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Saturday, 30 June 2012

Two Little Princes: Prince Alfred (1780-1782)

Prince Alfred
by Mirabelle Knowles (2012)
 after Thomas Gainsborough (1782)
Profile

Prince Alfred (22 September 1780 - 20 August 1782) was the fourteenth child of George III and Queen Charlotte who died in infancy.

The youngest son

Prince Alfred was born at Windsor Castle on 22 September 1780, the ninth and youngest son of George III and Queen Charlotte. He was christened on 21 October (1) in the great council chamber at St James’ Palace by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

A sickly child

Alfred had a wet nurse, Mrs Williams, who was the wife of an East India captain. Sadly, he was not a healthy baby. On 13 May 1782, Alfred’s health was so poor that he was sent to Deal Castle with Lady Charlotte Finch to make use of the salt waters, attended by Dr Hunter.
  
Death at Windsor Castle 

Windsor Castle
From Memoirs of Her Late MajestyQueen Charlotte
by WC Oulton (1819)
In August, Alfred returned to Windsor Castle, but he was no better, and he died on 20 August 1782. He was buried privately at Westminster Abbey on the 27 August, with a funeral service taken by the Dean of Westminster. The coffin was later transferred to the Royal Vault at St George’s Chapel, Windsor, on 11 February 1820.

Death by smallpox?

I have been unable to verify the cause of Alfred’s death to my satisfaction. Some sources suggest that he died from smallpox after inoculation, but if that is so, I question why he was inoculated as an already sickly child of eighteen months whilst his brother Octavius was not inoculated until he was four.

A family in mourning

There was no official mourning because Alfred was an infant, but it was said of the Queen that “her Majesty was exceedingly affected”.

Note
(1) Oulton’s memoirs give the date of christening as the 31st.

Sources used include:
Bissett, Robert, The History of the Reign of George III (Edward Parker, 1822, Philadelphia)
Chedzoy, Alan, Seaside Sovereign - King George III at Weymouth (Dovecote Press, 2003, Dorset)
Hibbert, Christopher, George IV (Longmans,1972, Allen Lane, 1973, London)
Oulton, Walley Chamberlain, Authentic and Impartial Memoirs of Her Late Majesty Charlotte, Queen of Great Britain and Ireland (1819, London)

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