William, Marquess of Kildare, later 2nd Duke of Leinster (1749-1804) took the courtesy title Marquess of Kildare when his father was created Duke of Leinster in 1766. In 1769 he was elected to the Irish House of Commons for both the county of Kildare and City of Dublin. He chose to represent Dublin, and in 1772 served as High Sheriff of Kildare. Soon after succeeding to the dukedom on 19 November 1773 he married Emilia Olivia, daughter of St George Usher St George, Baron St George of Hatley St George. In 1783 when the Order of St Patrick was founded for the Irish nobility in imitation of the Scottish Order of the Thistle, he was created first knight. He died at Carton on 20th October, 1804 and was buried in Kildare Abbey.
The present trowel forms part of an important group of silver and gold articles engraved and presented to William, to his father James Fitzgerald, 1st Duke of Leinster (1722-1773) and to his son Augustus Frederick (1791-1874), which were originally sold at Sotheby's in 1984. Six important Irish gold freedom-boxes and a pair of Irish gold thimbles from this group were sold at Christie's in November 2001.