FitzGerald, Elizabeth (c.1527–1589), the ‘Fair Geraldine’, was second daughter among five children of Gerald FitzGerald (qv), 9th earl of Kildare, and his second wife, Lady Elizabeth Grey, fourth daughter of Thomas Grey, marquis of Dorset. Elizabeth, a first cousin of Henry VIII, was born in Ireland but was taken to England in October 1533, with her sisters, Margaret and Cecily, by her mother, who hoped to use her family connections to prevent Kildare's recall from the lord deputyship. Her father died in the Tower of London in September 1534 and her rebellious stepbrother, Thomas FitzGerald (qv), was executed in February 1537. The family, impoverished by forfeiture, went to live at Beaumanoir in Leicestershire, the home of Elizabeth's uncle, Lord Leonard Grey (qv), who was serving as lord deputy of Ireland.
In 1538 Elizabeth became maid of honour to Princess Mary at Hunsdon, and in 1540 she joined the household of the newly married queen, Katherine Howard, at Hampton Court. The queen's cousin, Henry Howard, earl of Surrey, whose father, the duke of Norfolk, had earlier befriended Elizabeth's father, had already been struck by her beauty which he celebrated in a poem entitled ‘A description and praise of his love Geraldine’. This was the only poem in a series of ‘songes and sonettes’, written in similar vein and first published in 1557, that was explicitly addressed to Elizabeth: however, it was commonly assumed that all had been inspired by the ‘Fair Geraldine’. Late in the century, Thomas Nash published a romance, The unfortunate traveller, or the life of Jack Wilton (1594), which described Surrey in Italy visiting the celebrated alchemist Cornelius Agrippa, who revealed Elizabeth's image to him in a magic mirror, and defying all present at a tournament in Florence to show such beauty as hers.
Drayton used these stories in his ‘heroical epistle’ of The Lady Geraldine to the earl of Surrey (1598) and Sir Walter Scott followed suit in his Lay of the last minstrel. In fact, when Surrey first noticed Elizabeth she was not more than ten years old; he was already married to Lady Francis, daughter of John Vere, 15th earl of Oxford, and his fidelity to her has never been questioned. His affection for Lady Elizabeth appears to have been a chivalric conceit, perhaps prompted by the contrast between her beauty and the pathos of her situation.
In 1543, two years after the execution of Catherine Howard (and of Leonard Grey), Elizabeth married Sir Anthony Browne, KG, master of the horse, a widower of sixty. The wedding was attended by Henry VIII and his daughter Mary, and the sermon was preached by the bishop of London, Nicholas Ridley. She bore him two children, both of whom died young. Surrey was executed in 1547 and Elizabeth's husband died in 1548.
After Henry VIII's death in 1547 the Fitzgerald influence at court was significant. Elizabeth's mother was instrumental in fulfilling Protector Somerset's wish to have Kildare's heir, her son Gerald, removed from his dangerous continental associations and brought back to England in 1549. Elizabeth was a lady in waiting to King Edward's sister Mary, as was her step-daughter, Mabel Browne, and her brother Edward was a gentleman pensioner at court. In 1552 she married Edward Fiennes de Clinton, lord admiral of England, who was twelve years her senior and had been twice widowed. Gerald (qv) was restored to part of his paternal estates by King Edward in the same year and to the earldom of Kildare by Queen Mary in 1554. Shortly afterwards he married Mabel Browne.
Elizabeth's marriage was childless. She became countess of Lincoln in 1572 on her husband's elevation to the peerage. On his death in January 1585, she acted as executrix of his will and erected a table monument to him in St George's chapel, Windsor, which bore both their effigies. When she died, without issue, in March 1589 she was buried with him beneath the monument. Her portrait, in the manner of Holbein, is at Woburn Abbey.