Elizabeth Plunkett, Countess of Fingall

Elizabeth FitzGerald (b. pre-1597-d. 1611) was the first wife of Lucas Plunkett, then Baron Killeen, and who in due course became the 1st Earl of Fingall in 1628. They lived at Killeen Castle, County Meath in Ireland. She was a daughter of Henry FitzGerald, 12th Earl of Kildare, and therefore sister to Bridget, the Countess of Tyrconnell and wife of Prince Rory O'Donnell, 1st Earl of Tyrconnell.

Errors on her genealogy

Much confusion about her identity prevailed in erroneous genealogies during the 19th and early 20th centuries.

She was believed to be the daughter [1] of Rory O'Donnell, 1st Earl of Tyrconnell, and Lady Bridget FitzGerald. Understood in the same way to have been Elizabeth O’Donnell, she was reported to have married Luke Plunkett, 1st Earl of Fingall.[2]

Her lineage as daughter (possibly pre-marital) of Rory O'Donnell, 1st Earl of Tyrconnell, and his wife Lady Bridget FitzGerald, was repeatedly cited in various peerage directories, such as Lodge's (1827, and re-issued in 1907),[3] Foster's (1881),[4] Cokayne's (1926),[5] and Burke's (1980).[6]

Corrected lineage

However, Elizabeth is clearly and more authoritatively identified as the second daughter of the 12th Earl of Kildare, and was therefore the sister of Rory’s wife, Lady Bridget née FitzGerald, properly recorded in the histories of the FitzGeralds of Kildare, based on their own family archives in Carton House and Kilkea Castle, and on no better authority than the 4th Duke of Leinster himself, writing at the time as Marquis of Kildare (and before the later erroneous authors), and who confirmed that Elizabeth married Luke Plunkett, the first Earl of Fingall in 1608.[7] Later sources confirmed this, i.e. that this Elizabeth was a FitzGerald, the Countess Lady Bridget’s sister, and not her daughter.[8] Elizabeth is said to have died in London in 1611 during an outbreak of the plague only three years after her marriage.[9]

Lord Killeen, later Earl of Fingall, was also married on three other occasions. He had married in 1628 Eleanor Bagenal, who died leaving no children. His son by a later marriage to Susanna Brabazon, Christopher Plunkett, 2nd Earl of Fingall, married Mabel Barnewall, niece of Elizabeth through her sister, Bridget, whose second husband was Nicholas Barnewall, 1st Viscount Kingsland, from whom she had more children. Another niece, Mary Barnewall married Nicholas Preston, 6th Viscount Gormanston. Lucas Plunkett's last wife was Margaret St. Lawrence, daughter of Nicholas St Lawrence, 9th Baron Howth. Plunkett died on 29 March 1637; Margaret died the following November.


  1. Meehan, C. P. The Fate and Fortunes of the Earls of Tyrone and Tyrconnel (1870). Meehan believed of the Countess of Tyrconnell (Bridget) that “by the earl of Tyrconnel she had one son, Hugh, who succeeded to his father’s title, and two daughters, Eliza and Mary” (footnote, page 246)
  2. Carty, Mary Rose. History of Killeen Castle, published by Carty/Lynch, Dunsany, County Meath, Ireland, April 1991 (ISBN 0-9517382-0-8) - page 18 refers to Elizabeth O'Donnell as 1st Countess of Fingall (Fingal). She was said to be a daughter of Rory O'Donnell, 1st Earl of Tyrconnell
  3. Lodge, Edmond, Esq., Late Norroy King-of-Arms. Lodge's Peerage, Baronetage, and Knightage for the British Empire for 1907, 76th edition, published by Kelly's Directories Ltd., High Holborn, London (1st edition was published by College of Arms, 1827)
  4. Foster, Joseph. The Peerage, Baronetage, and Knightage of the British Empire for 1881, published by Nichols & Sons, Westminster, 1881
  5. Cockayne, George Edward. The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain, and the United Kingdom, extant, extinct or dormant, Volume V, published by The St. Catherine Press, London, 1926
  6. Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 105th edition, 4th impression, published by Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books), Ltd, 1980 [ISBN 0-85011-034-3]
  7. FitzGerald, Charles William (Marquis of Kildare and later 4th Duke of Leinster). The Earls of Kildare and their Ancestors: from 1057 to 1773, 4th edition, published by Hodges, Smith & Co., Dublin, 1864 (pp. 235-236). He made the same mistake himself, i.e. that Elizabeth was a daughter rather than a sister of Bridget, in the second edition of 1858 (page 226), but corrected this in his fourth edition in 1864
  8. Lee, Sidney (Editor). Dictionary of National Biography, Vol. XLI (Nichols-O’Dugan), published by Macmillan and Co., London and New York, 1895. Page 446
  9. Cockayne, George Edward. The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain, and the United Kingdom, extant, extinct or dormant, Volume V, published by The St. Catherine Press, London, 1926 (page 385). To have been married in 1608, she cannot have been the marriageable daughter of Bridget who was herself only about 19 years old at that time, but rather her sister
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