FITZGERALD, Lord William Charles O'Brien (1793-1864).

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press



23 Mar. 1814 - 1831

Family and Education

b. 4 Jan. 1793, 3rd but 2nd surv. s. of William Robert, 2nd duke of Leinster [I] (d. 1804), and Hon. Emilia Olivia St. George, da. of St. George, 1st Bar. St. George [I]. educ. by Rev. John Smith at Woodnesborough, nr. Sandwich, Kent; Eton 1805-8; Christ Church, Oxf. 1810. unm. d. 8 Dec. 1864.

Offices Held


Fitzgerald, a contemporary of Lord John Russell* at Woodnesborough, had joined Brooks’s, sponsored by Lord Holland, 16 Mar. 1813.1 On coming of age the following year he had been seated for county Kildare on his family’s dominant interest. At the 1820 general election he was again returned unopposed.2 A regular but mostly silent attender, he continued to vote with the Whig opposition to the Liverpool ministry on most major issues, including economy, retrenchment and reduced taxation, although after 1825 he was frequently abroad.3 During a debate on the conduct of the Dublin sheriff, 22 Feb. 1821, he made a ‘single observation’, which ‘caused great cheering in the House’ but was ‘inaudible in the gallery’.4 He voted for Catholic claims, 28 Feb. 1821, 1 Mar., 21 Apr., 10 May 1825. He divided for parliamentary reform, 9 May 1821, and inquiry into the Scottish royal burghs, 20 Feb. 1822. On 27 Mar. 1823 he spoke in support of a petition against the coal duties. At the 1826 dissolution he was in Paris and unable to leave owing to ‘severe indisposition’, but he was returned unopposed in absentia as ‘a liberal’.5 He was granted a month’s leave after serving on an election committee, 19 Mar. 1827. He voted for Catholic claims, 6 Mar. 1827, 12 May 1828, and brought up a favourable petition, 7 May 1828. He presented petitions for Catholic emancipation, 16 Feb., 27 Mar., and divided accordingly, 6, 30 Mar. 1829. He presented one from the Kildare grand jury for the repeal of a road toll, 9 Apr. 1829. There is no record of any parliamentary activity in the 1830 session.

At the 1830 general election he rushed back from Italy in time for the nomination, where he promised to support reform and welcomed the ‘wonderful and gratifying events’ in France, which had delayed his journey home. He topped the poll after a two-day contest.6 He was listed by the Wellington ministry among the ‘bad doubtfuls’ and voted against them on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830. He presented a petition demanding equal treatment for Catholics and Protestants with regard to the Galway franchise, 9 Dec. 1830. He voted for the second reading of the Grey ministry’s reform bill, 22 Mar., and against Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831. At the ensuing dissolution he retired from Parliament, citing his 15 years’ service.7 In September 1859 Greville recorded passing a day with him ‘seeing the town’ of Dublin, where ‘he took me over the old Leinster House, now the Royal Institution, and then to the bank to see the old House of Lords’.8 He died unmarried at Harcourt Terrace, Dublin in December 1864.9

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Philip Salmon


  • 1. Walpole, Russell, i. 13.
  • 2. Dublin Evening Post, 9, 25 Mar. 1820.
  • 3. Black Bk. (1823), 155; Session of Parl. 1825, p. 463.
  • 4. The Times, 22 Feb. 1821.
  • 5. Dublin Evening Post, 10, 17, 29 June 1826.
  • 6. Ibid. 29 July, 10, 19, 21 Aug. 1830.
  • 7. Ibid. 28 Apr., 3 May 1831.
  • 8. Greville Mems. vii. 437-8.
  • 9. Gent. Mag. (1865), i. 124.