The reluctant Lord Deputy: the early life and career of Sir William Fitzwilliam of Milton
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This thesis presents a detailed study of the early life and career of Sir William Fitzwilliam of Milton, who served as Treasurer-at-War of Ireland from 1559 to 1573 and as Lord Deputy of Ireland from 1571 to 1575. The study begins by considering Fitzwilliam’s early life and beliefs, and then turns to consider his service as Ireland’s Vice-Treasurer and Treasurer-at-War during the period of the great Elizabethan re-coinage, examining how the great recoinage fared in Ireland. Fitzwilliam’s service in the Irish administrations of Sussex, Arnold and Sidney during the time of Shane O’Neill is then considered, with particular reference to the activities and duties of the Treasurer-at-War in these years. The Treasurer-at-War was personally liable for crown monies placed in his charge and, without the necessary discharges, the shortfall attached directly to the office holder. Upon crown audit, Fitzwilliam was found liable for several thousand pounds of crown money, and he was required to enter into a debt settlement as a result. With mounting debt, Fitzwilliam did not wish to continue in crown service in Ireland and most reluctantly took on the position of Lord Deputy. Fitzwilliam’s activities as Lord Deputy are then explored from the perspectives of religious, military and administrative affairs. In religious terms, his episcopal appointments are examined with respect to puritanism. In military terms, Fitzwilliam’s actions during a period of flux in the garrison of Ireland are considered with particular reference to multiple difficulties that arose in Connacht, Leinster and Munster. In administrative terms, his performance is considered from three perspectives: The reformation of the Irish exchequer, accounting procedures involving the new Treasurer-at-War, and finally, his interactions with Essex’s enterprise in Ulster. The conclusion will offer some final perspectives on the ‘reluctant Lord Deputy’, first, from the point of view of his ‘reluctance’ and, second, from the point of view of his service in Ireland up to his exit in late 1575.