Home >> Encyclopedia-britannica-volume-9-part-1-extraction-gambrinus >> James David Forbes to Millard Fillmore >> Lord Edward Fitzgerald

Lord Edward Fitzgerald

Loading


FITZGERALD, LORD EDWARD Irish patriot, fifth son of James, Ist duke of Leinster, by his wife Emilia Mary, daughter of Charles Lennox, and duke of Richmond, was born at Carton House, near Dublin, on Oct. 15, 1763. Join ing the army in 1779, Fitzgerald served in America on the staff of Lord Rawdon (afterwards marquess of Hastings) ; at the bat tle of Eutaw Springs (Sept. 8, 1781) he was severely wounded. In 1783 Fitzgerald returned to Ireland and became member for Athy in the Irish parliament. He acted with the small Opposition group led by Grattan (q.v.), but took no prominent part in debate. After completing his military education at Woolwich he made a tour through Spain in 1787; and then, dejected by unrequited love for his cousin Georgina Lennox (afterwards Lady Bathurst), he sailed for New Brunswick to join the 54th Regiment with the rank of major. In Feb. 1789, guided by compass, he traversed the coun try, practically unknown to white men, from Frederickstown to Quebec, falling in with Indians by the way, with whom he frater nized; and in a subsequent expedition he was formally adopted at Detroit by the Bear tribe of Hurons as one of their chiefs, and made his way down the Mississippi to New Orleans, whence he returned to England.

Fitzgerald, who had meanwhile been elected to the Irish parlia ment for Kildare, refused the command of an expedition against Cadiz offered him by Pitt, and devoted himself for the next few years to society and his parliamentary duties. He was intimate with his relative C. J. Fox, with R. B. Sheridan and other leading Whigs. According to Thomas Moore, Fitzgerald was the only one of the numerous suitors of Sheridan's first wife whose atten tions were received with favour. He visited Paris in Oct. 1792. He lodged with Thomas Paine, and listened to the debates in the Convention. On Nov. 18 he supported a toast at a banquet to "the speedy abolition of all hereditary titles and feudal distinc tions," and repudiated his own title—an act for which he was dis missed from the army. Fitzgerald now became enamoured of a young girl named Pamela, a protegee of Mme. de Geniis (q.v.). It was commonly believed that she was the daughter of Madame de Genlis herself by Philippe (Egalite), duke of Orleans. On Dec. 27, 1792 Fitzgerald and Pamela were married at Tournay, one of the witnesses being Louis Philippe, afterwards king of the French, and in Jan. 1793 the couple reached Dublin.

Discontent in Ireland was now finding a focus in the So ciety of the United Irishmen, and in the Catholic Committee, an organization formed a few years previously, chiefly under the direction of Lord Kenmare. Fitzgerald, fresh from the gallery of the Convention in Paris, returned to his seat in the Irish parlia ment, and threw himself actively into the work of opposition. Within a week of his arrival he was ordered into custody and re quired to apologize at the bar of the House for violent denuncia tions of a government proclamation. In 1796 he joined the United Irishmen, whose aim was now avowedly the establishment of an independent Irish republic. In May 1796 Wolfe Tone was in Paris endeavouring to obtain French assistance for an insurrection in Ireland. In the same month Fitzgerald and his friend Arthur O'Connor proceeded to Hamburg, where they opened negotiations with the Directory through Reinhard, French minister to the Hanseatic towns. ' The duke of York, meeting Pamela at Devon shire House on her way through London with her husband, had told her that "all was known" about his plans, and advised her to persuade him not to go abroad. The proceedings of the con spirators at Hamburg were revealed by an informer, Samuel Turner. The result of the Hamburg negotiations was Hoche's abortive expedition to Bantry Bay in December 1796. In Sept. 1797 the informer MacNally betrayed Fitzgerald's share in direct ing the conspiracy of the United Irishmen. He was head of the military committee; he had papers showing that 280,000 men were ready to rise, and the leaders were hoping for a French in vasion to make good the deficiency in arms and to give support to a popular uprising. But French help proving dilatory and un certain, Fitzgerald advocated action without waiting for foreign aid. On March 12, 1798 information given by Thomas Reynolds led to the seizure of a number of conspirators at the house of Oliver Bond. Fitzgerald, warned by Reynolds, was not among them and the opportunity of leaving Ireland was open to him. But he refused to desert others who could not escape, and whom he had himself led into danger. On March 3o a proclamation es tablishing martial law and authorizing the military to act without orders from the civil magistrate, which was acted upon with re volting cruelty in several parts of the country, precipitated the crisis.

On May 1 1 a reward of f I ,000 was offered for Fitzgerald's ap prehension. May 23 was the date fixed for the general rising. Since the arrest at Bond's, Fitzgerald had been in hiding, latterly at the house of one Murphy, a feather dealer, in Thomas Street, Dublin. The secret of his hiding place was disclosed by a Cath olic barrister named Magan, to whom the stipulated reward was ultimately paid through Francis Higgins, another informer: On May 19 Fitzgerald was arrested after a desperate struggle in which he mortally wounded one of his captors, and was himself disabled by a pistol shot. He was taken to Newgate gaol, and there died of his wound on June 4, 1798. An Act of Attainder (repealed in 1819) was passed, confiscating his property, and his wife was com pelled to leave the country before her husband died.

Pamela, who was scarcely less celebrated than Fitzgerald him self, went to Hamburg, where in 1800 she married J. Pitcairn, the American consul. She remained to the last passionately devoted to the memory of her first husband ; and she died in Paris in Nov. 1831. A portrait of Pamela is in the Louvre. She had three children by Fitzgerald : Edward Fox (1794-1863) ; Pamela, after wards wife of General Sir Guy Campbell; and Lucy Louisa, who married Captain Lyon, R.N.

Lord Edward Fitzgerald was of small stature and handsome features. He had a winning personality, and a warm, affectionate and generous nature, which made him greatly beloved by his fam ily and friends; he was humorous, light-hearted, sympathetic, ad venturous. But he was entirely without the weightier qualities requisite for such a part as he undertook to play in public affairs. Reinhard, who considered Arthur O'Connor "a far abler man," accurately read the character of Lord Edward Fitzgerald as that of a young man "incapable of falsehood or perfidy, frank, ener getic, and likely to be a useful and devoted instrument; but with no experience or extraordinary talent, and entirely unfit to be chief of a great party or leader in a difficult enterprise." See Thomas Moore, Life and Death of Lord Edward Fitzgerald (2 vols., 1832), also a revised edition entitled The Memoirs of Lord Edward Fitzgerald, edited with supplementary particulars by Martin MacDermott (1897) ; R. R. Madden, The United Irishmen (7 vols., Dublin, 1842-46) ; C. H. Teeling, Personal Narrative of the Irish Rebellion of 1798 (Belfast, 1832) ; W. J. Fitzpatrick, The Sham Squire, The Rebellion of Ireland and the Informers of 1798 (Dublin, 1866), and Secret Service under Pitt (1892) ; J. A. Froude, The English in Ireland in the Eighteenth Century (3 vols., 1872-74) ; Ida A. Taylor, The Life of Lord Edward Fitzgerald (1903) . For particulars of Pamela, and especially as to the question of her parentage, see Gerald Campbell, Edward and Pamela Fitzgerald (1904) ; Memoirs of Madame de Genlis (1825) ; Georgette Ducrest, Chroniques populaires (1855) ; Thomas Moore, Memoirs of the Life of R. B. Sheridan (1825).

pamela, ireland, irish, thomas, dublin, french and house