FITZGERALD, John Purcell

1803 - 1879

John Purcell-Fitzgerald

As John Purcell, he was born at the White House, Bredfield, Woodbridge, Suffolk on 29 June 1803, eldest son of the eight children of John Purcell (25 December 1775–18 March 1852) and his wife Mary Francis FitzGerald (1779-30 January 1855), daughter of John FitzGerald, who married on 16 May 1801. John Purcell, the elder, on his father-in-law’s death on 6 September 1818, assumed the name of FitzGerald when his wife was reputed to be the richest commoner in England. Young John was educated at Bury St Edmund's Grammar School, with his two brothers Edward Fitzgerald and Peter Slingsby (20 August 1807-13 February 1875), and at Trinity College, Cambridge graduating B.A. in 1826 proceeding M.A. in 1829 ‘of Little Island, Waterford.’ A member of the Ipswich Society of Professional & Amateur Artists from 1834, where he was tutored by Henry Davy. Although he studied for the church, he was not ordained, but preached in several dissenting chapels and was extremely eccentric, local shopkeepers never asked his wants as he wandered round their shops saying "I’ll take that” never asking the price and would invite friends to meet him the next day, but on arriving at Boulge to be told that he had gone out for the day. He would call at 'The Bull Hotel' on the Market Place, Woodbridge, ordering a fly to take him home telling the ostler that he would walk on, but when the carriage reached him, he would enquire “are you going to the Hall?”. On the death of his mother in 1855, he inherited the family estates and maintained Boulge as his seat, which he occupied for some years until his death. On 15 January 1858, his name was legally changed to John Purcell-FitzGerald by Royal Licence and for many years also occupied Wherstead Lodge, near Ipswich. He married firstly at Dishley Chapel, Loughborough on 21 November 1832, Augusta Jane Lisle March Phillipps (1811-30 July 1837), only daughter of Charles March Phillipps, MP, of Garendon Park, Leicestershire, she died at Ryde, Isle of Wight in 1837, aged 27, leaving issue Gerald Charles (1 September 1833-3 June 1879), Olivia Mary Frances (28 August 1834-2 February 1838) and Maurice Noel Ryder (22 December 1835-17 December 1877) who all used the name of Purcell-FitzGerald. Fitzgerald married secondly at Lewisham in 1843 Hester Haddan (1801-9 January 1888), daughter of William Haddan but had no further issue. John Purcell Fitzgerald died at Boulge Hall on 4 May 1879 and is buried in Boulge churchyard. After the death of his second wife in 1888, the Boulge Hall estate was sold by executors in 1890, to Robert Holmes White. A full-length portrait of FitzGerald is to be found in his former home of Waterford Castle, Ireland. The author of several books under both his names of Purcell and FitzGerald.