Earldom of Desmond
held with
Earldom of Denbigh
Coronet of a British Earl.svg

Feilding arms.svg
Arms of Feilding, Earls of Denbigh: Argent, on a fess azure three fusils or[1]
Creation date1329 (first creation)
1600 (second creation)
1619 (third creation)
1622 (fourth creation)
MonarchEdward III (first creation)
Elizabeth I (second creation)
James VI and I (third creation)
Charles I (fourth creation)
PeeragePeerage of Ireland
First holderMaurice FitzGerald, 1st Earl of Desmond
Present holderAlexander Feilding, 12th Earl of Denbigh, 11th Earl of Desmond
Heir apparentPeregrine Feilding, Viscount Feilding
Subsidiary titlesViscount Feilding
Viscount Callan
Baron Feilding of Newnham Paddox
Baron St Liz
Baron Fielding of Lecaghe
Extinction date1582 (first creation)
1601 (second creation)
1619 (third creation)
1622 (fourth creation)
Seat(s)Newnham Paddox
MottoCrescit sub pondere virtus (Virtue increaseth under oppression)

The title of Earl of Desmond has been held historically by Lords in Ireland, first as a title outside of the peerage system and later as part of the Peerage of Ireland. (Irish: Iarla Dheasman)[2] Since 1640 the title has been held as a secondary title by the Earl of Denbigh.

History of the Title

Barony of Desmond

The original Barony of Desmond in the province of Munster was held by descendants of Thomas FitzMaurice, Lord OConnello. Thomas was the eldest son of Maurice FitzGerald, Lord of Lanstephan and he was a key supporter of the Lord of Pembroke known as ("Strongbow") in his 1169 invasion of Ireland. Maurice FitzGerald, Lord of Lanstephan was the founder of the FitzMaurice/FitzGerald Dynasty in Ireland. Being descended from the eldest son of Maurice FitzGerald, Lord of Lanstephan, the House of Desmond was a cadet branch of the famous Geraldines; the senior branch, the House of Kildare, were ancestors of the Dukes of Leinster, which was founded by Thomas's brother and 2nd eldest son of Maurice FitzGerald, Lord of Lanstephan namely Gerald FitzMaurice, 1st Lord of Offaly

A drawing of Maurice FitzGerald, Lord of Lanstephan, progenitor of the Irish Geraldines, from a manuscript of the Expugnatio Hibernica, an account of the 1169 invasion of Ireland written by Maurice's nephew, Gerald of Wales in 1189.
A drawing of Maurice FitzGerald, Lord of Lanstephan, progenitor of the Irish Geraldines, from a manuscript of the Expugnatio Hibernica, an account of the 1169 invasion of Ireland written by Maurice's nephew, Gerald of Wales in 1189.

Thomas's son, John FitzThomas, became the first Baron Desmond upon receiving, for his homage and service, a grant in 1259 of the lands of Decies and Desmond from Prince Edward of England. Before passing to Edward, these lands had been held by Thomas FitzAnthony, the father of John's wife Margery FitzAnthony.[3]

Earl of Desmond: first and second creation

The title Earl of Desmond was first created for Maurice FitzGerald, 4th Baron Desmond in about 1329.[4][5] Over time, according to English sources, the FitzGerald family became highly assimilated to the local Irish culture. The final Earl of Desmond of this creation was Gerald FitzGerald, the 14th (or, by some counts, the 15th or even the 16th) Earl. The FitzGeralds and Fitzmaurices had resisted the Protestant Reformation of King Henry VIII and, after the failure of the first and second Desmond Rebellions, the 15th Earl was defeated and killed by forces loyal to Queen Elizabeth I on 11 November 1583. His title, along with the enormous estates of his family, were forfeit to the English Crown. His nephew, James FitzThomas FitzGerald, the Súgán Earl, attempted to regain control of both during the Nine Years War, but he was captured by the English and executed in 1603.

The second creation was in 1600 for James FitzGerald, the "Tower Earl", who was also created Baron Inchiquin. He was the successor of Gerald FitzGerald, 14th Earl of Desmond. He assumed the title of Earl of Desmond, which had been suppressed in 1582 after the Desmond Rebellions. He spent much of his life in captivity, and was temporarily, but unsuccessfully, restored to the earldom in 1600–01 by the English in an attempt to pacify Munster during the Nine Years War. He thus became the 1st Earl of Desmond, but soon returned to England, where he died in obscurity.

Earl of Desmond: third and fourth creation

See also: Earl of Denbigh

The third creation was in 1619 for Richard Preston, 1st Lord Dingwall, who was also created Baron Dunmore.

The fourth creation happened while Preston was still alive, in 1622 for George Feilding, 1st Viscount Callan, second son of the Earl of Denbigh and nephew of James I's favourite and lover, George Villiers. The eight year old Feilding was given the right to the title Earl of Desmond as and when Preston died without a male heir. Preston had also been a favourite and probably lover of James I; he had a daughter who, the plan was, George Feilding would marry, but this did not happen. In 1628 Preston died and George was made Earl of Desmond by Charles I (Preston's Scottish Lordship of Dingwall passed to his daughter Elizabeth, the Duchess of Ormond).[6]

George Feilding's eldest son, the second Earl of Desmond, also inherited the title of third Earl of Denbigh after his uncle, the second Earl of Denbigh, died childless. The title Earl of Desmond has descended subsequently with the title Earl of Denbigh and the current holder is the twelfth Earl of Denbigh and eleventh Earl of Desmond.

Desmond Geraldine arms

Relief of coat of arms of the FitzGerald of Desmond (showing the saltire) in Buttevant Friary
Relief of coat of arms of the FitzGerald of Desmond (showing the saltire) in Buttevant Friary

The coat of arms of the Geraldine Earls of Desmond, blazoned ermine a saltire gules,[7] where the ermine tincture is a mark of cadency relative to the senior Kildare branch of the Geraldines (whose arms are more simply blazoned "argent, a saltire gules"). The crest shows a man in armour on horseback, facing to the right.[8]

Shanid Castle, from which the Desmond Geraldines derived their motto, "Shanid abu"
Shanid Castle, from which the Desmond Geraldines derived their motto, "Shanid abu"

The motto appearing beneath the Desmond arms was "Shanid abu" (Shanid to victory) a reference to the Desmond stronghold of Shanid Castle.[9]

Ancestry of the Desmond Geraldines

Thomas FitzMaurice, Lord O'Connelloe, was the progenitor of the Geraldine House of Desmond, and thus the patrilineal ancestor of the Barons Desmond, and of the earls of Desmond of the first creation.

Thomas FitzMaurice was the son of Maurice FitzGerald, Lord of Lanstephan, founder of the Irish Geraldines. Through Maurice's mother Nest ferch Rhys ap Tewdwr, the House of Desmond traced descent in the female line from the House of Dinefwr.

Over a century after Thomas's death, Gerald FitzGerald, 3rd Earl of Desmond, married Eleanor Butler. Through her, John FitzGerald, 4th Earl of Desmond and all subsequent Geraldine earls of Desmond could trace descent through Eleanor de Bohun to Elizabeth of Rhuddlan, daughter of King Edward I of England of the House of Plantagenet by his queen, Eleanor of Castile of the House of Burgundy.

Barons Desmond (1259)

A memorial at the site of the Battle of Callann, where John FitzThomas FitzGerald, 1st Baron Desmond and his eldest son fell in 1261 while fighting against Fínghin Mac Carthaigh, King of Desmond.
A memorial at the site of the Battle of Callann, where John FitzThomas FitzGerald, 1st Baron Desmond and his eldest son fell in 1261 while fighting against Fínghin Mac Carthaigh, King of Desmond.
Dominican Priory of North Abbey, Youghal, founded in 1268 by Thomas FitzMaurice FitzGerald, 2nd Baron Desmond

Earls of Desmond, first creation (1329)

Authors have numbered the earls of the first creation from 1 to 14, 1 to 15, or 1 to 16, depending on whether Nicholas, an "idiot",[10] is included as 3rd Earl, and whether John, the de facto 12th Earl (died 1536) and James FitzGerald, de jure 12th Earl of Desmond (died 1540), are both numbered 12 or are numbered 12 and 13. Wikipedia numbers the earls 1 to 14 omitting the "idiot" and numbering John de facto and James de jure both as 12, following Cokayne (1916)[11] and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004).[12][13] Burke (1866), Webb (1878) and the Dictionary of national Biography (1889) admit 15, and Bagwell (1885) 16 earls of the first creation.

White Rose of York, from a manuscript of Edward IV of England. In 1462, Thomas FitzGerald, 7th Earl of Desmond, won a Yorkist victory in the Battle of Piltown, the only battle of the Wars of the Roses fought in Ireland.
White Rose of York, from a manuscript of Edward IV of England. In 1462, Thomas FitzGerald, 7th Earl of Desmond, won a Yorkist victory in the Battle of Piltown, the only battle of the Wars of the Roses fought in Ireland.
Desmond Castle, built in Kinsale about 1500 by Maurice FitzGerald, 9th Earl of Desmond.
Carrigafoyle Castle, a Geraldine stronghold during the Second Desmond Rebellion, captured by the English in 1580
Carrigafoyle Castle, a Geraldine stronghold during the Second Desmond Rebellion, captured by the English in 1580
The cannons of Reginald's Tower helped repel the forces of Perkin Warbeck and Maurice FitzGerald, 9th Earl of Desmond from Waterford in 1495.[14]
The cannons of Reginald's Tower helped repel the forces of Perkin Warbeck and Maurice FitzGerald, 9th Earl of Desmond from Waterford in 1495.[14]
Lismore Castle, where the Book of Lismore, owned by Catherine FitzGerald, was discovered.
Lismore Castle, where the Book of Lismore, owned by Catherine FitzGerald, was discovered.

Pretender to the first creation (1598)

Earls of Desmond, second creation (1600)

Earls of Desmond, third creation (1619)

Earls of Desmond, fourth creation (1622)

For subsequent Earls of Desmond (title held with the title Earl of Denbigh), see List of Earls of Denbigh and Earls of Desmond.

Notes

  1. ^ Debrett 1840, p. 217: "Arms: Argent, on a fesse azure, three fusils or."
  2. ^ Cokayne 1916, pp. 232–258
  3. ^ Cokayne 1916, pp. 232–258
  4. ^ Tompsett 2005, FitzGerald, Maurice FitzThomas, Earl of Desmond 1st
  5. ^ Cokayne 1916, pp. 237–240
  6. ^ "275" . Page:The Complete Peerage Ed 2 Vol 4.djvu – via Wikisource.
  7. ^ Cokayne 1916, p. 237, note (a): "The arms of the earls of Desmond were, Ermine, a saltire Gules."
  8. ^ Walter FitzGerald: Buttevant—The Franciscan Abbey. In: Journal of the Association for the Preservation of Memorials of the Dead in Ireland. Vol 6, 1904–1906, p. 443.
  9. ^ Webb 1878, p. 136, right column: "The war cry of the Desmonds was 'Shanet-a-boo!' 'Shanid [castle] to victory!' "
  10. ^ Cokayne 1916, p. 243: "Nicholas (Fitz Morice), next br. [brother] and h. [heir], aged 19 or 20 at his brother's death. He was an idiot ..."
  11. ^ Cokayne 1916, p. 232–254.
  12. ^ Cokayne 1916, p. 252: "14. GERALD FITZJAMES (FITZGERALD), EARL OF DESMOND, called the Rebel Earl ..."
  13. ^ McGurk 2004, p. [1].
  14. ^ "Reginald Tower (Closed at present for essential maintenance)".

References