The Lord FitzGerald and Vesey
President of the Board of Trade
In office
11 June 1828 – 2 February 1830
MonarchGeorge IV
Prime MinisterThe Duke of Wellington
Preceded byCharles Grant
Succeeded byJohn Charles Herries
President of the Board of Control
In office
23 October 1841 – 17 May 1843
Prime MinisterSir Robert Peel, Bt
Preceded byThe Lord Ellenborough
Succeeded byThe Earl of Ripon
Personal details
Born(1783-07-24)24 July 1783
Died11 May 1843(1843-05-11) (aged 59)
Belgrave Square, London
Political partyTory
Alma materChrist Church, Oxford

William Vesey-FitzGerald, 2nd Baron FitzGerald and Vesey, PC, PC (Ire), FRS, FSA (24 July 1783 – 11 May 1843) was an Irish statesman. A Tory he served in the governments of Lord Wellington and Robert Peel but is best known for his defeat in the 1828 Clare by-election, hastening Catholic Emancipation across Britain and Ireland.

Background and education

FitzGerald was the elder son of James FitzGerald and Catherine, 1st Baroness FitzGerald and Vesey, daughter of Reverend Henry Vesey. He was educated at Christ Church, Oxford.[1] Through his father he was of both Old English and Gaelic Irish descent.

Political career

FitzGerald first entered parliament in 1808 as member for Ennis (succeeding his father), a seat he held until October 1812, when he was replaced by his father, and again between January 1813 and 1818. He was implicated in the scandal involving the Duke of York and his mistress Mary Anne Clarke, but after bringing valuable evidence of the case the courts he was rewarded when he was appointed a Lord of the Irish Treasury and sworn of the Irish Privy Council in 1810. In 1812 he was admitted to the British Privy Council and made a Lord of the Treasury in England, Chancellor of the Irish Exchequer and First Lord of the Irish Treasury. He held the Irish offices until they were merged with the English treasury in 1816. In 1820 FitzGerald was returned to Parliament for Clare, which constituency he represented until 1828. In 1820 he was appointed Ambassador to Sweden. He tried to make the Swedish King, Charles XIV John, repay the large sums of money given to him during the Napoleonic Wars, but this was to no avail and he returned to Britain in 1823. He served as Paymaster of the Forces under successively Lord Liverpool, George Canning and Lord Goderich between 1826 and 1828.[1]

In 1828 the Duke of Wellington appointed him President of the Board of Trade and Treasurer of the Navy. This required him to contest the Clare constituency once again, but he was defeated. The election was noteworthy in terms of Irish history because it led directly to Catholic Emancipation spearheaded by his successor, Daniel O'Connell as a result of his win. However, FitzGerald managed to get elected for Newport in 1829, and served as President of the Board of Trade and Treasurer of the Navy until February 1830, when he resigned. He briefly represented Lostwithiel in 1830 and then Ennis from 1831 until 1835.[1]

FitzGerald succeeded his mother as second Baron FitzGerald and Vesey in 1832. As this was an Irish peerage it did not entitle him to a seat in the House of Lords. However, in 1835 he was created Baron FitzGerald, of Desmond and of Clan Gibbon in the County of Cork, in the Peerage of the United Kingdom, and was able to take a seat in the House of Lords. He again held office as President of the Board of Control under Sir Robert Peel between 1841 and 1843. Apart from his political career FitzGerald was Lord Lieutenant of County Clare from 1831 to 1843, a trustee of the British Museum, President of the Institute of Irish Architects and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.[1]

Personal life

Lord FitzGerald and Vesey died in May 1843, aged 59. He was unmarried and on his death the barony of 1835 became extinct. He was succeeded in the Irish title by his younger brother, Henry. Lord FitzGerald and Vesey's illegitimate son Sir William Vesey-FitzGerald became a successful Conservative politician.


  1. ^ a b c d Stephen, Leslie, ed. (1889). "Fitzgerald, William Vesey" . Dictionary of National Biography. 19. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
Parliament of the United Kingdom Preceded byJames FitzGerald Member of Parliament for Ennis 1808 – 1812 Succeeded byJames FitzGerald Member of Parliament for Ennis 1813 – 1818 Succeeded bySpencer Perceval Preceded bySir Edward O'Brien, Bt Augustine FitzGerald Member of Parliament for Clare 1818 – 1828 With: Sir Edward O'Brien, Bt 1818–1826Lucius O'Brien 1826–1828 Succeeded byLucius O'Brien Daniel O'Connell Preceded byJonathan Raine Hon. Charles Greatheed Bertie Percy Member of Parliament for Newport (Cornwall) 1829 – 1830 With: Jonathan Raine Succeeded byJonathan Raine John Doherty Preceded byViscount Valletort Edward Cust Member of Parliament for Lostwithiel 1830 With: Edward Cust Succeeded byEdward Cust Viscount Valletort Preceded byWilliam Smith O'Brien Member of Parliament for Ennis 1831 – 1832 Succeeded bySir Augustine Fitzgerald, Bt Political offices Preceded byHon. William Wellesley-Pole Chancellor of the Irish Exchequer 1812–1816 Succeeded byNicholas Vansittart Preceded byCharles Long Paymaster of the Forces 1826–1828 Succeeded byJohn Calcraft Preceded byCharles Grant President of the Board of Trade 1828–1830 Succeeded byJohn Charles Herries Treasurer of the Navy 1828–1830 Succeeded byThomas Frankland Lewis Preceded byThe Lord Ellenborough President of the Board of Control 1841–1843 Succeeded byThe Earl of Ripon Diplomatic posts Preceded byThe Viscount Strangford Ambassador to Sweden 1820–1823 Succeeded bySir Benjamin Bloomfield Honorary titles New office Lord Lieutenant of Clare 1831–1843 Succeeded bySir Lucius O'Brien, Bt Peerage of Ireland Preceded byCatherine FitzGerald Baron FitzGerald and Vesey 1832–1843 Succeeded byHenry Vesey-FitzGerald Peerage of the United Kingdom New creation Baron FitzGerald 1835–1843 Extinct