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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 Sir Francis William Austen
23 April 1774 – 10 August 1865

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Francis William Austen

Admiral Sir Francis William Austen was a Royal Navy officer. As commanding officer of the sloop HMS Peterel, he captured some 40 ships, was present at the capture of a French squadron and led an operation when the French brig Ligurienne was captured and two others were driven ashore off Marseille during the French Revolutionary Wars.

On the outbreak of Napoleonic Wars Austen was appointed to raise and organise a corps of Sea Fencibles at Ramsgate to defend a strip of the Kentish coast. He went on to be commanding officer of the third-rate HMS Canopus, in which he took part in the pursuit of the French Fleet to the West Indies and back and then fought at the Battle of San Domingo, leading the lee line of ships into the battle. He later commanded the third-rate HMS St Albans and observed the Battle of Vimeiro from the deck of his ship before embarking British troops retreating after the Battle of Corunna. He went on to be commanding officer of the third-rate HMS Elephant and captured the United States privateer Swordfish during the War of 1812.

As a senior officer Austen served as Commander-in-Chief, North America and West Indies

Born the son of the Reverend George Austen and Cassandra Austen (the daughter of the Reverend Thomas Leigh), Austen joined the Royal Navy in April 1786. After graduating at the Royal Naval Academy at Portsmouth, he was appointed to the fifth-rate HMS Perseverance on the East Indies Station. Promoted to midshipman in December 1789, he joined the third-rate HMS Crown and then transferred to the fifth-rate HMS Minerva in November 1791. In HMS Minerva he took part in a blockade of the coast of Mysore.

Promoted to lieutenant on 28 December 1792, Austen transferred to the sloop HMS Despatch and then returned to England at the end of 1793. In March 1794 he joined the sloop Lark, a brig that was part of a fleet that evacuated British troops from Ostend and Nieuwpoort after the French captured the Netherlands during the French Revolutionary Wars. In March 1795 HMS Lark was part of a squadron that escorted Princess Caroline of Brunswickto England. Austen transferred to the fifth-rate HMS Andromeda in May 1795 and to the second-rate HMS Glory in Autumn 1795. In HMS Glory he escorted the troops of General Ralph Abercromby destined for the West Indies in December 1795. He moved to the fifth-rate HMS Shannon in early 1796, to the fifth-rate HMS Triton in September 1796 and to the fifth-rate HMS Seahorse in March 1797. He then joined the second-rate HMS London in February 1798 and took part in the blockade of Cádiz. After securing the patronage of Admiral Lord Gambier, he was promoted to commander on 3 January 1799 and became commanding officer of the sloop HMS Peterel in February 1799. In HMS Peterel he captured some 40 ships, was present at the capture of a French squadron in June 1799 and led an operation when the French brig Ligurienne was captured and two others were driven ashore off Marseille in March 1800. He also took part in the blockade of Genoa in May 1800 and, having been promoted to captain on 13 May 1800, was present at the blockade of Abu Qir in August 1800.

Austen became Flag Captain to Lord Gambier, in the second-rate HMS Neptune in August 1801 and earned a reputation for seeing to the welfare and health of his men. On the outbreak of Napoleonic Wars he was appointed to raise and organise a corps of Sea Fencibles at Ramsgate to defend a strip of the Kentish coast. He went on to be commanding officer of the fourth-rate HMS Leopard, flagship of Rear Admiral Sir Thomas Louis, in May 1804 and then took part in the blockade of Boulogne. He next became commanding officer of the third-rate HMS Canopus, a French ship of the line captured in the Battle of the Nile (as the Franklin), early in 1805. In HMS Canopus he took part in the pursuit of the French Fleet, under the command of Admiral Pierre-Charles Villeneuve, to the West Indies and back in Summer 1805.

Austen was temporarily detached from the fleet for convoy duty in the Mediterranean and missed the Battle of Trafalgar. However, he did command HMS Canopus at the Battle of San Domingo, leading the lee line of ships into the battle, in February 1806. He went on to be commanding officer of the third-rate HMS St Albans in March 1807. On 13 July 1808, the East India Company gave Austen £420 with which to buy a piece of plate: this was a substantial gift (perhaps the equivalent of a year’s salary) in thanks for his having safely convoyed to Britain from Saint Helena seven of their Indiamen, plus one extra (voyage chartered) ship. In HMS St Albans he observed the Battle of Vimeiro from the deck of his ship in August 1808 and then embarked British troops retreating after the Battle of Corunna in January 1809.

Austen became Flag Captain to Lord Gambier, Commander-in-Chief of the Channel Squadron, in the first-rate HMS Caledonia in September 1810. He went on to be commanding officer of the third-rate HMS Elephant in the North Sea in 1811 and took part in a blockade of the Scheldt. In HMS Elephant he captured the United States privateer Swordfish in December 1812 during the War of 1812. He was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath on 4 June 1815.

Promoted to rear admiral on 22 July 1830, Austen was advanced to Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath on 28 February 1837 and promoted to vice admiral on 28 June 1838. He became Commander-in-Chief, North America and West Indies Station, with his flag in the third-rate HMS Vindictive, in December 1844. His main role was to protect British commercial interests during the Mexican–American War, which broke out in 1846, and to disrupt the activities of slave traders. Promoted to full admiral on 1 August 1848, he was advanced to Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath on 18 May 1860 before being appointed Rear-Admiral of the United Kingdom on 5 June 1862 and then Vice-Admiral of the United Kingdom on 11 December 1862. He was promoted to Admiral of the Fleet on 27 April 1863.

Austen died at his home Portsdown Lodge at Widley in Hampshire on 10 August 1865 and was buried in the churchyard at St Peter and St Paul, Wymering, Portsmouth.

In July 1806 Austen married Mary Gibson (eldest daughter of John Gibson); they had eight children. Following the death of his first wife, he married Martha Lloyd (eldest daughter of the Reverend Noyes Lloyd) in July 1828; they had no children. Austen’s siblings included Jane Austen, the novelist, Cassandra Austen, the watercolor painter, and Charles Austen, a naval officer.

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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 Mary Duchess of Gloucester and Edinburgh
25 April 1776 – 30 April 1857

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Princess Mary

Princess Mary Duchess of Gloucester and Edinburgh was the 11th child and fourth daughter of King George III of the United Kingdom.

She married her first cousin, Prince William Frederick, Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh, when both were 40, and was his widow in later life. In her last years, her niece, Victoria, was on the throne as the fourth monarch during Mary’s life, after her father and two of her brothers. Princess Mary was the longest-lived (at 81 years) and last survivor of George III’s fifteen children; of those fifteen issue, thirteen lived to adulthood. She was also the only one of George III’s children to be photographed. She died on 30 April 1857 at Gloucester House, London.

Princess Mary was born, on 25 April 1776, at Buckingham Palace, London. Her father was the reigning British monarch, George III. Her mother was Queen Charlotte, the daughter of Charles, reigning Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.

Mary was christened on 19 May 1776, in the Great Council Chamber at St. James’s Palace, by Frederick Cornwallis, The Archbishop of Canterbury. Her godparents were:

According to author and historian Flora Fraser, Mary was considered to be the most beautiful daughter of George III. Mary danced a minuet for the first time in public at the age of sixteen in June 1791, during a court ball given for the king’s birthday. In the spring of 1792 she officially debuted at court. Around 1796 Mary fell in love with the Dutch Prince Frederick, while he and his family lived in exile in London. Frederik was a son of William V, Prince of Orange, the Dutch stadholder, and younger brother to the future King William I of the Netherlands. However Frederik and Mary never wed because George III stipulated that her elder sisters should marry first. In 1799 Prince Frederik died of an infection while serving in the army, and Mary was allowed to go into official mourning.

Mary’s youngest sister and beloved companion Princess Amelia called her “Mama’s tool” because of her obedient nature. Amelia’s premature death in 1810 devastated her sister, who had nursed her devotedly during her painful illness.

Mary’s upbringing was very sheltered and she spent most of her time with her parents and sisters. King George and Queen Charlotte were keen to shelter their children, particularly the girls. Mary, however, married on 22 July 1816, to her first cousin, Prince William Frederick, Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh, the son of George III’s brother, Prince William Henry, Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh, at the Chapel Royal in St James’s Palace. On their wedding day, Mary’s brother, The Prince Regent, raised the bridegroom’s style from Highness to Royal Highness, an attribute to which Mary’s rank as daughter of the King already entitled her.

The couple lived at Bagshot Park, but after William’s death she moved to White Lodge in Richmond Park. They had no children together. Princess Mary was said to be the favourite aunt of her niece, Queen Victoria.

Princess Mary was quite close to her eldest brother, and she shared his dislike toward his wife Caroline of Brunswick. When the latter left for Italy, Princess Mary congratulated her brother “on the prospect of a good riddance. Heaven grant that she may not return again and that we may never see more of her.”

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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.

James Harris 1st Earl of Malmesbury
21 April 1746 – 21 November 1820

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James Harris

James Harris 1st Earl of Malmesbury was born at Salisbury, the son of James Harris, an MP and the author of Hermes, and Elizabeth Clarke of Sandford, Somerset. He was educated at Winchester, Oxford and Leiden.

Harris arrived in Spain in December 1768 and became secretary to the British embassy at Madrid, and was left as chargé d’affaires at that court on the departure of Sir James Grey in August 1769 until the arrival of George Pitt, afterwards Lord Rivers. This interval gave him his opportunity; he discovered the intention of Spain to attack the Falkland Islands, and was instrumental in thwarting it by putting on a bold countenance. As a reward he was appointed minister ad interim at Madrid.

In January 1772 Harris was appointed envoy-extraordinary to Prussia in Berlin, arriving on 21 February. Within a month of his arrival he became the first diplomat to hear of Frederick the Great’s partition of Poland with the cooperation of Russia. His service in this office was undistinguished but he made an impression on Frederick, who requested that he be reappointed.

Harris married Harriet Maria Amyand (1761 – 20 August 1830), the youngest daughter of Sir George Amyand MP (1720 – 1766) and Anna Maria Korteen. They had four children together:

  • Lady Frances Harris (d. 1 November 1847) m. General Galbraith Lowry Cole
  • Lady Catherine Harris (d. December 1855) m. General Sir John Bell
  • James Edward Harris, 2nd Earl of Malmesbury (19 August 1778 – 10 September 1841)
  • Rev. Hon. Thomas Alfred Harris (24 March 1782 – 15 December 1823)

In autumn of 1777, Harris travelled to Russia to be envoy-extraordinary to Russia, an office he held until September 1783. At St Petersburg he made his reputation, for he managed to get on with Catherine II, in spite of her predilections for France, and steered adroitly through the accumulated difficulties of the first Armed Neutrality. He was made a Knight of the Bath at the end of 1778; but in 1782 he returned home owing to ill-health, and was appointed by his friend, Charles James Fox, to be minister at The Hague, an appointment confirmed after some delay by William Pitt the Younger (1784).

He did very great service in furthering Pitt’s policy of maintaining England’s influence on the Continent by the arms of her allies, and held the threads of the diplomacy which ended in the king of Prussia’s overthrowing the Patriot republican party in the Netherlands, which was inclined to France, and re-establishing the Prince of Orange. In recognition of his services he was created Baron Malmesbury of Malmesbury (September 1788), and permitted by the King of Prussia to bear the Prussian eagle on his arms, and by the Prince of Orange to use his motto “Je maintiendrai“.

In 1786 he told Pitt that France was “an ambitious and restless rival power, on whose good faith we never can rely, whose friendship never can be deemed sincere, and of whose enmity we have the most to apprehend.” He also wrote to Robert Murray Keith: “…from everything I hear and observe, there is not the least doubt that France is working hard at the formation of a League, the object of which, is the Destruction of England.”

He returned to England and took an anxious interest in politics, which ended in his seceding from the Whig party with the Duke of Portland in 1793.

In that year he was sent by Pitt, but in vain, to try to keep Prussia true to the first coalition against France. In 1794, he was sent to Brunswick to solicit the hand of the unfortunate Princess Caroline of Brunswick for the Prince of Wales, to marry her as proxy, and conduct her to her husband in England. For once his diplomatic skills seem to have failed him: confronted with Caroline’s bizarre manner and appearance, he sent no advance word to the Prince, who was so shocked by the sight of his future wife that he asked Malmesbury to bring him brandy.

In 1796 and 1797 he was in Paris vainly negotiating with the French Directory, and then in Lille in summer 1797 for equally fruitless negotiations with the Directory’s plenipotentiaries Hugues-Bernard Maret, duc de Bassano, Georges René Le Peley de Pléville and Etienne Louis François Honoré Letourner.

Due to bad roads in France, Malmesbury reached Paris on 22 October 1796, a week after leaving London. This led the foremost opponent of peace with France, Edmund Burke, to quip that his journey was slow because “he went the whole way on his knees”.

After 1797, he became partially deaf, and quit diplomacy altogether; but for his long and eminent services he was in 1800 created Earl of Malmesbury and Viscount Fitzharris of Heron Court in the county of Hants.

He now became a sort of political Nestor, consulted on foreign policy by successive foreign ministers, trusted by men of the most different ideas in political crises, and above all the confidant, and for a short time after Pitt’s death almost the political director, of Canning. Younger men were also wont to go to him for advice, and Lord Palmerston particularly, who was his ward, was tenderly attached to him, and owed many of his ideas on foreign policy directly to his teaching. His later years were free from politics, and till his death on 21 November 1820 he lived very quietly and almost forgotten.

As a statesman, Malmesbury had an influence among his contemporaries which is scarcely to be understood from his writings, but which must have owed much to personal charm of manner and persuasiveness of tongue; as a diplomatist, he seems to have deserved his reputation, and shares with Macartney, Auckland and Whitworth the credit of raising diplomacy from a profession in which only great nobles won the prizes to a career opening the path of honour to ability. One historian called him “the greatest English diplomat of the eighteenth century.”

Malmesbury remarked that it was “a truth inculcated into John Bull with his mother’s milk, viz. that France is our natural enemy”. He said on another occasion that “The history of the present century afforded repeated proofs, that the English fought and conquered less for themselves than for the sake of their allies, and to preserve that equilibrium of power, on which the fate of all Europe depends”.

Malmesbury did not publish anything himself, except an account of the Dutch revolution, and an edition of his father’s works, but his important Diaries (1844) and Letters (1870) were edited by his grandson.

He was a Member of Parliament (MP) for Christchurch from 1770 to 1774 and from 1780 to 1788.

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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 William Frederick Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh
15 January 1776 – 30 November 1834

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William Frederick

Prince William Frederick Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh was born on 15 January 1776 at Palazzo Teodoli in via del Corso, Rome. His father was Prince William, Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh, the third son of the Prince of Wales. His mother was Maria, Duchess of Gloucester and Edinburgh, the illegitimate daughter of Edward Walpole and granddaughter of Robert Walpole. As a great-grandson of George II he held the title of Prince of Great Britain with the style His Highness, not His Royal Highness, at birth. The young prince was christened at Teodoli Palace, on 12 February 1776 by a Rev Salter. His godparents were the Duke and Duchess of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg (his first cousin once-removed and his wife) and The Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach (his second cousin once-removed).

During his stay in Stockholm in 1802–1803, his interest and rumoured affair with Aurora Wilhelmina Koskull attracted a lot of attention, and he reportedly had plans to marry her. Queen Charlotte recalled that William said of Koskull: “If she was your daughter, I would marry her!”

He was admitted to the University of Cambridge (Trinity College) in 1787, and granted his MA in 1790. On 25 August 1805, Prince William’s father died, and he inherited the titles Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh and Earl of Connaught. From 1811 until his death he was Chancellor of the University of Cambridge. He was offered the position of king of Sweden in 1812 by some members of the Swedish nobility, but the British government would not allow it.

On 22 July 1816, he married The Princess Mary, his cousin and the fourth daughter of George III. The marriage took place at St. James’s Palace, London. On that day, The Prince Regent granted the Duke the style of His Royal Highness by Order in Council.

The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester lived at Bagshot Park in Surrey. They had no children together; they had married when both were 40. The Duke had been encouraged to stay single, so that there might be a suitable groom for Princess Charlotte of Wales, the heiress to the throne, even if no foreign match proved suitable; she had married Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburgten weeks earlier.

He was active in many walks of life, and on 27 April 1822 chaired the first Annual General Meeting of London’s new United University Club. Politics, however, was not among them; he entered the House of Lords rarely, and he voted on few of the great issues of his time. He did advocate the abolition of slavery, and he supported Caroline of Brunswick and the Duke of Sussex against George IV.

He kept more state than the King; he never permitted a gentleman to be seated in his presence (which King George did as an exceptional favour) and expected to be served coffee by the ladies of any party he attended, and that they would stand while he drank it. The general estimate of his capacity is given by his nickname, “Silly Billy”; he was also called “Slice of Gloucester” and “Cheese”, a reference to Gloucester cheese.

The Duke died on 30 November 1834, and was buried in St. George’s Chapel, Windsor.

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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 Charlotte Augusta Matilda
29 September 1766 – 5 October 1828

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Charlotte Augusta Matilda

Princess Charlotte Augusta Matilda was born on 29 September 1766 at Buckingham House, London, to British monarch, King George III and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. She was christened on 27 October 1766 at St James’s Palace, by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Secker, and her godparents were her paternal uncle and aunt, King Christian VII of Denmark and his wife, Caroline Matilda of Great Britain (for whom the Duke of Portland, Lord Chamberlain, and the Dowager Countess of Effingham, stood proxy, respectively) and her paternal aunt, Princess Louisa.

Charlotte was officially designated as Princess Royal on 22 June 1789. After the birth of three sons in a row, her parents were delighted to have a Princess in the nursery. Like all of her siblings, Charlotte was inoculated in December 1768 along with her brother William. As the eldest daughter of the monarch, Charlotte was assumed to be destined for an important marriage on the continent, and her education was considered to be of the utmost importance, beginning when she was only eighteen months old. Since French was the official language in every European court, the little Princess was given a Frenchwoman to be her tutor, in order that she should have no accent. Her memory was another of her beginning subjects. She was taught to recite little verses and stories, and as a result had an almost uncanny ability to recall detail for the rest of her life. Her early childhood was not all scholarly pursuits. When she was almost three years old, she took place in her first tableau dressed like Columbine, where she danced with her seven-year-old brother George, Prince of Wales. She was not a naturally musical child and later abhorred such displays of children, declaring that they made children vain and self-important. This did not stop her parents from continuing to show her off. In late 1769, she and the Prince of Wales were once again displayed, this time to the public in a “junior drawing room” in St. James’ Palace. Charlotte was dressed in a Roman toga and lay on a sofa.

Though this type of thing was common in German courts, it was considered vulgar in England, where in reaction a London mob drove a hearse into the Palace courtyard. Afterward, the Prince of Wales told Lady Mary Coke that the whole event had made Charlotte “terribly tired.” Wisely, the King and Queen decided to never repeat the experience.

Though she was the eldest daughter, Charlotte was constantly compared to her sister Augusta Sophia, only two years younger than she. When Augusta was a month old, Lady Mary Coke called her “the most beautiful baby I have ever seen” while Charlotte was “very plain”. Passing judgment once again three years later, Charlotte was now “the most sensible agreeable child I ever saw, but in my opinion far from pretty” while Augusta was still “rather pretty”. Although the Princess Royal was never as beautiful as her younger sister, she did not share in Augusta’s primary flaw: painful shyness, though Charlotte did suffer from a stammer that her attendant Mary Dacres tried to help her young charge overcome. In 1770, the cluster of the three eldest princesses was completed with the birth of Princess Elizabeth, the seventh child. For the time being the family remained comparatively small (there were fifteen royal children in all), and Charlotte was fortunate in having parents who preferred spending time with their numerous children to spending all their time at court and took her education seriously. However, given the frequency with which children were being produced and the troubles that plagued George III’s reign, Charlotte’s childhood was not as utopian as her parents planned it to be.

Like her siblings, the Princess Royal was educated by tutors and spent most her childhood at Buckingham Palace, Kew Palace, and Windsor Castle, where her wet nurse was Frances wife of James Muttlebury.

On 18 May 1797, the Princess Royal was married at the Chapel Royal, St. James’s Palace, London to The Hereditary Prince Frederick of Württemberg, the eldest son and heir apparent of Duke Frederick II Eugene of Württemberg and his wife, Margravine Sophia Dorothea of Brandenburg-Schwedt.

The younger Frederick succeeded his father as the reigning Duke of Württemberg on 22 December 1797. Duke Frederick II had two sons and two daughters by his first marriage to the late Princess Augusta (3 December 1764 – 27 September 1788), the daughter of Duke Karl II of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel and Princess Augusta of Great Britain to (the elder sister of George III) and the elder sister of Caroline of Brunswick, the estranged wife of the future George IV (then Prince of Wales). The marriage between Duke Frederick and the Princess Royal produced one child: a stillborn daughter on 27 April 1798.

In 1800, the French army occupied Württemberg and the Duke and Duchess fled to Vienna. The following year, Duke Frederick concluded a private treaty ceding Montbeliard to France and receiving Ellwanger in exchange two years later. He assumed the title Elector of Württemberg on 25 February 1803. In exchange for providing France with a large auxiliary force, Napoleon recognized the Elector as King of Württemberg on 26 December 1805. Electress Charlotte became queen when her husband formally ascended the throne on 1 January 1806 and was crowned as such on the same day at Stuttgart, Germany. Württemberg seceded from the Holy Roman Empire and joined Napoleon’s short-lived Confederation of the Rhine. However, the newly elevated king’s alliance with France technically made him the enemy of his father-in-law, George III. George III, incensed by his son-in-law’s assumption of the title and his role of one of Napoleon’s most devoted vassals, accordingly refused to address his daughter as “Queen of Württemberg” in correspondence. In 1813, King Frederick changed sides and went over the Allies, where his status as the brother-in-law of the Prince Regent (later George IV) helped his standing. After the fall of Napoleon, he attended the Congress of Vienna and was confirmed as king. He died in October 1816.

The Dowager Queen of Württemberg continued to live at the Ludwigsburg Palace, Stuttgart and received visits from her younger siblings, the Duke of Kent, the Duke of Sussex, the Duke of Cambridge, the Landgravine of Hesse-Homburg, and Princess Augusta Sophia. She was a godmother (by proxy) at the christening of her niece, Princess Victoria of Kent (the future Queen Victoria), in 1819. In 1827, she returned to Britain for the first time since her wedding in 1797 in order to have surgery for dropsy. She died at Ludwigsburg Palace the following year and is buried there in the royal vault.

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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 Augusta Frederica
31 July 1737 – 23 March 1813

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Augusta Frederica

Princess Augusta Frederica was a granddaughter of George II and only elder sibling of George III. She married into the ducal house of Brunswick, of which she was already a member. Her daughter Carolinewas the wife of George IV.

Princess Augusta Frederica was born at St. James’s Palace, London. Her father was Frederick, Prince of Wales, the eldest son of King George II and Queen Caroline of Ansbach and her mother was the Princess of Wales, Augusta of Saxe-Gotha.

Fifty days later, she was christened at St. James’s Palace by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Her godparents were her paternal grandfather, the King (represented by his Lord Chamberlain, the Duke of Grafton), and her grandmothers, Queen Caroline and the Dowager Duchess of Saxe-Gotha (both represented by proxies).
Her third birthday was celebrated by the first public performance of Rule, Britannia! at Cliveden in Buckinghamshire.

She was born second in the line of succession. Augusta was given a careful education and the negotiations about her marriage began in 1761.

On 16 January 1764, Augusta married Charles William Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, at the Chapel Royal of St James’s Palace.

Augusta regarded the residence in Brunswick as too simple. She returned to Great Britain in 1764 in the company of Charles to give birth to her first child, and took a long time to return to Brunswick after the birth. During their visit in England, it was noted that the Brunswicks was cheered by the crowds when they showed themselves in public. This, reportedly, made them exposed to suspicion in the eyes of the court. During their visit, her sister-in-law queen Charlotte apparently refused them some honors at court, such as banning salutes to their honor. This attracted negative publicity toward the royal couple. During the negotiations thirty years later, when her daughter was to marry the Prince of Wales, Augusta commented the visit of 1764 to the British negotiator, Lord Malmesbury and stated her view that queen Charlotte disliked both her and her mother because of jealousy.

A new palace was built for her in Zuckerberg south of Brunswick to answer more to her taste, constructed by Carl Christoph Wilhelm Fleischer, and called Schloss Richmond, to remind her of England. When the palace was finished in 1768, Augusta moved there permanently.

The marriage was purely an arranged political marriage and Augusta and Charles regarded each other with mutual indifference. Augusta was indifferent to Charles’s affairs with Maria Antonia Branconi and Louise Hertefeld. Her indifference was sometimes seen as arrogance, and it gave rise to rumours and slander. Augusta’s popularity was severely damaged by the fact that her eldest sons were born with handicaps.
In 1772, Augusta visited England on the invitation of her mother. On this occasion, she was involved in a conflict with her sister-in-law queen Charlotte. She was not allowed to live at Carlton House or St.James Palace despite the fact that it was empty at the time, but was forced to live in a small house at Pall Mall. The queen had a conflict with her about etiquette, and refused her to see her brother the king alone. According to M. Walpole, the reason was jealousy from the part of the queen.

Augusta rarely appeared at the court of Braunschweig because of the dominance of her mother-in-law. When Charles became regent in 1773, her mother-in-law left the court and Augusta filled the position of first lady in the court ceremonies of Brunswick, although she often took short holidays to her personal palace Richmond. In 1780, Charles, already regent for his father, became sovereign duke, and Augusta became duchess consort.

The Swedish Princess Hedwig Elizabeth Charlotte described her, as well as her family, at the time of her visit in August, 1799:

Our cousin the Duke arrived immediately the next morning. He has won many victorys as a notable military man, are witty, litteral and a pleasant aquaitance but ceremonial beyond description. He is said to be quite strict, but a good father of the nation who attends to the needs of his people. After he left us, I visited the Dowager Duchess, the aunt of my consort. She is an agreable, highly educated and well respected lady, but now so old that she has almost lost her memory. From her I continued to the Duchess, sister to the King of England and a typical English woman. She looked very simple, like a vicar’s wife, has I am sure many admirable qualities and are very respectable, but completely lacks manners. She makes the stranges questions without considering how difficult and unpleasant they can be. Both the hereditary princess as well as princess Augusta – sister of the sovereign Duke – came to her while I was there. The former are delightful, mild, loveable, witty and clever, not a beauty but still very pretty. In addition, she is said to be admirably kind to her boring consort. The princess Augusta are full of wit and energy and very amusing. (….) The Duchess and the Princesses followed me to Richmond, the country villa of the Duchess a bit outside of the town. It was small and pretty with a beautiful little park, all after an English pattern. As she had the residence constructed herself, it amuses her to show it to others. (….)The sons of the Ducal couple are somewhat peculiar. The hereditary prince, chubby and fat, almost blind, strange and odd – if not to say an imbecill – attempts to imitate his father but only makes himself artificial and unpleasant. He talks contiunously, does not know what he says and is in all aspects unbearable. He is accommodating but a poor thing, loves his consort to the point of worship and is completely governed by her. The other son, Prince Georg, is the most ridiculous person imaginable, and so silly that he can never be left alone but is always accompanied by a courtier. The third son is also described as an original. I never saw him, as he served with his regiment. The fourth is the only normal one, but also torments his parents by his imoral behaviour.

In 1806, when Prussia declared war on France, the Duke of Brunswick, 71 at the time, was appointed commander-in-chief of the Prussian army. On 14 October of that year, at the Battle of Jena, Napoleon defeated the Prussian army, and, on the same day, at the battle of Auerstadt, the Duke of Brunswick was seriously wounded, dying a few days later. The Duchess of Brunswick, with two of her sons, and a widowed daughter-in-law, fled her ruined palace for Altona, where she was present with her daughter-in-law Marie of Baden at her dying husband’s side. Her other daughter-in-law, Louise of Orange-Nassau, left for Switzerland with her mother. Due to the advancing French army, Augusta and Marie were advised by the British ambassador to flee, and they left shortly before her husband’s death. They were invited to Sweden by Marie’s brother-in-law King Gustav IV Adolf of Sweden. Marie accepted the offer and left for Sweden, but Augusta left for Augustenborg, a small town east of Jutland. The Duchess of Brunswick remained here, with her niece, Princess Louise Augusta, daughter of her sister Queen Caroline Mathilde of Denmark, until her brother, George III finally relented, in September 1807, and allowed her to move to London. She moved to Montague House, Blackheath, in Greenwich, with her daughter, the Princess of Wales, but soon fell out with her daughter, and purchased the house next door, Brunswick House, as she renamed it. The Duchess of Brunswick lived out her days in Blackheath and died, in 1813, aged 75.

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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.

Elizabeth Conyngham Marchioness Conyngham
31 July 1769 – 11 October 1861

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Elizabeth Conyngham

Elizabeth Conyngham Marchioness Conyngham was born in 1769. Her father was Joseph Denison, who had made a fortune in banking. Her mother was Elizabeth Butler. On 5 July 1794, Elizabeth married Henry Conyngham, Viscount Conyngham, an Irish peer. Despite her beauty, she was considered vulgar, shrewd, greedy, and a voluptuous woman by aristocratic society, on account of her common background; however, she attracted lovers and admirers, including the Tsarevitch of Russia, the future Nicholas I.

The Conynghams were not well-connected, and according to the Duke of Wellington, Elizabeth decided as early as 1806 to become a mistress of the Prince of Wales, the future King George IV. She probably became his lover in 1819, when the Prince was Prince Regent, but finally supplanted her predecessor, Isabella Seymour-Conway, Marchioness of Hertford after he became king in 1820. He became besotted with her, constantly “kissing her hand with a look of most devoted submission”, and while his wife, Caroline of Brunswick, was on her divorce “trial”, the king could not be seen with Lady Conyngham, and was consequently “bored and lonely”. During the Coronation, George was constantly seen “nodding and winking” at her.

Lady Conyngham’s liaison with the King benefited her family. Her husband was raised to the rank of a marquess in the Peerage of the United Kingdom, and sworn to the Privy Council, in the Coronation honours of 1821. He was also given several other offices, including Lord Steward of the Household and the Lieutenantcy of Windsor Castle. Her second son was Master of the Robes and First Groom of the Chamber.

Lady Conyngham had Whiggish sympathies, but was not concerned with political ambition; she concentrated on furthering the financial position of her family. However, when she requested that her son’s tutor be made Canon of St. George’s Chapel, Windsor, the Prime Minister, Lord Liverpool threatened to resign. Arguments with Lady Castlereagh further worsened the relationship between the King and government. She also disliked the Keeper of the Privy Purse, Benjamin Bloomfield, and was successful in having him removed in 1822. His successor, William Knighton, was a close friend of the King, who successfully cleared all his debts later in his reign. Dorothea Lieven dismissed her with contempt as having ” not an idea in her head…not a word to say for herself..nothing but a hand to accept pearls and diamonds, and an enormous balcony to wear them on.”

 

As his life progressed, the King became dependent on Lady Conyngham on account of his temper and poor health. However weary she became of his company, his affection for her never ceased. The relationship came to an end with George’s sudden death in 1830; she immediately moved from Windsor Castle to Paris. Although the King had bequeathed her all his plate and jewels, she refused the entire legacy. The Marquess broke his staff of office at George’s funeral, and was never to hold another one in the next reign. Lady Conyngham lived until 1861, dying near Canterbury at the age of 92. Although excluded from court during the reigns of King William IV and Queen Victoria, her son, Francis Conyngham, 2nd Marquess Conyngham, was Lord Chamberlain to William, and, along with the Archbishop of Canterbury, brought the news of William’s death to Princess Victoria, and first addressed her Your Majesty. The 2nd Marquess’s daughter, Jane Churchill, was later a Lady of the Bedchamber to Queen Victoria and one of her closest friends

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