John FitzThomas FitzGerald

Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter XXI

John FitzThomas FitzGerald, Baron of Offaly, was the common ancestor of the two great branches of the Geraldines, whose history is an object of such peculiar interest to the Irish historian. One of his sons, John, was created Earl of Kildare; the other, Maurice, Earl of Desmond.

In 1286 De Burgo laid claim to that portion of Meath which Theobald de Verdun held in right of his mother, the daughter of Walter de Lacy. He besieged De Verdun in his Castle of Athlone, A.D. 1288, but the result has not been recorded. De Toleburne, Justiciary of Ireland, died this year; the King seized on all his property, to pay debts which he owed to the crown. It appears he was possessed of a considerable number of horses.[6]

Jean de Samford, Archbishop of Dublin, administered the affairs of the colony until 1290, when he was succeeded by Sir William de Vesci, a Yorkshire man, and a royal favourite.

In 1289 Carbry O'Melaghlin possessed a considerable amount of power in Meath, and was therefore extremely obnoxious to the English settlers. An army was collected to overthrow his government, headed by Richard Tuite (the Great Baron), and assisted by O'Connor, King of Connaught. They were defeated, and "Tuite, with his kinsmen, and Siccus O'Kelly, were slain."

Immediately after the arrival of the new Lord Justice, a quarrel sprung up between him and FitzGerald, Baron of Offaly. They both appeared before the Council; and if Hollinshed's account may be credited, they used language which would scarcely be tolerated in Billingsgate. FitzGerald proposed an appeal to arms, which was accepted by his adversary. Edward summoned both parties to Westminster. FitzGerald came duly equipped for the encounter, but De Vesci had fled the country. He was, however, acquitted by Parliament, on the ground of informality, and the affair was referred to the royal decision. According to Hollinshed's account, the King observed, that "although de Vesci had conveyed his person to France, he had left his land behind him in Ireland;" and bestowed the lordships of Kildare and Rathangan on his adversary.

Wogan was Viceroy during the close of this century, and had ample occupation pacifying the Geraldines and Burkes—an occupation in which he was not always successful. Thomas FitzMaurice, "of the ape," father of the first Earl of Desmond, had preceded him in the office of Justiciary. This nobleman obtained his cognomen from the circumstances of having been carried, when a child, by a tame ape round the walls of a castle, and then restored to his cradle without the slightest injury.


[6] Horses.—As votaries of the turf may be interested in knowing the appellations of equine favourites in the thirteenth century, we subjoin a sample of their names: Lynst, Jourdan, Feraunt de Trim, Blanchard de Londres, Constable, Obin the Black, &c.