Wingfield, Sir Richard (1551?–1634), 1st Viscount Powerscourt and soldier, was eldest son of Sir Richard Wingfield, governor of Portsmouth, and his wife Christian Fitzwilliam of Milton. He was born into a family with a strong martial tradition: his brothers and uncles bore arms for the crown in the Low Countries, France, and Ireland. He came to Ireland c.1573 to serve as a soldier under his uncle Sir William Fitzwilliam (qv), twice lord deputy of Ireland. By August 1580 he was deputy to the vice-treasurer of Ireland, but in 1585 he went to serve in the Low Countries as a colonel, surrendering an Irish government pension. After taking part in the Portuguese expedition in 1589, he fought (1591–4) in Brittany, France, becoming a ‘sergeant-major’ (a rank well above that of the modern title). In late 1594 he returned to Ireland, where he was wounded in a battle near Newry with the rebel forces of Hugh O'Neill (qv), earl of Tyrone. After being knighted in Dublin (9 November 1595), he was invalided back to England, swiftly recovering to participate in the Cadiz expedition as colonel in June 1596.
On 27 January 1600 he was made marshal of the Irish army and was a member of the Irish privy council by 24 March. He returned once more to Ireland in early 1600 and played a key role in organising the royal army during the latter part of the Nine Years War. In March 1600 the lord deputy, Mountjoy (qv), complained of the double burden of having to govern both the country and the army in Wingfield's absence. Wingfield toured the garrisons throughout Ireland, ensuring that standards were being maintained and that no abuses were being committed. Frequently at Mountjoy's side during the governor's campaigns into the fastness of Ulster, he played a prominent role in both the siege and battle of Kinsale in late 1601. He was granted the lands of Rebane, Queen's Co., in March 1602. After the final suppression of the rebellion, he was granted in October 1603 a 21-year lease of the district of Ferncullen (formerly held by the O'Tooles) in north Co. Wicklow. He established his residence there at Powerscourt castle.
In May 1608, he was charged with crushing the uprising of Sir Cahir O'Doherty (qv) in north-west Ulster. In late May, Wingfield's forces overran the O'Doherty heartland in the Inishowen peninsula, devastating it with brutal efficiency. He also acted decisively on 15 June by arresting Sir Niall Garvach O'Donnell (qv), who had sought to play both sides in the conflict. Subjected to relentless harassment by Wingfield's forces, O'Doherty rashly gave battle at Kilmacrenan, Co.Donegal, on 5 July and was killed by a stray bullet; his death brought Wingfield's rebellion to an end. This marked the triumphant end to distinguished military career. The grateful king granted him in June 1609 the full ownership of the property he had previously leased in Ferncullen. Thereafter he was a prominent and much respected figure in administrative circles, being lord justice in 1614 and 1622, and a member of the council of Munster from 1615. His political influence waxed during the lord deputyship of Sir Arthur Chichester (qv) (1605–1616), and he was heavily engaged in army affairs and in the progress of the Ulster plantation as part of which he was granted 2,000 acres at Benburb, Co. Tyrone, in September 1611. He also received 1,000 acres at Ballnabarney as part of the Wexford plantation in November 1613. He sat as MP for Downpatrick in the 1613–15 parliament after being rejected by the largely Scottish electorate of Co. Down, acting as one of the chief government spokesmen in the house of commons. On 1 February 1619 he was created Viscount Powerscourt, having paid £2,000 for the privilege. He died on 9 September 1634.
He married Elizabeth, widow of Edward, Lord Cromwell, of Oakham in Rutland, and daughter of William Rugge of Felmingham, Norfolk. They had no children; his cousin, Sir Edward Wingfield, succeeded him. There is a portrait of him by Cornelius Janssen at Powerscourt.