Richard Fitzgerald was the second son of Gerald Fitzgerald, the 8th Earl of Kildare (1456-1513). Gerald had four sons with his second wife, Elizabeth St. John, the King’s cousin. Richard was therefore half-brother of Gerald Fitzgerald (junior), future 9th Earl of Kildare, father of Silken Thomas.
In 1534, Richard married Maud, the daughter of George D’Arcy of Platen. Maud was the widow of James Marward, Baron of Skreen.
In June 1534, Richard Fitzgerald was in possession of the manors of Powerscourt, Fassaghroe, and Rathdown. Archbishop Allen’s Reportorium Viride records that “Richard, son of the Earl of Kildare, brother of Garrett Og, had a chapel in the town and barony of Rathdown”. This may well have been Saint Crispin’s Cell.
Richard’s nephew was Silken Thomas, so called because of his love of fine clothing. Thomas heard false reports that his father had been executed in London. He organised a disastrous, ill-fated rebellion. Although Thomas negotiated surrender terms for his garrison at Maynooth Castle, all of his soldiers were promptly put to the sword. This treacherous double-cross has been ironically titled ‘ the Pardon of Maynooth’.
Richard was arrested in August 1535 because of the rebellion. He was executed at Tyburn in February 1537, along with his 4 half-brothers. He did not leave any issue by his wife, though he had a stepson named Walter. Richard’s widow was granted a pardon in 1538. After Richard’s death, Maud remarried Sir Thomas Cusack of Lismullen, Co. Meath.
Henry VIII’s government extended the Pale to the south of Bray, and established the Talbot family in the lands and Castle at Rathdown. Pierce Talbot was described as a “vigorous defender of the Pale”.
Bryan, Donough (1933) The Great Earl of Kildare, Gerald Fitzgerald (1456-1543), The Phoenix Publishing Company, Dublin.
Scott, George Digby (1884) The Stones of Bray, Cualann Publications, Bray.
Smal, Chris (1993) Ancient Rathdown and St. Crispin’s Cell, A uniquely historic landscape, Friends of Historic Rathdown, Greystones.
Turner, Kathleen (1982) If You Seek Monuments, A guide to the antiquities of the Barony of Rathdown, Rathmichael Historical Society, Dublin.