The preliminary work on the Timelines of the Regency Era has now been presented. 50 years of happenings, events, births and deaths of prominent figures. It is not over. There are probably a good thousand more events to be recorded. In fact, at this point only those details through 1802 have been added into the Timeline.
The rest takes a great deal of editing, as well as searching and placing the graphics. The first years of 1787 to 1801 can all be found at Regency Assembly Press’ Timeline page
There are a lot of pictures shown there. It will add to your visualization of the Regency. But now, what to include in my daily posts. For months now we have had something new every day, and by the number of hits we are not getting, there is a small following.
Soon we will have an Edwardian Timeline, but for now, Regency Personalities is something I have thought to start on.
Today, the next king of our period, William IV. Much of this is work I did for the English Historical Fiction Authors, of which I am a member of.
William IV ‘Sailor King’
August 21st 1765 to June 20th 1837
William, George III’s third son, served in the Royal Navy in his youth and was nicknamed the “Sailor King”. He served in North America and the Carribean, but saw little actual fighting. Since his two older brothers died (George IV and Frederick, Duke of York) without leaving legitimate issue, he came to the throne when he was 64 years old.
There is a dichotomy about William for he has arcs in his life in regard to women and his actions during the Regency. When younger, he was a bounder the way we portray them now in our Regency Romances. Then he moves into his devoted phase with Dorothea Jordan. Twenty years (1791-1811) and ten children in domestic bliss at Bushy House.
The last of the arcs I think that can be attributed to William is his devotion to the succession. Adelaide gave him three attempts, one girl living only one day (Princess Charlotte), the other, 12 weeks (Princess Elizabeth.) A sad tale. But William remained devoted to Adelaide for the twenty years they were together until his death.
With his marriage to Adelaide he was transformed. He worked to become healthy and Adelaide took care of his finances turning their household from being in debt, to having money in the bank.
During the period before he became king, he was Lord High Admiral and as such he ended the use of the Cat o’ Nine Tails for most offenses. He improved the fleets gunnery. And got the fleet to be better prepared for action. He commissioned the first steam warship. After this period he served in the House of Lords.
Of his illegitimate issue with Dorothea Jordan (Bland) his eldest son was made Earl of Munster, and thus these descendants are firmly a part of the Nobility.
His reign saw several reforms: child labour addressed, the poor laws were updated, slavery was abolished in nearly all the Empire, and the electoral process reconfigured in the Reform Act of 1832. Though William did not engage in politics as much as his brother or his father, he was the last monarch to appoint a Prime Minister contrary to the will of Parliament.
William had a few short words for Lord Grey, the Whig prime minister, when the reform of Parliament was under consideration. Lord Grey requested the king to dissolve parliament, as a preliminary to a general election and victory for Reform. For the only time in his life the agitated king responded with verse:
‘I consider Dissoultion
Tantamount to Revolution.’
The need for an heir was so important, that Adelaide who was barren was made scandalous.
‘Jonathan Peel told me yesterday morning that L[ady] A[lice] Kennedy had sent word to his wife that the Queen is with child; if it be true, and a queer thing if it is, it will hardly come of anything at her age, and with her health; but what a difference it would make!’
this from The Greville Memoirs
Just a few anecdotes from these men and women who were the rulers of our Regency. It shows that they were capable of great things, even though they still were people.
When William was forced to give up Mrs. Jordan, for he had to try and get a legitimate child for the succession, he made one request after they separated. That she not perform for money and thus embarrass his stature, for it did seem likely he might succeed his father, but surely a legitimate child would.
Mrs. Jordan though had other children who had incurred debts, that were not FitzClarence children, those born of William. And Mrs. Jordan felt obligated to help them, so she did perform. And she was then cut off. Rumors circulated that William demanded repayment (probably false rumors–DWW.)
From Windsor in ‘My Hanoverian Ancestors’ we have: Enough wit was left her, however, to signify her refusal by sending him a playbill with this notice: ‘Positively no money refunded after the curtain has risen.’
That when younger he took full advantage of being a Prince of England, and apparently quite popular and what we might attribute as coarse, but was probably expected behavior and more that of a rake and cad when we look back two hundred years later. In Hanover (which he would be king of as well) he found that the ladies there were not near as enticing as the ladies of Westminster and England. He wrote a letter of his exploits. How he was forced to perform (have sex)
“with a lady of the town against a wall or in the middle of the parade…”
Being a sailor with a woman in every port it would seem. (It is easy to think that the spares, for William was a spare at this time, can lead a life different than most, and yet there are many men who have such chutzpah in regards to their pursuit of sex and treatment of women.)