FITZGERALD, Charles James, 1st Baron Lecale [I] (1756-1810), of Ardglass Castle, co. Down.
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Family and Education
b. 30 June 1756, 3rd but 2nd surv. s. of James, 1st Duke of Leinster [I], by Lady Emilia Mary Lennox, da. of Charles Lennox†, 2nd Duke of Richmond; bro. of Lords Henry Fitzgerald* and Robert Stephen Fitzgerald*. educ. by William Ogilvie. m. 18 July 1808, Julia, wid. of Thomas Carton of Monkstown, co. Dublin, s.p.s. cr. Baron Lecale [I] 27 Dec. 1800.
MP [I] 1776-1800; commr. of customs [I] Sept. 1789-Mar. 1792; muster master gen. [I] Mar. 1792-1806; PC [I] 13 Feb. 1793.
Entered RN 1772, lt. 1778, capt. 1780, r.-adm. 1799, v.-adm. 1804.
Sheriff, co. Down 1798-9; commdt. Ardglass vols. 1803.
‘At an early period I separated from the politics of my family in Ireland, and by a constant attendance in Parliament (sometimes to the prejudice of my health) have uniformly supported the measures of his Majesty’s government in Ireland until the Union’, wrote Lecale.1 Buckingham, when lord lieutenant, had sought to promote him and, apart from a place, he went on to obtain a peerage as a reward for supporting the Union, having his own portion of the family estate to underpin it. He at once applied to Pitt for a seat in the Imperial Parliament and was about to solicit a representative peerage when the news of Pitt’s resignation stopped him. He alleged that he would not apply to Addington unless Pitt consented.2
On 18 May 1804 Lecale wrote to Pitt to congratulate him on returning to office: ‘Permit me to assure you that no man entertains stronger sentiments of gratitude for your former kindness to me’, he added. On the death of Lord Desart later in the year, he expressed a wish to become a representative peer, which he reiterated on the next vacancy. He wrote to Pitt on 1 July 1805 that he was returning to Ireland, but still wished to be a representative, ‘to be able to vote with you Sir’.3 After Pitt’s death, when he was deprived of his place, he turned to his old patron, Buckingham. Having supported the ministerial candidates in county Down in the general election,4 he applied to Lord Grenville for a seat in the Commons and asked Buckingham on 15 Jan. 1807 to use his good offices with his brother.5
Very soon afterwards he was returned for a vacancy at Arundel by the Duke of Norfolk. He made no mark in the House. At the next general election the seat was not available to him, partly because he had pledged his support to the Portland ministry. He was to have been appointed joint muster master general or, as an afterthought, given a seat at the Irish treasury board, provided that he could again bring himself into Parliament. Instead he was given the command of the sea fencibles in Ireland, his appointment as muster master having been actually made out but cancelled in favour of William Bagwell*.6
Lecale was still trying in July 1807 ‘to buy again into Parliament, which would be throwing away another £5,000, which in his situation would be insanity’, according to his step-father William Ogilvie who had recently bought Ardglass from him and could not oblige when pressed by Lecale later that year: ‘Including what he paid for his seat in Parliament, he has spent upwards of £18,000 last year, and I fear is now considerably in debt’. In September 1809 the viceroy reported, ‘Lord Lecale is a candidate for everything but I fear unfit for anything’. Lecale died of dropsy, 16 Feb. 1810.7
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Authors: M. H. Port / R. G. Thorne
- 1. Add. 35753, f. 163.
- 2. HMC Fortescue, i. 298; Cornwallis Corresp. iii. 303-4, 318; PRO, Dacres Adams mss 3/39 and 30/8/328, f. 237.
- 3. PRO 30/8/151, ff. 9, 11, 13; Add. 35751, ff. 94, 157, 247.
- 4. Fortescue mss, Lecale to Grenville, 17 Oct. 1806.
- 5. Ibid.
- 6. NLI, Richmond mss 70/1322, 1347; Wellington mss, Flint to Wellesley, 7 May 1807.
- 7. Ardglass mss, Ogilvie to Wilson, 1 July, 27 Nov. 1807, Ogilvie’s memo 26 Feb. 1810; SRO GD51/1/349/38.