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Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency (I include those who were born before 1811 and who died after 1795), today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Thomas Erskine 1st Baron Erskine
10 January 1750 – 17 November 1823

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Thomas Erskine

Thomas Erskine 1st Baron Erskine was the third and youngest surviving son of Henry Erskine, 10th Earl of Buchan, and was born in a tenement at the head of South Grays Close on the High Street in Edinburgh. His older brothers were David (Lord Cardross and later the 11th Earl of Buchan) and Henry (later Lord Advocate of Scotland). His mother, Agnes Steuart, was the daughter of a solicitor general for Scotland and undertook much of her children’s education as the family, though noble, were not rich. The family moved to St Andrews, where they could live more cheaply, and Erskine attended the grammar school there. The family’s money having been spent on the education of his older brothers, Erskine, aged fourteen, reluctantly abandoned his formal education for the time being and went to sea as a midshipman. His family meanwhile moved to Bath to become members of the Methodist community headed by Selina, Countess of Huntingdon. One of Erskine’s sisters, Anne Agnes, was to become treasurer of Selina, Countess of Huntingdon’s charities.

Erskine went to sea as a midshipman in the Tartar, under captain Sir David Lindsay, who was a nephew of Lord Mansfield and a friend of the Erskine family. The Tartar set sail for the Caribbean, where Erskine was to spend the next four years, rising to the rank of acting lieutenant. When Erskine was eighteen he resigned from the Navy. His ship had been paid off, there were no commissions available, and he didn’t want to return to sea as a midshipman after having been an acting lieutenant. The 10th Earl of Buchan had recently died, and Erskine now had just enough money to buy a commission in the army, becoming an ensign in the 1st (Royal) Regiment of Foot. He was stationed first at Berwick and then on Jersey. On 29 March 1770 Erskine married Frances Moore at Gretna Green, against the wishes of her father, Daniel Moore who was member of parliament for Great Marlowe. Frances was the granddaughter of John Moore, who had been attorney general of Pennsylvania. Erskine’s regiment was then posted to Minorca, and Frances went with him. Before meeting Frances, Erskine had written about the qualities he was looking for in a bride: “Let then my ornament be far from the tinsel glare, let it be fair yet modest, let it rather delight than dazzle, rather shine like the mild beams of the morning than the blaze of the noon. I seek in my fair one a winning female softness both in person and mind”. Erskine appears to have found these qualities in Frances: she is described on her memorial in Hampstead Church as “the most faithful and affectionate of women”. The couple had four sons and four daughters.

While he was stationed in Jersey and Minorca, Erskine had on occasion preached sermons to his men, prompting one biographer to say that “a taste for oratory that ultimately would lead on to his true career originated in those soldier sermons”.

He also demonstrated his future skills as an advocate in a pamphlet entitled “Observations on the Prevailing Abuses in the British Army Arising from the Corruption of Civil Government with a Proposal toward Obtaining an Addition to Their Pay“.

Whilst on leave in London in 1772, the charming and well-connected young officer was able to mix in literary circles and met Dr Johnson. James Boswell, in his Life of Johnson, recalled meeting “a young officer in the regimentals of the Scots royal, who talked with a vivacity, fluency and precision so uncommon, that he attracted particular attention. He proved to be the Honorable Thomas Erskine, youngest brother to the Earl of Buchan, who has since risen into such brilliant reputation at the Bar in Westminster-hall”. Although Erskine was appointed a lieutenant in April 1773, he decided to leave the army and, with the encouragement of his family and Lord Mansfield, study for the Bar.

Erskine was admitted as a student of Lincoln’s Inn on 26 April 1775. He discovered that the period of study required before being called to the Bar could be reduced from five years to three for holders of a degree from Oxford or Cambridge universities. He therefore on 13 January 1776 entered himself as a gentleman commoner on the books of Trinity College, Cambridge where, as the son of an earl, he was entitled to gain a degree without sitting any examinations. He did however win the English declamation prize for an oration on the “glorious revolution” of 1688. At the same time, he was a pupil in the chambers of first Francis Buller and then George Wood. These were years of poverty for Erskine and his growing family: he installed Frances and the children in cheap lodgings in Kentish Town and survived on a gift of £300 from a relative, and the sale of his army commission. Jeremy Bentham, who knew Erskine at this time, described him as “so shabbily dressed as to be quite remarkable”.

In the summer of 1778 Erskine was awarded a degree and was called to the Bar on 3 July. While many newly qualified barristers, especially those without contacts to put briefs their way, took years to establish themselves, Erskine’s success was immediate and brilliant. His first case, that of Thomas Baillie, came to him by chance. The case involved the Greenwich Hospital for Seamen, of which Captain Baillie was lieutenant-governor. Baillie had uncovered abuses in the management of the hospital and, having failed to interest the directors and governors of the hospital or the lords of the Admiralty, he published a pamphlet and was then sued by the agents of John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich who was first lord of the Admiralty and had been placing his agents in positions of authority in the hospital. Hearing of a newly qualified barrister who had himself been a seaman and was sympathetic to his cause, Baillie appointed Erskine to his team although he already had four counsel. Erskine was the most junior, but it was his brilliant speech that won the case and exonerated Baillie. Despite a warning from the judge, Erskine attacked Lord Sandwich calling him “the dark mover behind the scene of iniquity”. After his success in the Baillie case, Erskine had no shortage of work and a few months later was retained by Admiral Augustus Keppel in his court martial at Portsmouth. Keppel was acquitted and gave Erskine £1,000 in gratitude. For the first time in his life Erskine was financially secure.

In 1781 Erskine had his first opportunity to address a jury when he defended Lord George Gordon who had been charged with high treason for instigating the anti-Catholic riots of 1780. Erskine’s defence not only achieved Gordon’s acquittal but also dealt a blow to the English legal doctrine of constructive treason. The case established Erskine as the country’s most successful barrister. By 1783, when he received a patent of precedence, he had earnt enough to pay off all his debts and accumulate £8–9,000. He could afford a country house, Evergreen Villa, in Hampstead as well as a house in Lincoln’s Inn Fields.

In 1783, when the Fox-North Coalition came into power, Erskine entered parliament as Whig member for Portsmouth. Erskine’s friend Charles James Fox had been eager to have such a brilliant lawyer join the ranks of Whig members, but Erskine’s speeches failed to make the impact in parliament that they did in court. Erskine lost his seat the following year in the general election, becoming one of “Fox’s martyrs” when Pitt’s party made large gains, although he would regain the seat in 1790.

The loss of his parliamentary seat enabled Erskine to concentrate on his legal practice. In 1786, when he was thirty-six years old and had been practising at the Bar for only eight years, he was able to write: “I continue highly successful in my profession, being now, I may say, as high as I can go at the Bar. The rest depends on politics, which at present are adverse.” Amongst his notable cases in 1780s was his successful defence of William Davies Shipley, dean of St Asaph (and son of Jonathan Shipley) who was tried in 1784 at Shrewsbury for seditious libel for publishing Principles of Government, in a Dialogue between a Gentleman and a Farmer, a tract by his brother-in-law Sir William Jones advancing radical views on the relationship between subjects and the state. Erskine’s defence anticipated the Libel Act 1792, which laid down the principle that it is for the jury (who previously had only decided the question of publication) and not the judge to decide whether or not a publication is a libel.

In 1789 he was counsel for John Stockdale, a bookseller, who was charged with seditious libel in publishing John Logan’s pamphlet in support of Warren Hastings, whose impeachment was then proceeding. Erskine’s speech, which resulted in the Stockdale’s acquittal, argued that a defendant should not be convicted if his composition, taken as a whole, did not go beyond a free and fair discussion, even if selected passages might be libellous. Henry Brougham considered this to be one of Erskine’s finest speeches: “It is justly regarded, by all English lawyers, as a consummate specimen of the art of addressing a jury”.

Three years later he would, against the advice of his friends, take on the defence of Thomas Paine who had been charged with seditious libel after the publication of the second part of his Rights of Man. Paine was tried in his absence; he was in France. Erskine argued for the right of a people to criticise, reform and change its government; he made the point that a free press produces security in the government. But in this case his arguments failed to convince the special jury, who returned a verdict of guilty without even retiring.

Erskine’s speech is also remembered for a passage on the duty of barristers to take on even unpopular cases:

“I will for ever, at all hazards, assert the dignity, independence, and integrity of the English Bar, without which impartial justice, the most valuable part of the English constitution, can have no existence. From the moment that any advocate can be permitted to say that he will or will not stand between the Crown and the subject arraigned in the court where he daily sits to practise, from that moment the liberties of England are at an end.”

Erskine’s decision to defend Paine cost him his position as attorney-general (legal advisor) to the Prince of Wales, to which he had been appointed in 1786.

In 1794 William Pitt’s government, fearful of a revolution, decided to take action against people who were campaigning for parliamentary reform. Habeas corpus was suspended and twelve members of radical societies were imprisoned and charged with a variety of offences amounting to high treason. Erskine and Vicary Gibbs were assigned as counsel to seven of them. They were not paid for their services, as it was considered unprofessional to take fees for defending people charged with high treason. The treason trials began on 28 October before Lord Chief Justice Eyre at the Old Bailey with the trial of Thomas Hardy, a shoemaker and secretary of the London Corresponding Society. After eight days of evidence and speeches, including Erskine’s seven-hour speech on the final day, and several hours deliberation, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty. Erskine was hailed as a hero by the crowds outside who unharnessed his horses (which he never saw again ) and pulled his carriage through the streets. Although it was usual in cases where several people were jointly charged with high treason to discharge the rest if the first was acquitted, the government persisted with the trials of John Horne Tooke and John Thelwall. They too, defended by Erskine and Vicary Gibbs, were acquitted and it was only then that the prosecution was halted. A disappointed government had to scrap a further 800 warrants of arrest.

Notable amongst the later cases of Erskine’s career was that of James Hadfield, a former soldier who had fired a shot at the king in Drury Lane Theatre. The shot missed and Hadfield was charged with treason. Erskine called a large number of witnesses who testified to Hadfield’s sometimes bizarre behaviour, a surgeon who testified to the nature of the head injuries that Hadfield had sustained in battle, and a doctor, Alexander Crichton, who gave evidence that Hadfield was insane. Erskine argued that, although Hadfield could appear rational, he was in the grip of a delusion and could not control his actions. He summed up: “I must convince you, not only that the unhappy prisoner was a lunatic, within my own definition of lunacy, but that the act in question was the immediate unqualified offspring of the disease”. The judge, Lord Kenyon, was convinced by Erskine’s evidence and argument and stopped the trial, acquitted Hadfield and ordered him to be detained. The trial led to two acts of parliament: the Criminal Lunatics Act 1800 which provided for the detention of people who were acquitted of a crime by reason of insanity, and the Treason Act 1800.

In 1806 Erskine was offered the Lord Chancellorship in the Ministry of All the Talents formed by Lord Grenville and Charles Fox on the death of William Pitt. Fox’s original plan had been to offer Erskine the chief judgeship of the Common Pleas or the King’s Bench when one of the holders was elevated to Lord Chancellor. But both Lord Ellenborough, chief justice of the King’s Bench and Sir James Mansfield, Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, declined the chancellorship. Erskine was therefore appointed although he had no experience in Chancery. He was created a peer to become Lord Chancellor. The Prince of Wales, who had inherited the Duchy of Cornwall, chose Erskine’s title, Baron Erskine of Restormel Castle, while the motto, “trial by jury” was Erskine’s own. Frances Erskine did not live to enjoy the title of Lady Erskine; she died a few weeks before her husband took the seals of office.

Although Erskine lacked experience in equity, only one of the judgements he made during his brief tenure as Lord Chancellor was appealed against and that, concerning Peter Thellusson’s will, was upheld. His handling of the impeachment of Lord Melville was generally admired. Along with Lords Grenville, Spencer and Ellenborough, Erskine was commissioned by the king to enquire into the morals of his daughter-in-law Caroline of Brunswick in what became known as the “delicate investigation”.

Erskine was Lord Chancellor for only fourteen months, having to give up the seals of office when the ministry of all the talents resigned over a disagreement with the king concerning the question of Catholic Emancipation. The king gave Erskine a week to finish pending cases, and Erskine took advantage of this to appoint one of his sons-in-law, Edward Morris, as master of Chancery.

As ex-chancellor, Erskine was not permitted to return to the Bar. He was awarded a pension of £4000 a year and remained a member of the House of Lords. He was only 57 when the ministry of all the talents fell, and hoped that he might return to office when the Prince of Wales became regent. In the event, however, the regent retained the ministry of Spencer Perceval and the Whigs would not be in power again until 1830, seven years after Erskine’s death. Erskine largely retired from public life, rarely speaking in the House of Lords. In 1818 he married for the second time. His bride was a former apprentice bonnet-maker, Sarah Buck, with whom he had already had two children. The couple travelled to Gretna Green for the marriage, with an angry adult son in hot pursuit. It was a tempestuous relationship, and the marriage ended in separation a few years later. In spite of his generous pension and the enormous sums he had earnt at the Bar, Erskine experienced financial difficulties in his later years, having to sell his villa in Hampstead and move to a house in Pimlico. He also bought an estate in Sussex, but his agricultural efforts were not a great success. He wrote a political romance, Armata, which ran to several editions.

Causes which Erskine took up in his retirement were animal rights, Greek independence, and the defence of Queen Caroline. He had always been an animal lover; amongst his favourite animals were a Newfoundland dog called Toss who used to accompany him to chambers, a macaw, a goose and two leeches. He introduced a bill in the House of Lords for the prevention of cruelty to animals, arguing that humanity’s dominion over them was given by God as a moral trust. It was the first time he had proposed a change in the law. The bill was accepted in the Lords but opposed in the Commons; William Windham arguing that a law against cruelty to animals was incompatible with fox-hunting and horse racing. Eventually the bill was introduced in the Commons and passed as statute 3 Geo 4 c71. When Caroline was being prosecuted for divorce Erskine spoke against the Bill of Pains and Penalties and, when the government dropped the bill, expressed his approval: “My Lords, I am an old man, and my life, whether it has been for good or evil, has been passed under the sacred rule of Law. In this moment I feel my strength renovated by that rule being restored”. He was invited to a public dinner in Edinburgh in February 1820, and made his first trip to Scotland since he had left it on the Tartar over fifty years before.

In 1823 Erskine set out by sea on another visit to Scotland with one of his sons, hoping to see his brother the Earl of Buchan. But he became ill with a chest infection on the journey and was put ashore at Scarborough. He managed to travel to the home of his brother Henry’s widow in Almondell in West Lothian, where they were joined by the earl. He died at Almondell on 17 November 1823 and was buried in the family burial-place at Uphall in Linlithgowshire. His widow survived him by over thirty years. She, as reports in the Times revealed, was reduced to poverty and had to rely on a small charitable allowance to survive. Even these meagre payments were withheld by Erskine’s executors when she tried to prevent them sending her son Hampden away to school, and she had to appeal to the lord mayor of London. She died in 1856.

Erskine’s first marriage produced four sons and four daughters:

  • David Montagu Erskine (1776–1855) was a member of parliament and diplomat;
  • Henry David (1786–1859) was Dean of Ripon;
  • Thomas (1788–1864) became a judge of the Court of Common Pleas;
  • Esmé Steuart (1789–1817) fought at the Battle of Waterloo where he lost an arm (his widow Eliza married Admiral James Norton, who also lost an arm in action).
  • Frances (d. 1859) married Samuel Holland, Precentor of Chichester and Rector of Poynings, Sussex (a grandson of Frances and Samuel was Thomas Erskine Holland the jurist);
  • Elizabeth (d, 1800) married her cousin Captain (later Sir) David Erskine, the illegitimate son of the 11th Earl of Buchan;
  • Mary (d. 1804) married lawyer Edward Morris.

With his second wife Erskine had one legitimate son, Hampden (b. 1821) and two children, Agnes and Erskine, born before the marriage.

Erskine’s eldest brother the 11th Earl of Buchan had no legitimate sons and was succeeded by a nephew, the son of Erskine’s brother Henry. When all Henry’s descendants in the direct male line died out in 1960 the seventh Baron Erskine (Donald Cardross Flower Erskine, Erskine’s great-great-greatgrandson) became the sixteenth Earl of Buchan.

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Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Admiral of the Fleet James Gambier 1st Baron Gambier
13 October 1756 – 19 April 1833

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James Gambier

James Gambier 1st Baron Gambier was born the second son of John Gambier, the Lieutenant Governor of the Bahamas and Deborah Stiles, a Bermudian, Gambier was brought up in England by an aunt. He was a nephew of Vice-Admiral James Gambier and of Admiral Lord Barham and became an uncle of the novelist and travel writer Georgiana Chatterton.

Gambier entered the Navy in 1767 as a midshipman on board the third-rate HMS Yarmouth, commanded by his uncle, which was serving as a guardship in the Medway, and followed him to serve on board the 60-gun fourth-rate HMS Salisbury in 1769 where he served on the North American Station. He transferred to the 50-gun fourth-rate HMS Chatham under Rear Admiral Parry, in 1772, in the Leeward Islands. Gambier was placed on the sloop HMS Spy and was then posted to England to serve on the 74-gun third-rate HMS Royal Oak, a guardship at Spithead.

He was commissioned as a lieutenant on 12 February 1777, in which rank he served in a successively in the sloop Shark, the 24-gun frigate HMS Hind, the third-rate HMS Sultan under Vice-Admiral Lord Shuldham, and then in HMS Ardent under his uncle’s flag. Lord Howe promoted Gambier to commander on 9 March 1778 and gave him command of the bomb ship HMS Thunder, which was promptly dismasted and surrendered to the French. He was taken prisoner for a short period and, after having been exchanged, he was made a post captain on 9 October 1778 and appointed to the 32-gun fifth-rate HMS Raleigh and saw action at the capture of Charleston in May 1780 during the American Revolutionary War. He was appointed commander of fifth-rate HMS Endymion, cruising in British waters, later in the year. In 1783, at the end of the War, he was placed on half-pay.

In February 1793 following the start of the French Revolutionary Wars, Gambier was appointed to command the 74-gun third-rate HMS Defence under Lord Howe. By faith an evangelical, he was regarded as an intensely religious man, nicknamed Dismal Jimmy, by the men under his command. As captain of the Defence Gambier saw action at the battle of the Glorious First of June in 1794, gaining the distinction of commanding the first ship to break through the enemy line and subsequently receiving the Naval Gold Medal.

Gambier became a Lord Commissioner of the Admiralty on the Admiralty Board led by Earl Spencer in March 1795. Promoted to rear-admiral on 1 June 1795 and to vice-admiral on 14 February 1799, Gambier left the Admiralty after the fall of the First Pitt the Younger Ministry in February 1801 and became third-in-command of the Channel Fleet under Admiral William Cornwallis, with his flag in the 98-gun second-rate HMS Neptune. He went on to be governor and commander-in-chief of Newfoundland in March 1802. In that capacity he gave property rights over arable land to local people allowing them to graze sheep and cattle there and also ensured that vacant properties along the shore could be leased to local people. It was around that time that he also bought Iver Grove in Buckinghamshire.

Gambier then returned to the Admiralty as a Lord Commissioner of the Admiralty on the Admiralty Board led by Viscount Melville when the Second Pitt the Younger Ministry was formed in May 1804. Promoted to full admiral on 9 November 1805, Gambier left the Admiralty in February 1806. He returned briefly for a third tour on the Admiralty Board led by Lord Mulgrave when the Second Portland Ministry was formed in April 1807.

In May 1807 Gambier volunteered to command the naval forces, with his flag in the second-rate HMS Prince of Wales, sent as part of the campaign against Copenhagen during the Napoleonic Wars. Together with General Lord Cathcart, he oversaw the bombardment of Copenhagen from 2 September until the Danes capitulated after three days (an incident that brought Gambier some notoriety in that the assault included a bombardment of the civilian quarter). Prizes included eighteen ships of the line, twenty-one frigates and brigs and twenty-five gunboats together with a large quantity of naval stores for which he received official thanks from Parliament, and on 3 November 1807 a peerage, becoming Baron Gambier, of Iver in the County of Buckingham.

In 1808 Gambier was appointed to command the Channel Fleet. In April 1809 he chased a squadron of French ships that had escaped from Brest into the Basque Roads. He called a council of war in which Lord Cochrane was given command of the inshore squadron, and who subsequently led the attack. Gambier refused to commit the Channel Fleet after Cochrane’s attack, using explosion vessels that encouraged the French squadron to warp further into the shallows of the estuary. This action resulted in the majority of the French fleet running aground at Rochefort.

Gambier was content with the blockading role played by the offshore squadron. Admiral Sir Eliab Harvey, who had commanded “Fighting Temeraire” at the Battle of Trafalgar, believed they had missed an opportunity to inflict further damage upon the French fleet. He told Gambier “I never saw a man so unfit for the command of a fleet as Your Lordship.” Cochrane threatened to use his parliamentary vote against Gambier in retaliation for not committing the fleet to action. Gambier called for a court martial to examine his conduct. The court martial, on 26 July 1809 on Gladiator in Portsmouth, exonerated Gambier. Consequently, neither Harvey nor Cochrane were appointed by the Admiralty to command for the remainder of the war. The episode had political and personal overtones. Gambier was connected by family and politics to the Tory prime minister William Pitt. In Parliament, Cochrane represented the riding of Westminster, which tended to vote Radical. In the aftermath of Basque Roads, Cochrane and Gambier quarreled and Gambier resentfully excluded Cochrane from the battle dispatches. There is little wonder that Cochrane took the unusual move of standing in opposition to parliament’s pro forma vote of thanks to Gambier.

In 1813 Gambier was part of the team negotiating the Treaty of Ghent, ending the War of 1812 between Britain and the United States. He was appointed a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath on 7 June 1815. Promoted to Admiral of the Fleet on 22 July 1830, he died at his home, Ivor House in Iver, on 19 April 1833 and was buried at St. Peter’s churchyard in Iver.

Gambier was a founding benefactor of Kenyon College in the United States, and the town that was founded with it. Gambier, Ohio is named after him, as is Mount Gambier, the extinct volcano in South Australia, and Gambier Island in British Columbia.

In July 1788 Gambier married Louisa Matthew; they had no children.

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Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

George Hamilton-Gordon 4th Earl of Aberdeen
28 January 1784 – 14 December 1860

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George Hamilton-Gordon

George Hamilton-Gordon 4th Earl of Aberdeen was born in Edinburgh on 28 January 1784, he was the eldest son of George Gordon, Lord Haddo, son of George Gordon, 3rd Earl of Aberdeen. His mother was Charlotte, youngest daughter of William Baird of Newbyth. He lost his father in 1791 and his mother in 1795 and was brought up by Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville and William Pitt the Younger. He was educated at Harrow, and St John’s College, Cambridge, where he graduated with a Master of Arts in 1804. Before this, however, he had become Earl of Aberdeen on his grandfather’s death in 1801, and had travelled all over Europe. On his return to England, he founded the Athenian Society. In 1805, he married Lady Catherine Elizabeth, daughter of John Hamilton, 1st Marquess of Abercorn.

In December 1805 Lord Aberdeen took his seat as a Tory Scottish representative peer in the House of Lords. In 1808, he was created a Knight of the Thistle. Following the death of his wife from tuberculosis in 1812 he joined the Foreign Service. He was appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Austria, and signed the Treaty of Töplitz between Britain and Austria in Vienna in October 1813. In the company of the Austrian Emperor, Francis II he was an observer at the decisive Coalition victory of the Battle of Leipzig in October 1813; he had met Napoleon in his earlier travels. He became one of the central diplomatic figures in European diplomacy at this time, and he was one of the British representatives at the Congress of Châtillon in February 1814, and at the negotiations which led to the Treaty of Paris in May of that year. Returning home he was created a peer of the United Kingdom as Viscount Gordon, of Aberdeen in the County of Aberdeen (1814), and made a member of the Privy Council. In July 1815 he married his former sister-in-law Harriet, daughter of John Douglas, and widow of James Hamilton, Viscount Hamilton; the marriage was much less happy than his first. During the ensuing thirteen years Aberdeen took a less prominent part in public affairs.

Aberdeen’s biographer Muriel Chamberlain summarises “Religion never came easy to him”. In his Scots landowning capacity “North of the border, he considered himself ex officio a Presbyterian”; in England “he privately considered himself an Anglican”, as early as 1840 told Gladstone he preferred what Aberdeen called “the sister church [of England]” and when in London worshipped at St James’s Piccadilly. He was ultimately buried in the Anglican parish church at Stanmore, Middlesex.

He was a member of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland from 1818 to 1828 and exercised his existing rights to present ministers to parishes on his Scottish estates through a time when the right of churches to veto the appointment or ‘call’ of a minister became so contentious as to lead in 1843 to the schism known as “the Disruption” when a third of ministers broke away to form the Free Church of Scotland. In the House of Lords, in 1840 and 1843, he raised two Compromise Bills to allow presbyteries but not congregations the right of veto. The first failed to pass (and was voted against by the General Assembly) but the latter, raised post-schism, became law for Scotland and remained in force until patronage of Scots livings was abolished in 1874.

Lord Aberdeen served as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster between January and June 1828 and subsequently as Foreign Secretary until 1830 under the Duke of Wellington. He resigned with Wellington over the Reform Bill of 1832.

He was Secretary of State for War and the Colonies between 1834 and 1835, and again Foreign Secretary between 1841 and 1846 under Sir Robert Peel. It was during his second stint as Foreign Secretary, that he had the harbor settlement of ‘Little Hong Kong’, on the south side of Hong Kong Island named after him. It was probably the most productive period of his career, that he settled two disagreements with the US – the Northeast Boundary dispute by the Webster-Ashburton Treaty (1842), and the Oregon dispute by the Oregon Treaty of 1846. He also worked successfully to improve relationships with France, where Guizot had become a personal friend. He enjoyed the trust of Queen Victoria, which was still important for a Foreign Secretary. He again followed his leader and resigned with Peel over the issue of the Corn Laws.

After Peel’s death in 1850 he became the recognised leader of the Peelites. In July 1852, a general election of Parliament was held which resulted in the election of 325 Tory/Conservative party members to Parliament. This represented 42.7% seats in Parliament. The main opposition to the Tory/Conservative Party was the Whig Party, which elected 292 members of the party to the Parliament in July 1852. Although occupying fewer seats than the Tory/Conservatives, the Whigs had a chance to draw support from the minor parties and independents who were also elected in July 1852. Lord Aberdeen as the leader of the Peelites was one of 38 Peelites elected to members of Parliament independently of the Tory/Conservative Party.

While the Peelites agreed with the Whigs on issues dealing with the international trade, there were other issues which the Peelites disagreed with the Whigs. Indeed, Lord Aberdeen’s own dislike of the Ecclesiastical Titles Assumption Bill, the rejection of which he failed to secure in 1851, prevented him from joining the government of Whig government of Lord John Russell in 1851. Additionally, 113 of the members of Parliament elected in July 1852 were Free Traders. These members agreed with the Peelites on the repeal of the “Corn Laws,” but they felt that the tariffs on all consumer products should be removed.

Furthermore, 63 members of Parliament elected in 1852, were members of the “Irish Brigade,” who voted with the Peelites and the Whigs for the repeal of the Corn Laws because they sought an end the Great Irish Famine by means of cheaper wheat and bread prices for the poor and middle classes in Ireland. Currently, however, neither the Free Traders and the Irish Brigade had disagreements with the Whigs that prevented them from joining with the Whigs form a government. Accordingly, the Tory/Conservative Party leader the Earl of Derby was asked to form a “minority government”. However, the Earl of Derby appointed Benjamin Disraeli as the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the minority government.

When in December 1852, the new Chancellor of the Exchequer submitted his budget to Parliament on behalf of the minority government, the Peelites, the Free Traders and the Irish Brigade were all alienated by the proposed budget. Accordingly, each of these groups suddenly forgot their differences with the Whig Party and voted with the Whigs against the proposed budget. The vote was 286 in favour of the budget and 305 votes against the budget. Because the leadership of the minority government had made the vote on the budget vote a “vote of confidence” in the minority government, the defeat of the Disraeli budget was a “vote of no confidence” in the minority government and meant the downfall of the minority government. Accordingly, Lord Aberdeen was asked to form a new government.

Following the downfall of the Tory/Conservative minority government under Lord Derby in December 1852, Lord Aberdeen formed a new government from the coalition of Free Traders, Peelites and Whigs that had voted no confidence in the minority government. Lord Aberdeen was able to put together a coalition government of these groups that held 53.8% of the seats of Parliament. Thus Lord Aberdeen, a Peelite, became Prime Minister and headed a coalition ministry of Whigs and Peelites.

Although united on international trade issues and on questions of domestic reform, his cabinet which also contained Lord Palmerston and Lord John Russell, who were certain to differ on questions of foreign policy. Charles Greville says in his Memoirs, “In the present cabinet are five or six first-rate men of equal, or nearly equal, pretensions, none of them likely to acknowledge the superiority or defer to the opinions of any other, and every one of these five or six considering himself abler and more important than their premier”; and Sir James Graham wrote, “It is a powerful team, but it will require good driving”; this Aberdeen was unable to provide. During the administration, much trouble was caused by the rivalry between these two, and over the course of it Palmerston managed to out-manoeuvre Russell to emerge as the Whig heir-apparent. The cabinet also included a single Radical Sir William Molesworth, but much later, when justifying to the Queen his own new appointments, Gladstone told her: “For instance, even in Ld Aberdeen’s Govt, in 52, Sir William Molesworth had been selected, at that time, a very advanced Radical, but who was perfectly harmless, & took little, or no part … He said these people generally became very moderate, when they were in office”, which she admitted had been the case.

One of the foreign policy issues on which Palmerston and Russell disagreed was the type of relationship that Britain should have with France and especially France’s ruler, Louis Bonaparte. Louis Bonaparte was the nephew of the famous Napoleon Bonaparte, who had become dictator and then Emperor of France from 1804 until 1814. Louis Bonaparte had been elected to a three-year term as President of the Second Republic of France on 20 December 1848. The Constitution of the Second Republic limited the President to a single term in office. Thus, Louis Bonaparte would be unable to succeed himself and after 20 December 1851 would no longer be President. Thus, on 2 December 1851, shortly before the end of his single three-year term in office was to expire, Louis Bonaparte staged a coup against the Second Republic in France, disbanded the elected Constituent Assembly, arrested some of the Republican leaders and declared himself Emperor Napoleon III of France.

This coup upset many democrats in England as well as in France. Some British government officials felt that Louis Bonaparte was seeking foreign adventure in the spirit of his uncle—Napoleon I. Consequently, these officials felt that any close association with Louis Bonaparte would eventually lead Britain into another series of wars, like the wars with France and Napoleon dating from 1793 until 1815. British relations with France had scarcely improved since 1815. As prime minister, the Earl of Aberdeen was one of these officials, who feared France and Louis Bonaparte. However, other British government officials were beginning to worry more about the rising political dominance of the Russian Empire in eastern Europe and the corresponding decline of the Ottoman Empire. Lord Palmerston, who at the time of Louis Bonaparte’s 2 December 1851 coup was serving as the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in the Whig government of Prime Minister Lord John Russell. Without informing the rest of the cabinet or Queen Victoria, Palmerston had sent a private note to the French ambassador endorsing Louis Bonaparte’s coup and congratulating Louis Bonaparte, himself, on the coup. Queen Victoria and members of the Russell government demanded that Palmerston be dismissed as Foreign Minister. John Russell requested Palmerston’s resignation and Palmerston reluctantly provided it.

However, in February 1852, Palmerston took revenge on Russell by voting with the Conservatives in a “no confidence” vote against the Russell government. This brought an end to the Russell Whig government and set the stage for a general election in July 1852 which eventually brought the Conservatives to power in a minority government under the Earl of Derby. Another problem facing the Earl of Aberdeen in the formation of his new government in December 1852, was Lord Russell himself. Lord Russell was the leader of the Whig Party, the largest group in the coalition government. Consequently, Lord Aberdeen, was required to appoint Lord Russell as the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, which he had done on 29 December 1852.

However, Lord Russell sometimes liked to use this position to speak for the whole government, as if he were the prime minister. In 1832, John Russell had been nicknamed “Finality John” because of his statement that the 1832 Reform Act had just been approved by both the House of Commons and the House of Lords would be the “final” expansion of the vote in Britain. There would be no further extension of the ballot to the common people of Britain. However, as political pressure in favour of further reform had risen over the twenty years since 1832, John Russell had changed his mind. While the Whigs were still part of the Opposition under the minority government of the Earl of Derby, John Russell had said, in January 1852, that he intended to introduce a new reform bill into the House of Commons which would equalise the populations of the districts from which members of Parliament were elected.

Probably as a result of their continuing feud, Palmerston declared himself against this Reform Bill of 1852. As a result, support for the Reform Bill of 1852 dwindled Russell was forced to change his mind again and not introduce the any Reform Bill in 1852. In order to form the coalition government, the Earl of Aberdeen had been required to appoint both Palmerston and Russell to his cabinet. Because of the controversy surrounding Palmerston’s removal as Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs because of his letter to the French ambassador endorsing Louis Bonaparte’s 2 December 1851 coup, Palmerston could not now be appointed Foreign Minister again so soon after his removal from the same position. Thus on 28 December 1852, the Earl of Aberdeen appointed Palmerston as Home Secretary and appointed John Russell as Foreign Minister.

Given the differences of opinion within the Lord Aberdeen cabinet over the direction of foreign policy with regard to relations between Britain and the French under Napoleon III, it is not surprising that debate raged within the government as Louis Bonaparte, now assuming the title of Emperor Napoleon III of France. As Prime Minister of the Peelite/Whig coalition government, the Earl of Aberdeen eventually led Britain into war on the side of the French/Ottomans against the Russian Empire. This war would eventually be called Crimean War, but the entire foreign policy negotiations surrounding the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire, which would continue throughout the middle and end of nineteenth century the problem would be referred to as the “Eastern Question”. Aberdeen was ordinarily a sympathiser with Russian interests against French/Napoleonic interests. Thus, he was really not in favour of the entrance of into the Crimean War.

However, he was following the pressure that was being exerted on him from some members of his cabinet, including Palmerston, who in this rare instance was actually being supported by John Russell, both of whom were in favour of a more aggressive policy against perceived Russian expansion. Aberdeen, unable to control Palmerston, acquiesced. However the Eastern Question and the resulting Crimean War proved to be the downfall of his government.

The Eastern Question began as early as the 2 December 1852 with the Napoleonic coup against the Second Republic of France. As he was forming his new imperial government, Napoleon III sent an ambassador to the Ottoman Empire with instructions to assert France’s right to protect Christian sites in Jerusalem and the Holy Land. The Ottoman Empire agreed to this condition to avoid conflict or potential war with France.

Aberdeen, as Foreign Secretary, had himself tacitly authorised the construction of the first Anglican church in Jerusalem in 1845, following his predecessor’s commission in 1838 of the first European Consul in Jerusalem on Britain’s behalf, which lead to series of successive appointments by other nations. Both resulted from Lord Shaftesbury’s canvassing with substantial public support. Nevertheless Britain became increasingly worried about the situation in Turkey and Prime Minister Aberdeen sent Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, a diplomat with vast experience in Turkey, as a special envoy to the Ottoman Empire to guard British interests. Russia protested the Turkish agreement with the French as a violation of the Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca of 1778—the treaty which ended the Russo-Turkish War (1768–74). Under this treaty, the Russians had been granted the exclusive right to protect the Christian sites in the Holy Land. Accordingly on 7 May 1853, the Russians sent Prince Alexander Sergeyevich Menshikov, one their premier statesmen to negotiate a settlement of the issue. Prince Menshikov called the attention of the Turks to the fact that during the Russo-Turkish War, the Russians had occupied the Turkish controlled provinces of Wallachia and Moldavia on the north bank of the Danube River, but he reminded them that pursuant to the Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca, however, the Russians had returned these “Danubian provinces” to Ottoman control in exchange for the right to protect the Christian sites in the Holy Land. Accordingly, the Turks reversed themselves and agreed with the Russians.

The French sent one of their premier ships-of-the-line, the Charlemagne to the Black Sea as a show of force. In light of the French show of force, the Turks, again, reversed themselves and recognised the French right to protect the Christian sites. Lord Stratford de Redcliffe was advising the Ottomans during this time and later, it was alleged, that he had been instrumental in persuading the Turks to reject the Russian arguments.

In response this latest change of mind by the Ottomans/Turks, the Russians, on 2 July 1853 occupied the Turkish-satellite states of Wallachia and Moldavia, as they had during the Russo-Turkish War of 1768-1774. Almost immediately, the Russian troops deployed along the northern banks of the Danube River, implying that they may cross the river. Aberdeen ordered the British Fleet to Constantinople and later into the Black Sea. On 23 October 1853, the Ottoman Empire declared war on Russia. A Russian naval raid on Sinope, on 30 November 1853, resulted in the destruction of the Turkish fleet in the battle of Sinope. When Russia ignored an Anglo-French ultimatum to abandon the Danubian provinces, Britain and France declared war on Russia on 28 March 1854. In September 1854, British and French troops landed on the Crimean peninsula at Eupatoria north of Sevastopol. The Allied troops then moved across the Alma River on 20 September 1854 at the battle of Alma and set siege to the fort of Sevastopol.

A Russian attack on the allied supply base at Balaclava on 25 October 1854 was rebuffed. The Battle of Balaclava is noted for its famous (or rather infamous) Charge of the Light Brigade. On 5 November 1854, Russian forces tried to relieve the siege at Sevastopol and tried to defeat the Allied armies in the field in the Battle of Inkerman. However, this attempt failed and the Russians were rebuffed. Dissatisfaction as to the course of the war arose in England. As reports returned detailing the mismanagement of the conflict arose Parliament began to investigate. On 29 January 1855, John Arthur Roebuck introduced a motion for the appointment of a select committee to enquire into the conduct of the war. This motion was carried by the large majority of 305 in favour and 148 against.

Treating this as a vote of no confidence in his government, Aberdeen resigned, and retired from active politics, speaking for the last time in the House of Lords in 1858. In visiting Windsor Castle to resign, he told the Queen: “Nothing could have been better, he said than the feeling of the members towards each other. Had it not been for the incessant attempts of Ld John Russell to keep up party differences, it must be acknowledged that the experiment of a coalition had succeeded admirably. We discussed future possibilities & agreed that nothing remained to be done, but to offer the Govt to Ld Derby,…”. The Queen continued to criticise Lord John Russell, for his behaviour for the rest of his life, on his death in 1878 her journal records that he was: “A man of much talent, who leaves a name behind him, kind, & good, with a great knowledge of the constitution, who behaved very well, on many trying occasions; but he was impulsive, very selfish (as shown on many occasions, especially during Ld Aberdeen’s administration) vain, & often reckless & imprudent”.

Lord Aberdeen married Lady Catherine Elizabeth Hamilton, daughter of Lord Abercorn, in 1805. They had one son and three daughters, all of whom predeceased their father. In July 1815 he married Harriet, daughter of John Douglas, and widow of James Hamilton, Viscount Hamilton, his first wife’s sister-in-law. They had four sons and one daughter. His eldest son, George, succeeded as fifth Earl, and was the father of John, the seventh Earl, who was created Marquess of Aberdeen and Temair in 1916. Aberdeen’s second son was General Sir Alexander Hamilton-Gordon; his third son was the Reverend Douglas Hamilton-Gordon; and his youngest son Arthur Gordon was created Baron Stanmore in 1893. The Countess of Aberdeen died in August 1833. Lord Aberdeen died at Argyll House, St. James’s, London, on 14 December 1860, and was buried in the family vault at Stanmore. In 1994 the novelist, columnist and politician Ferdinand Mount used George Gordon’s life as the basis for a historical novel, Umbrella.

Apart from his political career Aberdeen was also a scholar of the classical civilisations, who published An Inquiry into the Principles of Beauty in Grecian Architecture (London, 1822) and was referred to by Lord Byron in his English Bards and Scotch Reviewers (1809) as “the travell’d thane, Athenian Aberdeen.” He was appointed Chancellor of the University of Aberdeen in 1827 and was President of the Society of Antiquaries of London.

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Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Sir Thomas Plumer
10 October 1753 – 5 April 1824

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Thomas Plumer

Sir Thomas Plumer was educated at Eton College and University College, Oxford, where he was Vinerian Scholar in 1777, also entering Lincoln’s Inn and being called to the bar in 1778. He was elected a fellow of University College in 1780 and was awarded the Bachelor of Civil Law degree in 1783.

In 1781, Plumer was appointed a Commissioner in bankruptcy. He acted for the defence in a number of high-profile cases: he defended Sir Thomas Rumbold in 1783, was one of the three counsel for the defence in the Impeachment of Warren Hastings, successfully defended Viscount Melville in his impeachment in 1806, and assisted in the defence of the Princess of Wales in the same year. It was there he later met Stephanie Stephanie Jean.

In 1807, Plumer was appointed Solicitor General in the Duke of Portland’s government, and knighted; a House of Commons seat was found for him in the Wiltshire pocket borough of Downton. He was subsequently promoted to Attorney General in 1812 then, in the legal reorganisation that took place the following year, was elevated to the bench to take up the new post of Vice Chancellor of England. On 6 January 1818 he was appointed Master of the Rolls, and served in that post until his death on 5 April 1824.

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Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Alexander Monro of Craiglockhart and Cockburn
22 May 1733 – 2 October 1817

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Alexander Monro

Alexander Monro was the third and youngest son of Alexander Monro primus and Isabella Macdonald of Sleat, was born at Edinburgh on 20 May 1733. He was sent with his brothers to Mr Mundell’s school, where he learned the rudiments of Latin and Greek, and showed early evidences of great ability. Among his school-fellows were Ilay Campbell who was afterwards Lord President of the Court of Session and William Ramsay of Barnton, the banker

Alexander’s father decided to make him his successor and sent him to Edinburgh University when he was twelve years old, to attend the ordinary course of philosophy before beginning his professional training. He studied mathematics under the great Colin Maclaurin and ethics under Sir John Pringle. Alexander was also a great favourite of Dr Matthew Stewart, Professor of Experimental Philosophy.

Alexander showed a taste for anatomy and after entering on his medical course in his eighteenth year became a useful assistant to his father in the dissecting room. He attended the lectures of Drs. Rutherford, Andrew Plummer, Alston and Sinclair. He possessed an insatiable thirst for medical knowledge, an uncommon share of perseverance, and a very good memory.

In the session of 1753–54, his father (Alexander Monro primus) found his class too large for the lecture room and had to divide the class, repeating his lecture in the evening. This he found difficult, and he experimented with his son (Alexander Monro secundus taking the evening class. The results were satisfactory and so he presented a petition to the Town Council at the close of the session asking them to appoint his son formally as his successor. This petition was granted on 10 June and Alexander Monro secondus was admitted as conjunct professor on 11 July.

Alexander Monro secundus took his degree as Doctor of Medicine on 20 October 1755. He then proceeded to his studies abroad. He spent a short time in London, where he attended the lectures of Dr William Hunter. He next visited Paris and on 17 September 1757 entered Leyden University where he formed a friendship with two famous anatomists, Bernhard Siegfried Albinus and Petrus Camper. However his foreign studies were prosecuted principally at Berlin, where he worked under the celebrated Professor Meckel, in whose house he lived. Alexander spent some time in Edinburgh during early 1757 in order to fill the place of his father, who was confined to the house by illness. He finally was admitted a licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh on 2 May 1758 and as a Fellow on 1 May 1759. He was to be elected President of the College in 1779.

His father delivered the opening lectures of the 1758–59 course and then handed the work to Alexander Monro tertius.

In 1771, he wrote a paper on the effect of drugs on the nervous system. He published two controversial ‘observations’ on the lymphatics in 1758, maintaining that he, in a short essay printed at Berlin in 1758, and reprinted in 1761 and 1770, ‘De Venis Lymphaticis Valvulosis,’ and not William Hunter, had first correctly described the general communications of the lymphatic system. Frederick Hoffman had, however, preceded both Monro and Hunter in the description.

In 1783, he published in Edinburgh ‘Observations on the Structure and Functions of the Nervous System,’ dedicated to the Right Hon. Henry Dundas, and it is in consequence of the description in this book of the communication between the lateral ventricles of the brain that his name is known to every student of medicine at the present day. The opening now always spoken of as the ‘foramen of Monro’ is very small in the healthy brain, but when abnormal accumulation of CSF on the brain is present (known as hydrocephalus) may be as large as a sixpence. It was this morbid condition that drew Monro’s attention to the foramen, and he first described it in a paper read before the Philosophical Society of Edinburgh in 1764, but gives a fuller account in this work on the nervous system.

He had always paid much attention to comparative anatomy, and published in 1785 ‘The Structure and Physiology of Fishes explained and compared with those of Man and other Animals.’ In 1788, he published an account of seventy pairs of bursae under the title, ‘Description of all the Bursae Mucosse of the Human Body, their Structure, Accidents, and Diseases, and Operations for their Cure,’ which is stated by several anatomical writers to be the first full description of the bursae.

In 1793, he published ‘Experiments on the Nervous System with Opium and Metalline Substances, to determine the Nature and Effects of Animal Electricity.’ These experiments led him to the conclusion that nerve force was not identical with electricity. His last book, ‘Three Treatises on the Brain, the Eye, and the Ear,’ was published at Edinburgh in 1797.

Manuscript copies of notes of his lectures on anatomy delivered in 1774 and 1775 are preserved in the library of the Royal Medical and Chirurgical Society of London,’ and some ‘Essays and Heads of Lectures on Anatomy, Physiology, Pathology, Surgery,’ very imperfectly arranged, were printed by his son Alexander in 1840. Monro, who in 1777 successfully resisted the appointment of a separate professor of surgery, gave a full course of lectures every year from 1759 to 1800. From 1800 to 1807, he delivered part of the course, his son Alexander completing it, and in 1808 gave the introductory lecture only.

This was his last lecture, and after it his faculties gradually decayed. He became drowsy after dinner, and his nose used to bleed from time to time. In 1813, he had an apoplectic attack.

In later life he was living at 30 St Andrew Square in the New Town.

He died 2 October 1817. He is buried with his parents and wife, Katherine Inglis (d.1803) in Greyfriars Kirkyard in central Edinburgh. The grave lies west of the church and north of the Adam mausoleum.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Henry Thomas Cockburn of Bonaly Lord Cockburn
26 October 1779 – 18 July 1854

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Henry Thomas Cockburn

Henry Thomas Cockburn of Bonaly Lord Cockburn’s father Archibald Cockburn, a keen Tory, was Sheriff of Midlothian and Baron of the Court of Exchequer, and his mother Janet Rannie was connected by marriage with the influential Lord Melville. He was educated at the Royal High School and the University of Edinburgh.

Cockburn contributed regularly to the Edinburgh Review. In this popular magazine of its day he is described as: “rather below the middle height, firm, wiry and muscular, inured to active exercise of all kinds, a good swimmer, an accomplished skater, an intense lover of the fresh breezes of heaven. He was the model of a high-bred Scotch gentleman. He spoke with a Doric breadth of accent. Cockburn was one of the most popular men north of the Tweed.” He was a member of the famous Speculative Society, to which Sir Walter Scott, Henry Brougham and Francis Jeffrey belonged.

The extent of Cockburn’s literary ability only became known after he had passed his seventieth year, on the publication of his biography of lifelong friend Lord Jeffrey in 1852, and from his chief literary work, the Memorials of his Time, which appeared posthumously in 1856. His published work continued with his Journal, published in 1874. These constitute an autobiography of the writer interspersed with notices of manners, public events, and sketches of his contemporaries, of great interest and value.

Cockburn entered the Faculty of Advocates in 1800, and attached himself, not to the party of his relatives, who could have afforded him most valuable patronage, but to the Whig party, and that at a time when it held out few inducements to men ambitious of success in life. He became a distinguished advocate, and ultimately a judge. He was one of the leaders of the Whig party in Scotland in its days of darkness prior to the Reform Act of 1832, and was a close friend of Sir Thomas Dick Lauder.

On the accession of Earl Grey’s ministry in 1830 he became Solicitor General for Scotland. During his time here he drafted the First Scottish Reform Bill. In 1834 he was raised to the bench, and on taking his seat as a Judge in the Court of Session he adopted the title of Lord Cockburn as a Scottish Law Lord of Session.

Cockburn married Elizabeth Macdowall (Glasgow, Lanarkshire, 1 March 1786 – 1857), daughter of James Macdowall and second wife Margaret Jamieson, in Edinburgh, Midlothian, on 12 March 1811. As was common in the period he had both a town house and country house. The country house was at Bonaly, on the south-west edge of Edinburgh. His town house was a hugely impressive house at 14 Charlotte Square, designed by Robert Adam and lying at the heart of the fashionable west end of the city. They had five sons and five daughters:

  • Margaret Day Cockburn (Edinburgh, Midlothian, 24 January 1812, bap. Edinburgh, Midlothian, 25 February 1812 – 1818)
  • Jane Cockburn (Edinburgh, Midlothian, 1813, bap. Edinburgh, Midlothian, 22 July 1813 – )
  • Dr. Archibald William Cockburn, FRCSE (Edinburgh, Midlothian, 5 December 1814, bap. Edinburgh, Midlothian, 23 December 1814 – Murrayfield, Midlothian, 13 January 1862), Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, married Mary Ann Balfour (2 November 1816 – ?)
  • James Macdowell Cockburn (bap. Edinburgh, Midlothian, 7 March 1816 – ?)
  • Graham Cockburn, a daughter (bap. Edinburgh, Midlothian, 7 March 1817 – ?), married Rev. Robert Walter Stewart
  • George Ferguson Cockburn (Edinburgh, Midlothian, 31 January 1818 – 1866), married to Sarah Charlotte Bishop
  • Henry Day Cockburn (Edinburgh, Midlothian, 21 April 1820 – ?), married at South Yarra, Victoria, in 1857 to Mary Ann Matherley
  • Lawrence Cockburn (Edinburgh, Midlothian, 25 February 1822 – Brighton, Victoria, 2 September 1871), a squatter, married at Brighton, Victoria, in 1859 to Annie Maria Smith, and had one son:
  • Francis Jeffrey Cockburn (Edinburgh, Midlothian, 8 January 1825 – Brentford, London, 10 July 1893), a Judge in India and with the Bengal Civil Service, and wife (Calcutta or Westbury, Tasmania, 25 January 1855) Elizabeth Anne (Eliza Ann) Pitcairn (Hobart, Tasmania, 23 September 1831, bap. Hobart, Tasmania, 7 November 1831 – Wycombe, Oxfordshire, 1923), daughter of Robert Pitcairn (Edinburgh, Midlothian, 17 July 1802 – Hobart, Tasmania, 1868) (son of David Pitcairn and Mary Henderson) and wife (m. Hobart, Tasmania, 30 September 1830) Dorothy/Dorothea Jessy Dumas
  • Elizabeth Cockburn (Edinburgh, Midlothian, 30 June 1826 – 6 April 1908), married in Edinburgh, Midlothian, on 27 December 1848 Thomas Cleghorn (Edinburgh, Midlothian, 3 March 1818 – 18 June 1874), a practising Advocate
  • Johanna Richardson Cockburn (Edinburgh, Midlothian, 14 January 1831 – 1888), married in Edinburgh, Midlothian, on 21 October 1856 to her cousin Archibald David Cockburn (Edinburgh, Midlothian, 6 September 1826 – 1886), son of John Cockburn and wife Eliza Dewar, and had issue

The authors Alec Waugh and Evelyn Waugh, the journalist Claud Cockburn, Claudia Cockburn (wife of actor Michael Flanders) and author Sarah Caudwell were all descended from Cockburn, as are journalists Laura Flanders, Stephanie Flanders, Alexander Cockburn (husband of author Emma Tennant), Andrew Cockburn (husband of journalist Leslie Cockburn) and Patrick Cockburn (son-in-law of Bishop Hugh Montefiore) and actress Olivia Wilde (former wife of Tao Ruspoli).

Cockburn died on 26 April 1854, at his mansion of Bonaly, near Edinburgh and is buried in the city’s Dean Cemetery. A statue of Cockburn by local sculptor William Brodie stands in the north-east corner of Parliament Hall.

Cockburn Street, built in the 1850s to connect the High Street with the North British Railway’s ‘Waverley’ station, is also named after him, and the building at its foot (formerly the “Cockburn Hotel”) bears his image in profile in a stone above the entrance.

Cockburn had a strong interest in architectural conservation, particularly in Edinburgh, where several important historic buildings such as “John Knox’s House” and Tailors’ Hall in the Cowgate owe their continued existence to the change in attitude towards conservation which he helped bring about. The Cockburn Association (Edinburgh Civic Trust), founded in 1875, was named in his honour.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Jane Gordon Duchess of Gordon
1748 or 1749 – 14 April 1812

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Jane Gordon

Jane Gordon Duchess of Gordon was the fourth child of Sir William Maxwell, 3rd Baronet of Monreith, and his wife Magdalene Blair. She was born at Myrton Castle the now ruined castle a short distance from the present seat of the family, Monreith House, which was not built until fifty years later.

Her father has been depicted as a drunk who allowed his family to exist in poverty in Edinburgh while he sold most of his 30,000-acre (12,000 ha) estate to make ends meet. In Edinburgh Jane lived together with her mother and her two sisters in a rented second-floor flat in Hyndford’s Close near Royal Mile. As for the family living in an Edinburgh apartment, that would have been normal at that time. Titled Scottish land owning families often rented apartments in Edinburgh so their girls could receive further education, be launched on Edinburgh Society, and attend the balls. This is exactly what happened when Lady Maxwell moved there in 1760 with her three daughters: Catherine, 13; Jane, 11; and Eglantine, 9, the future Lady Wallace of Craigie.

The Monreith Maxwells would have been considered a respectable family in that era. They were closely related to the Maxwells at Caerlaverock, Earls of Nithsdale who in the 17th Century had been considered one of the most powerful families in Scotland. And their grandmother was the daughter of the 9th Earl of Eglinton, head of the great Ayrshire land owning family and distinguished Member of Parliament.

Jane had a nasty accident as a 14 year-old when playing in the High Street in Edinburgh. She somehow got a finger of her right hand jammed in the wheel of a cart which moved away and tore her finger off. There is at Monreith House a letter written, left handed, by her after the accident explaining how it happened. After this, whenever possible, she wore gloves in which a wooden finger replaced the one missing. One of these wooden fingers is still at Monreith House. In later life she used to explain the loss of the finger by saying it was a coaching accident.

When Jane reached 16, she was so strikingly beautiful that a song was written about her: “Bonnie Jennie of Monreith, the Flower of Galloway”. That was also when she fell in love for the first and probably only time. The object of her affections was a young officer who was probably a Fraser, a relative of Lord Lovat. Soon after they met, he left with his regiment, probably to go to America, and word later reached her that he had died.

On 28 October 1767 Jane married the 24-year-old Alexander Gordon, 4th Duke of Gordon. The young Duke lived in the Gordon townhouse almost opposite the Maxwells, and he had inherited a considerable fortune and the title at the age of nine.

It was while they were on honeymoon at the Fordyce’s country seat, Ayton in Berwickshire, that she received a note from her former love, the young Fraser, very much alive, asking her to marry him. She is said to have read the note and fainted. However, she kept in touch with the young Fraser.

For the next 20 years, the Duke and Duchess lived at Gordon Castle in Morayshire which Jane’s husband enlarged to be one of the largest homes in Scotland—with a facade 600 feet long and an 84 foot high central tower. Part of the town of Fochabers had to be demolished and rebuilt elsewhere tomake room for the extensions. However, years later most of the enlargements were dismantled again.

At Gordon Castle, Jane organised parties, planted trees, and took a keen interest in farming. She was a great enthusiast for local dancing and fiddle and pipe music. She is credited with establishing the Strathspey as a dance form.

The couple had seven children. Her first son, George, Marquess of Huntly, the later George Gordon, 5th Duke of Gordon was born in 1770. The Duke also had an illegitimate son at about the same time, also called George, by a Mrs. Christie. Jane used to refer to “my George and the Duke’s George”.

Jane entertained on an increasingly lavish scale, with as many as 100 sitting down to dinner and guests staying for three months in the Castle. And in the 1780s, the Duchess started entertaining in Edinburgh, quickly becoming the leading hostess. Jane was the sole arbitress of fashion in Edinburgh. Horace Walpole called her the “Empress of fashion”. She regularly gave soirée evenings where up and coming artists were asked to entertain. It was in her drawing room that Robert Burns first read his poetry to Edinburgh society, and she became his chief sponsor, purchasing all his early published works.

In 1787 the Duke and the Duchess of Gordon moved to London. They first rented a house on Downing Street from Lord Sheffield, then one in Pall Mall from the Marquess of Buckingham, and finally one in St. James’s Square. And Jane continued her party-giving habit, but with a distinctly Scottish flavour. She made everyone dance Scottish dances. King George III adored her, and she supported the King, so she was allowed to promote her Scottish heritage more than others would have dared. She gave a ball at which she and the Duchess of York dressed in tartan when it was officially banned, and she arranged for the King to inspect troops dressed in tartan in Hyde Park.

It was in the Pall Mall house that she held her greatest parties. Close to Parliament in Westminster, she kept open house for the Tories. Pitt, the Prime Minister, and Dundas, the Lord Advocate were frequent visitors. And it was during this time that she arranged a truce between the King and his eldest son, the Prince Regent, whose had run up enormous debts. She arranged for his debts to be met, and this enabled the construction of the Royal Pavilion at Brighton to be continued.

In 1793, the French Revolutionary Government declared war on Great Britain. At that time the British army was short of recruits, since the military service was not very popular among the young men. As a consequence the Government asked Jane’s husband, the Duke of Gordon, to raise another regiment. The outcome of this was a bet between Jane and the Prince Regent, the future King George IV. Jane bet with the Prince Regent that she could raise more men than he, meaning the Government. Although 45 by then, she was still extremely attractive. Her recruiting technique was, to say the least, unusual. She wore a military uniform and a large black feathered hat (highland bonnet), touring Scotland to organise reels. Anyone who joined the reel joined the army and received the King’s shilling, the recruiting payment, from between the Duchess’ lips by kissing her. This was how the Gordon Highlanders were founded. Her total was 940 men. On 24 June 1794, the newly embodied regiment paraded for the first time at Aberdeen. The regiment existed until 1994.

In 1799, Jane became depressed and ill. Her eldest son, George, the later George Gordon, 5th Duke of Gordon, had gone off to the wars, and she wrote in a letter to a friend: “Oh where and oh where has my highland laddie gone?” Her second son, Alexander (1785–1808), died at 23, and her husband had moved his mistress, Jane Christie, into Gordon Castle and built a small house on the Spey, called Kinrara, for his estranged wife. Jane lived there for the next six years, continuing her entertaining and partying.

Having enjoyed life as a Duchess, Jane was determined to get her daughters well married, and she set out securing suitable husbands for them. In 1802, after the Peace of Amiens, she took her younger daughter, Georgiana (1781–1853), to Paris with a view to marrying her to the son of the Empress Joséphine, Eugène de Beauharnais. This would not have been popular so soon after hostilities, but nothing came of it. A short time later, Georgiana was reputed to be friendly, if not engaged, to Francis Russell, 5th Duke of Bedford, but he died before they could marry. Jane then arranged a meeting with the Duke’s younger brother John Russell, 6th Duke of Bedford who had inherited the title and recently been widowed with several children. All went as planned, and he soon married his late brother’s fiancée on 23 June 1803 in London. Georgiana had ten children by the Duke, and she followed in her mother’s partying footsteps, entertaining frequently in her Bedford home, Woburn Abbey. The Duchess of Bedford was a great patroness of the arts, and had a long standing relationship with the painter Sir Edwin Henry Landseer.

Jane then turned to finding a husband for Charlotte (1768–1842), the eldest daughter. She plotted to have her marry William Pitt, the Prime Minister, but her plan failed when Pitt’s close friend, Lord Henry Dundas, took an interest in Charlotte. Neither potential husband worked out, and Charlotte later married on 9 September 1789 at Gordon Castle Colonel Charles Lennox, the future 4th Duke of Richmond.

General Cornwallis had returned to England from his disastrous command of the British troops during the American Revolution to be, rather surprisingly, treated as a hero and created a Marquess. Having fought with Jane’s brother at Plessey in India as well as in the American war, he would have been a friend of Jane’s. So his eldest son, Lord Brome, was therefore considered suitable for Louisa (1776–1850), the fourth daughter. Cornwallis refused to approve the marriage, however, citing madness in the Gordon family. The Duchess allayed his fears by swearing that there was “not one drop of Gordon blood” in this particular daughter. The marriage then proceeded on 17 April 1795 in London. History does not relate who Louisa’s natural father was, but it is thought to have been Captain Fraser, her early love from Edinburgh.

Susan (1774–1828), the third daughter, married on 7 October 1793 in Edinburgh to William Montagu, 5th Duke of Manchester, and Madeleine (1772–1847), the second daughter, married firstly on 2 April 1789 in London to Sir Robert Sinclair, 7th Baronet. On 25 November 1805 she married secondly at Kimbolton Castle to Charles Fysche Palmer.

Jane’s own marriage had been more of less an arrangement from the beginning. The return from the dead of her lover during the honeymoon was an inauspicious start. The Duke having an illegitimate son by Jane Christie at the same time as his heir was born was an unfortunate sequence, to be followed by the birth of her illegitimate daughter a few years later. The Duke openly kept his mistress at Gordon Castle while the Duchess seems to have preferred assignations with her lover on the windswept moors.

By 1805, the marriage was officially over, and the couple reached a financial agreement whereby the Duchess would be given a new house, capital payments, and generous annual supplements. The Duke was by then in financial difficulties, however; he acknowledged his liability to the Duchess, but he did not pay all the monies legally due her.

Jane was reduced to living in hotels, and she became increasingly eccentric. She was involved in an acrimonious dispute with her estranged husband over money, and she died in 1812 at Poultney’s Hotel, Piccadilly, London, surrounded by her four daughters and surviving son. Her body was taken north to be buried at the old Celtic Chapel by the banks of the Spey at Kinrara. There her husband carried out her final wish and erected a monument to her on which were recorded the marriages of her children.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Samuel Whitbread (Politician)
January 18, 1764 – 6 July 1815

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Samuel Whitbread

Samuel Whitbread (Politician) was born in Cardington, Bedfordshire, the son of the brewer Samuel Whitbread. He was educated at Eton College, Christ Church, Oxford and St John’s College, Cambridge, after which he embarked on a European ‘Grand Tour’, visiting Denmark, Sweden, Russia, Poland, Prussia, France and Italy. He returned to England in May 1786 and joined his father’s successful brewing business.

Whitbread was elected Member of Parliament for Bedford in 1790, a post he held for twenty-three years. Whitbread was a reformer — a champion of religious and civil rights, for the abolition of slavery, and a proponent of a national education system. He was a close friend and colleague of Charles James Fox. After Fox’s death, Whitbread took over the leadership of the Whigs, and in 1805 led the campaign to have Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville, removed from office.

Whitbread admired Napoleon and his reforms in France and Europe. He hoped that many of Napoleon’s reforms would be implemented in Britain. Throughout the Peninsular War he played down French defeats convinced that sooner or later Napoleon would triumph, and he did all he could to bring about a withdrawal of Britain from the continent. When Napoleon abdicated in 1814 he was devastated.

Whitbread began to suffer from depression, and on the morning of 6 July 1815, he committed suicide by cutting his throat with a razor.

Whitbread married Elizabeth, the eldest daughter of the first Earl Grey on 26 December 1787. Their sons William Henry Whitbread and Samuel Charles Whitbread were also Members of Parliament.

Samuel Whitbread Academy in Central Bedfordshire is named after him.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Thomas Cochrane 10th Earl of Dundonald
14 December 1775 – 31 October 1860

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Thomas Cochrane

Thomas Cochrane was born at Annsfield, near Hamilton, South Lanarkshire, Scotland, the son of Archibald Cochrane, 9th Earl of Dundonald and Anna Gilchrist. She was the daughter of Captain James Gilchrist and Ann Roberton, the daughter of Major John Roberton, 16th Laird of Earnock.

Cochrane had six brothers. Two served with distinction in the military: William Erskine Cochrane of the 15th Dragoon Guards, who served under Sir John Moore in the Peninsular War and reached the rank of major; and Archibald Cochrane, who became a captain in the Navy.

Cochrane was descended from lines of Scottish aristocracy and military service on both sides of his family. Through his uncle Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane, the sixth son of the 8th Earl of Dundonald, Cochrane was cousin to his namesake Sir Thomas John Cochrane. Thomas Cochrane had a naval career and was appointed as Governor of Newfoundland and later Vice-Admiral of the United Kingdom. By 1793 the family fortune had been spent, and the family estate was sold to cover debts.

Cochrane spent much of his early life in Culross, Fife, where his family had an estate.

Through the influence of his uncle, Alexander Cochrane, he was listed as a member of the crew on the books of four Royal Navy ships starting when he was five years old. This common, though unlawful practice (called false muster), was a means of acquiring the years of service required for promotion, if and when he joined the Navy. His father secured him a commission in the British Army at an early age, but Cochrane preferred the Navy. He joined it in 1793 upon the outbreak of the French Revolutionary Wars.

On 23 July 1793, aged 17, Cochrane joined the navy as a midshipman, spending his first months at Sheerness in a sixth-rate frigate, the 28-gun HMS Hind, commanded by his uncle, Captain Alexander Cochrane. He transferred to the 38-gun fifth rate HMS Thetis, also under his uncle’s command. While on the Thetis, he visited Norway and next served at the North America station. In 1795, he was appointed acting lieutenant. The following year, on 27 May 1796, he was commissioned lieutenant, after passing the examination. After several transfers in America and a return home, in 1798 he was assigned as 8th Lieutenant on Lord Keith’s flagship HMS Barfleur in the Mediterranean.

During his service on Barfleur, Cochrane was court-martialled for showing disrespect to Philip Beaver, the ship’s first lieutenant. The board reprimanded him for flippancy. This was the first public manifestation of a pattern of Cochrane being unable to get along with many of his superiors, subordinates, employers, and colleagues in several navies and Parliament, even those with whom he had much in common and who should have been natural allies. His behavior led to a long enmity with John Jervis, 1st Earl of St Vincent.

In February 1800, Cochrane commanded the prize crew taking the captured French vessel Généreux to the British base at Mahón. The ship was almost lost in a storm, with Cochrane and his brother Archibald going aloft in place of crew who were mostly ill. On 28 March 1800, Cochrane, having been promoted to commander, took command of the brig sloop HMS Speedy. Later that year, a Spanish warship disguised as a merchant ship almost captured him. He escaped by flying a Danish flag and fending off a boarding by claiming his ship was plague-ridden. Chased by an enemy frigate, and knowing it would follow him in the night by any glimmer of light from the Speedy, he placed a lantern on a barrel and let it float away. The enemy frigate followed the light and Speedy escaped.

In February 1801, at Malta, Cochrane got into an argument with a French Royalist officer at a fancy dress ball. He had come dressed as a common sailor, and the Royalist mistook him for one. This argument led to Cochrane’s only duel. Cochrane wounded the French officer with a pistol shot and was unharmed.

One of his most notable exploits was the capture of the Spanish xebec frigate El Gamo, on 6 May 1801. El Gamo carried 32 guns and 319 men, compared with Speedy’s 14 guns and 54 men. Cochrane flew an American flag and approached so closely to El Gamo that its guns could not depress to fire on the Speedy’s hull. The Spanish tried to board and take over the ship. Whenever the Spanish were about to board, Cochrane pulled away briefly and fired on the concentrated boarding parties with his ship’s guns. Eventually, Cochrane boarded the Gamo, despite being outnumbered about five to one, and captured her.

In Speedy’s 13-month cruise, Cochrane captured, burned, or drove ashore 53 ships before three French ships of the line under Admiral Charles-Alexandre Linois captured him on 3 July 1801. While Cochrane was held as a prisoner, Linois often asked him for advice. In his later autobiography, Cochrane recounted how courteous and polite the French officer had been. A few days later he was exchanged for the second captain of another French ship. On 8 August 1801, he was promoted to the rank of post-captain.

After the Peace of Amiens, Cochrane attended the University of Edinburgh. Upon the resumption of war in 1803, St Vincent assigned him in October 1803 to command the sixth-rate 22-gun HMS Arab. Cochrane alleged that the vessel handled poorly, colliding with Royal Navy ships on two occasions (the Bloodhound and the Abundance), and afforded Cochrane no opportunities. In his autobiography he compared the Arab to a collier. He wrote that his first thoughts on seeing Arab being repaired at Plymouth were that she would “sail like a haystack”. Despite this, he intercepted and boarded an American merchant ship, the Chatham. This created an international incident, as Britain was not at war with the United States. The HMS Arab and her commander were assigned to protect Britain’s important whaling fleet beyond Orkney in the North Sea.

In 1804, St Vincent stood aside for the incoming new government led by William Pitt the Younger, and Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville took office. In December of that year, Cochrane was appointed to command of the new 32-gun frigate HMS Pallas. He undertook a series of notable exploits over the following eighteen months.

In August 1806, he took command of the 38-gun frigate HMS Imperieuse, formerly the Spanish frigate Medea. One of his midshipmen was Frederick Marryat, who later wrote fictionalised accounts of his adventures with Cochrane.

In Imperieuse, Cochrane raided the Mediterranean coast of France during the continuing Napoleonic Wars. In 1808 Cochrane and a Spanish guerrilla force captured the fortress of Mongat, which straddled the road between Gerona and Barcelona. This delayed General Duhesme’s French army for a month. On another raid, Cochrane copied code books from a signal station, leaving behind the originals so the French would believe them uncompromised. When Imperieuse ran short of water, she sailed up the estuary of the Rhone to replenish. When a French army marched into Catalonia and besieged Rosas, Cochrane took part in the defence of the town. He occupied and defended Fort Trinidad (Castell de la Trinitat) for a number of weeks before the fall of the city forced him to leave; Cochrane was one of the last two men to quit the fort.

While captain of Speedy, Pallas, and Imperieuse, Cochrane became arguably the most effective practitioner of coastal warfare during the period. Not only did he attack shore installations such as the Martello tower at Son Bou on Minorca, but captured enemy ships in harbour by leading his men in boats in “cutting out” operations. He was a meticulous planner of every operation, which limited casualties among his men and maximised the chances of success.

In 1809, Cochrane commanded the attack by a flotilla of fire ships on Rochefort, as part of the Battle of the Basque Roads. The attack did considerable damage, but Cochrane blamed Admiral Gambier, the fleet commander, for missing the opportunity to destroy the French fleet. Cochrane claimed that as a result of expressing his opinion publicly, the admiralty denied him the opportunity to serve afloat. But, documentation shows that he was focussed on politics at this time and, indeed, refused a number of offers of command.

In June 1806, Cochrane stood for the House of Commons on a ticket of parliamentary reform (a movement which would later bring about the Reform Acts) for the potwalloper borough of Honiton. This was exactly the kind of borough Cochrane proposed to abolish; votes were mostly sold to the highest bidder. Cochrane offered nothing and lost the election. In October 1806, he ran for Parliament in Honiton and won. Cochrane initially denied that he paid any bribes, but he revealed in a Parliamentary debate ten years later that he had paid ten guineas (£10 10s) per voter through Mr. Townshend, local headman and banker.

In May 1807, Cochrane was elected by Westminster in a more democratic election. He had campaigned for parliamentary reform, allied with such Radicals as William Cobbett, Sir Francis Burdett and Henry Hunt. His outspoken criticism of the conduct of the war and the corruption in the navy made him powerful enemies in the government. His criticism of Admiral Gambier’s conduct at the Battle of the Basque Roads was so severe that Gambier demanded a court-martial to clear his name. Cochrane made important enemies in the Admiralty during this period.

In 1810, Sir Francis Burdett, a member of parliament and political ally, had barricaded himself in his home at Piccadilly, London, resisting arrest by the House of Commons. Cochrane went to assist Burdett’s defence of the house. His approach was similar to that he used in the navy, and would have led to numerous deaths amongst the arresting officers and at least partial destruction of Burdett’s house, along with much of Piccadilly. On realising what Cochrane planned, Burdett and his allies took steps to end the siege.

Cochrane, though popular with the public, was unable to get along with his colleagues in the House of Commons, or within the government. Usually, he had little success in promoting his causes. An exception was his successful confrontation of a prize court in 1814.

His conviction in the Great Stock Exchange Fraud of 1814 (see below) resulted in Parliament’s expelling him on 5 July 1814. However, his constituents in the seat of Westminster re-elected him at the resulting by-election on 16 July. He held this seat until 1818. In 1818, Cochrane’s last speech in Parliament advocated parliamentary reform.

In 1830, Cochrane initially expressed interest but then declined. Not only had Lord Brougham’s brother decided to run for the seat, but Cochrane also thought it would look bad for him to be publicly supporting a government from which he sought pardon for his fraud conviction.

In 1831, his father died and Cochrane became the 10th Earl of Dundonald. As such, he was no longer entitled to sit in the Commons. The Scottish peerage elected representative peers to sit in the House of Lords. He was never one of them, though several of his successors were.

In 1812, Cochrane married Katherine (“Katy”) Frances Corbet Barnes, a beautiful orphan, who was about twenty years his junior. This was an elopement and a civil ceremony, due to the opposition of his wealthy uncle Basil Cochrane, who disinherited his nephew as a result. Katherine, whom Cochrane called ‘Kate’, ‘Kitty’ or ‘Mouse’ in letters to her, often accompanied her husband on his extended campaigns in South America and Greece.

Cochrane and Katherine remarried in the Anglican Church in 1818, and in the Church of Scotland in 1825. They had six children;

  • Thomas Barnes Cochrane, 11th Earl of Dundonald, m. Louisa Harriett McKinnon.
  • William Horatio Bernardo Cochrane, officer, 92nd Gordon Highlanders, m. Jacobina Frances Nicholson.
  • Elizabeth Katharine Cochrane, died close to her first birthday.
  • Katharine Elizabeth Cochrane, m. John Willis Fleming.
  • Admiral Sir Arthur Auckland Leopold Pedro Cochrane KCB
  • Captain Ernest Gray Lambton Cochrane RN m. 1. Adelaide Blackall 2. Elizabeth Frances Maria Katherine Doherty.

The confusion of multiple ceremonies led to suspicions that Cochrane’s first son, Thomas Barnes Cochrane, was illegitimate. Investigation of this delayed Thomas’s accession to the Earldom of Dundonald on his father’s death.

In February 1814, rumours of Napoleon’s death began to circulate. The claims were seemingly confirmed by a man in a red staff officer’s uniform identifying as Colonel de Bourg, aide-de-camp to Lord Cathcart and British ambassador to Russia. He arrived in Dover from France on 21 February bearing news that Napoleon had been captured and killed by Cossacks. In reaction to the news and the possibility of peace, share prices rose sharply on the Stock Exchange, particularly in a volatile government stock called Omnium which increased from 26 and a half to 32.

But, it soon became clear that the news of Napoleon’s death was a hoax. The Stock Exchange established a sub-committee to investigate, and they discovered that six men had sold substantial amounts of Omnium stock during the boom in value. The committee assumed that all six were responsible for the hoax and subsequent fraud. Cochrane had disposed of his entire £139,000 holding in Omnium – which he had only acquired a month before – and was named as one of the six conspirators, as was his uncle, Andrew Cochrane-Johnstone and his stockbroker, Richard Butt. Within days, an anonymous informant told the committee that Colonel de Bourg was an imposter; a man named Charles Random, a former periodical colourist, who used his wife’s name and passed as a Prussian aristocrat named De Berenger, and he had been seen entering Cochrane’s house on the day of the hoax.

The accused were brought to trial in the Court of King’s Bench, Guildhall on 8 June 1814. The trial was presided over by Lord Ellenborough, a High Tory and a notable enemy of the radicals. They had previously convicted and sentenced radical politicians William Cobbett and Henry Hunt to prison in politically motivated trials. The evidence against Cochrane was circumstantial (as the prosecuting counsel pointed out) and hinged on the nature of his share dealings, his contacts with those who were clearly conspirators, and the colour of uniform De Berenger had been wearing when they met in his house. Cochrane admitted he was acquainted with De Berenger and that the man had visited his home on the day of the fraud, but insisted that he had arrived wearing a green sharpshooter’s uniform Cochrane said that De Berenger had visited to request passage to the United States aboard Cochrane’s new command, the HMS Tonnant.

Although in an affidavit created before the trial, Cochrane’s servants agreed that the collar of the uniform above De Berenger’s greatcoat had been green, they admitted to Cochrane’s solicitors that they thought the rest had been red. They were not called at trial to give evidence. The prosecution summoned a key witness, hackney carriage driver William Crane, who swore that De Berenger was wearing a scarlet uniform when he delivered him to the house. Cochrane’s defence also argued that he had given standing instructions to Butt that his Omnium shares were to be sold if the price rose by 1 per cent, and he would have made double profit if he waited until it reached its peak price. All the conspirators had given identical instructions to their brokers.

On the second day of the trial, Lord Ellenborough began his summary of the evidence and drew attention to the matter of De Berenger’s uniform; he concluded that witnesses had provided damning evidence. The jury retired to deliberate and returned a verdict of guilty against all the defendants two and a half hours later. Belatedly, Cochrane’s defence team found several witnesses who were willing to testify that De Berenger had arrived wearing a green uniform, but Lord Ellenborough dismissed their evidence as inadmissible because two of the conspirators had fled the country upon hearing the guilty verdict.

On 20 June 1814, Cochrane was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment, fined £1,000 and was ordered to stand in the pillory opposite the Royal Exchange for one hour. In subsequent weeks, he was dismissed from the Royal Navy by the Admiralty and expelled from Parliament following a motion in the House of Commons, which was passed by 144 votes to 44. On the orders of the Prince Regent, Cochrane was humiliated by the loss of his knighthood in a degradation ceremony at Westminster Abbey. His banner was taken down and physically kicked out of the chapel and down the steps outside. But, within a month, Cochrane was re-elected unopposed as the Member of Parliament for Westminster. Following a public outcry, his sentence to the pillory was rescinded for fears it would lead to the outbreak of a riot.

The question of Cochrane’s innocence or guilt created much debate at the time, and it has divided historians ever since. Subsequent reviews of the trial carried out by three Lord Chancellors during the course of the 19th century concluded that Cochrane should have been found not guilty on the basis of the evidence produced in court. Cochrane maintained his innocence for the rest of his life and campaigned tirelessly to restore his damaged reputation and to clear his name. He believed the trial was politically motivated and that a “higher authority than the Stock Exchange” was responsible for his prosecution. A series of petitions put forward by Cochrane protesting his innocence were ignored until 1830.

That year King George IV (the former Prince Regent) died and was succeeded by William IV. He had served in the Royal Navy and was sympathetic to Cochrane’s cause. Later that year the Tory government fell and was replaced by a Whig government in which his friend, Lord Brougham, was appointed Lord Chancellor. Following a meeting of the Privy Council in May 1832, Cochrane was granted a pardon and restored to the Navy List with a promotion to rear-admiral. Support from friends in the government, and the writings of popular naval authors such as Frederick Marryat and Maria Graham increased public sympathy for Cochrane’s situation. In May 1847, with the personal intervention of Queen Victoria, Cochrane’s knighthood was restored and he was created a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath. Only in 1860 was his banner returned to Westminster Abbey; it was the day before his funeral.

In 1876, his grandson received a payment of £40,000 from the British government, based on the recommendations of a Parliamentary select committee, in compensation for Cochrane’s conviction. The committee had concluded his conviction was unjust.

Cochrane left the UK in official disgrace, but that did not end his naval career. Accompanied by Lady Cochrane and their two children, he reached Valparaíso on 28 November 1818. Chile was rapidly organising its new navy for its war of independence.

On 11 December 1818, at the request of Chilean leader Bernardo O’Higgins, Cochrane became a Chilean citizen, was appointed Vice Admiral, and took command of the Chilean Navy in Chile’s war of independence against Spain. He was the first Vice Admiral of Chile.(p37) Cochrane reorganised the Chilean navy, introducing British naval customs. He took command in the frigate O’Higgins and blockaded and raided the coasts of Peru as he had those of France and Spain. On his own initiative, he organised and led the capture of Valdivia, despite only having 300 men and two ships to deploy against seven large forts. He failed in his attempt to capture the Chiloé Archipelago for Chile.

In 1820, O’Higgins ordered him to convoy the Liberation Army of General José de San Martín to Peru, blockade the coast and support the campaign for independence. Later, forces under Cochrane’s personal command cut out and captured the frigate Esmeralda, the most powerful Spanish ship in South America. All this led to Peruvian independence, which O’Higgins considered indispensable to Chile’s independence and security. Cochrane’s victories in the Pacific were spectacular and important. The excitement was almost immediately marred by his accusations that he had been plotted against by subordinates and treated with contempt and denied adequate financial reward by his superiors. The evidence does not support these accusations, and the problem appeared to lie in Cochrane’s own suspicious and uneasy personality.

Loose words from Katy resulted in a rumour that Cochrane had made plans to free Napoleon from his exile on Saint Helena and make him ruler of a unified South American state. This could not have been true because Charles, the supposed envoy bearing the rumoured plans, had been killed two months before his reported “departure to Europe”. Cochrane left the service of the Chilean Navy on 29 November 1822.

Chilean naval vessels named after Lord Cochrane
The Chilean Navy has named five ships Cochrane or Almirante Cochrane (Admiral Cochrane) in his honour:

  • The first, Almirante Cochrane, was a famous battery ship that fought in the War of the Pacific (1879–1884).
  • The second Almirante Cochrane was a dreadnought battleship laid down in Britain in 1913. The Royal Navy acquired the unfinished ship in 1917, converting her into the carrier HMS Eagle (1918).
  • The third ship, Cochrane, was a Fletcher-class destroyer, the former USS Rooks (DD-804), commissioned into the Chilean Navy in 1962 and scrapped in 1983.
  • The fourth ship, Almirante Cochrane, was a County-class destroyer, the former HMS Antrim (D18), which the Chilean Navy acquired in 1984 and decommissioned in 2006.
  • The fifth and current ship to bear the name, Almirante Cochrane (FF-05), is a Type 23 frigate, the former HMS Norfolk (F230), which the Chilean Navy commissioned in 2006.

Brazil was fighting its own war of independence against Portugal. Excepting Montevideo (now in Uruguay but then in Cisplatina), in 1822 the southern provinces came under the control of the patriots led by the Prince Regent, later Emperor Pedro I. Portugal still controlled some important provincial capitals in the north, with major garrisons and naval bases such as Belém do Pará, Salvador da Bahia and São Luís do Maranhão.

Cochrane took command of the Brazilian Navy on 21 March 1823 and its flagship, the ‘Pedro I’. He blockaded the Portuguese in Bahia, confronted them at the Battle of 4 May, and forced them to evacuate the province in a vast convoy of ships which Cochrane’s men attacked as they crossed the Atlantic. Cochrane sailed to Maranhão (then spelled Maranham) on his own initiative and bluffed the garrison into surrender by claiming that a vast (and mythical) Brazilian fleet and army were over the horizon. He sent a subordinate, Captain John Pascoe Grenfell, to Belém do Pará to use the same bluff and extract a Portuguese surrender. As a result of Cochrane’s efforts, Brazil became totally de facto independent and free of any Portuguese troops. On Cochrane’s return to Rio de Janeiro in 1824, the Emperor Pedro I rewarded the officer by granting him the non-hereditary title of Marquess of Maranhão (Marquês do Maranhão) in the Empire of Brazil. He was also awarded an accompanying coat of arms.
As in Chile and earlier occasions, Cochrane’s joy at these successes was rapidly replaced by quarrels over pay and prize money, and an accusation that the Brazilian authorities were plotting against him.
In mid-1824, Cochrane sailed north with a squadron to assist the Brazilian army, under General Francisco Lima e Silva, to suppress a republican rebellion in the state of Pernambuco which had begun to spread to Maranhão and other northern states. The rebellion was rapidly extinguished. Cochrane proceeded to Maranhão, where he took over the administration. He demanded the payment of prize money which he claimed he was owed as a result of the recapture of the province in 1823. He absconded with public money and sacked merchant ships anchored in São Luís do Maranhão. Defying orders to return to Rio de Janeiro, Cochrane transferred to a captured Brazilian frigate, left Brazil on 10 November 1825, and returned to Britain.

Cochrane went to Greece to support its fight for independence from the Ottoman Empire, which had deployed an army raised in Egypt to suppress the Greek rebellion. Between March 1827 and December 1828, he took an active role in the campaign, but met with limited success due to the poor discipline of the Greek soldiers and seamen. One of his subordinates, Captain Hastings, attacked Ottoman forces at the Gulf of Lepanto, which indirectly led to intervention by Great Britain, France and Russia. They succeeded in destroying the Turko–Egyptian fleet at the Battle of Navarino, and the war was ended under mediation of the Great Powers.

Greece was probably the only campaign in Cochrane’s naval career in which the results of his efforts were disappointingly slight. At the end of the war, he resigned his commission and returned to Britain. For the first time since he was convicted for the Great Stock Exchange Fraud of 1814, his lively nature was brought to a standstill. Despite reports to the contrary, there is little evidence to suggest that he had a nervous breakdown.

Cochrane inherited his peerage following his father’s death on 1 July 1831, becoming the 10th Earl of Dundonald. He was restored to the Royal Navy list on 2 May 1832 as a Rear Admiral of the Blue. Cochrane’s full return to Royal Navy service was delayed by his refusal to take a command until his knighthood had been restored, which took 15 years. He continued to receive promotions in the list of flag officers, as follows:

  • Rear Admiral of the Blue on 2 May 1832
  • Rear Admiral of the White on 10 January 1837
  • Rear Admiral of the Red on 28 June 1838
  • Vice Admiral of the Blue on 23 November 1841
  • Vice Admiral of the White on 9 November 1846
  • Vice Admiral of the Red on 3 January 1848
  • Admiral of the Blue on 21 March 1851
  • Admiral of the White on 2 April 1853
  • Admiral of the Red on 8 December 1857

On 22 May 1847 Queen Victoria reinstated him as a knight in the Order of the Bath. He returned to the Royal Navy, serving as Commander-in-Chief of the North America and West Indies Station from 1848 to 1851. During the Crimean War, the government considered him for a command in the Baltic, but decided that there was too high a chance that Cochrane would risk the fleet in a daring attack. On 6 November 1854, he was appointed to the honorary office of Rear-Admiral of the United Kingdom, an office that he retained until his death.

In his final years, Cochrane wrote his autobiography in collaboration with G.B. Earp. With his health deteriorating, in 1860 he twice had to undergo painful surgery for kidney stones. He died during the second operation on 31 October 1860, in Kensington.

He was buried in Westminster Abbey, where his grave is in the central part of the nave. Each year in May representatives of the Chilean Navy hold a wreath-laying ceremony at his grave.

Convoys were guided by ships following the lamps of those ahead. In 1805, Cochrane entered a Royal Navy competition for a superior convoy lamp. Believing the judges to be biased against him, he reentered the contest under another name and won the prize.

In 1806, Cochrane had a galley made to his specifications, which he carried on board Pallas and used to attack the French coast. It had the advantage of mobility and flexibility.

In 1812, Cochrane proposed attacking the French coast using a combination of bombardment ships, explosion ships and “stink vessels” (gas warfare). A bombardment ship consisted of a strengthened old hulk filled with powder and shot and made to list one side. It was anchored at night to face the enemy behind the harbour wall. When set off, it provided saturation bombardment of the harbour, which would be closely followed by landings of troops. He put the plans forward again before and during the Crimean War. The authorities, however, decided not to pursue his plans.

In 1818, Cochrane patented, together with the engineer Marc Isambard Brunel, the tunnelling shield that Brunel and his son used in the building of the Thames Tunnel in 1825–43.

Cochrane was an early supporter of steamships. He tried to take the steamship Rising Star from Britain to Chile for use in the war of independence in the 1820s, but its construction took too long; it did not arrive until the war was ending. The Rising Star was a 410-ton vessel adapted to a revolutionary design at Brent’s Yard at the Greenland Dock at the Thames: twin funnels, retractable paddle wheels and driven by a 60-horsepower engine. Similarly, he suffered delays with construction of a steamship he had hoped to put into use in the Greek War of Independence. In the 1830s, he experimented with steam power, developing a rotary engine and a propeller. In 1851, Cochrane received a patent on powering steamships with bitumen. He was conferred with Honorary Membership of the Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland in 1857.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Thomas Lawrence
13 April 1769 – 7 January 1830

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Thomas Lawrence

Lawrence was born at 6 Redcross Street, Bristol, the youngest surviving child of Thomas Lawrence, a supervisor of excise, and Lucy Read, the daughter of a clergyman. The couple had 16 children but only five survived infancy: Lawrence’s brother Andrew became a clergyman; William had a career in the army; sisters Lucy and Anne married a solicitor and a clergyman (Lawrence’s nephews included Andrew Bloxam). Soon after Thomas was born his father decided to become an innkeeper and took over the White Lion Inn and next-door American Coffee House in Broad Street, Bristol. But the venture did not prosper and in 1773 Lawrence senior removed his family from Bristol and took over the tenancy of the Black Bear Inn in Devizes, a favourite stopping place for the London gentry who were making their annual trip to take the waters at Bath.

It was during the family’s six-year stay at the Black Bear Inn that Lawrence senior began to make use of his son’s precocious talents for drawing and reciting poetry. Visitors would be greeted with the words “Gentlemen, here’s my son – will you have him recite from the poets, or take your portraits?” Among those who listened to a recitation from Tom, or Tommy as he was called, was the actor David Garrick. Lawrence’s formal schooling was limited to two years at The Fort, a school in Bristol, when he was aged six to eight, and a little tuition in French and Latin from a dissenting minister. He also became accomplished in dancing, fencing, boxing and billiards. By the age of ten his fame had spread sufficiently for him to receive a mention in Daines Barrington’s Miscellanies as “without the most distant instruction from anyone, capable of copying historical pictures in a masterly style”. But once again Lawrence senior failed as a landlord and, in 1779, he was declared bankrupt and the family moved to Bath. From now on, Lawrence was to support his parents with the money he earned from his portraits.

The family settled at 2 Alfred Street in Bath, and the young Lawrence established himself as a portraitist in pastels. The oval portraits, for which he was soon charging three guineas, were about 12 inches by 10 inches (30 by 25 centimetres), and usually portrayed a half-length. His sitters included the Duchess of Devonshire, Sarah Siddons, Sir Henry Harpur (of Calke Abbey, Derbyshire, who offered to send Lawrence to Italy – Lawrence senior refused to part with his son), Warren Hastings and Sir Elijah Impey. Talented, charming and attractive (and surprisingly modest) Lawrence was popular with Bath residents and visitors: artists William Hoare and Mary Hartley gave him encouragement; wealthy people allowed him to study their collections of paintings and Lawrence’s drawing of a copy of Raphael’s Transfiguration was awarded a silver-gilt palette and a prize of 5 guineas by the Society of Arts in London.

Sometime before his eighteenth birthday in 1787 Lawrence arrived in London, taking lodgings in Leicester Square, near to Joshua Reynolds’ studio. He was introduced to Reynolds, who advised him to study nature, rather than the Old Masters. Lawrence set up a studio at 41 Jermyn Street and installed his parents in a house in Greek Street. He exhibited several works in the 1787 Royal Academy exhibition at Somerset House, and enrolled as a student at the Royal Academy but didn’t stay long, abandoning the drawing of classical statues to concentrate on his portraiture. In the Royal Academy exhibition of 1788 Lawrence was represented by five portraits in pastels and one in oils, a medium he quickly mastered. Between 1787 and his death in 1830 he would miss only two of the annual exhibitions: once, 1809, in protest about the way his paintings had been displayed and once, in 1819, because he was abroad. In 1789 he exhibited 13 portraits, mostly in oil, including one of William Linley and one of Lady Cremorne, his first attempt at a full-length portrait. The paintings received favourable comments in the press with one critic referring to him as “the Sir Joshua of futurity not far off” and, aged just twenty, Lawrence received his first royal commission, a summons arriving from Windsor Palace to paint the portraits of Queen Charlotte and Princess Amelia. The queen found Lawrence presumptuous (although he made a good impression on the princesses and ladies-in-waiting) and she didn’t like the finished portrait, which remained in Lawrence’s studio until his death. When it was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1790, however, it received critical acclaim. Also shown that year was another of Lawrence’s most famous portraits, that of the actress Elizabeth Farren, soon to be the Countess of Derby, “completely Elizabeth Farren: arch, spirited, elegant and engaging”, according to one newspaper.

In 1791 Lawrence was elected an associate of the Royal Academy and the following year, on the death of Sir Joshua Reynolds, King George III appointed him “painter-in-ordinary to his majesty”. His reputation was established, and he moved to a studio in Old Bond Street. In 1794 he became a full member of the Royal Academy. Although commissions were pouring in, Lawrence was in financial difficulties. His debts would stay with him for the rest of life: he narrowly avoided bankruptcy and had to be bailed out by wealthy sitters and friends, and died insolvent. Biographers have never been able to discover the source of his debts; he was a prodigiously hard worker (once referring in a letter to his portrait painting as “mill-horse business”) and didn’t appear to live extravagantly. Lawrence himself said: “I have never been extravagant nor profligate in the use of money. Neither gaming, horses, curricles, expensive entertainments, nor secret sources of ruin from vulgar licentiousness have swept it from me”. This has generally been accepted, with biographers blaming his financial problems on his generosity towards his family and others, his inability to keep accounts (in spite of advice from his friend the painter and diarist Joseph Farington), and his magnificent but costly collection of Old Master drawings.

Another source of unhappiness in Lawrence’s life was his romantic entanglement with two of Sarah Siddons’ daughters. He fell in love first with Sally, then transferred his affections on to her sister Maria, then broke with Maria and turned to Sally again. Both the sisters had fragile health; Maria died in 1798, on her deathbed extracting a promise from her sister never to marry Lawrence. Sally kept her promise and refused to see Lawrence again, dying in 1803. But Lawrence continued on friendly terms with their mother and painted several portraits of her. He never married. In later years two women would provide him with companionship, friends Elizabeth Croft and Isabella Wolff who first met Lawrence when she sat for her portrait in 1803. Isabella was married to the Danish consul Jens Wolff, but she separated from him in 1810, and Sir Michael Levey suggests that people may have wondered if Lawrence was the father of her son Herman.

Lawrence’s departures from portraiture were very rare. In the early 1790s he completed two history pictures: Homer reciting his poems, a small picture of the poet in a pastoral setting; and Satan summoning his legions, a giant canvas to illustrate lines from John Milton’s Paradise Lost. The boxer John Jackson posed for the naked body of Satan; the face is that of Sarah Siddons’ brother, John Philip Kemble.

Lawrence’s parents died within a few months of each other in 1797 and he gave up his house in Picadilly, where he had moved from Old Bond Street, to set up his studio in the family home in Greek Street. By now, to keep up with the demand for replicas of his portraits, he was making use of studio assistants, most notable of whom would be William Etty and George Henry Harlow. The early years of the nineteenth century saw Lawrence’s portrait practice continue to flourish: amongst his sitters were major political figures such as Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville and William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne, whose wife Lady Caroline Lamb was also painted by Lawrence. The king commissioned portraits of his daughter-in-law Caroline, the estranged wife of the Prince of Wales, and his granddaughter Charlotte. Lawrence stayed at the Montague House, the residence of the princess in Blackheath, while he was painting the portraits and thus became implicated in the “delicate investigation” into Caroline’s morals. He swore an affidavit that although he had on occasion been alone with the princess, the door had never been locked or bolted and he had “not the least objection for all the world to have heard or seen what took place”. Expertly defended by Spencer Perceval, he was exonerated.

By the time the Prince of Wales was made regent in 1814, Lawrence was acknowledged as the foremost portrait painter in the country. Through one of his sitters, Lord Charles Stewart, he met the Prince Regent who was to become his most important patron. As well as portraits of himself, the prince commissioned portraits of allied leaders: the Duke of Wellington, Field-Marshal von Blücher and Count Platov sat for Lawrence at his new house at 65 Russell Square. The prince also had plans for Lawrence to travel abroad and paint foreign royalty and leaders, and as a preliminary he was given a knighthood on 22 April 1815. Napoleon’s return from Elba put these plans on hold, although Lawrence did make a visit to Paris, where his friend Lord Charles Stewart was ambassador, and saw the art that Napoleon had looted from Italy, including Raphael’s Transfiguration, the painting he had reproduced for his silver-gilt palette as a boy.

In 1817 the prince commissioned Lawrence to paint a portrait of his daughter Princess Charlotte, who was pregnant with her first child. Charlotte died in childbirth; Lawrence completed the portrait and presented it to her husband Prince Leopold at Claremont on his birthday, as agreed. The princess’s obstetrician, Sir Richard Croft, who later shot himself, was the half-brother of Lawrence’s friend, Elizabeth Croft, and for her Lawrence drew a sketch of Croft in his coffin.

Eventually, in September 1818, Lawrence was able to make his postponed trip to the continent to paint the allied leaders, first at Aachen and then at the conference of Vienna, for what would become the Waterloo Chamber series, housed in Windsor Castle. His sitters included Tsar Alexander, Emperor Francis I of Austria, the King of Prussia, Field-Marshal Prince Schwarzenberg, Archduke Charles of Austria and Henriette his wife, and a young Napoleon II, as well as various French and Prussian ministers. In May 1819, still under orders from the Prince Regent, he left Vienna for Rome to paint Pope Pius VII and Cardinal Consalvi.

Lawrence arrived back in London 30 March 1820 to find that the president of the Royal Academy, Benjamin West, had died. That very evening Lawrence was voted the new president, a position he would hold until his death 10 years later. George III had died in January; Lawrence was granted a place in the procession for the coronation of George IV. On 28 February 1822 he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society “for his eminence in art”. The royal commissions continued during the 1820s, including one for a portrait of the king’s sister Sophia, and one of Sir Walter Scott (along with Jane Austen, one of Lawrence’s favourite authors), as well as one to paint King Charles X of France for the Waterloo series, for which Lawrence made a trip to Paris, taking Herman Wolff with him. Lawrence acquired another important patron in Robert Peel, who commissioned the painter to do portraits of his family as well a portrait of George Canning. Two of Lawrence’s most famous portraits of children were painted during the 1820s: that of Emily and Laura Calmady and that of Master Charles William Lambton, painted for his father Lord Durham for 600 guineas and known as The Red Boy. The latter portrait attracted much praise when it was exhibited in Paris in 1827. One of the artist’s last commissions was of future prime-minister the Earl of Aberdeen. Fanny Kemble, a niece of Sarah Siddons, was one of his last sitters (for a drawing).

Lawrence died suddenly on 7 January 1830, just months after his friend Isabella Wolff. A few days previously he had experienced chest pains but had continued working and was eagerly anticipating a stay with his sister at Rugby, when he collapsed and died during a visit from his friends Elizabeth Croft and Archibald Keightley. After a post-mortem examination, doctors concluded that the artist’s death had been caused by ossification of the aorta and vessels of the heart. Lawrence’s first biographer, D. E. Williams suggested that this in itself was not enough to cause death and it was his doctors’ over-zealous bleeding and leeching that killed him. Lawrence was buried on 21 January in the crypt of St Paul’s Cathedral. Amongst the mourners was J. M. W. Turner who painted a sketch of the funeral from memory.

Lawrence was famed for the length of time he took to finish some of his paintings (Isabella Wolff waited twelve years for her portrait to be completed) and, at his death, his studio contained a large number of unfinished works. Some were completed by his assistants and other artists, some were sold as they were. In his will Lawrence left instructions to offer, at a price much below their worth, his collection of Old Master drawings to first George IV, then the trustees of the British Museum, then Robert Peel and the Earl of Dudley. None of them accepted the offer and the collection was split up and auctioned; many of the drawings later found their way into the British Museum and the Ashmolean Museum. After Lawrence’s creditors had been paid, there was no money left, although a memorial exhibition at the British Institution raised £3,000 which was given to his nieces.

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