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Fitzgerald, Lord Edward

Fitzgerald, Lord Edward (1763–98). Irish patriot. Fitzgerald was born into one of the wealthiest and most esteemed families of the Irish aristocracy: his father was James, 1st duke of Leinster. He was MP for Athy in the Irish House of Commons (1783), transferring in 1790 to Co. Kildare. An enthusiastic Francophile and more radical than most of his parliamentary contemporaries, he came to regard Parliament as unreformable, and turned instead to the United Irish Society: after several years of close communication with its leaders, he was inducted into the society in 1796. He narrowly escaped capture when troops raided the meeting-place of the United Irish executive in March 1798. Although this venture enhanced his reputation within the movement and left him as its military leader, he proved to be highly indecisive. He was eventually arrested and mortally wounded on 19 May: his death on 4 June simultaneously freed Dublin castle from its most charismatic opponent, and the United Irish Society from the shackles of caution.

Alvin Jackson

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Fitzgerald, Lord Edward

Lord Edward Fitzgerald, 1763–98, Irish revolutionary; son of James Fitzgerald, 20th earl of Kildare and 1st duke of Leinster (see Kildare, James Fitzgerald, 20th earl of). After an early career in the army and the Irish House of Commons, Lord Edward, attracted by the French Revolution, went (1792) to Paris and was expelled from the British army for his avowed republicanism. Returning home, he joined the United Irishmen, whom he pledged to assist as commander in chief of their rebel army. In 1796 he went to Basel to negotiate French aid for the planned Irish uprising. On the eve of the rebellion of 1798 he was betrayed by an informer and arrested; he died of wounds sustained at his arrest.

See biography by T. Moore (1831); S. Tillyard, Citizen Lord (1998).

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