Fitzgerald Name History

Fitzgerald Irish Coat of Arms


The surname Fitzgerald is a translation of the French-Norman fils de Gérald, or son of Gerald (Gerald from "ger", spear, and "wald", rule). Variant spellings include Fitz-Gerald and the modern Fitzgerald. The name can also be used as two separate words Fitz Gerald. Its current head is Maurice FitzGerald, 9th Duke of Leinster.

Origins of the Fitzgerald Name

From Wikipedia: The eponymous ancestor of the various FitzGerald branches, as well as of the De Barry family and FitzMaurices, was Gerald FitzWalter of Windsor by his wife, Princess Nest ferch Rhys of Deheubarth (South Wales). Gerald was an Anglo-Norman adventurer who took part in the 1093 invasion of South Wales upon the death in battle of Rhys ap Tewdwr, its last king and Nest's father. Gerald was a younger son of another Norman adventurer, Walter FitzOtho, William the Conqueror's Constable for Windsor Castle, then a strategic military fortress, and the King's Keeper of the Forests of Berkshire. These positions were later inherited by Gerald's oldest brother, William. Their father, Walter, is recorded in the Domesday Book as tenant-in-chief of lands in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire, and Middlesex.

Various claims are made for Gerald's antecedents: that his father was a Saxon baron, rather than Norman; that his mother was Gwladys ferch Ryall, or she was "princess" Gwladys ferch Gruffydd of Gwynedd, or else Gwladys ferch Rhiwallon ap Cynfyn of Powys; that Gerald's grandfather was one "Dominus Otherus", a Tuscan nobleman descended from a Gherardini Duke of Florence named Cosmo or Cosimus. All the foregoing claims are erroneous. Pursuant to Domesday, Walter's wife was Beatrice, not Gwladys, and particularly not Gwladys of Powys, who was Gerald's mother-in-law. It's unlikely the Conqueror would have granted Walter lands in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire, Surrey, and Middlesex, let alone made him keeper of a strategic military fortress, had he not been a Norman and proven trustworthy. "Dominus Otherus" is a misreading of Domeday, and the Gherardini ancestry is a 16th century hoax: there was no Duchy of Florence until the 15th century, and the only Dukes Cosmo were Medicis.

Nest ferch Rhys ap Tewdwr was the daughter of the last king of South Wales by his wife, Gwladys ferch Rhiwallon ap Cynfyn of Powys. Their grandchildren, Maurice FitzGerald, Lord of Lanstephan, Raymond le Gros and Philip de Barry were leaders in the Norman invasion of Ireland. Nest's son by her second marriage, Robert Fitz-Stephen, was another participant, as did William de Hay, husband of one of Gerald's and Nest's grand-daughters. Nest's grandson (through her son by Henry I of England), Meiler FitzHenry, was appointed Lord Justice of Ireland for his cousin, Henry II. The most renowned of Gerald's and Nest's grandchildren, Gerald of Wales, gave an account of the Norman invasion, as well as lively and invaluable descriptions of Ireland and Wales in the late 12th century.

Variant Spellings of the Irish surname Fitzgerald include Geraldines, Gerald, Geralds, Fitzgerel, Fitzgeral, Fitzgerald, Fitzgerrell, Fitzjerald, FitzGerald, and Fitsgerel.

For coat of arms items emblazoned with the Fitzgerald name and crest, visit our Irish Coat of Arms page.

Visit a Fitzgerald Pub in Ireland

You can find a Fitzgerald pub in Castlegregory on the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland, Maurice Fitzgerald's Bar & HostelIf you can't visit in person, a personalized Fitzgerald pub gift is the next best thing!

Notable Fitzgeralds

House of Kildare

House of Desmond

The line of the Earls of Desmond has been extinct since the 17th century. Their branch of the dynasty continues only in their distant collateral kinsmen, Ireland's hereditary knights (for whom see section below).

Lords of Decies

FitzMaurice of Kerry

The closely related FitzMaurice Barons and later Earls of Kerry continue in the male line with the current Petty-FitzMaurice Marquesses of Lansdowne, but they descend from John FitzGerald, 1st Baron Desmond's nephew, Thomas FitzMaurice, 1st Baron of Kerry, son of his brother Maurice FitzThomas. Thus in fact they represent a "sister" branch to the FitzGeralds of Desmond. However this technically makes them slightly closer to the FitzGeralds of Desmond than either are to the Offaly-Kildare-Leinster Geraldines, represented by the modern Dukes of Leinster, who descend from Gerald FitzMaurice, 1st Lord of Offaly, uncle of the 1st Baron Desmond.

Hereditary Knights

These three hereditary knighthoods were created for their kinsmen by the Earls of Desmond,[2] acting as Earls Palatine.

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