Posted by Laura W on April 21, 1998 at 11:14:47:
In response to No, written by Caroline on April 10, 1998 at 16:50:12
] ] This could be wrong, but I heard somewhere that Fitz- means "bastard son of." Hmmmmm....
] No, it doesn't. As I said, it comes from the word "fils", French for "son".So Fitzwilliam means "son of William". It was often used for an illegitmate child, who had no "right" to a surname,and had to be called something, but it does not in itself mean anything but the literal "son"
It was however often used as a surname for children of monarchs or royal princes who were either illegitimate or children of morganatic marriages. For example, during the Regency, the Duke of Clarence (later William IV)'s many children by his long-time mistress were surnamed FitzClarence. Earlier, FitzJames was the surname given to several of James II's illegitimate children. There are other examples, but I think the occasional habit of naming royal bastards in this manner led to the mistaken but common notion that all Fitzes were descended from royal bastards.
During the Regency, there were two titled families surnamed Fitzwilliam.
The Earls Fitzwilliam had the surname Wentworth-Fitzwilliam in 1812. They were descended from a family which bore the name Fitzwilliam during the time of Henry II. From this family came Sir William Fitzwilliam, who was created Earl of Southampton in 1537 (and who died without issue in 1542). Another Sir William Fitzwilliam of this family was an alderman of London in 1506 ("knight, a merchant taylor of London, alderman of Broad-street ward"); his grandson, also Sir William Fitzwilliam, was Lord Deputy of Ireland in 1588. In 1812, the 2nd Earl Fitzwilliam was "22d in paternal descent from Sir William Fitz-Gooderick, cousin to King Edward the Confessor." The family acquired the name Wentworth when the 1st earl married Lady Anne Wentworth, daughter of the Marquis of Rockingham, in 1744.
The second title family in 1812 with the surname Fitzwilliam is the Viscount Fitzwilliam (peerage of Ireland), created 1629.
Above info from Debrett's Peerage of 1812.
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