Fitzgerald, George, sixteenth Earl of Kildare 1611-1660, was son of Thomas, second son of William Fitzgerald, thirteenth earl of Kildare, by Frances, daughter of Thomas Randolph, postmaster-general in England under Queen Elizabeth. George Fitzgerald was in his ninth year when, in 1620, he inherited the Kildare peerage, on the death of Gerald, the fifteenth earl, at the age of eight years and ten months. Earl George was given in wardship by the king to the Duke of Lennox. On the decease of the latter his widow transferred the wardship of the minor and his estates to Richard Boyle, earl of Cork, for 6,600l. Kildare studied for a time at Christ Church, Oxford, and in his eighteenth year married Joan, fourth daughter of Lord Cork. He appears to have been much under the influence of that astute adventurer; but occasional differences occurred between them, for the settlement of which the intervention of the lord deputy, Wentworth, was obtained. A portrait of Kildare, painted in 1632, in which he is represented as of diminutive stature, is extant at Carton, the residence of the Duke of Leinster. There is also preserved at Carton a transcript, made in 1633 for Kildare, of an ancient volume known as the Red Book of the Earls of Kildare. Kildare sat for the first time in the House of Peers, Ireland, in 1634, and was appointed colonel of a foot regiment in the English army in Ireland. With pecuniary advances from Lord Cork Kildare rebuilt the decayed castle of his ancestors at Maynooth in the county of Kildare. James Shirley, the dramatist, during his visit to Dublin in 1637-8, was befriended by Kildare, and dedicated to him his tragi-comedy entitled The Royal Master, acted at the castle and the theatre, Dublin, in 1638. Kildare was about that time committed to prison for having disobeyed an order made by the lord deputy for the delivery of documents connected with a suit at law with Lord Digby. In 1641 Kildare was appointed governor of the county of Kildare, and subsequently took part with the leaders of the protestant party in Ireland in opposing the movements of the Irish catholics to obtain from Charles I redress of their grievances. Correspondence between Kildare and the viceroy, Ormonde, in 1644 appears in the third and fourth volumes of the History of the Irish Confederation and War. In January 1645-6 Kildare and the Marquis of Clanricarde became sureties to the extent of 10,000l. each for the Earl of Glamorgan, on the occasion of his liberation from prison at Dublin. Kildare acted as governor of Dublin under the parliamentarian colonel, Michael Jones, in 1647, and in 1649 he received a pension of 46s. weekly from the government. In a subsequent petition to the chief justice of Munster Kildare stated that during eleven years he and his family had been driven to great extremities and endured much hardship in England and Ireland through his constant adherence and faithful affection to the parliament of England; that he was then, for debt, under restraint in London, and had despatched his wife and some of his servants to Ireland in hopes to raise a considerable sum out of his estate for his enlargement and subsistence. By his wife, who died in 1656, he had three sons and six daughters. Kildare died early in 1660. He was buried at Kildare. His second son, Wentworth Fitzgerald, succeeded him as seventeenth earl of Kildare.

     Archives of the Duke of Leinster
     Ormonde Archives (Kilkenny Castle)
     Diaries of the Earl of Cork
     Carte Papers (Bodleian Library), vol. xvi.
     History of the Irish Confederation and War, 1643-6 (Dublin, 1885-9)
     Works of James Shirley, 1833
     History of the City of Dublin, 1854
     Hist. MSS. Comm. 9th Rep. 1884
     The Earls of Kildare, by the Marquis of Kildare, 1858-62.

Contributor: J. T. G. [John Thomas Gilbert]

Published: 1889