Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Princess Charlotte’

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.

Isaac Nathan
1790 – 15 January 1864

PastedGraphic1-2016-01-25-06-00.png

Isaac Nathan

Isaac Nathan was born in 1790 in the English city of Canterbury to a hazzan (Jewish cantor) of Polish birth, Menahem Monash “Polack” (the Pole) and his English Jewish wife, Isaac Nathan was initially destined for his father’s career and went to the school of Solomon Lyon in Cambridge. Showing an enthusiasm for music, he was apprenticed to the London music publisher Domenico Corri. He also claimed to have had five years of voice lessons with Corri, who had studied with Nicola Porpora. In 1813 he conceived the idea of publishing settings of tunes from synagogue usage and persuaded Lord Byron to provide the words for these. The result was the poet’s famous Hebrew Melodies. Nathan’s setting of these remained in print for most of the century.

The Hebrew Melodies used, for the most part, melodies from the synagogue service, though few if any of these were in fact handed down from the ancient service of the Temple in Jerusalem, as Nathan claimed. Many were European folk-tunes that had become absorbed into the synagogue service over the centuries with new texts (contrafacta). However they were the first attempt to set out the traditional music of the synagogue, with which Nathan was well acquainted through his upbringing, before the general public. To assist sales, Nathan recruited the famous Jewish singer John Braham to place his name on the title page, in return for a share of profits, although Braham in fact took no part in the creation of the Melodies.

The success of the Melodies gave Nathan some fame and notoriety. Nathan was later to claim that he had been appointed as singing teacher to the Princess Royal, Princess Charlotte, and music librarian to the Prince Regent, later George IV. There is no evidence for this, although his edition of the Hebrew Melodies was dedicated to the Princess by royal permission.

In 1816, Byron left England, never to return (nor to communicate further with Nathan). In 1817 Nathan’s royal pupil Princess Charlotte died in childbirth. He thus lost his two major patrons.

Nathan undertook a runaway marriage with a music pupil, and another after his first wife’s early death. Both spouses were Christian; however for both, Nathan also undertook and arranged synagogue marriages after the church ceremony. His hot temper probably accounts for a duel he fought over the honour of Lady Caroline Lamb, and his assault on an Irish nobleman who he thought had impugned one of his female pupils. The latter saw Nathan prosecuted, although he was acquitted. Nathan felt a special attachment for Lady Caroline; she was godmother to one of his children and he wrote her an appreciative poem in Hebrew, which he reprints in his Recollections of Lord Byron.

Gambling on prize-fights was one cause of his financial problems. He may have spent at least some months in debtors’ prisons. He wrote frequently for the popular press in London on boxing and music. He wrote comic operas for the London stage, and four of these were produced between 1823 and 1833. His copyright for Hebrew Melodies ought to have brought him income – at one point he sold it to his married sister, presumably to avoid it being lost in bankruptcy – but it became involved in complex legal disputes. He attempted a publishing business in partnership with his brother Barnett Nathan, who later became proprietor of Rosherville Gardens. Nathan published a history of music (1823), dedicated by permission to King George IV, which shows in its treatment of Jewish music a great deal of understanding of the Bible and of Jewish traditions.

Nathan also attracted some renown as a singing teacher. One of his pupils was another great English poet, the very young Robert Browning, who 60 years later recalled: ‘As for singing, the best master of four I have, more or less, practised with was Nathan, Author of the Hebrew Melodies; he retained certain traditional Jewish methods of developing the voice’.

Nathan claimed to have undertaken some mysterious services for the Royal Family, but the Whig government under Lord Melbourne refused payment to him, leading to his financial embarrassment. He emigrated to Australia with his children, arriving in April 1841. There he became a leader of local musical life, acting as music adviser both to the synagogue and to the Roman Catholic cathedral in Sydney. He gave first or early performances in Australia of many of the works of Mozart and Beethoven. On 3 May 1847 his Don John of Austria, the first opera to be written, composed and produced in Australia, was performed at the Victoria Theatre, Sydney. He was the first to research and transcribe indigenous Australian music, and also set lyrics by the poet Eliza Hamilton Dunlop.

The London Jewish Chronicle of 25 March 1864 reported from Sydney:
Mr. Nathan was a passenger by No. 2 tramway car […] [he] alighted from the car at the southern end, but before he got clear of the rails the car moved onwards […] he was thus whirled round by the sudden motion of the carriage and his body was brought under the front wheel.

The horse-drawn tram was the first in Sydney: Nathan was Australia’s (indeed the southern hemisphere’s) first tram fatality.

He was buried in Sydney; his tomb is at Camperdown Cemetery.

Read Full Post »

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.

Martha (Whyte) Countess of Elgin and Kincardine
1739 – 21 June 1810

PastedGraphic-2016-01-24-06-00.png

Martha (Whyte) Bruce

Martha (Whyte) Countess of Elgin and Kincardine was the only child of Thomas White, or Whyte, a banker of Kirkaldy and London, Martha White married Charles Bruce, who was already Earl of Elgin and Kincardine, at Edinburgh on 1 June 1759. Their eight children were Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin; Lady Martha Bruce; Lady Janet Bruce; William Bruce, Lord Bruce; William Bruce, 6th Earl of Elgin; Charles Andrew Bruce, briefly a Governor of Prince of Wales’s Island; James Bruce, briefly a Member of Parliament; and Lady Charlotte Bruce, who married Captain (later Admiral) Philip Charles Durham.

In 1762, Lady Elgin’s portrait was painted by the fashionable Allan Ramsay, who the same year painted King George III.

Lady Elgin’s eldest son, William Robert, born in 1763, lived only ten weeks. Her two eldest daughters, Martha and Janet, died in 1767 at the ages of seven and six. On 14 May 1771, she was widowed, and only two months later her second son, also called William Robert, the new Lord Elgin, died at the age of seven. Her remaining four children, three sons and a daughter, all lived to adulthood, but on 10 July 1798 her youngest surviving son, James, then aged twenty-nine, was drowned while crossing the River Don at Barnby Dun in Yorkshire when his horse was swept away by the stream.

In 1799, on the instructions of King George III, and with the title of “Gouvernante“, Lady Elgin was appointed to superintend Princess Charlotte of Wales, only child of the Prince of Wales and already seen as the probable next heir to the throne, with whom she became very close. They lived together in a household otherwise consisting entirely of servants at Warwick House in the St James’s district of Westminster, described as “a rather gloomy edifice near Carlton House”.

However, during 1804, Charlotte’s father insisted on Lady Elgin retiring, ostensibly because she had become too old, but probably because the Prince was angry that Charlotte had been taken to visit her grandfather King George without his permission.

According to Burke’s Peerage,
The Countess of Elgin filled, with great credit to herself, the important station of governess to her royal highness the deeply-deplored [sic] Princess Charlotte of Wales.

An obituary of Princess Charlotte in 1818 described Elgin as “a very worthy and pious Countess who acted for some years as Gouvernante“. This title has sometimes been translated as “guardian” rather than “governess”. Elgin’s own obituary in The Gentleman’s Magazine said of her, “At Twickenham, in her 69th year, the Right hon. Martha Bruce, Countess of Elgin and Kincardine; whose life has been spent in the uniform exercise of piety and benevolence. Her public and private charities were unbounded.” However, The Complete Peerage says she died in her 71st year. She was buried at St Mary’s, Twickenham.

Read Full Post »

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 Sophia of the United Kingdom
3 November 1777 – 27 May 1848

PastedGraphic1-2015-07-12-06-00.png

Princess Sophia

Princess Sophia of the United Kingdom was the 12th child and fifth daughter of King George III and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Sophia is perhaps best known for the rumours surrounding a supposed illegitimate child to which she gave birth as a young woman.

In her youth, Sophia was closest to her father, who preferred his daughters over his sons; however, she and her sisters lived in fear of their mother. The princesses were well-educated but raised in a rigidly strict household. Though he disliked the idea of matrimony for his daughters, King George had intended to find them suitable husbands when they came of age. However, the King’s recurring bouts of madness, as well as the Queen’s desire to have her daughters live their lives as her companions, stopped would-be suitors from offering for the most of the princesses. As a result, Sophia and all but one of her sisters grew up in their mother’s cloistered household, which they frequently referred to as a “Nunnery”.

Though she never wed, rumours spread that Sophia became pregnant by Thomas Garth, an equerry of her father’s, and gave birth to an illegitimate son in the summer of 1800. Other gossip declared the child was the product of rape by her elder brother the Duke of Cumberland, who was deeply unpopular. Historians are divided on the validity of these stories, as some believe she gave birth to Garth’s child while others call them tales spread by the Royal Family’s political enemies.

The efforts of the Prince Regent to gain his sisters increased independence were further hastened along with Queen Charlotte’s death in 1818. In her last years, Sophia resided in the household of her niece Princess Victoria of Kent (the future Queen Victoria), at Kensington Palace. There, she fell under the sway of Victoria’s comptroller, Sir John Conroy, who took advantage of her senility and blindness; rumours also circulated that Sophia was in awe of Conroy because of his ability to deal effectively with the “bullying importunities” of Sophia’s supposed illegitimate son. Sophia frequently served as his spy on the Kensington household as well as on her two elder brothers, while Conroy squandered most of her money.

The Princess Sophia was born at Buckingham House, London on 3 November 1777, the twelfth child and fifth daughter of King George III and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. The young princess was christened on 1 December 1777 in the Great Council Chamber at St James’s Palace by Frederick Cornwallis, Archbishop of Canterbury. Her godparents were Prince August of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg (her first cousin once-removed), The Duchess of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel (her first cousin twice-removed) and The Duchess of Mecklenburg (wife of her first cousin once-removed), all of whom were represented by proxies.

Upon Sophia’s birth, King George ensured his daughters and younger sons would have allowances; through a provision of Parliament, Sophia and her elder sisters each were to receive an annual income of £6,000 either upon their marriages or the king’s death. The royal household was very rigid and formal, even when only the royal family were together in private. For instance, when the King entered a room, his daughters were expected to stand up, remain silent until addressed, and not leave until given permission. Queen Charlotte made attempts to be economical where possible; the younger princesses wore country-made dresses, which were less expensive, and ate plain food.

Sophia’s early life was focused on education. Lady Charlotte Finch served as Sophia’s governess, a role she performed for all the royal children. As with the strict education and discipline received by her brothers, Lady Charlotte through the sub-governesses chosen by Queen Charlotte arranged expert tutors to give the princesses lessons in English, French, music, art, and geography; Sophia and her sisters were also allowed to play sports and boisterous games with their brothers. The queen sought to combine her daughters’ entertainments with educational benefits. Sophia and her siblings were brought up with an exposure to theatre, and were entertained with special performances. Princess Sophia’s first appearance in public occurred when she accompanied her parents and elder siblings to a commemoration for George Frideric Handel, held at Westminster Abbey on 26 May 1784.

Uncommon for the period, Sophia’s father was an involved parent in her early years, and preferred his daughters to his sons. When possible he attended the princesses’ birthday parties and other special events, and was kept informed on their progress in the schoolroom. A family friend once remarked, “I never saw more lovely children, nor a more pleasing sight than the King’s fondness for them.” On the other hand, Queen Charlotte invoked fear in her daughters and, according to royal historian A.W. Purdue, she was not “benignly maternal”.

By 1792 Sophia and her sister Mary were being included in more family activities, and at age fourteen, Sophia debuted at court on her father’s birthday, 4 June 1792. According to biographer Christopher Hibbert, in her young adulthood Sophia was a “delightful though moody girl, pretty, delicate and passionate.” As within her childhood, Sophia was devoted to her father, though she occasionally found him exasperating. She wrote that “the dear King is all kindness to me, and I cannot say how grateful I feel for it.” Prior to 1788, King George had told his daughters that he would take them to Hanover and find them suitable husbands despite misgivings he had, which stemmed from his sisters’ own unhappy marriages. He remarked, “I cannot deny that I have never wished to see any of them marry: I am happy in their company, and do not in the least want a separation.” However, the King suffered his first bout of madness that year, when Sophia was aged eleven. Sophia remarked of her father’s behaviour, “He is all affection and kindness to me, but sometimes an over kindness, if you can understand that, which greatly alarms me.” Further lapses into insanity occurred in 1801 and 1804, thus forestalling talk of marriage for his daughters. The question of matrimony was rarely raised; Queen Charlotte feared the subject, something which had always discomforted the King, would push him back into insanity. Furthermore the queen, strained from her husband’s illness, wanted the princesses to remain close to her.

As a result, like most of her sisters, Princess Sophia was forced to live her life as a companion of her mother. The princesses were not allowed to mix with anyone outside of the Royal Court, and rarely came into contact with men other than pages, equerries, or attendants. Constantly chaperoned, the girls frequently complained about living in a “Nunnery”. For entertainment, the queen read sermons to them and the princesses practised embroidery. On one occasion Sophia wrote their days were so “deadly dull… I wished myself a kangaroo.”

The Princess Royal was the only daughter who was able to marry while relatively young. The rest of the princesses were not without suitors, but most of the various men’s efforts were stopped by Queen Charlotte. Most of the girls longed for families and children of their own, and often asked the Prince of Wales, to whom they remained close, for help, either in finding spouses, allowing them to marry their loves, or allowing them to live outside of Queen Charlotte’s household. A grateful Sophia once jokingly wrote to her brother, saying “I wonder you do not vote for putting us in a sack and drowning us in the Thames.” Before George became regent, he had little power to oblige his sisters. His ascension to the regency in 1811 led to Sophia and the other remaining unmarried princesses to receive increases in their allowances, from £10,000 to £13,000. He also supported their desire to venture out into society. Queen Charlotte was outraged at these attempts, and the Prince-Regent had to reconcile the two parties carefully so that his sisters could still enjoy some independence.

During Sophia’s lifetime, there were various rumours about her alleged incestuous relationship with her brother, Ernest Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, who later became the King of Hanover. The Prince Regent supposedly warned his sisters not to be alone in the same room with the Duke, and Cumberland was deeply unpopular with the British people. It is unclear whether there was truth to these rumours or whether they were circulated by the Duke’s numerous political enemies.

Limited in exposure to eligible men, Sophia and several of her sisters became involved with courtiers and equerries. Sophia entered into a relationship with her father’s chief equerry, Major-General Thomas Garth, a man thirty-three years her senior. He had a large purple birthmark on his face, causing Sophia’s sister Mary to refer to him as “the purple light of love” and courtier and diarist Charles Greville to call him a “hideous old devil”. Despite this, one lady-in-waiting noted “the princess was so violently in love with him that everyone saw it. She could not contain herself in his presence.” Greville wrote about Sophia and her sisters’ affairs in a diary entry, “women fall in love with anything – and opportunity and the accidents of the passions are of more importance than any positive merits of mind or of body… [The princesses] were secluded from the world, mixing with few people – their passions boiling over and ready to fall into the hands of the first man whom circumstances enabled to get at them.”

Gossip soon spread of the existence of an illegitimate child. Some historians contend that, sometime before August 1800 in Weymouth, Sophia gave birth to a child fathered by Garth. Historians further write that the child, baptised Thomas Garth like his father, was raised by his father in Weymouth, where his mother would visit him occasionally. In 1828, this child apparently tried to blackmail the royal family with certain incriminating documents from his father about his supposed parents’ relationship, though this ended in failure.

Conversely, Anthony Camp challenges the belief that Sophia had a child and provides a detailed summary of the available evidence. In his book Royal Babylon: the Alarming History of European Royalty, author Karl Shaw writes of the possibility that the Duke raped his sister, citing evidence from Charles Greville’s diaries, as well as other factors.

Sophia was a favourite of her niece, Princess Charlotte of Wales, as the young princess liked her gentle character and had a certain fascination for the gossip surrounding Sophia’s past. Charlotte detested her other aunts, and once wrote, “I can hardly believe [Sophia] belongs to them- so wholly different is she in thoughts, opinions, matters. Her nobleness and rectitude of mind renders her no favourite here. The constant scenes of intrigue, of tracasseries, she can but ill support.” The Prince Regent’s efforts to help his sisters led to the marriages of Mary and Elizabeth, and Queen Charlotte’s death in 1818 allowed Augusta and Sophia their domestic freedom, though it was too late for them to marry. From her mother Sophia inherited Lower Lodge at Windsor Great Park, which she in turn gave to the Prince Regent. The death of Princess Augusta in 1840 resulted in Sophia inheriting Clarence House and Frogmore.

After the queen’s death, Sophia lived in Kensington Palace during her final years, next to her niece Princess Victoria of Kent, the future Queen Victoria. As a result, Princess Sophia was one of the few paternal relatives that Victoria saw often. Like her sister-in-law the Duchess of Kent, Sophia fell under the spell of Victoria’s comptroller Sir John Conroy and let him manage her money. The princess became a part of the Duchess of Kent’s social circle and, in return, Sophia spied for Conroy when he was absent from Kensington Palace. Sophia also reported to Conroy on what she heard at St. James’s Palace, as she had privileged access to courtiers as well as to her two elder brothers. Gossipmongers speculated that Conroy’s successful ability to deal with the “bullying inopportunities” of Sophia’s illegitimate son endeared her to him, while some historians write that Conroy took advantage of Sophia, who in her last years had become “dizzy, easily muddled… mourning her fading looks” and a “confused, nearly blind aunt.” Sophia often dined with the household, but the Duchess of Kent despised her. Princess Victoria was aware her aunt was a spy and the two never became close. Sophia’s wealth allowed Conroy to live a rich lifestyle, acquiring for himself a house in Kensington for £4000, as well as two other estates for £18,000. Sophia was also responsible for certain members of Victoria’s household gaining higher statuses; Victoria’s governess Louise Lehzen, for instance, was made a Hanoverian baroness on the orders of George IV, and Conroy was named a Knight Commander of the Hanoverian Order.

After having been blind for over ten years, on the morning of 27 May 1848, Princess Sophia became ill at her residence at Vicarage Place, Kensington; she was visited by her sister Mary, sister-in-law Queen Adelaide, and nephew-in-law Albert, Prince Consort. Sophia’s death occurred at 6:30 later that day, when Mary, the Duchesses of Kent and Cambridge were present.

The princess was buried at Kensal Green Cemetery in London, immediately in front of (east of) the central chapel rather than at Windsor Castle, as she wished to be near her brother, Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex (who lies on the opposite side of the path). After her death, it was discovered that Conroy had squandered most of her money and that the princess had virtually no estate to bequeath. Charles Greville wrote an entry in his diary on 31 May:

“The Princess Sophia died a few days ago, while the Queen [Victoria] was holding the Drawing-room for her Birthday. She was blind, helpless, and suffered martyrdom; a very clever, well-informed woman, but who never lived in the world.”

Read Full Post »

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

PastedGraphic1-2015-05-17-06-00.png

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.

Read Full Post »

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 Adolphus Duke of Cambridge
Adolphus Frederick; 24 February 1774 – 8 July 1850

PastedGraphic1-2015-04-26-06-00.png

Prince Adolphus

Prince Adolphus Duke of Cambridge was born at Buckingham Palace. He was the youngest son of George and Charlotte to survive childhood.

On 24 March 1774, the young prince was christened in the Great Council Chamber at St James’s Palace by Frederick Cornwallis, Archbishop of Canterbury. His godparents were Prince John Adolphus of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg (his great-uncle, for whom the Earl of Hertford, Lord Chamberlain, stood proxy), Landgrave Charles of Hesse-Kassel (his first cousin once-removed, for whom the Earl of Jersey, Extra Lord of the Bedchamber, stood proxy) and Princess Wilhelmina of Orange (the wife of his first cousin once-removed, for whom Elizabeth Howard, Dowager Countess of Effingham, former Lady of the Bedchamber to Queen Charlotte, stood proxy).

He was tutored at home until summer 1786, when he was sent to the University of Göttingen in Germany, along with his brothers Prince Ernest (created Duke of Cumberland in 1799) and Prince Augustus (created Duke of Sussex in 1801).

He was made honorary Colonel-in-Chief of the Hanoverian Guard Foot Regiment 1789–1803, but his military training began in 1791, when he and Prince Ernest went to Hanover to study under the supervision of the Hanoverian commander Field Marshal Wilhelm von Freytag. He remained on Freytag’s staff during the Flanders Campaign in 1793. His first taste of action was at Famars on 23 May. He was wounded and captured at the Battle of Hondschoote 6 September, but was quickly rescued. As a Hanovarian General-Major, he commanded a Hessian brigade under his paternal uncle, General Johann Ludwig von Wallmoden-Gimborn in Autumn 1794, then commanded the Hanovarian Guards during the retreat through Holland. Remaining in Germany, he commanded a brigade of the Corps of Observation, 22 October 1796 – 12 January 1798. He was made a British army colonel in 1794, and lieutenant general 24 August 1798. In 1800 – stationed in the Electorate of Hanover – he attended the founding of a village (part of the settlement of the moorlands north of Bremen), which was named for him: Adolphsdorf (since 1974 a component locality of Grasberg).

During the of the War of the Second Coalition against France (1799–1802), he traveled to Berlin in 1801, in order to prevent the impending Prussian occupation of the Electorate. France demanded it, as it was stipulated in the Peace of Basel (1795), obliging Prussia to ensure the Holy Roman Empire’s neutrality in all the latter’s territories north of the demarcation line at the river Main, including Hanover. Regular Hanoverian troops, therefore, had been commandeered to join the multilateral so-called “Demarcation Army.” His efforts were in vain. In 1803, he was senior army commander, and replaced Wallmoden as commander on the Weser on 1 June. With the advance of French forces on one side and 24,000 Prussian soldiers on the other, the situation was hopeless. Cambridge refused to become involved in discussions of capitulation, handed over his command to Hammerstein (Ompteda claims he was forced to resign ), and withdrew to England. A plan to recruit additional soldiers in Hanover to be commanded by the Prince had also failed.

In 1803, he was appointed as commander-in-chief of the newly founded King’s German Legion, and in 1813, he became field marshal. George III appointed Prince Adolphus a Knight of the Garter on 6 June 1786, and created him Duke of Cambridge, Earl of Tipperary, and Baron Culloden on 17 November 1801.

The Duke served as colonel-in-chief of the Coldstream Regiment of Foot Guards (Coldstream Guards after 1855) from September 1805, and as colonel-in-chief of the 60th (The Duke of York’s Own Rifle Corps) Regiment of Foot from January 1824. After the collapse of Napoleon’s empire, he was Military Governor of Hanover from 4 November 1813 – 24 October 1816, then Governor General of Hanover from 24 October 1816 – 20 June 1837 (viceroy from 22 February 1831). He was made Field Marshal 26 November 1813. While he was Viceroy, the Duke became patron of the Cambridge-Dragoner (“Cambridge Dragoons”) Regiment of the Hanoverian army. This regiment was stationed in Celle, and their barracks, the Cambridge-Dragoner Kaserne, were used by the Bundeswehr until 1995. The “March of the Hannoversches Cambridge-Dragoner-Regiment” is part of the Bundeswehr’s traditional music repertoire.

After the death of Princess Charlotte in 1817, the Duke was set the task of finding a bride for his eldest unmarried brother, the Duke of Clarence (later William IV), in the hope of securing heirs to the throne—Charlotte had been the only legitimate grandchild of George III, despite the fact that the King had twelve surviving children. After several false starts, the Duke of Clarence settled on Princess Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen. The way was cleared for the Duke of Cambridge to find a bride for himself.

The Duke of Cambridge was married first at Kassel, Hesse on 7 May and then at Buckingham Palace on 1 June 1818 to his second cousin Augusta (25 July 1797 – 6 April 1889), the third daughter of Prince Frederick of Hesse.

He was, as is shown in the list of issue below, the maternal grandfather of Mary of Teck, consort of George V. Thus Adolphus was the great-great-grandfather of the present British monarch, Elizabeth II.

From 1816 to 1837, the Duke of Cambridge served as viceroy of the Kingdom of Hanover on behalf of his elder brothers, George IV and later William IV. When his niece, Queen Victoria succeeded to the British throne on 20 June 1837, the 123-year union of the crowns of Great Britain (the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 1801) and Hanover ended. The Duke of Cumberland became King Ernest Augustus I of Hanover and the Duke of Cambridge returned to Britain.

The Duke of Cambridge died on 8 July 1850 at Cambridge House, Piccadilly, London, and was buried at Kew. His remains were later removed to St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. His only son, Prince George, succeeded to his peerages.

Read Full Post »

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 Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld
16 December 1790 – 10 December 1865

PastedGraphic1-2015-03-8-06-00.png

Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld

Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld was the youngest son of Francis, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, and Countess Augusta Reuss-Ebersdorf, and later became a prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha after Saxe-Coburg acquired Gotha from Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg in 1826 and yielded Saalfeld to Saxe-Meiningen.

In 1795, as a mere child, Leopold was appointed colonel of the Izmaylovsky Guards Regiment in Russia. Seven years later, he became a major general. When Napoleonic troops occupied the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg in 1806 Leopold went to Paris. Emperor Napoleon I offered him the position of adjutant, but he refused. Instead, he took up a military career in the Imperial Russian Cavalry. He campaigned against Napoleon and distinguished himself at the Battle of Kulm at the head of his cuirassier division. In 1815, at the age of 25, Leopold reached the rank of lieutenant general in the Imperial Russian Army.

In Carlton House on 2 May 1816, he married Princess Charlotte of Wales, the only legitimate child of the British Prince Regent (later King George IV) and therefore second in line to the British throne, and was created a British field-marshal and Knight of the Garter. On 5 November 1817, Princess Charlotte delivered a stillborn son; she herself died the following day. Had she lived, she would have become Queen of the United Kingdom on the death of her father, and Leopold presumably would have assumed the role later taken by his nephew, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, as Prince Consort of the United Kingdom, and never been chosen to reign as King of the Belgians. Despite Charlotte’s death, the Prince Regent granted Prince Leopold the British style of Royal Highness by Order in Council on 6 April 1818.

From 1828 to 1829, Leopold was involved romantically during several months with the actress Caroline Bauer, who enjoyed a striking resemblance to Charlotte. Caroline was a cousin of his advisor Christian Friedrich Freiherr von Stockmar. She came to England with her mother and took up residence at Longwood House, a few miles from Claremont House. But, by mid-1829, the liaison was over, and the actress and her mother returned to Berlin. Many years later, in memoirs published after her death, she declared that she and Leopold had engaged into a morganatic marriage and that he had bestowed upon her the title of Countess Montgomery. He would have broken this marriage when the possibility arose that he could become King of Greece. The son of Freiherr von Stockmar denied that these events ever happened, and indeed no records have been found of a civil or religious marriage or of an ennobling of the actress.

Following the Greek War of Independence, Leopold became the favoured candidate of the allied powers to become king of the new Greek state. However, on 21 May 1830, he finally rejected the offer of the Greek throne. He cited as reasons the perceived opposition to his candidacy from some quarters in Greece (he did not wish to be seen as a king imposed on the country by foreign powers), and the powers’ insistence that certain areas in Greek possession (in Acarnania and Aetolia) were to be given up to Turkey. The Greek throne was eventually accepted by Prince Otto of Bavaria following the London Conference of 1832.

After Belgium asserted its independence from the Netherlands on 4 October 1830, the Belgian National Congress considered several candidates and eventually asked Leopold to become King of the newly formed country. He was elected on 4 June, accepted, and became “King of the Belgians” on 26 June 1831.

Read Full Post »

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

PastedGraphic-2015-03-1-06-00.png

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

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »