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The Death of Garret 'the Great'


3 September 1513, death of Gerald FitzGerald, 8th Earl of Kildare, at the age of about 57. Gerald was also known as "Garret the Great" or "The Great Earl". Gerald was Ireland's premier peer and he served as Lord Deputy of Ireland from 1477 to 1494, and from 1496 onward. Gerald married as his first wife, Alison FitzEustace with whom he had five children. In 1477 he was appointed Lord Deputy of Ireland but was soon replaced by Henry Grey, 4th Baron of Codnor because it was thought an Englishman was better fit for the job. However, Edward IV was forced to re-appoint him. Gerald managed to keep his position after the House of York fell but committed treason against Henry VII on several occasions, including when supporting the pretender Lambert Simnel. Simnel's attempt to seize the throne failed and many of his supporters were killed at the Battle of Stoke Field in 1487, Gerald’s brother Thomas being one of them. Thomas is claimed to have taken the lead in rallying support for Simnel in Ireland but definitely could not have been able to do so without consent of his brother Gerald. In 1494 he was sent to the Tower, during which his wife Alison died. Gerald was tried in 1496 but was able to convince the King of the bad intentions of the current ruling factions in Ireland. Henry realized he needed Gerald, pardoned him and promptly re-appointed him as Lord Deputy of Ireland. From then Gerald remained faithful and Henry VII allowed him to marry a second cousin of him as his second wife, Elizabeth St. John, with whom Gerald had another 5 children. While on an expedition in Kilkea in 1513, Gerald was mortally wounded said while watering his horse. He was taken back to Kildare where he died.

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