Humphrys genealogy

Genealogy research by Mark Humphrys.

My wife's ancestors - Fitzwilliam - Contents

Richard Fitzwilliam, 7th Viscount Fitzwilliam

7th Viscount, at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, 1764 (age 19).
Portrait by Joseph Wright of Derby.
Used here with the kind permission of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.
Also here.

Richard Fitzwilliam, 7th Viscount Fitzwilliam,
born 1 Aug 1745.
See wikipedia.
His father moved to Ireland in apparently 1756 and lived at Mount Merrion, Co.Dublin.
He was educ Trinity Hall, Cambridge (admitted 1761, MA 1764).
He fell in love with a barmaid at Cambridge. His horrified father packed him off on a Grand Tour to forget her. On his return he found the girl married off (aided by his father). He vowed never to marry, and didn't. (As a result, the title went extinct.)
He succ 1776 when his father died.
He took his seat in the Irish House of Lords 1776.
He let Mount Merrion again after his father's death 1776. See [Ball, vol.2, 1903] for the tenants.
He lived mainly in England, at the Fitzwilliam (formerly Decker) house in Richmond Green, Surrey. Although he made frequent visits to Mount Merrion.

He had a long-standing affair with Anne Bernard [a French dancer, who used the stage name "Mademoiselle Zacharie"].
He had two sons with her, though he never married her, and so the title went to his aged brother rather than his sons.
The Fitzwilliam Museum has letters from her, which show her as poorly educated.
He had issue by Anne Bernard:

  1. Two sons, Fitzwilliam and Billy.

He was a great lover of France, fluent in French, and a supporter of the French Royalists after the French Revolution 1789.
His house at Richmond Green was a centre for exiled French nobles and Royalists who had fled the French Revolution to England.
Fellow of Royal Society 1789.
MP for Wilton 1790-1806. (Wilton was home of his 1st cousin the 10th Earl of Pembroke.)

He continued the development of Georgian SE Dublin.
Act for enclosing centre of Merrion Square 1791.
Fitzwilliam Square designed from 1789, laid out 1792.
He was author of the book: Lettres d'Atticus (or: Considerations sur la religion catholique et le protestantisme par un Anglois protestant), published in French in 1811, which showed considerable sympathy for Catholicism.
He built the new Catholic church at Booterstown for his Catholic tenants in 1812.
Act for enclosing centre of Fitzwilliam Square 1813.

The Fitzwilliam estate becomes the Pembroke estate:
His will dated 18 Aug 1815.
He left his vast estates in Ireland to his 1st cousin's son, the 11th Earl of Pembroke (succ 1794, died 1827).
Although he had two brothers, they were ageing, with no sons (they were also said to have been feeble-minded), and it was clear that the Viscounts Fitzwilliam were dying out, so he decided to dispose of the estate before his death.
Apparently he considered leaving his estates to the 4th Earl Fitzwilliam (succ 1756, died 1833). The Earl Fitzwilliam's family had been involved with Ireland for centuries and had regarded the Viscount Fitzwilliam's family as kinsmen. But they were not proven relations at all. (Actually, they were obscurely related through Shelley, but he may not have even known this.)

The story goes that the 7th Viscount was appalled by the Earl Fitzwilliam's manners in drinking tea, and resolved in favour of Pembroke. (Maybe it was the young future 5th Earl Fitzwilliam that he had for tea.)
His will apparently leaves the estates specifically to the 11th Earl's younger son Sidney (later 1st Baron Herbert of Lea, then only a child, born 1810) rather than to the 11th Earl. Must have left it to the 11th Earl to hold in trust for his son. Note that the elder son Robert (later the 12th Earl, born 1791) had already disappointed the family with an unapproved marriage in 1814.

The 7th Viscount spent a lifetime collecting works of art and other treasures, and decided to leave them all (and many Fitzwilliam family portraits) to the Cambridge that he had always loved.
This founded the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge 1816, starting its extensive collection.
He died unmarried, 4 Feb 1816, Bond Street, London, age 70 yrs.
His will pr 22 February 1816, Prerogative Court of Canterbury.

7th Viscount.
Portrait 1810 by Henry Howard.
NOT by Nathaniel Hone (died 1784).
Used here with the kind permission of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.
See engraving by Richard Earlom. From NPG.

The chapel of Trinity Hall, Cambridge.
Photo c.1870. From here.

The library of Trinity Hall, Cambridge.
Photo c.1870. From here.

Listing of the Viscounts in [Dublin Almanack, 1787].
Shows the 7th Viscount inaccurately with his seat at "Merrion".
See full size.

Letter by Horace Walpole, from Berkeley Square, London, Wed 8 June 1791.
Shows the 7th Viscount planning an incredibly quick trip to Ireland, to leave Mon 6 June.
From Letters of Horace Walpole, vol.9 (and here), p.323.
The "exiles" refer to exiled French nobles and Royalists, who had fled the French Revolution to England. Many of the French exiles lived in Richmond.

Follow-up letter by Walpole, from Strawberry Hill, 23 June 1791, showing the 7th Viscount has already been to Ireland and back.
From above, p.328.

The 7th Viscount dedicated his book Lettres d'Atticus (1811) to the exiled King of France Louis XVIII.
Louis XVIII was in exile in England 1807-14. He was restored to the throne in France in 1814.

This is said to be the cup of tea that lost the estate to the Earls Fitzwilliam.
This is kept in the Pembroke Estate Office, Dublin [Wilkinson, 1925].
From Mount Merrion 300. Used with permission.

7th Viscount in [Complete Peerage].

Sources yet to be consulted


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