Fitzgerald (fitz Maurice), James (d. 1540), 13th de jure earl of Desmond , was the son of Maurice fitz Thomas, son of Thomas Fitzgerald (qv), 12th earl, and Joan, daughter of John FitzMaurice FitzGibbon, the White Knight. Sent to England to be brought up at the English court, he became a page to Henry VIII. Following the death of his grandfather in 1534 his right of succession was disputed by his granduncle Sir John (qv), who seized possession of the earldom, and by John's son James (qv), later 14th earl. At issue was the validity of the marriage of fitz Maurice's parents, first cousins who had married without a papal dispensation. Many Geraldines believed that fitz Maurice was disqualified from succeeding by reason of illegitimacy and that Sir John was the rightful heir. James fitz Maurice received some military support from his father in law, Cormac Óg Laidir Mac Carthaigh (qv), 9th lord of Muskerry, who also wrote to the king on his behalf in 1535, but he had retreated to England before Sir John died in 1536, and James fitz John was able to retain possession of the earldom without opposition. In time, however, fitz Maurice briefly benefited from the enmity between fitz John and the Butlers, whose influence contributed to official unwillingness to recognize fitz John as de jure earl. In November 1539, Lord Deputy Grey (qv) and James Butler, 9th earl of Ormond (qv), who had a claim to the Desmond estates through his wife (who was the heir general of the 11th earl of Desmond) captured the territories of Imokilly and Kerrycurihy in Co. Cork from James fitz John and handed possession of them to James fitz Maurice. Fitz Maurice took possession in person, but the offensive was not sustained against fitz John, who remained in possession of the remainder of the earldom. Without the support that had instated him, and with little local support, fitz Maurice was an easy victim. On 19 March 1540 he was killed by Maurice ‘an Torteain‘, brother to James fitz John. His wife, Mary, married secondly Daniel O'Sullivan Mor, and died in 1548.
DNB; S.P. Hen. VIII; G.E.C., Peerage; A.M.McCormack, ‘Internecine warfare and the decline of the house of Desmond, c.1510–c.1541’, IHS, xxx, no. 20 (Nov. 1997), 497–512