King, Robert (1754-1799) (DNB00)


KING, ROBERT, second Earl of Kingston (1754–1799), born in 1754, was eldest son of Edward, first earl of Kingston (1726–1797), by Jane, daughter of Thomas Caulfeild of Donamon, co. Roscommon (Lodge, Peerage of Ireland, ed. Archdall, iii. 237). As Viscount Kingsborough he was returned M.P. for co. Cork in 1783, 1790, and 1798, when he was called to the House of Lords (Official Return of Members of Parliament, pt. ii.) On 5 Dec. 1769 he married a cousin, Caroline, only daughter and heiress of Richard Fitzgerald of Mount Ophaly, co. Kildare, by the daughter and heiress of James, fourth and last baron Kingston. By their marriage the family estates were reunited. They had issue six sons and five daughters. Henry Gerard Fitzgerald, an illegitimate son of Lady Kingsborough's brother, was brought up with her own family. He became a colonel in the army, and was married, but in the summer of 1797 eloped with Mary Elizabeth, Lord and Lady Kingsborough's third daughter. Fitzgerald successfully deceived the girl's parents, but his guilt was discovered and the lady restored to her parents. Her brother, Colonel Robert Edward King (afterwards Viscount Lorton), fought a duel with Fitzgerald in Hyde Park on Sunday morning, 1 Oct. 1797. After exchanging no fewer than six shots they separated and agreed to meet at the same hour and place upon the following morning. Both, however, were put under arrest that day (Gent. Mag. vol. lxvii. pt. ii. pp. 1120–1). Fitzgerald in disguise soon pursued Miss King to the family residence at Mitchelstown, co. Cork, lodging in December 1797 at the inn there. The suspicions of Lord Kingsborough and his son, Colonel King, were aroused, and on the night of 11 Dec. they burst into his room at the Kilworth hotel. Colonel King grappled with him, and Lord Kingsborough, to protect his son, shot Fitzgerald dead (Annual Reg. 1797, xxxix. 55–7). True bills were found against father and son by the grand jury of co. Cork. But on 13 Nov. 1797 the first Earl of Kingston died, and Lord Kingsborough, on succeeding to the title, demanded to be tried by his peers. On 18 May 1798 the trial came on in the House of Lords, Curran appearing for the prisoner. No evidence was offered by the crown, and the accused was unanimously acquitted (Lords' Journals, Irish, viii. 83–92). Colonel King had been acquitted at the Cork assizes in the previous April.

Lord Kingston died at Mitchelstown House, which he had rebuilt in magnificent style, on 17 April 1799 (Gent. Mag. 1799, pt. i. pp. 350–1). His wife, from whom he had been separated for some years, survived until 13 Jan. 1823, and was buried in Putney cemetery (ib. 1823, pt. i. pp. 374–5, vol. xciv. pt. i. p. 648).

Miss King lived under a feigned name in the family of a clergyman in Wales. Her brilliant conversational powers made her a general favourite. She married, in April 1805, George Galbraith Meares of Clifton, and died at Shirehampton, Gloucestershire, in 1819 (ib. 1819, pt. i. p. 587).

[Burke's Peerage; Sharpe's Peerage; Madden's Revelations of Ireland, ch. iii.; Lecky's England in the Eighteenth Century, viii. 39–40; Barrington's Personal Sketches, i. 195, 201.]

G. G.