Becoming Viscount Powerscourt

The Lords Powerscourt were also Viscounts—above Baron but below Earl in ranking. The first Lord Powerscourt, Richard Wingfield, was ennobled in 1618 and became 1st Viscount Powerscourt. His citation mentioned that he was a beloved and faithful soldier of Elizabeth I, who had made him Marshal of Ireland in 1600. Richard was involved in the Nine Years War, fighting in Tyrone and at the Battle of Kinsale, and was rewarded in 1609 with about 45,000 acres at Powerscourt for his soldierly deeds here and on the continent, along with estates in Wexford and Tyrone.* Richard died in 1634 without “male issue” so the Viscount title went with him. A cousin, Ffolliott picked up the title first Viscount Powerscourt of the second creation in 1664 from Charles II (who had recently regained the throne after Cromwell threw a wobbler for a few years), but he again died without an heir. And so it wasn’t until 1743, that Richard, grandson of Ffolliot’s cousin, picked up the title from George II, and become 1st Viscount Powerscourt of the third creation. Richard had rebuilt Powerscourt House to be the magnificent Palladian mansion in the 1730s. The town clock in the village (1843) commemorates the centenary of this creation. It is from this Richard that all the Viscount Powerscourts are descended (brothers or sons). The current Viscount is Niall, 10th Viscount Powerscourt.

What does it take to become a Viscount? Well, it usually means a King (or Queen) saying something like this about you and your family:**

As honours and dignities are the proper and just reward to persons, who have eminently merited from their King and country, and as a continuance of those honours in their name and family is an incitement to their posterity to persevere in the practice or those virtues, that ennobled their ancestors. And whereas we bear in our royal mind a remembrance of the great and faithful services performed for our royal predecessors by Richard Wingfield, Knt., late Lord Viscount of Powerscourt, who being by our late royal predecessor Elizabeth, Queen of England, appointed Mareschal of her army, in this kingdom under the then Lord Mountjoy, did defeat and disperse at Kingsale the troops of the Earl Tyrone and the other rebels associated with him.  And when, after the suppression of the rebellion of the aforesaid Earl of Tyrone, and the establishment of a general peace through this Kingdom, the notorious rebel O Dogherty had burn’d the then new city of Derry, and raised great disturbances in the province of Ulster, he, the above mentioned Mareschal with a small number of forces, conquered and flew the said O Dogherty in open battle, and dispersed all his adherents and after these services in time of war, the said Mareschal being twice appointed one of the L. J. and chief governors of our kingdom of Ireland, was no less eminent for his ability and services in the administration of the public government in times of peace. And, as upon the death of the said Richard Wingfield, late Mareschal and Lord Viscount of Powerscourt without issue male whereby the said honour and title of Powerscourt was extinct ; our late royal predecessor King Charles II bearing in his royal remembrance the above mentioned services of the said Mareschal and Viscount of Powerscourt and being desirous to transmit the memory of the same to posterity was pleated to create Folliott Wingfield, late of Powerscourt in the county of Wicklow Esq., cousin and heir of the said Mareschal a peer of this kingdom, by the name of Folliott Wingfield, Lord Viscount of Powerscourt; and as the said Ffolliott Lord Viscount of Powerscourt is deceased without issue male, whereby the said title and honour of Lord Viscount of Powerscourt is again become extinct; and as we have the same desire with our royal predecessors, to preserve the remembrance of good and faithful services done to them and ourselves; and as we are satisfied in our princely judgment that Richard Wingfield of Powerscourt , Esq., cousin and heir to the said Richard Wingfield, Viscount of Powerscourt, Mareschal of Ireland, and to the said Folliott Wingfield, Lord Viscount of Powerscourt is a person, who, besides his noble descent, and his possessing the Estates of his said ancestors, hath, by his own abilities and services in Parliament, rendered himself to be no less regarded by his country, than his constant and hearty Attachment and fidelity to ourselves and our government have made him acceptable to us, and worthy to sustain the honours enjoyed by his illustrious ancestors. Know ye therefore &c. (Rot. Anno. 17. Geo. II. 3. p. f.)


*Wingfields also had several estates in the west of Ireland – see the Landed Estate Database.

**From The peerage of Ireland: or, A genealogical history of the present nobility of that kingdom, John Lodge and Mervyn Archdall, 1789. (Preamble for Richard, 1st Viscount of the third creation).

3 thoughts on “Becoming Viscount Powerscourt

  1. I am interested to read material posted in relation to Wingfield.
    I am in the process of detailing the Folliott family from whom my wife is a descendant.
    Henry Ffolliott served with Richard Wingfield and Montjoy at the battle of Kinsale. Richard Wingfield married Sir Henry Folliott’s daughter Elizabeth.
    I understand the Folliott family of Pirton Worcestershire had re settled in Ireland, Sir John Folliott (heir) and brother of Henry Folliott, had sold the Folliott lands in Worstershire in the late 1500’s, Henry was a soldier, he moved to Nth Ireland at the time of his family, protecting planters in the Pale.
    I would be most grateful if you might direct me to information you may have discovered relating to Richard Wingfield and Henry Folliott’s military service.
    Regards Randall Jones

  2. Hi Randall,

    It could be difficult to get your hands on it, as it was privately published, but 7th Viscount Powerscourt wrote something on the Wingfields in 1890s “Muniments of the ancient Saxon family of Wingfield” – it is in TCD library and probably some UK copyright libraries.

    There are lots of Richard Wingfields, so it might be worth summarising briefly: Richard Wingfield (d. 1634) was a military soldier who fought in the Battle of Kinsale and elsewhere and was rewarded by Elizabeth and James I the grant of Powerscourt and the title Viscount Powerscourt. He married, but had no sons, so the estate passed to Edward Wingfield (d 1638), who had married Richard’s step-daughter, Anne Cromwell. Edward and Anne had two sons Lewis (or Ludovic, d. 1673) and Richard (who married Elizabeth Folliott). Richard’s son was named Ffolliott.

    Ffolliot Wingfield (b. 1642) was heir to Richard’s (d 1634) estate at Powerscourt, and although he did not inherit the title, he did in his own right become 1st Viscount Powerscourt of the second creation.

    So I think the Richard Wingfield (son of Sir Edward Wingfield and Anne Cromwell) who married Elizabeth and the Richard (son of Sir Richard W and Christina Fitzwilliam) who fought at Kinsale are two different Richards!


  3. Hello
    Can you tell me if the portrait of Sir Richard Wingfield by Cornelius Janssens or Johnson was destroyed in the 1974 Powerscourt fire? The black and white photograph of that painting is used on Wikipedia but it is not clear where the actual painting is.

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