FITZGERALD, Wentworth, 17th Earl of Kildare [I] (1634-64), of Kilkea Castle, co. Kildare.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. 1634, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of George, 16th Earl of Kildare [I], by Lady Joan Boyle, da. of Richard, 1st Earl of Cork [I]. m. c. May 1658 (with £6,000), Lady Elizabeth Holles, da. of John Holles, 2nd Earl of Clare, 1s. 1da. suc. fa. c.1657.1

Offices Held

J.p. Notts. July 1660-1, commr. for assessment Aug. 1660-d., gov. King’s Co. [I] 1661-d.2

Gent. of the privy chamber 166-d., PC [I] 1661-d.3

Capt. of horse [I] 1662-4.4


Lord Kildare’s ancestors were among the original Anglo-Norman invaders of Ireland in the 12th century. Henry VIII broke the wealth and power of the Geraldines, as they were called, and all but exterminated the family. Kildare’s father was brought up in England as a Protestant. He seems to have run through his estate in the first two years of his majority, and in 1642 Maynooth Castle, the old seat of the family, was destroyed by the Catholic rebels, against whom he was in arms as colonel of a regiment. At the Cessation he took service with Parliament, acting as deputy governor of Dublin in 1647. On Cromwell’s arrival in Ireland he lost his regiment; he crossed over to England and spent most of the remaining years of his life a prisoner for debt. In January 1656 it was reported that he had been transferred to the poor side in the Upper Bench, and he probably did not long survive.5

Kildare himself was named after the great lord deputy, presumably before his father went into opposition in the Irish Parliament of 1634. Various small sums were granted to his mother from time to time, but it seems to have been his uncle Roger Boyle (Lord Broghill as he then was) who contrived Kildare’s marriage to a daughter of the wealthy Earl of Clare, probably by arrangement with his political associate William Pierrepont, whose daughter had married Lady Elizabeth’s brother (Gilbert Holles). Kildare, like his younger brother, may have served in the Cromwellian army in Ireland, as he found it necessary to sue out a pardon after the Restoration. He is not known to have had either property or residence in Nottinghamshire, and must have owed his election at East Retford in 1660 entirely to Pierrepont. The first of his family to sit at Westminster, he was not an active Member of the Convention, in which he was named to only six committees and made no recorded speeches. His most important committee was to examine the public debt, and he also served on that for restoring the Marquess of Ormonde to his estates. Kildare probably did not seek re-election. Broghill (now Lord Orrery) had recommended him for a commission in the Irish army. He took his seat in the Irish House of Lords in 1661, and was active both in Parliament and the Privy Council. He was granted compensation of £10,000 for surrendering his hereditary right to the customs of Strangford and Ardglass, and £2,000 of this was paid to Orrery and other trustees to defray his debts and raise portions for his sisters. Kildare died quite unexpectedly of fever on 5 Mar. 1664. His son John, the 18th Earl, sat for Tregony as a Whig from 1694 to 1695.6

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: M. W. Helms / E. R. Edwards


  • 1. CSP Dom. 1658-9, p. 12; Cal. Cl. SP, iv. 76.
  • 2. CSP Ire. 1660-2, p. 381.
  • 3. Carlisle, Privy Chamber, 172.
  • 4. HMC Ormonde, i. 349.
  • 5. Letters of Strafforde ed. Knowler, i. 309; Lismore Paprs. (ser. 2), iv. 267; HMC Egmont, i. 444; HMC Ormonde, ii. 107; CSP Dom. 1655, p. 349; 1655-6, p. 109.
  • 6. Carte, Ormond, i. 132-4; Thurloe, vii. 21; HMC Ormonde, o.s. ii. 398; CSP Ire. 1660-2, p. 537; 1663-5, p. 62; 1669-70, p. 385; Cal. Treas. Bks. i. 497.