Emily FitzGerald, Duchess of Leinster

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Emily FitzGerald
Emily Duchess of Leinster 1753.jpg
The Duchess of Leinster. 1753 portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds.
Born Lady Emilia Mary Lennox
(1731-10-06)6 October 1731
Died 27 March 1814(1814-03-27) (aged 82)
Grosvenor Square, London
Nationality British
Title Duchess of Leinster
Marchioness of Kildare
Countess of Kildare
Spouse(s) James FitzGerald, 1st Duke of Leinster
William Ogilvie
Children George FitzGerald, Earl of Offaly
William FitzGerald, 2nd Duke of Leinster
Lady Caroline FitzGerald
Mary Coote, Countess of Bellamont
Lady Henrietta FitzGerald
Lady Caroline FitzGerald
Charles FitzGerald, 1st Baron Lecale
Charlotte Strutt, 1st Baroness Rayleigh
Lady Louisa FitzGerald
Lord Henry FitzGerald
Lady Sophia FitzGerald
Lord Edward FitzGerald
Lord Robert FitzGerald
Lord Gerald FitzGerald
Lord Augustus FitzGerald
Lady Fanny FitzGerald
Lady Lucy Foley
Lady Louisa FitzGerald
Lord George FitzGerald
Cecilia Lock
Charlotte Ogilvie
Emily Beauclerk
Parent(s) Charles Lennox, 2nd Duke of Richmond
Sarah Cadogan

Emily FitzGerald, Duchess of Leinster (6 October 1731 – 27 March 1814), known before 1747 as Lady Emily Lennox, from 1747 to 1761 as The Countess of Kildare and from 1761 to 1766 as The Marchioness of Kildare, was the second of the famous Lennox sisters, daughters of Charles Lennox, 2nd Duke of Richmond, and illegitimately descended from King Charles II of England.

Early life[edit]

Lady Emily was almost sixteen when she married James FitzGerald, 20th Earl of Kildare, on the 7th of February, 1747. After their wedding in London, the couple returned to Fitzgerald's native Ireland, first residing at Leinster House then Carton House.

Their marriage was reportedly a happy one, despite Lord Kildare's infidelities. The couple had nineteen children:

  • George FitzGerald, Earl of Offaly (15 January 1748 - Richmond House, 26 September 1765)
  • William FitzGerald, 2nd Duke of Leinster (Arlington Place, Piccadilly, London, 12 March 1749 - Carton House, Kildare, 20 October 1804).
  • Lady Caroline FitzGerald (1750 – 1754).
  • Lady Emily Mary FitzGerald (15 March 1751 – 8 April 1818), married Charles Coote, Baron Coote of Coolony and Earl of Bellamont. The couple had five children, one son who died young (b1776) and four daughters. Emily died in Penzance, Cornwall in 1818 after a lingering illness.
  • Lady Henrietta FitzGerald (1753 – 1763).
  • Lady Caroline FitzGerald (born and died 1755).
  • Charles FitzGerald, 1st Baron Lecale (30 June 1756 - 30 June 1810).
  • Lady Charlotte Mary Gertrude FitzGerald (29 May 1758 – 13 September 1836), married Joseph Strutt and was made first Baroness Rayleigh. Had issue.
  • Lady Louisa Bridget FitzGerald (1760 – 1765).
  • Lord Henry FitzGerald (30 July 1761 - 8 July 1829), general; married Charlotte Boyle and had issue, who take by inheritance the surname "de Ros".
  • Lady Sophia Sarah Mary FitzGerald (1762 – 21 March 1845).
  • Lord Edward FitzGerald (15 October 1763 – 4 June 1798).
  • Lord Robert Stephen FitzGerald (1765 - 2 January 1833), a diplomat; married Sophia Charlotte Fielding and had issue.
  • Lord Gerald FitzGerald (January 1766 – 1788). Drowned, went down with the ship in which he was serving.
  • Lord Augustus FitzGerald (1767 – 1771).
  • Lady Fanny FitzGerald (1770 – 1775).
  • Lady Lucy Anne FitzGerald (1771 – 1851), who took part in the Irish Rebellion of 1798. She was married to Admiral Sir Thomas Foley, who served with distinction under Lord Nelson. They had no children.
  • Lady Louisa FitzGerald (1772 – 1776).
  • Lord George Simon FitzGerald (16 April 1773 – 1783). Recognized as son of Lord Kildare, but in fact was the biological child of the Fitzgerald children's tutor, William Ogilvie.

Lord Kildare was created successively Marquess of Kildare and Duke of Leinster in recognition of his contribution to the political life of his country. It was partly the Duke's influence that led to a rift between the Duchess and her eldest sister, Caroline Fox, 1st Baroness Holland.

Later life[edit]

The Duchess of Leinster painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds in the 1770s.

After the death of Lord Kildare in 1773, the Duchess caused a minor sensation by marrying (26 August 1774) her children's tutor, William Ogilvie, with whom she had begun an affair some years earlier in Frescati House.[1] Despite her remarriage she continued to be known as The Dowager Duchess of Leinster. Ogilvie was nine years her junior, and was the natural father of her youngest son from her first marriage. They lived for part of their marriage at Ardglass Castle in Ardglass, County Down, where Ogilvie worked to develop the village.[2] A further three children were born to them after their marriage:

  • Cecilia Margaret Ogilvie (9 July 1775 – 1824), married Charles Lock, British consul-general in Naples and Egypt. They had three daughters.
  • Charlotte Ogilvie (born and died 1777).
  • Emily Charlotte "Mimie" Ogilvie (May 1778 – 22 January 1832), married Charles George Beauclerk, great-grandson of the Charles Beauclerk, 1st Duke of St Albans and had issue.

Emily was treated generously in her first husband's will. He left her a jointure of 4,000 pounds annually (increased from the 3,000 promised in the settlement), and a life interest in Leinster House (Dublin) and Carton (which she exchanged for Frescati House and 40,000 pounds) together with all their contents. She had brought the usual ducal daughter's dowry of 10,000 pounds, so the jointure and other payments would cripple her son the 2nd Duke of Leinster financially. The 1st Duke also made over-generous provisions for his younger sons and all his daughters. Emily, Duchess of Leinster and her second husband, also received the usual annuity of 400 pounds annually for each of the minor children who lived with her. Thus, Emily and William Ogilvie were probably financially better off than the 2nd Duke, who existed on less than 7,000 pounds annually out of which he had to run two large houses, play a role in Irish politics, and also provide lavish dowries of 10,000 each for three sisters who married. He also had to pay huge annuities (2,000 each) to the next youngest brothers Lord Lecale and Lord Henry Fitzgerald, and to pay the youngest brothers 10,000 each at their majority. Since Emily lived to 1814 (outliving the 2nd Duke by ten years), all these generous testamentary provisions, along with the huge building costs incurred by the 1st Duke, crippled the Leinsters for generations.[3]

Twelve of her children predeceased her. One of her sons, Lord Edward FitzGerald, was a major figure in the republican movement, and was killed during the Irish Rebellion of 1798.

She died on 27 March 1814 in Grosvenor Square, London.[4]

Popular culture[edit]

In 1999, a six-part BBC miniseries based on the lives of Emily Lennox and her sisters aired in the U.K. It was called Aristocrats.





  • Tillyard, Stella (1994). Aristocrats: Caroline, Emily, Louisa, and Sarah Lennox, 1740-1832. London: Chatto & Windus. 


  1. ^ Malcolmson, A.P.W. (2006). The Pursuit of the Heiress. Ulster Historical Foundation. p. 41. ISBN 1-903688-65-5. 
  2. ^ Bence-Jones, Mark (1988). A Guide to Irish County Houses. London: Constable. p. 10. ISBN 0 09 469990 9. 
  3. ^ A. P. W. Malcomson (2006). The Pursuit of the Heiress: Aristocratic Marriage in Ireland 1740-1840. Retrieved 25 January 2013.
  4. ^ http://genealogics.org/getperson.php?personID=I00000034&tree=LEO