudill believed the documents included evidence that her father agreed to relinquish the title for one generation but made it clear it was to be passed down to his son, her brother Leonard FitzGerald. Instead, it was passed down through her father's brother's family. It was alleged that an archivist had acknowledged the package had once existed, but the official line was that it was now lost.[8]

The Baron Falconer of Thoroton, Lord Chancellor (2003–2007), and Harriet Harman, Minister of State in the Department for Constitutional Affairs, gave due consideration to this claim.[10] The claim was dismissed by Lord Falconer despite a 30-year campaign by Paul FitzGerald's family reputedly costing £1.3 million. The Lord Chancellor adjudicated that the title was to remain with the existing holder, His Grace Maurice, 9th Duke of Leinster. Paul FitzGerald has a right of appeal against the Lord Chancellor's verdict by petitioning Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.[11]

In 2010, however, DNA evidence was presented that indicates that Paul FitzGerald is related to the wife of the 5th Duke, the former Lady Hermione Duncombe.[1] As reported in The Scotsman, "with the help of Dunfermline-based genealogist Lloyd Pitcairn, Mrs FitzGerald Caudill [Paul FitzGerald's aunt] traced Maud Crawford, the grand-daughter of Lady Hermione's younger sister Urica [sic] Duncombe. The results of the tests found that it was '41 times more probable' that Ms Crawford and Paul FitzGerald were extremely closely related than were from different families. The evidence that Paul FitzGerald is related to the family of the 5th Duke's wife is the first DNA evidence ever produced in the case, and may support Mrs FitzGerald Caudhill's long-held claim suggesting that her mysterious father was the son of Lady Hermione, the wife of the fifth Duke of Leinster."[2]

It had also previously been alleged[12] that the 9th Duke′s grandfather, the 7th Duke, was the biological son of The 11th Earl of Wemyss and 7th Earl of March (1857-1937). Had this been proven then neither the present Duke, nor any other male descendant of the 7th Duke, would be a legitimate heir of The 1st Duke of Leinster.

Earls of Kildare (1316)[edit]

Ireland in 1450, with the Earldom of Kildare shown just southwest of the Pale
Other titles: Lord of Offaly (c. 1193–?)
Other titles (11th–13th Earls): Earl of Kildare and Baron of Offaly (1554)
Other titles (20th Earl): Viscount Leinster, of Taplow in the County of Buckingham (GB 1747)

Marquesses of Kildare (1761)[edit]

Other titles: 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–?)

Dukes of Leinster, second creation (1766)[edit]

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–?)
Other titles (4th Duke onwards): Baron Kildare (UK 1870)

The heir presumptive is the present holder's nephew Edward FitzGerald (born 1988), only son of Lord John FitzGerald (1952–2015)

Line of succession[edit]

Family tree[edit]

Coat of arms[edit]

Arms of the Duke of Leinster

The coat of arms of the Dukes of Leinster derives from the legend that John FitzGerald, 1st Earl of Kildare, as a baby in Woodstock Castle, was trapped in a fire when a pet monkey rescued him. The FitzGeralds then adopted a monkey as their crest (and later supporters) and occasionally use the additional motto Non immemor beneficii (Not forgetful of a helping hand).[13] The motto "Crom A Boo" comes from the medieval Croom Castle and "Abu", meaning "up" in Irish; Crom Abu was the FitzGeralds' medieval warcry. Crom (Croom) and Shanet (Shanid) were two castles about 16 miles apart in Co Limerick, one being the seat of the Geraldines of Kildare, and the other that of the Geraldines of Desmond, whose distinctive war cries were accordingly “Crom-a-boo” and “Shanet-a-boo.” In 1495 an act of Parliament was passed (10 Hen. VII. C. 20) “to abolish the words Crom-a-boo and Butler-a-boo.” The word “Abu” or “Aboo,” an exclamation of defiance, was the usual termination of the war cries in Ireland, as in a' buaidh, "to victory!"[14] Saint Patrick's Saltire, a red saltire on a white field, may have been adapted from the Duke's arms on the 1783 creation of the Order of Saint Patrick, of which the 2nd Duke of Leinster was the senior founder member.

  • Escutcheon: Argent a saltire gules.
  • Crest: A monkey statant proper environed about the middle with a plain collar and chained or.
  • Supporters: Two monkeys, environed and chained as in the crest.
  • Motto: Crom a boo (Now it would be spelt "Crom Abu". In English, "Up Croom", or "Croom to victory."

Further reading[edit]

  • Estorick, Michael (1981). Heirs & Graces: the Claim to the Dukedom of Leinster. Weidenfeld & Nicolson.
  • Fitzgerald, Alan John (2004). Barons, Rebels & Romantics: the Fitzgeralds' First Thousand Years. 1stBooks Library.
  • Dooley, Terence A M (2014). The decline and fall of the dukes of Leinster, 1872-1948 : love, war, debt and madness. Dublin: Four Courts Press. ISBN 9781846825330. OCLC 872987047.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Collins, Arthur (1 January 1779). "The peerage of England. 3 vols. [in 4. Sig. N6,7 of vol. 1, 3B1 of vol. 2, and 2F5,6 of vol. 3 are cancels. Sig. K5 of vol. 3 has been cancelled and replaced by a bifolium]" – via Google Books.
  2. ^ Scriven, Marcus (1 December 2009). "Splendour and Squalor: The Disgrace and Disintegration of Three Aristocratic Dynasties". Atlantic Books – via Google Books.
  3. ^ Maynooth, Archaeology in (13 December 2011). "Maynooth Castle The History Part 3".
  4. ^ Oireachtais, Tithe an. "Teach Laighean, Tithe an Oireachtais".
  5. ^ Fox-Davies, Arthur Charles (1904) [1986]. The Art of Heraldry: An Encyclopædia of Armory. London: Bloomsbury Books. p. 485. ISBN 0-906223-34-2.
  6. ^ Peterkin, Tom. Battle over Irish dukedom settled, Daily Telegraph, 21 April 2007. Accessed 12 June 2008.
  7. ^ "Theresa Caudill". Retrieved 2016-08-25.
  8. ^ a b Craig, By Olga. "DNA tests and a mystery package in the £1m battle just for a duke's title". Retrieved 2016-08-25.
  9. ^ British Dukes (Holding peerages granted by the Monarch) have Dukedoms; sovereign Dukes (continental rulers of territories without any overlord, i.e. the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg) have Duchies
  10. ^ Angeles, By Tom Peterkin, Ireland Correspondent and Catherine Elsworth in Los. "A Californian claimant, an 'escape' from the trenches and the fight for a dukedom".
  11. ^ American loses battle over Leinster dukedom claim Archived 2016-03-03 at the Wayback Machine - website IrishAbroad
  12. ^ Angela Lambert, Unquiet Souls (Harper & Row, 1984), page 64
  13. ^ "burkes-peerage.net - burkes-peerage Resources and Information".
  14. ^ Complete Peerage. (1890) Vol III. (D-F) p358 "Fitz-Gerald of Offaly".