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Lady De Ros

Lord Henry's wife, Charlotte, having no personal connection with Ireland, did not always fully share her husband's family's concern with its fate. After Lord Edward's death she would not allow his widow to stay at Boyle Farm. For which Charles Lock (who had married Lord Henry's half sister, and had spent his honeymoon at Boyle Farm) wrote: "Assure Lady Henry that I pity her sincerely for being drawn into a fatal connection with such a nest of Jacobins"(201).

An Act of Attainder had been passed which branded Lord Edward guilty of treason(202), and Charlotte had a certain project in mind, which would almost certainly be blighted if she in any way provoked the government estabishment.

The Boyle Walsinghams were, through Charlotte's mother, descended from the barons de Ros (Pronounced and sometimes spelled de Roos) the oldest and premier barony in the kingdom, having been created in 1264. This also gave them descent from Mary Tudor, sister of Henry the eighth, and from Ann Plantagenet, sister of Edward the fourth(203). The barony had been in abeyance since 1687, when George, second duke of Buckingham and twentieth baron de Ros, had died. It was, however, a peerage which could descend in the female line.

Although nobody had claimed the title for over a century and a quarter, Charlotte considered it was hers by right, and in 1802 we find her seeking support from her influential friends (204), and in the following year she petioned the king praying that, as the nearest living relative of the last baron(205), the abeyance be terminated in her favour. This entreaty the king - passed to the house of Lords, who in turn referred it to their Committee of Privileges(206). This action stimulated three other descendants, who thought they too had a claim equally legitimate to the title, also to submit like requests.

The Committee of Privileges, under the chairmanship of lord Walsingham, now had the thorny task of trying to determine between the claims and counter claims of the rival apellants, an undertaking which cost them many meetings, many hours of deliberation, and the digestion of many thousands of words submitted in evidence(207). it was not until 1806, three years later, that the committee finally reported back to the full House. Their recommendation was that, as they could not find that any one of the claimants had a greater right than any other, the barony should continue in abeyance. A view with which, on the 9 May 1806, the rest of their lordships concurred (208).

Nevertheless, Charlotte was nothing if not determined. She had influential friends in influential places. A month later she persuaded the prime minister, Lord Grenville, to write a personal letter to George the third asking: "Whether your Majesty would be graciously pleased to determine the abeyance of the Barony of moos in favour of Lady Henry Fitzgerald, which, if your Majesty had no objection to it, Lord Grenville would venture to recommend". To which the king replied from Windsor Castle: "Lady Henry Fitzgerald having been at so much expense and trouble in regard to the Barony of Roos, and having brought forward the case so clearly, the king considers it very fair to grant the abeyance in her favour, as recommended by Lord Grenville" (209). She was now in her own right the twenty-first Baroness de Ros, and henceforth stood in precedence above her husband. In the same year the family name was changed to Fitzgerald-de Ros (210).

Another indication that the family had been forgiven by the establishment for its deviation, was evidenced by Lord Henry's appointment in 1806 as postmaster-general in Ireland. A sinecure to government friends without them having any work to do to earn.

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