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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.

Isaac Nathan
1790 – 15 January 1864

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.”

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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

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

Sir David Dundas 1st Baronet of Richmond
7 December 1749 – 10 January 1826

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David Dundas

Sir David Dundas 1st Baronet was a distinguished surgeon who was created 1st Baronet of Richmond.

Dundas was the son of Ralph Dundas and Mary nee Ferguson. He was appointed Sergeant Surgeon to the King in 1792. He was Household Apothecary at Kew but not officially Apothecary to the King. He assisted at the post mortem on Princess Charlotte on 7 November 1817 and was Physician to the Duke of Kent from 1816 to 1817 and Surgeon to the Duke of Kent from 1818 to 1820.

Dundas was a prominent figure in the Royal College of Surgeons and was Master of the College in 1804, 1811 and 1819. He was made a baronet in 1815.

He married 20 July 1775, Isabella Robertson (died 1827), and had twelve children, three of whom became respectively second (William), third (Major General James Fullerton) and fourth (Admiral John) Baronets. The Baronetcy became extinct on the death of the fourth Baronet.

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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.

King Ernest Augustus 1 of Hanover Duke of Cumberland and Teviotdale
5 June 1771 – 18 November 1851

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Ernest Augustus

King Ernest Augustus 1 of Hanover Duke of Cumberland and Teviotdale was King of Hanover from 20 June 1837 until his death. He was the fifth son and eighth child of George III, who reigned in both the United Kingdom and Hanover. As a fifth son, initially Ernest seemed unlikely to become a monarch, but Salic Law, which barred women from the succession, applied in Hanover and none of his older brothers had legitimate male issue. Therefore, he became King of Hanover when his niece, Victoria, became Queen of the United Kingdom, ending the personal union between Britain and Hanover that had existed since 1714.

Ernest was born in England, but was sent to Hanover in his adolescence for his education and military training. While serving with Hanoverian forces in Wallonia against Revolutionary France, he received a disfiguring facial wound. In 1799, he was created Duke of Cumberland and Teviotdale. Although his 1815 marriage to the twice-widowed Frederica of Mecklenburg-Strelitz met with the disapproval of his mother, Queen Charlotte, it proved a happy relationship. By 1817, King George III had only one legitimate grandchild, Princess Charlotte of Wales, and when she died in childbirth, Ernest was the senior son to be both married and not estranged from his wife. This gave him some prospect of succeeding to the British throne. However, both of his unmarried older brothers quickly married, and King George’s fourth son, Edward, Duke of Kent, fathered the eventual British heir, Princess Victoria of Kent (later Queen Victoria).

Ernest was active in the House of Lords, where he maintained an extremely conservative record. There were persistent allegations (reportedly spread by his political foes) that he had murdered his valet and had fathered a son by his sister, Princess Sophia of the United Kingdom. Before Victoria succeeded to the British Throne, it was rumoured that Ernest intended to murder her and take the Throne himself. When King William IV died on 20 June 1837, Ernest ascended the Hanoverian Throne. Hanover’s first ruler to reside in the kingdom since George I, he had a generally successful fourteen-year reign, but excited controversy when he dismissed the Göttingen Seven (including the two Brothers Grimm) from their professorial positions for agitating against his policies.

Ernest Augustus, the fifth son of George III and Queen Charlotte, was born at Buckingham House, now part of Buckingham Palace, on 5 June 1771. After leaving the nursery, he lived with his two younger brothers, Prince Adolphus (later Duke of Cambridge) and Prince Augustus (later Duke of Sussex), and a tutor in a house on Kew Green, near his parents’ residence at Kew Palace. At the age of fifteen, he and his two younger brothers were sent to the University of Göttingen, located in his father’s domain of Hanover. Though the King never left the United Kingdom in his life, he sent his younger sons to Germany in their adolescence. This was done to limit the influence Ernest’s eldest brother George, Prince of Wales, who was leading an extravagant lifestyle, would have over his younger brothers. Prince Ernest proved an apt student, and after being tutored privately for a year, while learning German, attended lectures at the University. Though King George ordered that the princes’ household be run along military lines, and that they follow university rules, the town merchants proved willing to extend credit to the princes, and all three fell into debt.

In 1790, Ernest asked his father for permission to train with Prussian forces. Instead, in January 1791, he and Prince Adolphus were sent to Hanover to receive military training under the supervision of Field Marshal Wilhelm von Freytag. Before leaving Göttingen, Ernest penned a formal letter of thanks to the university, and wrote to his father, “I should be one of the most ungrateful of men if ever I was forgetful of all I owe to Göttingen & its professors.”

Ernest learned cavalry drill and tactics under Captain von Linsingen of the Queen’s Light Dragoons, and proved to be an excellent horseman as well as a good shot. After only two months of training, von Freytag was so impressed by the Prince’s progress that he gave him a place in the cavalry as captain. Ernest was supposed to receive infantry training, but the King, also impressed by his son’s prowess, allowed him to remain with the cavalry.

In March 1792, the King commissioned Prince Ernest Augustus as a colonel in the 9th Hanoverian Light Dragoons. The Prince served in the Low Countries in the War of the First Coalition, under his elder brother Frederick, Duke of York, then commander of the combined British, Hanoverian and Austrian forces. Seeing action near the Walloon town of Tournai in August 1793, he sustained a sabre wound to the head, which resulted in a disfiguring scar. During the Battle of Tourcoing in northern France on 18 May 1794 his left arm was injured by a cannonball which passed close by him. In the days after the battle, the sight in his left eye faded. In June, he was sent to Britain to convalesce, his first stay there since 1786.

Ernest resumed his duties in early November, by now promoted to major-general. He hoped his new rank would bring him a corps or brigade command, but none was forthcoming as Allied armies retreated slowly through the Netherlands towards Germany. By February 1795, they had reached Hanover. Ernest remained in Hanover over the next year, at several unimportant postings. He had requested a return home to seek treatment for his eye, but it was not until early 1796 that the King agreed and allowed Ernest to return to Britain. In Britain, Prince Ernest consulted the noted eye doctor, Wathen Waller, but Waller apparently found the condition inoperable, as no operation took place. Once in Britain, Ernest repeatedly sought to be allowed to join British forces on the Continent, even threatening to join the Yeomanry as a private, but both the King and the Duke of York refused. Ernest did not want to rejoin Hanoverian forces, as the Hanoverians were not then involved in the fighting. In addition, von Freytag was seriously ill, and Ernest was unwilling to serve under his likely successor, General von Wallmoden.

On 23 April 1799, George III created Prince Ernest Augustus Duke of Cumberland and Teviotdale and Earl of Armagh. Though he was made a lieutenant-general, both of British and Hanoverian forces, he remained in England, and, with a seat in the House of Lords, entered politics. Ernest had extreme Tory views, and soon became a leader of the right of the party. King George had feared that Ernest, like some of his older brothers, would display Whig tendencies. Reassured on that point, in 1801, the King had Ernest conduct the negotiations which led to the formation of the Addington Government. In February 1802, King George granted his son the colonelcy of the 27th Light Dragoons, a post which offered the option of transfer to the colonelcy of the 15th Light Dragoons when a vacancy developed. A vacancy promptly occurred and the Duke became the colonel of the 15th Light Dragoons in March 1802. Although the post could have been a sinecure, Ernest involved himself in the affairs of the regiment and led it on manoeuvres.

In early 1803, the Duke of York appointed Ernest as commander of the Severn District, in charge of the forces in and around the Severn Estuary. When war with France broke out again after the Peace of Amiens, the elder Duke appointed Ernest to the more important Southwest District, comprising Hampshire, Dorset and Wiltshire. Though Ernest would have preferred command of the King’s German Legion, composed mostly of expatriates from French-occupied Hanover, he accepted the post. The Duke of Cumberland increased the defences on the South Coast, especially around the town of Weymouth, where his father often spent time in the summer.

The 1800 Acts of Union had given Ireland representation in Parliament, but existing law prevented the Irish Catholics from serving there because of their religion. “Catholic emancipation” was a major political issue of the first years of the 19th century. The Duke of Cumberland was a strong opponent of giving political rights to Catholics, believing that emancipation would be a violation of the King’s Coronation Oath to uphold Anglicanism, and spoke out in the House of Lords against emancipation. Protestant Irish organisations supported the Duke; he was elected Chancellor of the University of Dublin in 1805 and Grand Master of the Orange Lodges two years later.

The Duke repeatedly sought a post with Allied forces fighting against France, but was sent to the Continent only as an observer. In 1807, he advocated sending British troops to join with the Prussians and Swedes and attack the French at Stralsund (today, in northeastern Germany). The Grenville government refused to send forces. Shortly afterwards, the government fell, and the new Prime Minister, the Duke of Portland, agreed to send Ernest with 20,000 troops. However, they were sent too late: the French defeated Prussia and Sweden at the Battle of Stralsund before Ernest and his forces could reach the town.

In the early hours of 31 May 1810, Ernest, by his written account, was struck in the head several times while asleep in bed, awakening him. He ran for the door, where he was wounded in the leg by a sabre. He called for help, and one of his valets, Cornelius Neale, responded and aided him. Neale raised the alarm, and the household soon realised that Ernest’s other valet, Joseph Sellis, was not among them, and that the door to Sellis’s room was locked. The lock was forced, and Sellis was discovered with his throat freshly cut, a wound apparently self-inflicted. Ernest received several serious wounds during the apparent attack, and required over a month to recover from his injuries. The social reformer and anti-monarchist Francis Place managed to get on the inquest jury and became its foreman. Place went to the office of a barrister friend to study inquest law, and aggressively questioned witnesses. Place also insisted the inquest be opened to the public and press, and so cowed the coroner that he basically ran the inquest himself. Nevertheless, the jury returned a unanimous verdict of suicide against Sellis.

Much of the public blamed Ernest for Sellis’s death. The more extreme Whig papers, anti-royal pamphleteers, and caricaturists all offered nefarious explanations for Sellis’s death, in which the Duke was to blame. Some stories had the Duke cuckolding Sellis, with the attack as retaliation, or Sellis killed for finding Ernest and Mrs. Sellis in bed together. Others suggested that the Duke was the lover of either Sellis or Neale, and that blackmail had played a part in the death. There was animus and fear towards the Duke to the fact that he did not conduct love affairs in public, as did his older brothers. According to them, the public feared what vices might be going on behind the locked doors of the Duke’s house, and assumed the worst.

In early 1813, Ernest was involved in political scandal during an election contest in Weymouth following the general election the previous year. The Duke was shown to be one of three trustees who were able to dictate who would represent Weymouth in Parliament. It being considered improper for a peer to interfere in a Commons election, there was considerable controversy, and the Government sent Ernest to Europe as an observer to accompany Hanoverian troops, which were again engaged in war against France. Though he saw no action, Ernest was present at the Battle of Leipzig, a major victory for the Allies.

Ernest met and fell in love in mid-1813 with his first cousin, Duchess Frederica of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, wife of Prince Frederick William of Solms-Braunfels and widow of Prince Louis of Prussia. The two agreed to wed if Frederica became free to marry. Her marriage to Frederick William had not been a success; her husband, seeing the marriage was beyond hope, agreed to a divorce, but his sudden death in 1814 removed the necessity. Some considered the death too convenient, and suspected the princess of poisoning her husband. Queen Charlotte opposed the marriage: before the princess had married Frederick William, she had jilted Ernest’s brother, the Duke of Cambridge, after the engagement was announced.

Following the marriage in Germany on 29 May 1815, Queen Charlotte refused to receive her new daughter-in-law, nor would the Queen attend the resolemnisation of the Cumberlands’ marriage at Kew, which Ernest’s four older brothers attended. The Prince of Wales (now Prince Regent) found the Cumberlands’ presence in Britain embarrassing, and offered him money and the Governorship of Hanover if they would leave for the Continent. Ernest refused, and the Cumberlands divided their time between Kew and St. James’s Palace for the next three years. The Queen remained obstinate in her refusal to receive Frederica. Despite these family troubles, the Cumberlands had a happy marriage. The Government of Lord Liverpool asked Parliament to increase the Duke’s allowance by ₤6,000 per year in 1815 (equal to about ₤388,000 today), so he could meet increased expenses due to his marriage. The Duke’s involvement in the Weymouth election became an issue, and the bill failed by one vote. Liverpool tried again in 1817; this time the bill failed by seven votes.

At the time of the Duke’s marriage in 1815, it seemed to have little dynastic significance to Britain. Princess Charlotte of Wales, only child of the Prince Regent, was the King’s only legitimate grandchild. The young Princess was expected to have children who would secure the British succession, especially after she married Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld in 1816. Both the Prince Regent and the Duke of York were married but estranged from their wives, while the next two brothers, the Dukes of Clarence and Kent, were unmarried. On 6 November 1817, Princess Charlotte died after delivering a stillborn son. King George was left with twelve surviving children, and no surviving legitimate grandchildren. Most of the unmarried royal dukes hurriedly sought out suitable brides and hastened to the altar, hoping to father the heir to the throne.

Seeing little prospect of the Queen giving in and receiving her daughter-in-law, the Cumberlands moved to Germany in 1818. They had difficulty living within their means in Britain, and the cost of living was much lower in Germany. Queen Charlotte died on 17 November 1818, but the Cumberlands remained in Germany, living principally in Berlin, where the Duchess had relatives. In 1817, the Duchess had a stillborn daughter; in 1819 she gave birth to a boy, Prince George of Cumberland. The Duke occasionally visited England, where he stayed with his eldest brother, who in 1820 succeeded to the British and Hanoverian Thrones as George IV. George III’s fourth son, Edward, Duke of Kent, died six days before his father, but left a daughter, Princess Victoria of Kent. With the death of George III, Ernest became fourth in line to the British Throne, following the Duke of York (who would die without legitimate issue in 1827), the Duke of Clarence, and Princess Victoria.

In 1826, Parliament finally voted to increase Ernest’s allowance. The Liverpool Government argued that the Duke needed an increased allowance to pay for Prince George’s education; even so, it was opposed by many Whigs. The bill, which passed the House of Commons 120–97, required Prince George to live in England if the Duke was to receive the money.

In 1828, Ernest was staying with the King at Windsor Castle when severe disturbances broke out in Ireland among Catholics. The Duke was an ardent supporter of the Protestant cause in Ireland, and returned to Berlin in August, believing that the Government, led by the Duke of Wellington, would deal firmly with the Irish. In January 1829, the Wellington Government announced that it would introduce a Catholic emancipation bill to conciliate the Irish. Disregarding a request from Wellington that he remain abroad, Ernest returned to London, and was one of the leaders against the Catholic Relief Act 1829, influencing King George against the bill. Within days of his arrival, the King instructed the officers of his Household to vote against the Bill. Hearing of this, Wellington told the King that he must resign as Prime Minister unless the King could assure him of complete support. The King initially accepted Wellington’s resignation, and Ernest attempted to put together a government united against Catholic emancipation. Though such a government would have considerable support in the House of Lords, it would have little support in the Commons, and Ernest abandoned his attempt. The King recalled Wellington. The bill passed the Lords and became law.

The Wellington Government hoped that Ernest would return to Germany, but he moved his wife and son to Britain in 1829. The Times reported that they would live at Windsor in the “Devil’s Tower”; instead, the Duke reopened his house at Kew. They settled there as rumours flew that Thomas Garth, thought to be the illegitimate son of Ernest’s sister Princess Sophia, had been fathered by Ernest. It was also said that Ernest had blackmailed the King by threatening to expose this secret, though Van der Kiste points out that Ernest would have been ill-advised to blackmail with a secret which, if exposed, would destroy him. These rumours were spread as Ernest journeyed to London to fight against Catholic emancipation. Whig politician and diarist Thomas Creevey wrote about the Garth rumour in mid-February, and there is some indication the rumours began with Princess Lieven, wife of the Russian ambassador.

Newspapers also reported, in July 1829, that the Duke had been thrown out of Lord Lyndhurst’s house for assaulting his wife Sarah, Lady Lyndhurst. In early 1830, a number of newspapers printed articles hinting that Ernest was having an affair with Lady Graves, a mother of fifteen now past fifty. In February 1830, Lord Graves wrote a note to his wife expressing his confidence in her innocence, then cut his own throat. Two days after Lord Graves’s death (and the day after the inquest), The Times printed an article connecting Lord Graves’s death with Sellis’s. After being shown the suicide note, The Times withdrew its implication there might be a connection between the two deaths. Nonetheless, many believed the Duke responsible for the suicide—or guilty of a second murder. The Duke later stated that he had been “accused of every crime in the decalogue”. Ernest’s biographer, Anthony Bird, states that while there is no proof, he has no doubt that the rumours against the Duke were spread by the Whigs for political ends. Another biographer, Geoffrey Willis, pointed out that no scandal had attached itself to the Duke during the period of over a decade when he resided in Germany; it was only when he announced his intent to return to Britain that “a campaign of unparalleled viciousness” began against him. According to Bird, Ernest was the most unpopular man in England.

The Duke’s influence at Court was ended by the death of George IV in June 1830 and the succession of the Duke of Clarence as William IV. Wellington wrote that “The effect of the King’s death will … be to put an end to the Duke of Cumberland’s political character and power in this country entirely”. King William lacked legitimate children (two girls having died in infancy) and Ernest was now heir-presumptive in Hanover, since the British heir-presumptive, Victoria, as a female could not inherit there. William realized that so long as the Duke maintained a power base at Windsor, he could wield unwanted influence. The Duke was Gold Stick as head of the Household Cavalry; William made the Duke’s post responsible to the Commander in Chief rather than to the King, and an insulted Ernest, outraged at the thought of having to report to an officer less senior than himself, resigned. King William again emerged triumphant when the new queen, Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen, wished to quarter her horses in the stables customarily used by the consort, but which were then occupied by Ernest’s horses. Ernest initially refused the King’s order to remove the horses, but gave in when told that William’s grooms would remove them if Ernest did not move them voluntarily. However, Ernest and William remained friendly throughout the latter’s seven-year reign. Ernest’s house at Kew was too small for his family; the King gave the Duke and Duchess lifetime residence in a nearby, larger house by the entrance to Kew Gardens. Ernest opposed the Reform Act 1832, and was one of the “diehard” peers who voted against the bill on its final reading when most Tories abstained under threat of seeing the House of Lords flooded with Whig peers.

Ernest was the subject of more allegations in 1832, when two young women accused him of trying to ride them down as they walked near Hammersmith. The Duke had not left his grounds at Kew on the day in question, and was able to ascertain that the rider was one of his equerries, who professed not to have seen the women. Nevertheless, newspapers continued to print references to the incident, suggesting that Ernest had done what the women stated, and was cravenly trying to push blame on another. The same year, the Duke sued for libel after a book appeared accusing him of having his valet Neale kill Sellis, and the jury found against the author. Also in 1832, the Cumberlands suffered tragedy, as young Prince George went blind. The Prince had been blind in one eye from infancy; an accident at age thirteen took the sight of the other. Ernest had hoped his son might marry Princess Victoria and keep the British and Hanoverian Thrones united, but the handicap made it unlikely George could win Princess Victoria’s hand, and raised questions about whether he should succeed in Hanover.

The Duke spent William’s reign in the House of Lords, where he was assiduous in his attendance. Wrote newspaper editor James Grant, “He is literally—the door-keeper of course excepted—the first man in the House, and the last out of it. And this not merely generally, but every night.” Grant, in his observations of the leading members of the House of Lords, indicated that the Duke was not noted for his oratory (he delivered no speech longer than five minutes) and had a voice that was difficult to understand, though, “his manner is most mild and conciliatory.” Grant denigrated the Duke’s intellect and influence, but stated that the Duke had indirect influence over several members, and that, “he is by no means so bad a tactician as his opponents suppose.”

Controversy arose in 1836 over the Orange Lodges. The lodges (which took anti-Catholic views) were said to be ready to rise and try to put the Duke of Cumberland on the Throne on the death of King William. According to Joseph Hume, speaking in the House of Commons, Princess Victoria was to be passed over on the grounds of her age, sex, and incapacity. The Commons passed a resolution calling for the dissolution of the lodges. When the matter reached the Lords, the Duke defended himself, saying of Princess Victoria, “I would shed the last drop of my blood for my niece.” The Duke indicated that the Orange Lodge members were loyal and were willing to dissolve the lodges in Great Britain. According to Bird, this incident was the source of the widespread rumours that the Duke intended to murder Princess Victoria and take the British Throne for himself.

On 20 June 1837, King William died, and Princess Victoria became Queen of the United Kingdom. Ernest became the King of Hanover.

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