FITZGERALD, Lord Henry (1761-1829), of Boyle Farm, Kent and Thames Ditton, Surr.
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Family and Education
b. 30 July 1761, 4th s. of James, 1st Duke of Leinster [I], and bro. of Lords Charles James Fitzgerald* and Robert Stephen Fitzgerald*. educ. privately by William Ogilvie and Dr Thompson. m. 4 Aug. 1791, Charlotte, da. and h. of Hon. Robert Boyle Walsingham, MP [I], 6s. 5da.
MP [I] 1783-97.
Postmaster-gen. [I] Apr. 1806-May 1807; PC [I] 8 July 1806.
Lt. 66 Ft. 1778; capt. 85 Ft. 1779, maj. 1781, lt.-col. 1783, half-pay 1783; capt. and lt.-col. 2 Ft. Gds. 1789, ret. 1792.
Fitzgerald was returned to the Irish parliament for Kildare borough by his eldest brother in 1783 and for Dublin city, as Grattan’s colleague, in 1790. He followed the tradition of his family in opposing administration.1 At that time he was a member of the Prince of Wales’s set. On 7 Nov. 1797 he joined the Whig Club and was described in 1801 as ‘rather tinctured with the principles of Lord Edward’, his ill-fated brother. A Francophile, he went to Paris in 1802. When his cousin Fox came to power in 1806, he was awarded Irish office and his wife created Baroness de Ros in her own right.2
In 1807 he came in for county Kildare on the family interest, as an opponent of administration, though expected to be a ‘feeble’ one,3 and a friend of Catholic relief. He made no known speeches in debate except possibly on the Irish stage coaches bill, 26 Apr. 1811, but appeared in opposition divisions frequently during his first Parliament. Late in 1809 he was the ‘favourite en titre’ of the Princess of Wales and credited with her conversion to opposition politics. Lord Glenbervie described him as ‘a good natured and well bred man but weak, and under agreeable manners covers, in society, as violent and absurd politics as those of ... his late brother, the duke’. By October 1810, whether frightened of the Prince’s displeasure, or regretting his neglect of his family on the death of one of his sons, he stopped seeing the Princess, who thought his behaviour ‘very shabby’: during his ‘reign’, he had at least ‘encouraged the company of clever and agreeable men, from the hopeless ambition, perhaps, of passing for one himself’.4 His last known vote, 2 Mar. 1813, was for Catholic relief, which he had regularly supported: leaves of absence for ill health followed.
In 1814 he vacated his seat to make way for his nephew Lord William. He retired to Boyle Farm where he was ‘surrounded by an affectionate family and numerous friends, who were sure to find under his roof the most cordial reception, and all that was hospitable and convivial’.5 He died 8 July 1829.