Plunket, Christopher (d. 1649), 2nd earl of Fingall , catholic confederate, was the eldest son of Lucas Plunket, the first earl, and his second wife, Susanna, daughter of Edward, first Baron Brabazon (qv), who married in 1611. Christopher became Lord Killeen when his father was elevated to an earldom in 1628, and had reached his majority and married by the time of his father's death in 1637. From his father he inherited substantial ancestral lands in Meath and recently acquired plantation estates in Cavan, together with a tradition of forceful participation in the political activities of the influential Old English leadership group known as the lords of the Pale. He carried that tradition on in a minor key in the parliament that convened in March 1640. Although he was appointed at once to the committee of privileges, it was not until February 1641 that he came to prominence as a member of two important committees. One was deputed, in the context of the impending trial of the earl of Strafford (qv), to prepare a briefing on Irish grievances for the house's committee in London: Fingall's particular role was to report the committee's recommendations on the enactment of the ‘Graces’, which his father and other agents had negotiated in 1628. The second was concerned with preventing the judiciary from evading a direction to rule on allegations of the illegality of recent government practices catalogued in a set of parliamentary ‘queries’: reporting on 23 February, it denounced the judges for having argued ‘as if this parliament were subordinate to the parliament of England’ (Journals of the house of lords, 61).
In the days after the outbreak of rebellion on 22 October 1641, Fingall joined his fellow lords of the Pale in protesting their loyalty to the king and requesting that they be provided with arms for their defence. In the subsequent two-day session of parliament, he joined his fellow catholics in attempting to broker a political solution to the uprising and was chosen as a member of the aborted parliamentary commission appointed on 17 November to confer with those in arms. The reiterated assertion that he was outlawed on the same day is unfounded. He was among the Palesmen who agreed to join the northern rebels on the hill of Crofty in early December, and he attended the ensuing organisational meeting at Tara on 7 December, when he was appointed general of horse for Meath and given responsibility for supervising arrangements for the contribution of the baronies of Deece and Skreen to the ‘catholic army’ besieging Drogheda. Within two days, pending the completion of plans for a general levy of provisions, he issued orders for the threshing of corn belonging to protestants. Having signed a collective refusal of the Pale peers to attend the lords justices in Dublin, Fingall joined six other lords and gentlemen of the Pale on 19 December to prepare material for an intermediary, Sir John Reade, to take to England on their behalf: a petition to the king, seeking a truce and consideration of their grievances, an apologia for their conduct, and a letter to the queen asking her to intercede.
Fingall commanded a troop at the siege of Drogheda, but once the siege was raised early in March 1642 or, perhaps more probably, once the king's proclamation against the rebellion came to hand and Reade's role as negotiator was repudiated by his imprisonment and torture in Dublin on 23 March, his active involvement ceased. He intermittently attended meetings of the confederate general assembly, in which peers sat as of right with elected representatives, but he did not serve on the supreme council or on any committee of significance. There is no record of his having taken sides in any of the divisions which bedevilled the confederates until the rift which followed the publication of the supreme council's cease-fire agreement with the parliamentarian earl of Inchiquin (qv) on 20 May 1648. The papal nuncio, Archbishop Rinuccini (qv), at once excommunicated all supporters of the truce, and the council responded on 27 June by publishing a new oath of association, pledging support for the council, which had been approved by forty-five lords and gentlemen summoned to meet in Kilkenny as a ‘grand council’, the earl of Fingall among them. He had already resumed military duty after the English civil war ended in mid 1646 and had fought with General Preston's Leinster army when it was defeated by Colonel Michael Jones's parliamentary force at the battle of Dungan's Hill on 12 August 1647. Fingall encountered Jones again as a member of Ormond's defeated army on 2 August 1649 at the battle of Rathmines, where he was fatally wounded and captured. He died less than two weeks later in Dublin Castle and was buried on 18 August in St Catherine's church.
Fingall married Mabel Barnewall, whose mother, Bridget, a daughter of Henry, earl of Kildare, was the sister of his father's first wife. Her father, Nicholas, joined King Charles in England during the civil war and was raised to the peerage as Viscount Kingsland. It is likely that his son-in-law shared his political values. Fingall was succeeded by his ten-year-old son, Luke Plunket (qv), whose inheritance was confiscated by the Act for the Settlement of Ireland of 12 August 1652 and restored by the court of claims in 1662. Mabel married James Barnewall in 1653 and lived until 1700.