In 1689, Capell is elected MP for Cockermouth and is Lord of the Treasury, between 1689 and 1690. He is invested again as Privy Councillor, on February 14, 1689. He is elected MP for Tewkesbury in 1690, and sits until April 11, 1692, when he is ennobled as Baron Capell of Tewkesbury, in the County of Gloucester. One year later, he becomes Lord Justice of Ireland and in turn a Privy Councillor of Ireland, in June 1693. In 1695 and 1696, he is Lord Deputy of Ireland. His term as Lord Deputy is not considered successful because of him being a firm Whig and presiding over an administration which is deeply divided between Whigs and Tories. He does nothing to help change this situation.
Capell dies at the age of 58 in Chapelizod, County Dublin, on May 30, 1696. He is buried on September 8, 1696, in Little Hadham, Hertfordshire. The barony dies with him.
On February 16, 1659, Capell marries Dorothy Bennet, daughter of Richard Bennet. The marriage is childless, but does bring part of what later becomes Kew Palace into the Capell family, leading to its becoming known as Capel House. Dorothy dies in 1721, and through her will endows a number of charities.
(Pictured: “Sir Henry Capel (1638-1696),” oil on canvas by Peter Lely, Metropolitan Museum of Art)
In February 1235, the King criticises FitzGerald for his proceedings in office and describes him as “little pleasant, nay, beyond measure harsh in executing the King’s mandates.” The same year, he takes part in the subjugation of Connacht. In the years 1241 and 1242, and later in 1246, 1247, and 1248 he musters armies against the Irish. In 1247, he invades Tír Chonaill and fights the combined forces of Cenél Conaill and Cenél nEógain at the Battle of Ballyshannon. According to various Irish annals, three eminent lords fall in battle against him: Maol Seachlainn Ó Domhnaill, King of Tír Chonaill, An Giolla Muinealach Ó Baoighill, and Mac Somhairle, King of Argyll (a man seemingly identical to Ruaidhrí mac Raghnaill).
In 1245, FitzGerald is dismissed from his post as Justiciar as a result of tardiness in sending the King assistance in the latter’s military campaigns in Wales. His successor is John FitzGeoffrey. That same year he lays the foundations for Sligo Castle. In 1250, he holds both the office of Member of the Council of Ireland and Commissioner of the Treasury. He also founds the Franciscan Friary at Youghal; hence his nickname of an Brathair, which is Irish for The Friar. He is at the English royal court in January 1252, and receives an urgent summons from King Henry in January 1254.
He married Juliana de Grenville and by her, they have four sons:
In 1257, FitzGerald and his Norman army engage the forces led by Gofraidh Ó Domhnaill, King of Tír Chonaill, at the Battle of Creadran Cille, in Cairbre Drom Cliabh, now the northern part of County Sligo. The two men fight each other in single combat and both are gravely wounded. FitzGerald dies of his injuries at South Abbey, wearing the habit of the Franciscans, on May 20, 1257, aged 63 years. In the Annals of the Four Masters, 1257, his death is described thus: “Maurice FitzGerald for some time Lord Justice of Ireland and the destroyer of the Irish, died.” (In Irish this reads as: “Muiris macGerailt lustis Ereann re h-edh diosccaoilteach Gaoidheal d’écc”.)
Upon FitzGerald’s death, the properties of Lea, Rathangan, and Geashill pass to his grandson Maurice, son of Gerald FitzMaurice, who dies in 1243.
FitzGerald is succeeded as Lord of Offaly by his son, Maurice FitzGerald, 3rd Lord of Offaly, rather than the rightful successor, his grandson, Maurice, son of his eldest son, Gerald.
Levinge is one of the first to declare for William III of England at the Glorious Revolution, and is sent by the new Government to Ireland as Solicitor-General in 1689. In 1692 he is elected as a member of the Irish House of Commons for Belfast and for Blessington, but chooses to sit for Blessington, a seat he holds until 1695. During this time he serves as Speaker of the Irish House of Commons. In politics he is a moderate Tory, noted throughout his career for his desire to conciliate. In an age of bitter political faction this earns him the uncharitable nickname “Tom Double.” Although he supports the Penal Laws, as no Irish officeholder then could do otherwise, he is very tolerant in religious matters and has several Roman Catholic friends, including his predecessor as Solicitor-General, Sir Theobald Butler.
Levinge later represents Longford Borough from 1698 to September 1713 and Kilkenny City from 1713 to November 1715 in the Irish Parliament. In 1713 he is also returned for Gowran but chooses to sit for Kilkenny. He is created a Baronet of High Park in the County of Westmeath, in the Baronetage of Ireland on October 26, 1704.
Levinge had expressed his interest in being appointed to the English Bench, but meets with no success in his efforts to achieve office in England. Under George I of Great Britain, despite being of the “wrong” political persuasion, and his growing age, his famous moderation, and his 30 years’ experience of Irish public life make him acceptable as an Irish judge to the Government, in which he has a powerful supporter in his cousin Lord Macclesfield. In 1721 he becomes Chief Justice of the Irish Common Pleas for Ireland and a member of the Privy Council of Ireland. He complains bitterly of the poor quality of his junior judges, and asks for suitable replacements, although he complains equally about some of those whose names are put forward as possible replacements. Despite being in great pain from gout in his last years, he remains on the Bench until his death on July 13, 1724.
Levinge divides his time between his ancestral home, Parwich Hall, which he purchases from his childless elder brother, and his newly acquired property Knockdrin Castle, County Westmeath. Most of his estates passes to his eldest son, who extensively rebuilds Parwich.
(Pictured: Knockdrin Castle, County Westmeath, the main Levinge residence in Ireland)
Field is the daughter of John Wilmer Field, a wealthy estate owner. She has a sister, Delia, and they are educated at home by Susan Lawson, a governess who encourages her creativity and broad interests, including astronomy. The sisters are joint heirs to their father’s fortune.
Through her family Field meets William Parsons, then Lord Oxmantown and the future 3rd Earl of Rosse, an Anglo-Irish astronomer and naturalist, and they are married on April 14, 1836, her 23rd birthday. In February 1841, Lord Oxmantown succeeds his father in the family peerage to become the 3rd Earl of Rosse. She, Baroness Oxmantown since her marriage, thus now becomes the Countess of Rosse.
In the early 1840s the couple becomes interested in astronomy, and the Countess of Rosse helps her husband build a number of giant telescopes, including the so-called Leviathan of Parsonstown, that is considered a technical marvel in its time. The author, Henrietta Heald, contends that she is not only a financial support to the building of the telescope, but is also involved in a practical and intellectual capacity. The Leviathan of Parsontown is completed in 1845 and holds the record as the world’s largest telescope for over 70 years. It is mentioned in Jules Verne’s science fiction novel, From the Earth to the Moon.
The Countess of Rosse is an accomplished blacksmith, which is very unusual for higher class women of the time, and she may have constructed some of the iron work that supports the telescope. Other metal cast items around the castle grounds are designed by her, including bronze gates.
During the Great Famine of 1845–47 in Ireland, the Countess of Rosse is responsible for keeping over five hundred men employed in work in and around Birr Castle, where she and her husband live.
The Countess of Rosse creates a huge dining room at Birr Castle in which to entertain scientific guests, which becomes increasingly used when Lord Rosse becomes President of the Royal Society of London in 1848. Guests include mathematicianWilliam Rowan Hamilton, who writes her a sonnet about his experience of gazing through the Leviathan.
In 1842, Lord Rosse begins experimenting in daguerreotype photography, possibly learning some of the art from his acquaintance William Henry Fox Talbot. In 1854, he writes to Fox Talbot saying that the Countess too has just commenced photography and sends some examples of her work. Fox Talbot replies that some of her photographs of the telescope “are all that can be desired.”
The Countess of Rosse becomes a member of the Dublin Photographic Society, and in 1859 she receives a silver medal for “best paper negative” from the Photographic Society of Ireland. Many examples of her photography are in the Birr Castle Archives. Much of the topography of Birr Castle that she portrayed has changed very little, and it is possible to compare many of her photographs with the actual places. She records the Leviathan in her photographs including one image showing her three sons, Clere, Randal and Charles along with her sister-in-law, Jane Knox, standing upright at the mouth of the telescope.
The Countess of Rosse gives birth to eleven children, but only four survive to adulthood:
A trained barrister, Pery becomes a member of the Irish House of Commons for the Wicklow Borough constituency in 1751. On the dissolution of the house following the death of George II, he is elected for the constituency of Limerick City and serves from 1761 until 1785, becoming Speaker of the House in 1771. In 1783, he stands also for Dungannon, however chooses to sit for Limerick City. He is considered one of the most powerful politicians in Ireland in his time, leading a faction which includes his nephew, the future Earl of Limerick, and his relatives by marriage, the Hartstonges. Following his resignation, he is created Viscount Pery, of Newtown Pery, near the City of Limerick, in the Peerage of Ireland, entitling him to a seat in the Irish House of Lords. As he has no male heirs, his title becomes extinct on his death in 1806.
Pery is also noted for his part in the history of the architecture of Limerick. In 1765, he commissions the engineer Davis Ducart to design a town plan for land that he owns on the southern edge of the existing city, which leads to the construction of the Georgian area of the city later known as Newtown Pery. He is also commemorated in the naming of Pery Square.
Pery marries Patricia (Patty) Martin of Dublin in 1756, who dies a year later, and secondly Elizabeth Vesey, daughter of John Vesey, 1st Baron Knapton, and Elizabeth Brownlow. He and Elizabeth have two daughters:
Wolfe is the eighth of nine sons born to John Wolfe (1700–60) and his wife Mary (d. 1763), the only child and heiress of William Philpot, a successful merchant at Dublin. One of his brothers, Peter, is the High Sheriff of Kildare, and his first cousin Theobald is the father of the poet Charles Wolfe.
After the Irish Rebellion of 1798, Wolfe becomes notable for twice issuing writs of habeas corpus on behalf of Wolfe Tone, then held in military custody, but these are ignored by the army and forestalled by Tone’s suicide in prison. In 1795 he had also warned Tone and some of his associates to leave Ireland to avoid prosecution. Tone’s godfather, Theobald Wolfe of Blackhall (the father of Charles Wolfe), is Wolfe’s first cousin, and Tone may have been Theobald’s natural son. These attempts to help a political opponent are unique at the time.
In 1802 Wolfe presides over the case against Town Major Henry Charles Sirr in which the habitual abuses of power used to suppress rebellion are exposed in court.
In the same year Wolfe orders that the well-known Catholic priest Father William Gahan be imprisoned for contempt of court. In a case over the disputed will of Gahan’s friend John Butler, 12th Baron Dunboyne, the priest refuses to answer certain questions on the ground that to do so would violate the seal of the confessional, despite a ruling that the common law does not recognize the seal of the confessional as a ground for refusing to give evidence. The judge apparently feels some sympathy for Gahan’s predicament, as he is released from prison after only a few days.
During the Irish rebellion of 1803, Wolfe, who had never been forgiven by the United Irishmen for the execution of William Orr, is clearly in great danger. On the night of July 23, 1803, the approach of the Kildare rebels induces him to leave his residence, Newlands House, in the suburbs of Dublin, with his daughter Elizabeth and his nephew, Rev. Richard Wolfe. Believing that he will be safer among the crowd, he orders his driver to proceed by way of Thomas Street in the city centre. However, the street is occupied by Robert Emmet‘s rebels. Unwisely, when challenged, he gives his name and office, and he is rapidly dragged from his carriage and stabbed repeatedly with pikes. His nephew is murdered in a similar fashion, while Elizabeth is allowed to escape to Dublin Castle, where she raises the alarm. When the rebels are suppressed, Wolfe is found to be still alive and is carried to a watch-house, where he dies shortly thereafter. His last words, spoken in reply to a soldier who called for the death of his murderers, are “Murder must be punished; but let no man suffer for my death, but on a fair trial, and by the laws of his country.”
Wolfe is succeeded by his eldest son John Wolfe, 2nd Viscount Kilwarden. Neither John nor his younger brother Arthur, who dies in 1805, have male issue, and on John’s death in 1830 the title becomes extinct.
(Pictured: Portrait of Lord Chief Justice of Ireland, Arthur Wolfe (later Viscount Kilwarden) by Hugh Douglas Hamilton, between 1797 and 1800, Gallery of the Masters)
On October 13, 1768, Luttrell is created Baron Irnham of Luttrellstown in the Peerage of Ireland. As his title is an Irish peerage, he is able to keep his seat in the British House of Commons. He is elevated to the title of Viscount Carhampton on January 9, 1781 and is made Earl of Carhampton on June 23, 1785. He lives at Four Oaks Hall, Four Oaks, Sutton Coldfield, from 1751 to 1766.
On January 22, 1735 Luttrell marries Judith Maria Lawes, daughter of Sir Nicholas Lawes, Governor of Jamaica and Elizabeth Cotton (née Lawley), by whom he has eight children:
Luttrell’s rakish behaviour earns him the nickname “King of Hell,” with “Hell” being a district of Dublin notorious for its brothels. He reputedly starts the courtesanMary Nesbitt in her career by seducing her.
Luttrell dies at Four Oaks, Warwick, England, on January 14, 1787. He is buried at Kingsbury, Warwick, England.
Some time before 1610, Butler marries Elizabeth Poyntz against his father’s wishes. She is the daughter of Sir John Pointz (died 1633) of Iron Acton in Gloucestershire and his wife Elizabeth Sydenham. He and Elizabeth had seven children, three sons and four daughters:
Elizabeth (died 1675), marries first James Purcell, Baron of Loughmoe, by whom she has Nicholas Purcell of Loughmoe; she marries secondly John FitzPatrick
In 1619 after the beginning of his father’s long imprisonment in the Fleet Prison, Butler is summoned to England to answer charges of treason, specifically, of having garrisoned Kilkenny. However, on December 15 the ship conveying him is wrecked off the coast of The Skerries, Isle of Anglesey and he drowns. Like his father, he is a prominent Catholic and it seems likely that his refusal to conform to the established Anglican religion had angered King James I, and may have been the true motive for his summons.
Butler predeceases his father who dies in 1634. His eldest son James, the future 1st Duke of Ormond, succeeds him as heir apparent and bearer of the courtesy title Viscount Thurles until he succeeds his grandfather as the 12th Earl of Ormond.
The Conollys, themselves unhappily childless, at that point take up the welfare of young children from disadvantaged backgrounds as a lifelong project, contributing both money and effort towards initiatives which enable foundlings and vagabonds to acquire productive skills and support themselves. They develop one of the first Industrial Schools where boys learn trades, and she takes active personal interest in mentoring the students. In middle age, she also virtually adopts her niece Emily Napier (1783–1863), the daughter of her sister Lady Sarah Lennox. Emily, who spends long months with her aunt in Kildare, marries Sir Henry Bunbury, 7th Baronet, and moves to Suffolk, although she remains close to her aunt until her death.
Thomas Conolly dies on April 27, 1803. Upon his death, a major part of his estates, which includes Wentworth Castle, passes to a distant relative, Frederick Vernon. Conolly receives the Castletown House and estate, as also certain liquid investments and valuable urban properties, which enable her to live in comfort and continue her activities until her own death on August 6, 1821, of an abscess on her hip. She wills these substantial properties to a great-nephew, Edward Michael Pakenham, grandson of Thomas’ sister Harriet, later the MP for Donegal.
In 1999, a 6-part miniseries called Aristocrats, based on the lives of Conolly and her sisters, airs in the UK.
(Pictured: “Lady Louisa Conolly” by George Romney, 1776)
In 1783 FitzGerald visits the West Indies before returning to Ireland, where his brother, William FitzGerald, 2nd Duke of Leinster, has procured Edward’s election to the Irish Parliament as an MP for Athy, a seat he holds until 1790. In Parliament he acts with the small Opposition Irish Patriot Party group led by Henry Grattan, but takes no prominent part in debate. In the spring of 1786 he takes the then unusual step for a young nobleman of entering the Military College, Woolwich, after which he makes a tour through Spain in 1787. Dejected by unrequited love for his cousin Georgina Lennox, he sails for New Brunswick to join the 54th Regiment with the rank of Major.
In April 1789, guided by compass, FitzGerald traverses the country with a brother officer from Fredericton, New Brunswick to Quebec, falling in with Indians by the way, with whom he fraternizes. He accomplishes the journey in twenty-six days, and establishes a shorter practicable route than that hitherto followed. The route crosses the extremely rugged and heavily forested northern part of the present state of Maine. In a subsequent expedition he is formally adopted at Detroit by the Bear clan of the Mohawk with the name “Eghnidal,” and makes his way down the Mississippi River to New Orleans, whence he returns to England.
Finding that his brother has procured his election for Kildare County, a seat he holds from 1790 to 1798, and desiring to maintain political independence, FitzGerald refuses the command of an expedition against Cádiz offered him by William Pitt the Younger, and devotes himself for the next few years to the pleasures of society and to his parliamentary duties. He is on terms of intimacy with his first cousin Charles Fox, with Richard Sheridan and other leading Whigs. According to Thomas Moore, FitzGerald is only one of numerous suitors of Sheridan’s first wife, Elizabeth, whose attentions are received with favour. She conceives a child by him, a baby girl who is born on March 30, 1792.
His Whig connections, together with his transatlantic experiences, predisposed FitzGerald to sympathize with the doctrines of the French Revolution, which he embraces enthusiastically when he visits Paris in October 1792. He lodges with Thomas Paine and listens to the debates in the Convention. While in Paris, he becomes enamoured of a young girl named Pamela whom he chances to see at the theatre, and who has a striking likeness to Elizabeth Sheridan. On December 27, 1792, he and Pamela are married at Tournai, one of the witnesses being Louis Philippe, afterwards King of the French. In January 1793 the couple reaches Dublin.
Ireland is by then seething with dissent which is finding a focus in the increasingly popular and revolutionary Society of the United Irishmen, which has been forced underground by the outbreak of war between France and Britain in 1793. FitzGerald, fresh from the gallery of the Convention in Paris, returns to his seat in the Irish Parliament and immediately springs to their defence. Within a week of his return he is ordered into custody and required to apologise at the bar of the House of Commons for violently denouncing in the House a Government proclamation which Grattan had approved for the suppression of the United-Irish attempt to revive the Irish Volunteer movement with a “National Guard.” However, it is not until 1796 that he joins the United Irishmen, who by now have given up as hopeless the path of constitutional reform and whose aim, after the recall of Lord FitzWilliam in 1795, is nothing less than the establishment of an independent Irish republic.
In May 1796 Theobald Wolfe Tone is in Paris endeavouring to obtain French assistance for an insurrection in Ireland. In the same month, FitzGerald and his friend Arthur O’Connor proceed to Hamburg, where they open negotiations with the Directory through Reinhard, French minister to the Hanseatic towns. The Duke of York, meeting Pamela at Devonshire House on her way through London with her husband, tells her that his plans are known and advises that he should not go abroad. The proceedings of the conspirators at Hamburg are made known to the government in London by an informer, Samuel Turner. The result of the Hamburg negotiations is Louis Lazare Hoche‘s abortive expedition to Bantry Bay in December 1796.
In September 1797 the Government learns from the informer Leonard McNally that FitzGerald is among those directing the conspiracy of the United Irishmen, which is now quickly maturing. Thomas Reynolds, converted from a conspirator to an informer, keeps the authorities posted in what is going on, though lack of evidence produced in court delays the arrest of the ringleaders. But on March 12, 1798 Reynolds’ information leads to the seizure of a number of conspirators at the house of Oliver Bond. FitzGerald, warned by Reynolds, is not among them.
As a fellow member of the Ascendancy class, the Government are anxious to make an exception for FitzGerald, avoiding the embarrassing and dangerous consequences of his subversive activities. They communicate their willingness to spare him from the normal fate meted out to traitors. FitzGerald however refuses to desert others who cannot escape, and whom he has himself led into danger. On March 30 the government proclamation of martial law authorising the military to act as they see fit to crush the United Irishmen leads to a campaign of vicious brutality in several parts of the country.
FitzGerald’s social position makes him the most important United Irish leader still at liberty. On May 9 a reward of £1,000 is offered by Dublin Castle for his apprehension. Since the arrests at Bond’s house, he has been in hiding. The date for the rising is finally fixed for May 23 and FitzGerald awaits the day hidden by Mary Moore above her family’s inn in Thomas Street, Dublin.
Tipped off that the house is going to be raided, Moore turns to Francis Magan, a Catholicbarrister and trusted sympathiser, who agrees to hide Fitzgerald. Making its way to Magan’s house on May 18, Fitzgerald’s party is challenged by Major Henry Sirr and a company of Dumbarton Fencibles. Moore escapes with Fitzgerald and takes him back to Thomas Street to the house of Nicholas Murphy.
Moore explains to Magan what had happened and, unbeknownst to her, Magan informs Dublin Castle. The Moore house is raided that day. Mary, running to warn the Leinster Directory meeting nearby in James’s Gate, receives a bayonet cut across the shoulders. That same evening Sirr storms Murphy’s house where FitzGerald is in bed suffering from a fever. Alerted by the commotion, he jumps out of bed and, ignoring the pleas of the arresting officers to surrender peacefully, he stabs one and mortally wounds the other with a dagger in a desperate attempt to escape. He is secured only after Major Sirr shoots him in the shoulder.
FitzGerald is conveyed to New Prison, Dublin where he is denied proper medical treatment. After a brief detention in Dublin Castle he is taken to Newgate Prison, Dublin where his wound, which has become infected, becomes mortally inflamed. His wife, whom the government probably has enough evidence to convict of treason, has fled the country, never to see her husband again, but FitzGerald’s brother Henry and his aunt Lady Louisa Conolly are allowed to see him in his last moments. He dies at the age of 34 on June 4, 1798, as the rebellion rages outside. He is buried the next day in the cemetery of St. Werburgh’s Church, Dublin. An Act of Attainder confiscating his property is passed as 38 Geo. 3 c. 77, but is eventually repealed in 1819.