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Posts Tagged ‘Prince Edward Augustus Duke of Kent and Strathearn’

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.

Lady Charlotte Finch
14 February 1725 – 11 July 1813

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Charlotte Finch

Lady Charlotte Finch was the second eldest daughter of Thomas Fermor, 1st Earl of Pomfret and his wife Henrietta Louisa Jeffreys. The growing family would come to include ten children: four sons and six daughters. Lord and Lady Pomfret held various court appointments during their lifetimes; the earl served as Master of the Horse to Queen Caroline while his wife was a Lady of the Bedchamber.

Charlotte and her family were well travelled and sojourned to cultural and historical landmarks on the continent. While details on Fermor and her sisters’ education are minimal, mention of them in contemporary diaries implies they were well-educated. She and Lady Pomfret were well-read and interested in theology; Charlotte’s friends included the educated Elizabeth Carter. Charlotte was fluent enough in Italian for Horace Walpole to remark in 1740, she “speaks the purest Tuscan, like any Florentine” and “the Florentines look on her as the brightest foreigner that has honoured their [Accademia].” According to Walpole, Lord Granville, who had been briefly married to Charlotte’s sister Sophia, was “extremely fond” of Charlotte; after Sophia’s death in 1745, Granville gave his deceased wife’s jewels to Charlotte, “to the great discontent of his own daughters”.

On 9 August 1746, Charlotte married the Hon. William Finch (1691–1766), heir to his brother Daniel Finch, 8th Earl of Winchilsea. Shortly after the wedding, Walpole reported that Charlotte had five thousand pounds from her father, a sum that would increase when “Mr Finch settles fifteen thousand pounds more upon her”. William Finch had previously been married to Lady Anne Douglas but had no issue. He was a diplomat who served as envoy to Sweden and the Netherlands in the 1720s before becoming an MP for Cockermouth and Bewdley. Another of his roles, held from 1742, was to serve as vice-chamberlain of the royal household. He and Lady Charlotte had one son and four daughters together. One of their daughters died in 1765. Their only son, George, inherited the earldoms of Nottingham and Winchilsea from his paternal uncle in 1769.

Lady Charlotte Finch’s career as royal governess began in August 1762, when she was appointed a day after the birth of George, Prince of Wales, the eldest son and heir of King George III and Queen Charlotte. Walpole called the decision “a choice so universally approved that I do not think she will be abused even in the North Briton“. Lady Charlotte held the role of royal governess for over 30 years, and oversaw 14 of the king and queen’s 15 children.

She presided over the royal nursery, overseeing the staff members designated for each child; the staff included sub-governesses, teachers, personal attendants, and assistant governesses. She oversaw the princes until they became old enough to live in their own households, while the six princesses remained under her supervision until they turned 21.

In the mid-1760s, shortly after her appointment, troubling developments began occurring in Lady Charlotte’s home. One of her daughters died in 1765. Furthermore, William Finch, who was 34 years older than his wife, had by 1765 become senile and mentally unstable. Rumours circulated that he threw her down a staircase. Fearing for her safety, she obtained a formal separation from her husband, taking their children to live with her in an apartment at St James’s Palace and a house in Kew. He died in late 1766. Despite these stresses on her personal life, Finch continued to fulfil her position with zeal. However, when another of her daughters became ill in early 1767, Finch took leave of her job and brought the young girl to various locales in the unsuccessful hope she would survive. Finch left the sub-governess Mrs Cotesworth in charge and returned grieving in November 1767, in time to care for the fifth addition to the nursery, Prince Edward.

Lady Charlotte has been variously described by biographers as warm, competent, and kindly. As was typical for the period, the children were infrequently seen by the king and queen; Finch was the unvarying adult figure in their lives. While the royal princes endured disciplined lessons in an austere educational environment, Finch was loved by her female charges. They affectionately referred to her as “Lady Cha”, and upon returning from a trip to the continent in 1771, Queen Charlotte wrote her, “They can never be in better hands than yours”. Shefrin says that Finch “supervised a progressive nursery focused on child-centred learning” and shared a passion for education with Queen Charlotte, as is evident in their correspondence and the writings of contemporaries; the idea of noble mothers encouraging education for their children – a concept advocated by educators and scholars – was becoming popular, and Finch’s approach at court helped spread these new educational theories. Among the methods she employed was the use of “dissected maps”, some of the earliest jigsaw puzzles, to teach geography.

The historian Flora Fraser writes that “in many ways, the education… ordered for the princesses would be as rigorous as” that which the king ordered for the princes. Queen Charlotte felt that a woman equipped with an education was as able as a man. An accomplished woman herself, Finch, alongside Mrs Cotesworth, organised lessons in the arts and sciences which were taught to both the princes and princesses. Subjects included geography, English, grammar, music, needlework, dancing, and art. A tutor, Julie Krohme, taught the children in the French language. Once old enough, the princesses would travel each day to receive their education at Finch’s new house at Kew alongside the river. Conversely, the princes gradually saw less of Lady Charlotte as they became older and entered into the care of governors.

In 1774, Mrs Cotesworth retired due to ill health. While seeking a successor, Lady Charlotte requested that she devote less time to the children. This was opposed by Queen Charlotte. The monarch felt that Cotesworth’s resignation was partly due to Finch decreasing hours with the children, and also thought the other staff would be encouraged by Finch increasing her presence and “make them look upon it as a less confinement”. Finch replied that she had regularly spent many hours with the princesses, both mornings and evenings, adding:

How can I without deviating from my own principles undertake an additional duty of a kind for which I am conscious I am growing every day more unfit, as your Majesty must know what an uncommon stock of spirits and cheerfulness is necessary to go through the growing attendance of so many and such very young people in their amusements, as well as behaviour and instruction, besides ordering all the affairs of the nursery.

Lady Charlotte threatened to resign so that the queen could hire someone “younger and more fitted for it”, a declaration which ended Queen Charlotte’s quest to increase her hours. Finch remained at her post. A new sub-governess, Martha Gouldsworthy – hired on Finch’s recommendation – now spent frequent time with the princesses, chaperoning and supervising their studies in preparation for their lessons with their teacher Miss Planta. In 1782, the 14th royal child, Prince Alfred, sickened and died at Windsor near the age of two, despite Lady Charlotte’s devoted nursing.

By 1792, Lady Charlotte Finch had become ill and deaf. Princess Sophia remarked that autumn, “I am grieved to death about her, she is if possible more kind to us than ever. Indeed, both [Mrs Gouldsworthy] and her are so good to us that we should not be deserving of having such treasures about us, if we did not feel their kindness in the highest degree”. Finch resigned from her role in November 1792 and retired on 5 January 1793, though she continued to correspond with members of the royal family and receive gifts from them. She received £600 in yearly payment, supplemented by income from the South Sea Company, until her death on 11 July 1813 at St James’s Palace.

She was buried in the family vault at Ravenstone, Buckinghamshire and five royal dukes attended her funeral. Her youngest daughter was allowed to maintain their apartments at St James’s. Her will was mainly portioned out between her three surviving children. Her memorial by Francis Leggatt Chantrey, is in Holy Cross Church, Burley, adjacent to Burley House, the Rutland mansion of her son, George Finch, 9th Earl of Winchilsea.

  • Charlotte Finch
  • George Finch, 9th Earl of Winchilsea (4 November 1752 – 2 August 1826)
  • Sophia Finch, married Captain Charles Fielding in 1772 and had issue
  • Henrietta Finch
  • Frances Finch (?–1765)

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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.

Princess Frederica of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
3 March 1778 – 29 June 1841

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Princess Frederica of Mecklenburg-Strelitz

Princess Frederica of Mecklenburg-Strelitz was a German princess who became, by marriage, a princess of Prussia, a princess of Solms-Braunfels and, finally, Duchess of Cumberland in Britain and later Queen of Hanover in Germany) as the consort of Ernest Augustus I of Hanover, the fifth son and eighth child of King George III.

She was born in the Altes Palais of Hanover as the fifth daughter of Charles II, Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, and his first wife, Frederica, daughter of George William, Prince of Hesse-Darmstadt.
Her father assumed the title of Grand Duke of Mecklenburg on 18 June 1815. Duchess Frederica was the niece of her future mother-in-law, Queen Charlotte (formerly Duchess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz), since her last husband was her first cousin.

Frederica’s mother died on 22 May 1782 after giving birth to her tenth child. Two years later (28 September 1784), her father remarried the younger sister of his deceased wife, Landgravine Charlotte of Hesse-Darmstadt, but this union ended just one year later, when Charlotte died of complications resulting from childbirth on 12 December 1785. The twice-widowed Duke Charles considered himself unable to give his daughters proper rearing and education, so he sent Frederica and her elder sisters Charlotte, Therese and Louise to their maternal grandmother, Maria Louise Albertine of Leiningen-Falkenburg-Dagsburg, Dowager Princess of Hesse-Darmstadt, called Princess George (in allusion to her late husband, the second son of Louis VIII, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt). Princess George’s choice of a Swiss teacher for the girls, Salomé de Gélieu, proved to be a good one. Some time later, Duke Charles also sent his two surviving sons, the Hereditary Prince George and Charles, to be raised by their grandmother.

On 14 March 1793, the Princesses of Mecklenburg-Strelitz “coincidentally” met the Prussian King Frederick William II at the Prussian Theatre in Frankfurt-am-Main. He was immediately captivated by the grace and charm of Frederica and her sister Louise.

Some weeks later, Frederica and Louise’s father began marriage negotiations with the Prussian King: Louise would marry Crown Prince Frederick William and Frederica would follow suit with his younger brother Frederick Louis Karl (called Prince Louis).

The double engagement was celebrated in Darmstadt on 24 April. On December 24, Louise and the Crown Prince were married in the Royal Palace of Berlin; two days later, on 26 December Frederica and Prince Louis were also married in the same place. Unlike her sister, Frederica did not enjoy a happy marriage. Her husband preferred the company of his mistresses and completely neglected her; in response, the humiliated wife allegedly began an affair with her husband’s uncle Prince Louis Ferdinand.

In 1795 King Frederick William II appointed Louis as Chief of the Dragoons Regiment No. 1, which was stationed in Schwedt, and one year later, on 23 December 1796, he died of diphtheria. Frederica and her three children consequently moved to Schönhausen Palace near Berlin.

In 1797 she and her cousin Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge, seventh son of King George III of Great Britain by his wife Queen Charlotte (Frederica’s paternal aunt), became unofficially engaged. The Duke of Cambridge asked the consent of his father to the marriage, but the King, under pressure from his wife, refused.

In 1798 Frederica became pregnant. The father was Prince Frederick William of Solms-Braunfels. The Prince recognized his paternity and requested her hand in marriage, a proposal that was quickly granted in order to avoid scandal. On 10 December of that year, the couple was married in Berlin and immediately moved to Ansbach. Two months later, in February 1799, Frederica gave birth to a daughter who only lived eight months. Prince Frederick William, disappointed and embittered, resumed his old dissipated lifestyle and became an alcoholic. In 1805 he resigned his military posts for “health reasons”. Frederica had to maintain her family with her own resources after her brother-in-law, King Frederick William III of Prussia, refused to restore her annual pension as a Dowager Princess of Prussia. Frederica’s older brother-in-law and head of the family, William Christian, Prince of Solms-Braunfels, advised her to get a divorce, with his full approval. She and her husband nonetheless refused.

In May 1813, during a visit to his uncle Duke Charles in Neustrelitz, Prince Ernest Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, the fifth son of King George III of Great Britain, met and fell in love with Frederica. Duke Charles made it clear to his daughter that her separation from the Prince of Solms-Braunfels was absolutely logical, and that he saw a marriage with an English prince as a great opportunity for her. During the next months Frederica considered the intentions of Ernest Augustus and the possible effects on her own situation. When, after the victory of the allies in the Battle of Leipzig, Ernest Augustus spent some days in Neustrelitz, he was greeted enthusiastically. Some time later Frederica asked the Prussian king for approval for her divorce from Prince Frederick William of Solms-Braunfels. All parties agreed, including the Prince of Solms-Braunfels, but Frederick William’s sudden death on 13 April 1814 precluded the need for a divorce. The prince’s demise was considered by some as a little too convenient, and some suspected that Frederica had poisoned him. In August, the engagement with Ernest Augustus was officially announced. After the British king gave his consent to the wedding, Frederica and Ernest Augustus were married on 29 May 1815 at the parish church of Neustrelitz. Some time later, the couple traveled to Great Britain and married again on 29 August 1815 at Carlton House, London.

Queen Charlotte bitterly opposed the marriage, even though her future daughter-in-law was also her niece. She refused to attend the wedding and advised her son to live outside England with his wife. Frederica never obtained the favor of her aunt/mother-in-law, who died unreconciled with her in 1818. During her marriage to Ernest Augustus she gave birth thrice, but only a son survived, who would eventually become King George V of Hanover.

On 20 June 1837 King William IV of the United Kingdom and Hanover died without issue. His heir was Princess Victoria, only daughter of Prince Edward Augustus, Duke of Kent, but because Hanover had been ruled under semi-Salic Law since the times of the Holy Roman Empire, she could not inherit the Hanoverian throne. The next male descendant of the late king was the Duke of Cumberland, Frederica’s husband, who then became King Ernest Augustus I of Hanover, with Frederica as his Queen consort.

After a short illness, Queen Frederica of Hanover died in 1841 at Hanover. The Court master builder Georg Ludwig Friedrich Laves was instructed by the King to build a mausoleum for his wife and himself in the garden of the chapel at Herrenhausen Palace. He also gave royal orders for the transformation of a central square near the Leineschloss and renamed it Friederikenplatz in her honor.

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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.

Prince Octavius
23 February 1779 – 3 May 1783

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Prince Octavius

Prince Octavius was born on 23 February 1779, at Buckingham House, London, England. He was the thirteenth child and eighth son of King George III and his queen consort Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. The prince’s name derives from Latin octavus, the eighth, indicating that he was the eighth son of his parents.

Octavius was christened on 23 March 1779, in the Great Council Chamber at St James’s Palace, by Frederick Cornwallis, The Archbishop of Canterbury. His godparents were The Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel (husband of his first cousin twice-removed, for whom The Earl of Hertford, Lord Chamberlain, stood proxy); The Duke of Mecklenburg (his first cousin once-removed, for whom The Earl of Ashburnham, Groom of the Stole, stood proxy); and The Duchess of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach (wife of his sixth cousin, for whom Alicia Wyndham, Countess of Egremont and Lady of the Bedchamber to Queen Charlotte, was proxy).

King George was extremely devoted to Octavius, who was too young to cause the kinds of trouble that his elder brothers were by the year of his birth. The king was affectionate and indulgent with his young children, and strove to attend their birthday parties and other events organized for their merriment; on one occasion a friend witnessed a happy domestic scene that involved George “carrying about in his arms by turns Sophia and the last prince, Octavius.” Another witness wrote George and Charlotte “have their Children always playing about them the whole time”; during most evenings the children were brought to their parents between 6 and 7 O’clock to play for an hour or two. The king also was kept informed of his children’s educational progress.

Octavius was close to his nearest sister Sophia, who called Octavius “her son”, and went with her and their siblings, Elizabeth and Edward to Eastborne on the Sussex coast, where he could take in the fresh seaside air during the summer of 1780. When he was nineteen months old, Octavius became an older brother with the birth of his younger brother Prince Alfred. Octavius was three years of age when Alfred died on 20 August 1782, and he again became the youngest surviving child. Horace Walpole wrote to Sir Horace Mann that upon Prince Alfred’s death, King George had declared “I am very sorry for Alfred; but had it been Octavius, I should have died too.” In 1820, historian Edward Holt would write of the prince’s character, “Though Prince Octavius had not passed his fifth year, he was considered very docile, and possessed good-nature in such an uncommon degree, that he was the delight of all about him.” Biographer John Watkins added Octavius was “reckoned one of the finest of the royal progeny.”

Six months after Alfred’s death, Octavius and Sophia were taken to Kew Palace in London to be inoculated with the smallpox virus. While Sophia recovered without incident, Octavius became ill and died several days later, around 8 o’clock PM, on 3 May 1783, at Kew Palace. He was four years old. As was traditional, the household did not go into mourning for the deaths of royal children under the age of fourteen.

Octavius has the distinction of being the last member of the British royal family to suffer from smallpox. On 10 May, he was buried alongside his brother Alfred at Westminster Abbey. Their eldest brother, now King George IV ordered their remains transferred to St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle on 11 February 1820, at about 3 o’clock.

According to Queen Charlotte, Octavius’ death was unexpected; she wrote to a friend who faced a similar tragedy that “twice have I felt what you do feel, the last time without the least preparation for such a stroke, for in less than eight and forty hours was my son Octavius, in perfect health, sick and struck with death immediately.” The prince’s death had a marked effect, both mentally and physically on Queen Charlotte, who at the time was pregnant with her youngest child Princess Amelia.

Octavius’s death devastated his father; Walpole wrote “the King has lost another little child; a lovely boy, they say, of whom their Majesties were dotingly fond.” Shortly afterward, King George said “There will be no Heaven for me if Octavius is not there.” The day after his son’s death, the King passed through a room where artist Thomas Gainsborough was completing the finishing touches on a portrait of the family. The King asked him to stop, but when he found out that the painting was of Octavius, allowed the painter to continue. When this same painting was exhibited a week later, Octavius’ sisters were so upset that they broke down and cried in front of everyone. Three months after Octavius’ death, his father was still dwelling on his son, writing to Lord Dartmouth that every day “increases the chasm I feel for want of that beloved object [Octavius].” In later years, King George imagined conversations with his two youngest sons. During one of the king’s bouts of madness in 1788, George mistook a pillow for Octavius, who by that time had been dead for five years.

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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.

Princess Marie Luise Victoire of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, Duchess of Kent and Strathearn
17 August 1786 – 16 March 1861

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Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld

Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld

Mary Louise Victoria was born in Coburg in the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. She was the fourth daughter and seventh child of Franz Frederick Anton, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, and Countess Augusta of Reuss-Ebersdorf. She had a rough childhood growing up with her brothers and sisters. One of her brothers was Ernest I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, and another brother, Leopold, married, in 1816, Princess Charlotte of Wales, the only legitimate daughter of the future King George IV, and heiress presumptive to their British throne.

On 21 December 1803 at Coburg, she married (as his second wife) Charles, Prince of Leiningen (1763–1814), whose first wife, Henrietta of Reuss-Ebersdorf, was her aunt. Charles and Victoria had two children:

  • Carl Friedrich Wilhelm Emich, Prince of Leiningen married, to Countess Maria Klebelsberg
  • Princess Anna Feodora Auguste Charlotte Wilhelmine married, to Ernst I, Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg

Through her first marriage, she is a direct matrilineal ancestor to various members of royalty in Europe, including Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, Felipe VI of Spain, and Constantine II of Greece.

The death of Princess Charlotte of Wales, the wife of Victoria’s brother Leopold in 1817, prompted a succession crisis, and, with Parliament offering a financial incentive, three of Charlotte’s uncles, sons of George III, were prepared to marry. One of Charlotte’s uncles, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn proposed to Victoria and she accepted. The couple were married on 29 May 1818 at Amorbach, and again, on 11 July 1818, at Kew, the second ceremony being a joint ceremony at which Edward’s brother, the Duke of Clarence, later King William IV, also married his wife, Princess Adelaide of Saxe-Meningen. Shortly after the marriage, the pair moved to Germany, where the cost of living would be cheaper. Soon after, Victoria became pregnant, and the Duke and Duchess, determined to have their child born in England, raced back, arriving at Dover on April 23, 1819, and moved into Kensington Palace, where she soon gave birth to a daughter, Victoria

The Duke of Kent died suddenly of pneumonia in January 1820, a few days before his father, King George III. The widow Duchess had little cause to remain in the United Kingdom, not speaking the language and having a palace at home in Coburg, where she could live cheaply on the incomes of her first husband. However, the British succession at this time was far from assured – of the three brothers older than Edward, the new king, George IV, and the Duke of York were both estranged from their wives (both wives being past childbearing age) and the third, the Duke of Clarence (the future William IV) had yet to produce any surviving children with his wife. The Duchess decided that she would do better by gambling on her daughter’s accession than by living quietly in Coburg, and sought support from the British government, having inherited her second husband’s debts. After the death of Edward and his father, the young Princess Victoria was still only third in line for the throne, and Parliament was not inclined to support yet another impoverished royal. The Duchess of Kent was allowed a suite of rooms in the dilapidated Kensington Palace, along with several other impoverished nobles. There she brought up Victoria, who would become Queen of the United Kingdom and Empress of India.

The Duchess was given little financial support from the Civil List. Parliament was not inclined to increase her income, remembering the Duke’s extravagance. Her brother, Leopold, was a major support, since he had a huge income of fifty thousand pounds per annum for life, which Parliament allotted to him on his marriage to Princess Charlotte, as he was expected to become the consort of the monarch in due course; but, even after Charlotte’s death, Parliament never revoked Prince Leopold’s annuity.

In 1831, with George IV dead and the new king, William IV, still without legitimate issue, the young princess’ status as heir presumptive and the Duchess’s prospective place as regent led to major increases in income. A contributing factor was Leopold’s designation as King of the Belgians (he surrendered his British income on election) and the perceived impropriety in having the heir presumptive supported by a foreign sovereign.

The Duchess relied heavily on John Conroy, a Welsh officer whom she engaged as her private secretary. Perhaps because of Conroy’s influence, the relationship between the Duchess’s household and William IV soon soured, with the Duchess regarding the king as an oversexed oaf. William was denied access to his young niece as much as the Duchess dared. She further offended the King by taking rooms in Kensington Palace that the King had reserved for himself. Both before and during William’s reign, she snubbed his illegitimate children, the FitzClarences. All of this led to a scene at a dinner in 1836 when the King, again feeling offended by the Duchess and Conroy, expressed hope that he would live long enough to render a regency for Victoria unnecessary, and decried the influence on the heir presumptive by those around her.
Conroy had high hopes for his patroness and himself: he envisioned Victoria succeeding the throne at a young age, thus needing a regency government, which, following the Regency Act of 1831, would be headed by the Princess’s mother (who had already served in that capacity in Germany following the death of her first husband). As the personal secretary of the Duchess, Conroy would be the veritable “power behind the throne”. He did not count on Victoria’s uncle, William IV, surviving long enough for Victoria to reach her majority. He had cultivated her mother as his ally, and ignored and insulted Victoria. Now he had no influence over her, and thus tried to force her to make him her personal secretary upon her accession. This plan, too, backfired, as Victoria came to associate her mother with Conroy’s schemes, for pressuring her to sign a paper declaring Conroy her personal secretary. When Victoria became queen, she relegated the Duchess to separate accommodations, away from her own.

When the Queen’s first child, the Princess Royal, was born, the Duchess of Kent unexpectedly found herself welcomed back into Victoria’s inner circle. It is likely that this came about as a result of the dismissal of Baroness Lehzen at the behest of Victoria’s husband (and the Duchess’s nephew), Prince Albert. Firstly, this removed Lehzen’s influence, and Lehzen had long despised the Duchess and Conroy, suspecting them of an illicit affair. Secondly, it left the Queen wholly open to Albert’s influence, and he likely prevailed upon her to reconcile with her mother. Lastly, Conroy had by now exiled himself to the continent, and that divisive influence was removed. The Duchess’s finances, which had been left in shambles by Conroy, were revived thanks to her daughter and her daughter’s advisors. She became a doting grandmother, by all accounts, and was closer to her daughter than she ever had been.

There has been some speculation, not only that the Duchess and Conroy were lovers, but that the Duchess had earlier been unfaithful to the Duke of Kent and that Victoria was not his daughter. This has been promoted most prominently by William and Malcolm Potts’ 1995 book Queen Victoria’s Gene. Those who promote this position point to the absence of porphyria in the British Royal Family among the descendants of Queen Victoria – it had been widespread before her; not to mention the rise of haemophilia, unknown in either the Duke’s or Duchess’s family, among the best documented families in history. Victoria herself was puzzled by the emergence of the disease, given its absence in either family.

John Röhl’s book, Purple Secret, documents evidence of porphyria in Victoria, the Princess Royal’s daughter Charlotte and her grand daughter, Feodore. It goes on to say that Prince William of Gloucester was diagnosed with the disease shortly before his own death in a flying accident. (although it should be noted that he is also descendant of George III through Queen Victoria’s uncle, the Duke of Cambridge)
In practice, this would have required the Duchess’s lover to be haemophiliac – an extremely unlikely survival, given the poor state of medicine at the time. Actual evidence to support this theory has not arisen, and haemophilia occurs spontaneously through mutation in at least 30% of cases. Queen Victoria has also been said by some to have a strong resemblance to her Hanoverian relatives, particularly George IV.

The Duchess died on 16 March 1861, at the age of 74. She is buried in the Duchess of Kent’s Mausoleum at Frogmore, Windsor Home Park, near to the royal residence Windsor Castle.

Queen Victoria and Albert dedicated a window in the Royal Chapel of All Saints in Windsor Great Park to her memory.

The Queen was much affected by her mother’s death. It was the start to a disastrous year, which would end with Albert’s death

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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.

Prince Edward Augustus Duke of Kent and Strathearn
2 November 1767 – 23 January 1820

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Edward Augustus

Prince Edward Augustus Duke of Kent and Strathearn was created Duke of Kent and Strathearn and Earl of Dublin on 23 April 1799 and, a few weeks later, appointed a General and commander-in-chief of British forces in North America, On 23 March 1802 he was appointed Governor of Gibraltar and nominally retained that post until his death. The Duke of Kent was appointed Field-Marshal of the Forces on 3 September 1805.

He was the first member of the royal family to live in North America for more than a short visit (1791–1800) and, in 1794, the first prince to enter the United States (travelling to Boston by foot from Lower Canada) after independence.

On June 27, 1792, Edward is credited with the first use of the term “Canadian” to mean both French and English settlers in Upper and Lower Canada. The Prince used the term in an effort to quell a riot between the two groups at a polling station in Charlesbourg, Lower Canada. Recently he has been styled the “Father of the Canadian Crown” for his impact on the development of Canada.

Prince Edward was born on 2 November 1767. His parents were the reigning British monarch, George III, and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.

As a son of the British monarch, he was styled His Royal Highness The Prince Edward from birth, and was fourth in the line of succession to the throne. He was named after his paternal uncle, the Duke of York and Albany, who had died several weeks earlier and was buried at Westminster Abbey the day before his birth.

Prince Edward was baptised on 30 November 1767; his godparents were the Hereditary Prince of Brunswick-Lüneburg (his paternal uncle by marriage, for whom the Earl of Hertford, Lord Chamberlain, stood proxy), Duke Charles of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (his maternal uncle, for whom the Earl of Huntingdon, Groom of the Stole, stood proxy), the Hereditary Princess of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel (his paternal aunt, who was represented by a proxy) and the Landgravine of Hesse-Kassel (his twice-paternal grandaunt, for whom the Duchess of Argyll, Lady of the Bedchamber to the Queen, stood proxy).

The Prince began his military training in Germany in 1785. King George III intended to send him to the University of Göttingen, but decided against it upon the advice of the Duke of York. Instead, Prince Edward went to Lüneburg and later Hanover, accompanied by his tutor, Baron Wangenheim. From 1788 to 1789, he completed his education in Geneva.

In 1789 he was appointed colonel of the 7th Regiment of Foot (Royal Fusiliers). In 1790 he returned home without leave and, in disgrace, was sent off to Gibraltar as an ordinary officer. He was joined from Marseilles by Madame de Saint-Laurent.

Due to the extreme Mediterranean heat, Edward requested to be transferred to Canada, specifically Quebec, in 1791. Edward arrived in Canada in time to witness the proclamation of the Constitutional Act of 1791, become the first member of the Royal Family to tour Upper Canada and became a fixture of British North American society. Edward and his mistress, Julie St. Laurent, became close friends with the French Canadian de Salaberry family – the Prince mentored all of the family’s sons throughout their military careers. Edward guided Charles de Salaberry throughout his career, and made sure that the famous commander was duly honoured after his leadership during the Battle of Chateauguay.

The prince was promoted to the rank of major-general in October 1793 and the next year served successfully in the West Indies campaign being mentioned in dispatches and receiving the thanks of parliament.
After 1794, Prince Edward lived at the headquarters of the Royal Navy’s North American Station which was Halifax, Nova Scotia. He was instrumental in shaping that settlement’s military defences, protecting its important Royal Navy base, as well as influencing the city’s and colony’s socio-political and economic institutions. Edward was responsible for the construction of Halifax’s iconic Garrison Clock, as well as numerous other civic projects (St. George’s Round Church). Lieutenant Governor Sir John Wentworth and Lady Francis Wentworth provided their country residence for the use of Prince Edward and Julie St. Laurent. Extensively renovated, the estate became known as “Prince’s Lodge” as the couple hosted numerous dignitaries, including Louis-Phillippe of Orléans (the future King of the French). The only remains of the residence is a small rotunda built by Edward for his regimental band to play music.

After suffering a fall from his horse in late 1798 was he allowed to return to England. On 24 April 1799, Prince Edward was created Duke of Kent and Strathearn and Earl of Dublin, received the thanks of parliament and an income of £12,000. In May that same year the Duke was promoted to the rank of general and appointed Commander-in-Chief of British forces in North America. He took leave of his parents 22 July 1799 and sailed to Halifax. Just over twelve months later he left Halifax and arrived in England on 31 August 1800 where it was confidently expected his next appointment would be Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.

Appointed Governor of Gibraltar by the War Office, gazetted 23 March 1802, the Duke took up his post on 24 May 1802 with express orders from the government to restore discipline among the drunken troops. The Duke’s harsh discipline precipitated a mutiny by soldiers in his own and the 25th Regiment on Christmas Eve 1802. The Duke of York, then Commander-in-Chief of the Forces, recalled him in May 1803 after receiving reports of the mutiny, but despite this direct order he refused to return to England until his successor arrived. He was refused permission to return to Gibraltar for an inquiry and, although allowed to continue to hold the governorship of Gibraltar until his death, he was forbidden to return.

As a consolation for the end of his active military career at age 35, he was promoted to the rank of field marshal and appointed Ranger of Hampton Court Park on 5 September 1805. This office provided him with a residence now known as The Pavilion. (His sailor brother William, with children to provide for, had been made Ranger of Bushy Park in 1797.) The Duke continued to serve as honorary colonel of the 1st Regiment of Foot (the Royal Scots) until his death.

Though it was a tendency shared to some extent with his brothers, the Duke’s excesses as a military disciplinarian may have been due less to natural disposition and more to what he had learned from his tutor Baron Wangenheim. Certainly Wangenheim, by keeping his allowance very small, accustomed Edward to borrowing at an early age. The Duke applied the same military discipline to his own duties that he demanded of others. Though it seems inconsistent with his unpopularity among the army’s rank and file, his friendliness toward others and popularity with servants has been emphasized. He also introduced the first regimental school. The Duke of Wellington considered him a first-class speaker. He took a continuing interest in the social experiments of Robert Owen, voted for Catholic emancipation, and supported literary, Bible and abolitionist societies.

His daughter, Victoria, after hearing Lord Melbourne’s opinions, was able to add to her private journal of 1 August 1838 “from all what I heard, he was the best of all”.

Following the death in November 1817 of the only legitimate grandchild of George III, Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales, the royal succession began to look uncertain. The Prince Regent and his younger brother Frederick, the Duke of York, though married, were estranged from their wives and had no surviving legitimate children. King George’s surviving daughters were all past likely childbearing age. The unmarried sons of King George III, the Duke of Clarence (later King William IV), the Duke of Kent, and the Duke of Cambridge, all rushed to contract lawful marriages and provide an heir to the throne. (The fifth son of King George III, the Duke of Cumberland, was already married but had no living children at that time, whilst the marriage of the sixth son, the Duke of Sussex, was void because he had married in contravention of the Royal Marriages Act 1772.)

For his part the Duke of Kent, aged 50, already considering marriage and encouraged into this particular match with her sister-in-law by his now-deceased niece Princess Charlotte, became engaged to Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld (17 August 1786 – 16 March 1861) and the couple married on 29 May 1818 at Schloss Ehrenburg, Coburg, (Lutheran rite) and again on 11 July 1818 at Kew Palace, Kew, Surrey.
A widow with two children, Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld was the daughter of Duke Franz Friedrich of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld and sister of Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld husband of the recently deceased Princess Charlotte. The new Duchess of Kent’s first husband was Emich Carl, 2nd Prince of Leiningen, with whom she had two children: a son Carl and a daughter Feodora.

They had one child, Princess Alexandrina Victoria of Kent (24 May 1819 – 22 January 1901), who became Queen Victoria on 20 June 1837. The Duke took great pride in his daughter, telling his friends to look at her well, for she would be Queen of England and bringing the infant to a military review, to the outrage of the Prince Regent, who demanded to know what place the child had there.

The Duke of Kent purchased a house of his own from Mrs Fitzherbert in 1801. Castle Hill Lodge on Castlebar Hill Ealing was then placed in the hands of architect James Wyatt and more than £100,000 spent. Near neighbours from 1815 to 1817 at Little Boston House were US envoy and future US President John Quincy Adams and his English wife Louisa. “We all went to church and heard a charity sermon preached by a Dr Crane before the Duke of Kent”, wrote Adams in a diary entry from August 1815.

Following the birth of Princess Victoria in May 1819, the Duke and Duchess, concerned to manage the Duke’s great debts, sought to find a place where they could live inexpensively. After the coast of Devon was recommended to them they leased from a General Baynes, intending to remain incognito, Woolbrook Cottage on the seaside by Sidmouth.

The Duke of Kent died of pneumonia on 23 January 1820 at Woolbrook Cottage, Sidmouth, and was interred in St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. He died only six days before his father, George III, and less than a year after his daughter’s birth.

He predeceased his father and his three elder brothers but, as none of his elder brothers had any surviving legitimate children, his daughter Victoria succeeded to the throne on the death of her uncle King William IV in 1837.

In 1829 the Duke’s former aide-de-camp purchased the unoccupied Castle Hill Lodge from the Duchess in an attempt to reduce her debts; the debts were finally discharged after Victoria took the throne and paid them over time from her income.

While Edward lived in Quebec (1791-3) he met with Jonathan Sewell, an immigrant American Loyalist who played trumpet in the Prince’s regimental band. Sewell would rise in Lower Canadian government to hold such offices as Attorney General, Chief Justice, and Speaker of the Legislative Assembly. In 1814, Sewell forwarded to the Duke a copy of his report “A plan for the federal union of British provinces in North America.” The Duke supported Sewell’s plan to unify the colonies, offering comments and critiques that would later be cited by Lord Durham (1839) and participants of the Charlottetown and Quebec Conferences (1864).

Edward’s 1814 letter to Sewell:

My dear Sewell,
I have had this day the pleasure of receiving your note of yesterday with its interesting enclosure. Nothing can be better arranged than the whole thing is or more perfectly, and when I see an opening it is fully my intention to point the matter out to Lord Bathurst and put the paper in his hands, without however telling him from whom I have it, though I shall urge him to have some conversation with you relative to it. Permit me, however, just to ask you whether it was not an oversight in you to state that there are five Houses of Assembly in the British Colonies in North America. If I am not under an error there are six, viz., Upper and Lower Canada, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and the islands of Prince Edward and Cape Breton.
Allow me to beg of you to put down the proportions in which you think the thirty members of the Representatives Assembly ought to be furnished by each Province, and to suggest whether you would not think two Lieutenant-Governors with two Executive Councils sufficient for an executive government of the whole, namely one for the two Canadas, and one for New Brunswick and the two small dependencies of Cape Breton and Prince Edward Island, the former to reside in Montreal, and the latter at whichever of the two (following) situations may be considered most central for the two provinces whether Annapolis Royal or Windsor.
But, at all events, should you consider in your Executive Councils requisite I presume there cannot be a question of the expediency of comprehending the two small islands in the Gulf of St. Lawrence with Nova Scotia.
Believe me ever to remain, With the most friendly regard, My dear Sewell, Yours faithfully,
EDWARD

220px-Madame_de_St._Laurent-2015-02-15-06-00.jpg

Madame de Saint-Laurent

Various sources report that the Duke of Kent had mistresses. In Geneva: Adelaide Dubus, who died in childbirth of their daughter Adelaide Victoria Auguste Dubus (1789 – in or after 1832) and Anne Gabrielle Alexandrine Moré mother of Edward Schenker Scheener (1789–1853). Scheener married but had no children and returned to Geneva, perhaps significantly in 1837, where he later died.

The Duke was accompanied for 28 years, from 1790 until his marriage in 1818, by Madame de Saint-Laurent born Thérèse-Bernardine Montgenet. The portrait of the Duke by Beechey was hers.

There is no evidence of children but many families in Canada have claimed descent from the couple

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