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Royal Naval Biography/Fitzgerald, Robert Lewis


ROBERT LEWIS FITZGERALD, Esq
[Post-Captain of 1798.]

This officer is descended from a younger branch of the very ancient and noble house of Leinster, in the kingdom of Ireland, and nearly related to the Earl of Kingston. He entered the naval service in March 1786, as a Midshipman, on board the Winchelsea frigate, commanded by the present Viscount Exmouth, with whom tie served on the Newfoundland station for a period of three years. He afterwards joined the Centurion 50, bearing the flag of Rear-Admiral Philip Affleck, at Jamaica[1]; and during the West India campaign in 1794, we find him serving under Sir John Jervis, in the Boyne of 98 guns; from which ship he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant, in the Avenger sloop of war.

Soon after his return to England, Lieutenant Fitzgerald obtained an appointment to the London, a second rate, carrying the flag of Rear-Admiral Colpoys; and in her he assisted at the capture of three French line-of-battle ships off l’Orient, June 23, 1795[2] His advancement to the rank of Commander took place in Feb. 1797.

Captain Fitzgerald subsequently commanded the Vesuvius bomb, and in that vessel assisted at the bombardment of Havre by a squadron under Sir Richard J. Strachan; and at the destruction of la Confiante of 36 guns, and a French national cutter, in May 1798[3]. His conduct on this occasion was honorably noticed in the London Gazette.

The Vesuvius was afterwards ordered to the Mediterranean, from whence Captain Fitzgerald returned to England in the Tonnant, a French 80-gun ship, taken at the battle of the Nile. His post commission bears date Dec. 24, 1798. During the latter part of the war, he commanded the Triton of 32 guns, in which ship he captured a French vessel from Gnadaloupe, laden with colonial produce. The Triton was paid off at Plymouth, April 9, 1802.

Soon after the renewal of hostilities, Captain Fitzgerald, whose health would not allow him to serve afloat, was appointed senior officer of the Sea Fencibles in the Isle of Wight. Previous to the dissolution of that corps, he held the chief command of the district between Kidwelly and Cardigan. In July 1816, he was elected Governor of the Royal Naval Asylum; but the power of nomination being afterwards considered not to rest with the Commissioners, the appointment did not take place.

Captain Fitzgerald married, in Aug. 1800, Jane, a daughter of Richard Welch, Esq., formerly Chief Justice of the island of Jamaica, and sister to the lady of Sir George Thomas, Bart., by whom he has five sons and four daughters remaining, of eleven children. His only brother, an officer in the 3d regiment of Guards, aide-de-camp and equerry to H.R.H. the Duke of York, died in 1802.

Agent.– Hugh Stanger, Esq.



  1. See Vol. I. note †, at p. 568.
  2. See Vol. I. p. 246. N.B. The London was commanded by Captain Griffith, nephew of Rear-Admiral Colpoys. See id. p. 548.
  3. See Vol. I. p. 448.