Earl of Fingall

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Earl of Fingall and Baron Fingall were titles in the Peerage of Ireland. Baron Fingall was a title in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. The seat of the title-holders was, from its establishment until 1953, Killeen Castle in County Meath, Ireland, and there was an ongoing close relationship with the related Plunkett family of Dunsany, and with the Viscounts Gormanston, with whom they intermarried. Around 1426, Christopher Plunkett was created Baron Killeen: his seven sons founded five separate branches of the Plunket family, including the Plunkets of Dunsany, Rathmore and Dunsoghly. He also had a daughter Matilda (or Maud), who became celebrated as "the bride of Malahide", when her first husband, Thomas Hussey, Baron Galtrim, was reputedly murdered on their wedding day.

The tenth baron, Luke Plunkett, was created Earl of Fingall on 29 September 1628. When still Baron Killeen, his first wife[1] was Elizabeth, the second daughter of Henry FitzGerald, 12th Earl of Kildare, as properly recorded in the histories of the FitzGeralds of Kildare, based on their own family archives in Carton House and Kilkea Castle, and on no better authority than The 4th Duke of Leinster himself, writing at the time as Marquess of Kildare, who confirmed that Elizabeth married Luke Plunkett, 1st Earl of Fingall, in 1608.[2][3]

The eighth earl was created Baron Fingall in the Peerage of the United Kingdom on 20 June 1831. He and his son and heir the ninth earl were both ardent supporters of Catholic Emancipation. The eleventh earl married Elizabeth Burke-Plunkett, who was noted both as an activist in numerous causes and as a society hostess. All three titles became extinct on the death of the twelfth earl in 1984,[4] and are not to be confused with the Prescriptive Barony or Lordship of Fingal originally granted in 1208 by King John of England.

The Earls' Fingall Estate Papers[edit]

The Earls of Fingall’s Fingall Estate Papers (i.e. real property) consist of a large archive of manuscripts and ephemera (17th–20th century), documents incl. deeds, indentures, leases, wills, marriage settlements, incl. many on vellum. The Papers were purchased by the Fingal County Council and lodged in its Fingal Local Studies and Archives Department following an auction by Whyte’s Auctioneers on 6 February 1999 (item 373). However, the lands concerned did not actually extend into the modern Fingal, and the Earls’ Fingall Estate Papers contain no evidence of any ownership in Fingal. Practically all the properties and leases relate to County Meath (or Westmeath), understandably since the Plunketts were originally, as indicated above, Barons of Killeen in County Meath. They essentially have nothing to do with the territory of Fingal, and hence the lands per se never justified the denomination of Fingall as an Earldom and later peerage Barony (both now extinct) for the Plunketts of Killeen in Meath (as the prescriptive barony of Fingal rested with the Viscounts Gormanston by descent from Walter de Lacy who obtained it in 1208). Rather, the evidence indicates that Lord Killeen negotiated and purchased[5] the Earldom for £2,700 during a sojourn in London in 1628.[6]

Barons Killeen (c.1426)[edit]

Earl of Fingall (1628)[edit]


  1. ^ Carty, Mary Rose. History of Killeen Castle, published by Carty/Lynch, Dunsany, County Meath, Ireland, April 1991 (ISBN 0-9517382-0-8) – page 18 refers to Elizabeth as 1st wife of the Earl of Fingall (Fingal). She was not an O'Donnell, as claimed by Carty/Lynch, but a FitzGerald
  2. ^ FitzGerald, Charles William (Marquis of Kildare and later 4th Duke of Leinster). The Earls of Kildare and their Ancestors: from 1057 to 1773, 4th edition, published by Hodges, Smith & Co., Dublin, 1864 (pp. 235-236). He made the same mistake himself, i.e. that Elizabeth was a daughter of Bridget O'Donnell Lady Tyrconnell (nee Fitzgerald) rather than a sister of Bridget, in the second edition of 1858 (page 226), but corrected this in his fourth edition in 1864
  3. ^ Lee, Sidney (Editor). Dictionary of National Biography, Vol. XLI (Nichols-O’Dugan), published by Macmillan and Co., London and New York, 1895. Page 446
  4. ^ Burke-Plunkett, Elizabeth (Lady Fingall). Seventy Years Young, Memoires of Elizabeth, Countess of Fingal. First published by Collins of London in 1937; 1991 edition published by The Lilliput Press, Dublin 7, Ireland ISBN 0-946640-74-2. This Elizabeth, was a Burke from Moycullen in County Galway, who married the 11th Earl of Fingall
  5. ^ The Early Stuarts and the Irish Peerage, by Charles R. Mayes, in The English Historical Review 1958 LXXIII (287):227–251, published by Oxford University Press, 1958.
  6. ^ The Old English in Ireland, 1625–1642, by Professor Aidan Clarke, Ithaca and London, 1966. Page 62, reference 8