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FitzMaurice, 1st Baron of Offaly Gerald

Male Abt 1150 - Bef 1204  (~ 54 years)

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  • Name FitzMaurice, Gerald 
    Title 1st Baron of Offaly 
    Born Abt 1150  Windsor, Berkshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Gender Male 
    Died Bef 15 Jan 1203/04  Offaly, Kildare, Ireland Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    Person ID I40029  Bob Juch's Kin
    Last Modified 8 Jan 2018 

    Father FitzGerald, Maurice,   b. Abt 1100, Windsor, Berkshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Aft 1 Sep 1176  (Age ~ 76 years) 
    Relationship natural 
    Mother de Montgomery, Alice,   b. 1115, Munster, Ireland Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Relationship natural 
    Family ID F6859  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family de Bermingham, Eve,   b. 1165, Offaly, Kildare, Ireland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Bef Dec 1226  (Age < 61 years) 
    Married Abt 1193  [1
     1. FitzGerald, Maurice,   b. Abt 1190, Offaly, Kildare, Ireland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1257, Franciscan Friary, Youghal, Ireland Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 67 years)  [natural]
    Last Modified 8 Jan 2018 
    Family ID F13419  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - Abt 1150 - Windsor, Berkshire, England Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 

  • Notes 
    • THE JOURNAL OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY OF ANTIQUARIES OF IRELAND FOR THE YEAR1914 PAPERS AND PROCEEDINGS - PART 11, VOL.XLIV PAPERS The Fitzgeralds Barons of Offaly BYGODDA RD H. ORPEN, M.R.I.A., Member [Read 24 February 1914] When studying afresh the pedigree of the barons of Offaly, from whom sprang the great house of the earls of Kildare, and, more recently, the dukes of Leinster, I was at the outset puzzled to know how they first became entitled to lands in Offaly. Strongbow, cantred of Offelan, the cantred in which Naas is situated, and this district was quite distinct from Offaly. Moreover, about the same time, Strongbow granted Offaly to Robert de Birmingham. The eldest son of Maurice Fitzgerald was William FitzMaurice, who inherited the lands in Offelan granted to his father, and was confirmed in them by John, Lord of Ireland, in 1185. He was known as Baron of Naas. William gave half the cantred to his brother Gerald FitzMaurice. who thus obtained lands in Offelan, with centers at Maynooth and Rathmore. This grant was also confirmed by John in the reign of Henry II. But besides these lands, and certain lands about Croom (Limerick), in Imokilly, and elsewhere, with which we are not here concerned, as early as 1199 Gerald was in possession of the lands of Lea and Geashill. These places are in Offaly, and gave names to the principal Geraldine manors there. About September, 1199, they were claimed against Gerald FitzMaurice by one Maurice FitzPhilip, who seems to have been an official of King John. It does not seem worth while to make a conjecture about this claim, which is obscurely stated, and appears to have failed. About the same time the King granted letters of protection to Gerald, his chattels, men, and possessions, and at any rate it is clear from a mandate in the Patent Roll (5 John) that at Gerald's death, shortly before January 15, 1204, he was seized in his demesne as of fee of the castles of Lea and Geashill, Gerald FitzMaurice I, then, is rightly regarded as first baron of Offaly. Even this bare statement of facts would naturally lead us to inquire whether Gerald did not obtain his lands in Offaly by a marriage with a daughter of the house of De Birmingham. He is indeed stated by Gilbert to have married a daughter of Hamo de Valognes, who was justiciar c.1197, but no authority is given for this statement, and I have been unable to find any support for it, While endeavoring to trace the devolution of Offaly, however, I have been led to the following conclusions:-first, that Gerald did, as a matter of fact, marry Eva de Birmingham, presumably daughter of Robert de Birmingham, first grantee of Offaly; that she was the mother of Maurice FitGerald II, second baron of Offaly, and that it was presumably through this marriage the family first acquired lands in Offaly; and secondly, that the heir of Maurice FitzGerald, second baron of Offaly, was not, as usually stated, his son Maurice FitzMaurice, but his grandson, Maurice FitzGerald III, son of an elder son, Gerald, who died in his father's lifetime, c.1243, that this grandson, who married as his second wife Agnes de Valence, the King's cousin, and was drowned in the Irish Channel in 1268. was the third baron of Offaly, and was succeeded in the barony by his son; and that Maurice FitzMaurice, who died in 1286, was never baron of Offaly at all. These are the main new points I hope to establish in this paper. In dealing with the early pedigree of the Geraldines, it must be borne in mind that throughout the thirteenth century, at any rate, the family had no fixed surname. Members of the family are always designated in the contemporary documents by personal patronymies, changing with each generation. Thus in Latin documents we read of Mauricius filius Geraldi, Geraldus filius Mauricii, Thomas filius Maurieii, Johannes filius Thome, andc. So it was in French, substituting fiz (fitz) for filius and eve nearly Irish writers, though more ready to fix on a permanent patronymic, speak of Mac Muiris as well as Mac Gerailt. Neglect of this custom has contributed to the confusion which has beset the early steps in the pedigree of some branches, and yet the custom, if borne in mind, assists rather than impedes the correct affiliation of individuals. As, however, the names Maurice, Gerald, Thomas, and John recur more than once in the same or in different branches of the family, we must be on our guard against hasty identifications from identity of name. Dates must of course be carefully noted; but even but even accurate dates often fail to distinguish different individuals of the same name, and then the most important clue to identity is often to be found in the careful tracing of the devolution of lands in the various lines. For the purpose of this paper it will be necessary to follow out the devolution of Offaly. On the death of Gerald FitzMaurice, first baron of Offaly, his heir, as will presently appear, was his son Maurice FitzGerald, then a minor of about nine years of age. There was therefore a long minority. On January 15, 1204, the custody of the castles of Lea and Geashill, and the wardship of Gerald's heir, were assigned to Earl William Marshal as lord of Leinster. Early in 1207, William Marshal went to Ireland, where dissensions had arisen between the justiciar, Meiler, FitzHenry, and the barons of Leinster and Meath. It appears that Meiler, acting on the King's order, had taken Offaly into the King's hand, and that this and other high-handed proceedings had incensed the barons against him. On May 23, 1207, the King reprimanded the barons for presuming to create a new assize without his consent, and for demanding that the justiciar should restore Offaly. In my Ireland under the Normans (vol. ii, pp. 209-215) I have endeavored to piece together the story of the discord between the earl and the justiciar, as far as it can be gathered from L'Histoire de Guillaume le Marhal, and from allusions in the records, and I need not here repeat it. Suffice it is to say that in March, 1208, the earl made his peace with the King who ordered Meiler to give seisin to the earl of the land of Offaly, with its castles. Maurice FitzGerald II appears to have come of age shortly before July 5, 1215, when he made a fine with the King of 60 marks to have the lands of Gerald, his father, in Ireland, with the castles of Crumeth (Croom), and of Dungarvan, in Oglassin (in Imokilly). On November 26, 1216, one of the first acts of the new King, or rather of Earl William Marshal, "rector regis et regne, " was to order Geoffrey de Marisco, the justiciar, to "cause Maurice FitzGerald to have seis in of the land of Maynooth, and of the lands whereof Gerald, his father, died seized in Ireland." Nothing is said expressly about Lea and Geashill, or the lands of Offaly. It is not until the close of 1226 that we get a clue as to what had become of Offaly. It is, perhaps, not irrelevant to note that at this time the second Earl William Marshal, then lord of Leinster, was at enmity with Geoffrey de Marisco, who, in the preceding June, had superseded the earl as justiciar, the earl, as I have elsewhere shown, being strongly opposed to the new policy of confiscation which Geoffrey was appointed to carry out with regard to the King of Connacht. On December 10, 1226, the King issued a mandate to the "barons, knights, and free-tenants of Leinster" touching a plaint before the court of William Earl Marshal between Maurice FitzGerald, plaintiff, and Geoffrey de Marisco, justiciar of Ireland, defendant. Now, this mandate is preceded by a noteworthy preamble stating in general terms the law applicable to the case. I give this preamble and mandate as rendered from the Patent Roll, inserting in square brackets what I conceive to be its application to the case in question. After referring to King John's having ordained that English laws should be in force in Ireland, the preamble proceeds as follows:- "Whereas the law and custom of England is that if a man [in this case Geoffrey de Marisco] marry a woman [Eva de Birmingham], whether widow [as in the case if Eva] or other, having an inheritance [Offaly], and he afterwards have issue by her [Robert de Marisco and perhaps other issue]whose cry shall be heard within four walls, that man, if he survive his said wife, shall have for his life the custody of his wife's inheritance, even though she may have an heir of full age [Maurice FitzGerald] by a former husband [Gerald FitzMaurice]. We therefore command you that in the plaint which is in the court of Earl William Marshal, between Maurice Fitzgerald, plaintiff, and Geoffrey de Marisco, our justiciar of Ireland, defendant, or in any like case, ye in no wise presume to give judgment to the contrary. Witness the King at Westminster, 10 December [1226]." Now there is no doubt that Geoffrey de Marisco married Eva de Birmingham. She was his wife in February 1218, and was still his wife in June, 1223. It would seem then to follow that Eva de Birmingham was the mother of Maurice FitzGerald, and therefore had been wife of Gerald FitzMaurice. On no other supposition does the statement of law appear relevant to the case. The lands being in Leinster, and of the heritance of Eva de Birmingham, were presumably in Offaly. Thus our conjecture that Gerald FitzMaurice obtained Lea and Geashill, in Offaly, by a Birmingham marriage receives curious confirmation. If these lands were inherited by Eva de Birmingham, she would have been entitled to hold them of the Marshals, lords of Leinster, for her life. She died ex hypothesi shortly before the plaint was brought by her son and heir, Maurice FitzGerald, to recover the lands against Geoffrey; but the King intervened with a statement of the law, and Geoffrey remained entitled by "the curtsey of England." But let us examine the circumstances a little more closely, and, in the first place, see how the dates work out. As Maurice FitzGerald came of age about 1215, he was born about 1194, and Eva was married to Gerald, his father, probably in or shortly before 1193. Gerald was dead in January 1204, and we next hear an Eva de Birmingham - presumably the same Eva-as the wife of Geoffrey FitzRobert, who mentions her as his wife in two deeds, to which Hugh le Rous, Bishop of Ossory (1202-1218), was one of the witnesses. He was, perhaps, the Geoffrey FitzRobert who was the second husband of Basilia, widow of Raymond le Gros, and at any rate he was one of William Marshal's most trusted vassals. He held from him the barony of Kells, in Ossory, and, early in the thirteenth century, was his seneschal of Leinster. He died in 1211, leaving Eva free to marry as her third husband Geoffrey de Marisco. The Birmingham pedigree at this time is unfortunately obscure. With the exception of Robert de Birmingham, Strongbow's feoffee of Offaly, and this Eva, we hear of no one of the name in Ireland until about the year 1234, when mention is made of the land of Peter de Birmingham in Tethmoy. This Peter sided against Richard Marshal in this year, took part in the conquest of Connacht in the next, and in 1245 joined the expedition in aid of King Henry at Gannoe, in North Wales - in all three cases following the lead of Maurice FitzGerald. I think he held his lands in Tethmoy as tenant of Maurice FitzGerald, and did not inherit them from Robert de Birmingham. It is noteworthy that the Birminghams, both in Leinster and in Connacht, were always surnamed by the Irish "Mac Fheorais," i.e. FitzPiers, and probably this Peter was the cponym of the clan. I conclude, then, that Eva, whether daughter or grand-daughter of Robert de Birmingham, was sole heiress of Offaly, and brought nominally the whole of it to her heir, Maurice FitzGerald II. There were indeed parts of Offaly in which the Normans never settled, but the early occupation was not confined to Lea (Clanmalier), Geashill, and Tethmoy. John FitzThomas of Desmond held the tuath of Oregan (ui Riagain), in Offaly, of Maurice Fitz Gerald III (to be mentioned later)for the moiety of the service of one knight with suit of court at Geashill. According to the interpretation I have given of the mandate of December 10, 1226, Geoffrey de Marisco would, in ordinary course, have retained possession of Lea and Geashill up to his death. Now, eight years later, in consequence of the part he took against the Crown in the war of Richard Marshal, Geoffrey was thrown into prison, and his lands taken into the King's hands. Maurice FitzGerald took the leading part against Richard Marshal, and was rewarded by the King. It is clear from what follows that Maurice now obtained some lands of his which Geoffrey had held - and these lands were presumably Lea and Geashill. In September, 1234, when peace was made by the King at Marlborough between Gilbert Marshal and his brothers of the other part, and the community of Magnates of Ireland of the other part, the King granted to Maurice Fitzgerald that, notwithstanding the peace so made, he should have judgment of the King's Court touching certain tenements which Geoffrey de Marisco and others held of his (Maurice's) tenements. These tenements, we may infer with probability, were Lea and Geashill. Perhaps Geoffrey, facilitated the matter by surrendering the tenements to Maurice, for when, on August 3 1235, the King remitted his ire against Geoffrey, and ordered seisin to be given to him of his lands, he did so, "saving to the justiciar[Maurice] the lands which Geoffrey granted to him." But if the conclusion that Eva de Birmingham, before she married Geoffrey de Marisco, was the wife of Gerald FitzMaurice should still seem no more than a plausible conjecture, fitting in with and explaining several facts indeed, but perhaps leaving open a chink for the admission of some other possible explanation, the following document - the last I shall quote on this point - will, I think , clinch the matter. On August 19 1240, Maurice FitzGerald, the justiciar of Ireland, was granted provisionally "the custody of the land in Kerry which belonged to Robert de Mariscis who was the justiciar's brother, and the custody of Robert's heir." It is clear from this that Maurice FitzGerald, the justiciar in 1240, and Robert de Mariseis, were brothers of the half-blood, i.e. that they had the same mother. There can be little doubt that Robert de Mariscis was a son of Geoffrey de Marisco, or de Mariscis- the name is written in both ways - and bearing in mind what we have already established, the conclusion is irresistible: the mother of both Maurice and Robert was Eva de Birmingham. To pass now to my second point, viz., that the heir of Maurice Fitzgerald, second baron of Offaly, was not his son known as Maurice FitzMaurice, but his grandson, another Maurice FitzGerald, son of his eldest son Gerald. This will perhaps be most conclusively shown by following out the devolution of Offaly; but it will be best to take first the crucial document which, properly understood, really settles the point. This document is calendered from the Close Roll, 42 Henry III, but not quite correctly, by Sweetman. Feeling great doubt about the correctness of the fifth line in Sweetman's abstract, which speaks of "the minority of Maurice, son and heir of the said Maurice FitzGerald, "I obtained from my friend Mr. Philip H. Hore a transcript of the entry in the Close Roll, and I found that the words here (when expanded) are: "ratione Mauricii filii Geraldi filii et heredis predicti Maureii filii Geraldiiqui infra ctatem est." Now in this passage the second filii must, I think, be taken in apposition to the immediately preceding Geraldii, and not to Maurieii, so that we have here four generations-Maurice, son of Gerald, son of Maurice, son of Gerald, which is, I think, correct. If the second filii be taken in apposition to Maurieii, we obtain the intrinsically absurd statement that Maurice, son of Gerald, was son of somebody else, viz., another Maurice, son of Gerald, and it is only through his omitting the first Gerald that this intrinsic absurdity does not appear on the face of Sweetman's abstract. With this emendation, Sweetman's abstract is substantially correct. The document is an agreement made before the King, at Westminster, on Christmas Day, 1257, between the Lord Edward, the King's son, and Margaret, Countess of Lincoln, touching Offaly. The circumstances, partly recited in the document, were as follows:- Margaret, Countess of Lincoln, daughter of Robert de Quincy, Earl of Winchester, was widow of Walter Marshal, late Lord of Leinster (not, as stated in Burke, widow of Maurice Fitzgerald II), and as such she had obtained as dower the whole county of Kildare, and apparently the barony of Offaly. Accordingly, on the death of Maurice FitzGerald, second baron of Offaly, Margaret claimed the custody of the castles and lands of Offaly during the minority of the heir, namely, Maurice, son of the deceased baron's eldest son Gerald. It appears, however, that Maurice, younger (post nalus) son of the deceased baron, claimed the lands as against Maurice, his nephew (nepos suus), by virtue of his father's feoffment, or as his astrarius, or in some other way, and pending the decision of this claim, the Lord Edward would not give seisin to the countess. The agreement then virtually was that if Maurice (post nalus) persisted in his claim, the lands should be assigned to John FitzThomas [of Shanid]3 to hold pending the decision of the Lord Edward's court, and that if Maurice (post nalus) should make good his claim there under the feoffment or otherwise, then he should render fealty and relief to the countess; while if he should not make good his claim, then the lands and castles were to be restored to the custody of the countess during the minority of the heir. It is really quite clear from this document that Maurice FitzMaurice was not, as stated in the received pedigrees, the eldest son and heir of Maurice FitzGerald II, who died in 1257, but a younger son (post nalus), and that the heir was Maurice FitzGerald III, grandson of the deceased, and nephew (nepos) of Maurice FitzMaurice. But, it may be asked, may not Maurice FitzMaurice have made good his claim to Offaly under his father's feoffment, and thus be rightly styled third baron, even though he was not the heir? This question leads to a further correction. The feoffment alluded to appears to have been actually transcribed into the Red Book of the Earl of Kildare, begun in 1503. A sort of table of contents was compiled by William Roberts, Ulster King-at-Arms, and prefixed to a transcript of the Red Book made by him in 1633. This table has been printed in the Appendix to the Ninth Report of the Historical MSS. Commission, but it is incomplete, and sometimes misleading. The feoffment in question is there described as follows (p. 266):-"A graunt from Maurice, the sonne of Gerald, to his sonne Maurice, of all the lands of Offaly, Rathmoore, Fermayle, Carbry, with the castell of Sligath, all the lands of Fernanath, with the castle of Kilwisky, with lands in Tirconnell." Now from various documents, to some of which I shall refer, I was convinced that, as a matter of fact, Offaly did not go to Maurice FitzMaurice, but to his nephew Maurice FitzGerald III, and from him to his son Gerald FitzMaurice III. When recently, by the courtesy of Lord Frederick FitzGerald, I was given an opportunity of examining the Red Book, I turned up the deed in question, and found that it has been misunderstood, and is entirely misrepresented in the above-mentioned table of contents. As it is important to clear up this misconception, and as the deed has never, so far as I know, been printed, I give the essential parts of it here:- "Sciant presentes et futuri quod ego Mauricius filius Geraldi dedi et hacpresenti carta mea confirmani Mauricio filio meo pro homagio et serviciosuo et pro quieto clamio quam [sic] 1 michi fecit de tota terra Offalyecum omnibus suis pertinentiis et de terris de Maynooth Rathmore et deffermayll cum omnibus carum pertinenciis totam terram de Carbry cum Castro de Slygath tam in servicio quam redditibus et omnibus pertinenciissuis totam terram de ffermanath cum castro de Kylwysky2 tam andc. totamterram de Tirconyll tam andc. habendas et tenendas dicto Maurico etheredibus suis de me et heredibus meis iure hereditario libereandc. reddendo andc. unum falconem sorum vel decem solidos sterling andc. Hiistestibus domino Johanne filio Thome domino Johanne Pincerna Phillippode Stantona Mauricio filio Johannis Galfrido de Appilby Galfrido de Norragh Walerano de Wallesley Philippo de Hyntebyria (?) 3 Henrico de Capella Ricardo filio Willielmi Alexandro Crok Johanne filio Roberti Johanne Purcell Alano filio Mathei Ricardo de Santo fflorentio Nicholas de Dunheuyde Johanne le Poer Johanne de Capella Andrea le Poer Willclmode Punchardon Johanne Marescallo Roberto Crok Phillippo Wychecote et aliis." I think it will be seen that this deed is a grant from Maurice Fitzgerald to his son Maurice of certain lands in Sligo, Fermanagh, and Tirconnell, "in consideration of his homage and service, and inconsideration of the quit-claim which he has made to me of all the land of Offaly with all its appurtenances, and of the lands of Maynooth, Rathmore, and Fermayle with all their appurtenances." So far from Offaly, andc., being included in the grant to Maurice FitzMaurice, his giving op to his father all claim to Offaly, andc., was the consideration for the grant of the other lands. The deed was perhaps executed not very long before the death of Maurice FitzGerald in 1257, and, at any rate, after the death of his eldest son Gerald, in 1243, when Maurice FitzMaurice may have been in actual possession of Offaly, asastrarius. Maurice FitzGerald II is said to have taken the habit of a Franciscan monk before his death, and to have died in the monastery which he had founded at Youghal. I have now mentioned two documents - the only two so far as I know-which, as unfortunately described in the printed sources, may have misled previous writers into thinking that Maurice FitzMaurice was heir to his father, Maurice FitzGerald, the justiciar, and - though this is somewhat inconsistent-that Maurice FitzMaurice obtained Offaly by feoffment from his father. I have, however, shown that the documents themselves contain no such indications, but that the first clearly points to Maurice Fitzgerald, the justiciar's grandson, as the justiciar's heir, and the second plainly indicates that Offaly did not pass from the justiciar to his son Maurice. Positive Proof that Offaly passed to the justiciar's grandson and heir, Maurice FitzMaurice III, and that they were therefore third and fourth lords or barons of Offaly, respectively, will appear in the sequel; but it will help to a clearer understanding if we give some notes with regard to the justiciar's eldest son and his descendants, so as to establish the true succession in the senior line. They are not so well known as his second son, Maurice FitzMaurice. Of Gerald, the justiciar's eldest son, we know little. He joined the King's expedition to Poiton in 1242, when he can hardly have been more than twenty-five years of age. He was paid and rewarded for his services, and is said to have died in Gascony in 1243. He left two infant children, a son and heir, Maurice FitzGerald III, and a daughter, Juliana, afterwards married to John de Cogan. There are several grants by Juliana in the Red book, to one of which we may here refer, as it is sufficiently establishes this part of the pedigree. It is a release and quit-claim from "Julianna Cogan, filia Geraldi filii Maurieii," to John FitzThomas, of all her rights, "ratione hereditarie successionis Mauricii filii Geraldi avi mei, Mauricii filii Geraldi fratris mei, et Geraldi filii Mauricii consanguinei mei," and it bears a date in July 1293. Maurice FitzGerald III, who was still a minor in 1257, when his grandfather died, was numbered among the chief magnates of Ireland by 1262. He was implicated in the dissensions which arose in 1264 between the Geraldines and the Burkes, but probably his uncle, Maurice FitzMaurice, was the principal opponent of Walter de Burgh, the newly made Earl of Ulster. He was drowned when crossing the Channel to Ireland in July 1268, when he was about twenty-seven years of age. He was twice married, first to a wife whose name is unknown, by whom he had a son and heir, Gerald, born about February 1265, and secondly in 1266, to Agnes de Valence, the King's cousin. The Limerick lands were settled on this second marriage, but there was no issue from it. There was now another long minority, and he wardship passed from hand to hand. Prince Edward granted the custody to Thomas de Clare, in recognition, no doubt, of the services of the House of Gloucester before and at battle of Evesham. By a deed of March 30, 1270, Thomas de Clare, for a fine of 3500 marks, sold to William de Valence the custody of the lands "which belonged to Maurice FitzGerald [III], deceased, with the marriage of his heirs, the custody of the castle of Leye and the manor of Rathingan." Here it appears plain enough for all to read that Maurice FitzMaurice (who was still alive) did not succeed to the lands in Offaly. Geashill is not specifically mentioned, perhaps because the castle had already been taken by the Irish, or more probably because Lea was "the chief castle of the barony," as stated in another document. From this last, indeed, it appears that Maurice FitzGerald III held the barony of Offaly of the lords of Leix, the chief of whom was Roger de Mortimer, by the service of twelve knights, and in 1274 it was decided before the King that Roger de Mortimer, and Matilda, his wife, were entitled to the "custody of the castle and honor of Leghey (Lea) till the age of Maurice's heirs, Maurice having held the castle and honor of them by knight service." Finally, in December 1283, Geoffrey de Geneville bound himself to William de Valence in 1200 "for the commission of lands of Maurice FitzGerald [III] and for the marriage of Gerald, son and heir of the said Maurice, under age, and in the custody of the said William. "This entry indeed suggests another correction in the received pedigree. It was clearly Gerald FitzMaurice III that married Joan, daughter of Geoffrey de Geneville, and not, as stated in Burke, Gerald FitzMaurice II, who died in 1243, before Geoffrey 's marriage. Gerald FitzMaurice III, fourth baron of Offaly, while not yet quite of age, appears to have led his vassals in the army of the justiciar into Wales in 1283-4, 1 at the time of the final conquest of that country. It was probably while he was absent in Wales that his castle of Lea was taken and burned by the Irish in 1284.2 Next year he was taken prisoner by "his own Irish of Offaly," to whom he was known as "Rothfalyaht" i.e. probably, Ruadh Failgheach, "the Red One of Offaly." In May 1285, he was granted a fair at Maynooth, and in 1287 he died. Accordingly to one (late, but probably correct) account he was slain in battle in Thomond along with Thomas de Clare, the husband of his father's cousin, Juliana. If so, he died on August 29, 1287. At his death he was Capitaneus Geraldinorum, "chief of the Geraldines," but he had only reached the middle of his twenty-third year. I have now, I think, proved the two main points which I set out to prove; but these notes on the Geraldine barons of Offaly would be very incomplete if I did not at least indicate how John FitzThomas(after-wards first earl of Kildare), the fifth and most remarkable of them all, acquired the property and position he held. There can be little doubt that his father, Thomas, was a younger son of Maurice FitzGerald II-younger, probably, than his brother Maurice FitzMaurice. In one of the grants from Juliana de Cogan to John FitzThomas, transcribed in the Red Book, he is called "Johannes filius Thome filii Mauricii." We know little about Thomas FitzMaurice, except that he was given by his brother Maurice "the land of Bennede [Banada], in the cantred of Lune [now Leyny, Sligo], excepting the castle of Rathardereth" [Arderee, in the parish of Kilvarnet], and three villatas of land belonging to the said castle. In 1265 the castles of Bennfhada and Rathairderaibhe [Banada and Arderee] were burned and demolished by Aedh O'Conor; and in 1271 Thomas FitzMaurice died at his brother's castle of Lough Mask. Now at the death, in 1287, of Gerald FitzMaurice, fourth baron of Offaly, his heir was his Aunt, Juliana, widow of John de Cogan; while the heirs of Maurice FitzMaurice, who died in 1286, were his two daughters, Juliana, wife (soon to be widow) of Thomas de Clare, and Amabil, seemingly a widow without children. Juliana de Cogan had a son, John, of full age, or nearly so; and Juliana de Clare had a son, Gilbert, an infant; but the nearest male descendant in the male line of Maurice Fitzgerald II would seem to have been his grandson, John FitzThomas. In recording the death of Gerald FitzMaurice, Capitaneus Geraldinorum, in 1287, Friar Clyn adds, hereditatem suam detit domino Johanni filio Thome filio adwunculi sui." This entry is, of course, not a contemporary one, but it does stand alone. By an inquisition concerning the manor of Athlacca. Limerick, taken in 1310, and transcribed at length in the Red Book, it was found (inter alia) that when Gerald FitzMaurice [III] came of age, and was seized of the manors of Maynooth, Rathangan, and Lea, in the county of Kildare, he enfeoffed John FitzThomas of them to hold to him and his heirs of the chief lords of the fee, together with the reversion of the aforesaid manors in county Limerick, and with all other reversions which might or should revert to himself in any way throughout all Ireland. The document is too long for a complete abstract of it to be here given. Suffice it to say that John FitzThomas did not get seisin of the Limerick manors during the lifetime of Gerald FitzMaurice; that the reversions, and c., fell to the lot of Juliana de Cogan, aunt of the said Gerald; and that she afterwards granted and released all her rights to John FitzThomas. There were further complications about the seisin, which John FitzThomas took in an irregular way; but the jury conclude by saying that "they do not know anyone to whom the said manor ought to remain, descend, or revert by hereditary right, or in any other way, unless to the said John FitzThomas." From another document it appears that John FitzThomas, in consideration of his services to Edward I in Scotland and Flanders, and to Edward II in Ireland, was pardoned for his intrusions on the said lands. I could not find any deed of feoffment from Gerald FitzMaurice to John FitzThomas in the Red Book, but as regards Offaly, it contains the following Letters of Attorney - one from Gerald FitzMaurice, lord of Offaly, appointing John, the clerk, formerly provost (preposilus) of Leye, to deliver seisin of the manor of Leye to John FitzThomas or his attorney; and the other from John FitzThomas, authorizing Friar Roger, abbot of Rosglas [Monasterevin], to receive seisin of the manor of Leye. They are both dated at Rathymegan [Rathdangan], the former on the day of SS. John and Paul, a. r. Ed. XV [26 June 1287], and the latter on Tuesday next after the Feast of St. Swithin, a.r. Ed.XV [22 July 1287]. This was only a few weeks before the death of Gerald FitzMaurice. It is clear, however, that John FitzThomas did not rely solely upon the feoffment from Gerald FitzMaurice. He soon set about getting in, so far as he could, all the rights or claims of the female heirs. He does not seem to have acquired the share of Juliana de Clare in the property of Maurice FitzMaurice; but the Red Book contains a great number of grants and releases between the years 1293 and 1297 from Juliana de Cogan and her son, John de Cogan, and from Amabil, daughter of Maurice FitzMaurice, conveying to John FitzThomas all their rights and claims to the succession of the several lands in connacht, Tirconnell, Fermanagh, county Limerick, Imokilly, Offaly, and Maynooth, which belonged to either Gerald FitzMaurice or to Maurice FitzMaurice at their respective deaths. In this way, and by other purchases, and finally by the grant of Kildare from the King, John FitzThomas became the most powerful landholder in Ireland, with the possible exception of his rival and antagonist, the Red Earl of Ulster.

  • Sources 
    1. [S1142] Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 106th Edition, Charles Mosley Editor-in-Chief, (Name: 1999;), 1679.

    2. [S1141] Ancestral Roots of Certain American Colonists, 7th Edition, Frederick Lewis Weis, additions by Walter Lee Shippard Jr., 178-4.