Edward Fitzgerald

Edward Fitzgerald

Edward Fitzgerald

Edward Fitzgerald

Excerpt

On 31 March 1809, at Bredfield, some seven miles out of Ipswich, Mary Frances Purcell (née FitzGerald) gave birth to her seventh child.

Edward, for so she named him, entered a distinguished family. The FitzGeralds, who traced their descent from the Dukes of Tuscany and Earls of Kildare, were among the most eminent Anglo-Norman families in Ireland. The Purcells had come to England with William the Conqueror. As for Mary Purcell, she was not only well descended, but she was blessed with Junoesque beauty and strong character. We are told that she was 'a very fine woman, but a bad Mother '; and certainly she kept at an Olympian distance from her children. Yet Edward's childhood was far from unhappy. He remembered watching from his nursery window as his father and the squire set out in their pink hunting habits; he remembered eating beef and plum pudding and drinking loyal toasts to mark the first anniversary of Waterloo. He remembered vividly how, when he was seven, the family had gone to live in France, and they had seen the royal hunt near Saint-Germain:

Louis XVIII first, with his Gardes du Corps , in blue and silver: then Monsieur (afterwards Charles X) with his Guard in green and gold--French horns blowing--'tra, tra, tra' (as Madame de Sévigné says), through the lines of chestnut and limes--in flower. And then Madame (of Angoulême) standing up in her carriage, blear-eyed, dressed in white with her waist at her neck--standing up in the carriage at a corner of the wood to curtsey to the English assembled there--my mother among them. This was in 1817 . . . I saw, and see it all.

The Purcells lived in Saint-Germain and Paris until, in 1818, Mary's father died, and she became the owner of . . .

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