Nugent, Richard (1623–84), 2nd earl of Westmeath , soldier, was the only child of Christopher Nugent, Lord Delvin, and Anne, eldest daughter of Randal MacDonnell (qv), 1st earl of Antrim. His father, heir to the earldom of Westmeath, died in 1625, and Richard spent most of his childhood in England. At the outbreak of the Ulster rebellion in October 1641, the authorities placed him in custody at Beaumaris for eight months, presumably as a means of ensuring the loyalty of his grandfather and namesake, Richard Nugent (qv), 1st earl of Westmeath. The earl died in May 1642, and Richard returned to Ireland two years later, taking his seat in the house of lords in April 1644. He married at this time Mary, daughter of Sir Thomas Nugent of Moyrath, and widow of Christopher Plunkett, heir of Lord Dunsany.
In 1645 the royalist lord lieutenant, James Butler (qv), marquess of Ormond, granted Westmeath a warrant to raise a troop of horse and regiment of foot. By the autumn of 1645, however, the earl had joined forces with the confederate general Thomas Preston (qv), although probably at the instigation of Ormond, with whom he remained in close contact. Westmeath initially sided with the clergy in opposing the 1646 settlement with Ormond, but he supported the unsuccessful peace initiative sponsored by the royalist Ulick Burke (qv), marquis of Clanricarde, in November 1646. Westmeath campaigned throughout Leinster with Preston during the summer of 1647, until his capture by the parliamentarian general Michael Jones (qv) at the battle of Dungan's Hill (August 1647). Exchanged for Hugh Montgomery (qv), Viscount Ards, in March 1648, Westmeath fought with the peace faction against the papal nuncio, GianBattista Rinuccini (qv), in the ensuing confederate civil war. He attended the final general assembly in September 1648, and was elected as one of the commissioners of treaty to negotiate a new peace deal with Ormond. After the second Ormond treaty (January 1649) Westmeath served as a colonel in the royalist army, and in 1650 he assumed overall command of the Leinster forces. His lacklustre performance aroused severe criticism in Irish catholic circles, particularly after his surrender to the parliamentarians in May 1652. Exempted from pardon in August, Westmeath successfully appealed his case and in 1653 was granted one-third of his original estates. He also obtained a licence to export troops to the Low Countries, and travelled there at the end of 1653. He returned to Ireland shortly afterwards and in 1656 received 11,574 acres in Galway, Leitrim, and Roscommon in the transplantation process. On 6 August 1659 the commissioners of the restored ‘long parliament’ ordered his arrest, along with other leading catholics in Connacht who were considered a threat to the regime. Westmeath, however, had returned to the continent where he was engaged in a conspiracy with General Schomberg (qv) of the French army to deliver Dunkirk to King Charles.
After the restoration of the monarchy, Charles II named Westmeath as one of those who ‘merited our special grace and favour’, and the act of settlement in 1662 stipulated that he recover his full estate. Like many catholics, however, he encountered severe opposition from the protestant landed interest, requiring further provisions to be made for him in the act of explanation of 1665. By the late 1660s Westmeath had recovered most of the family lands and his final years were spent in quiet retirement, rebuilding the abbey at Fore. He died in 1684, twelve years after his wife; they had nine children, Christopher, Thomas, Joseph, William (who sat as MP for Co. Westmeath in the 1689 Jacobite parliament), Mary, Anne, Alison, Elizabeth, and Jane. His eldest son and heir, Christopher, died before his father, so it was the 2nd earl's grandson, also called Richard, who became 3rd earl of Westmeath.