FITZGERALD, John, 18th Earl of Kildare [I] (c.1661-1707), of Caversham Park, Oxon.
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Family and Education
b. c.1661, o. s. of Wentworth Fitzgerald†, 17th Earl of Kildare [I], by Lady Elizabeth, da. of John Holles, 2nd Earl of Clare. educ. Oxf. Univ. DCL 1683. m. (1) aft. Aug. 1682, Mary (d. 1683), da. of Henry O’Brien†, Ld. Ibrackan, 1s. d.v.p.; (2) lic. 12 June 1684 (with £10,000), Lady Elizabeth (d. 1758), da. and coh. of Richard Jones*, 1st Earl of Ranelagh [I], s.p. suc. fa. as 18th Earl 5 Mar. 1664.
Succeeding his father at the age of four, Kildare was left to the care of his mother, and then, following her death in 1666, of his grandmother, the dowager Lady Clare. In February 1682 his name was variously linked with a daughter of Lady Clancarty, and with a lady in the west of England who had ‘great expectations’. In August 1682 a match was afoot with Lord Chesterfield’s daughter, but in fact Kildare married into another Anglo-Irish family. He attended James, Duke of York on his visit to Oxford University in June 1683, when he was made a DCL. A year later, he took as his second wife the daughter of Lord Ranelagh, who brought a fortune as well as valuable political connexions, though her amorous intrigues made her a butt of satirists. At this time, Lord Arran wrote to Ormond:
my Lord Ranelagh threatened that my Lord Kildare, whom, it seems, he governs now, shall petition the council board there [in Ireland] for recovering a debt at law due to me by the late Lord of Kildare above 20 years ago. I knew the time indeed when, for fear of his lordship, judges durst not do justice, I mean in the exchequer, but I hope his lordship’s power is not so great now. I have all my Lord Kildare’s estate in my possession.
Evidently Kildare recovered his Irish property, but he preferred to reside at Caversham, and in 1687 he entertained Mary of Modena on her way to Bath. As he did not attend James II’s Irish parliament of 1689, Kildare’s estates were temporarily sequestered by the Jacobites.1
In 1694 Kildare was returned for Tregony at a by-election, on the interest of either Hugh Boscawen I*, who had married Kildare’s cousin the previous year, or Hon. Francis Robartes*, the husband of Kildare’s sister, or perhaps both. Kildare made no recorded speech and did not appear on any parliamentary list. In September 1695 he was summoned to attend the Irish house of lords, and did not stand at the English general election of that year. He travelled to Montpellier, France in December, and was still abroad in April 1700 when he was reported to be keeping ‘open house for all the Irish’ in Bruges. In March 1705 a private Act was passed to sell part of his estates. Kildare died on 9 Nov. 1707, Lady Rachel Russell reporting eight days later ‘no will is found of Lord Kildare, so, as yet the Duke of St. Albans is defeated. He had told him [the Duke] that Saturday at dinner that he was heir to all in his power to give, went home, found himself ill, called for music, made them play till he died.’ A will was found, George Rodney Brydges* being one of his executors, and Kildare was succeeded in his title by his cousin Robert Fitzgerald.2