GERALD Fitzgerald was the son of a respectable farmer near Limerick, in Ireland, where he was born in the year 1671, and educated in the Protestant religion, his father being of that persuasion.
At the age of fifteen he came to London to learn the art of peruke-making under a relation of his father's: but soon associating himself with bad company, he ran away from his kinsman at the expiration of three years, and entered into the service of Sir Henry Johnson, and had the direction of the domestic affairs of his new master. However, he had not been long in this service when his old associates persuaded him to leave it, on which he entered on board a man of war, and was soon advanced to the station of steward to the captain.
He made some voyages to the East and West Indies, and on his return to England was married to a relation of the captain, a young lady whose singular good qualities were admirably calculated to give happiness to any man who had possessed wisdom sufficient to have known in what true happiness consisted.
He had not been married many months before he went out as purser to a man of war bound to the East Indies; but this ship being lost on the coast of China, he returned to England in a merchantman, and afterwards sailed as a purser in a ship of war, which took some prizes, of which Fitzgerald received his share.
Being again in London, he began to grow neglectful of his wife, engaged in the vices of the town, kept the worst company, and frequented houses of ill-fame. In one of these he quarrelled with a gentleman named Pix, respecting a woman of the town, and a violent contention arising, Fitzgerald killed the other on the spot with his sword.
For this offence he was tried at the Old Bailey, and, being convicted on full evidence, he was hanged at Tyburn, on the 24th of December, 1703, dying a sincere penitent for his crimes, which, though aggravated in their nature, had been but of short continuance.
The fate of Fitzgerald should afford a lesson of caution to youth in general never to associate with women of abandoned characters; and, in particular, this resolution ought to be impressed on the minds of married men. This unhappy malefactor was united in wedlock with a young lady, whose relation to him demanded his protection, and whose superior virtues had every claim to his tenderest regard: yet, in a rash quarrel about a woman of the town, could he murder his friend, make his relations wretched, and bring destruction on his own head.
Fitzgerald had been educated in a strict regard to the duties of religion; but this wore off by his being a constant witness of that dissoluteness of manners which too frequently prevails on board our ships, when it often happens that no chaplain attends to perform that duty for the discharge of which he is paid out of the wages of the seamen: a shameful abuse, which calls for redress from those whose station includes the superintendence of naval affairs.