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Tuesday, 29 May 2012

The Six Princesses: Princess Amelia (1783-1810)

Princess Amelia  from the European  Magazine  and London Review (Nov 1810)
Princess Amelia from the European
Magazine and London Review (Nov 1810)
Profile

Princess Amelia (7 August 1783 - 2 November 1810) was the youngest child of King George III and Queen Charlotte

The youngest Princess

Princess Amelia was born at the Royal Lodge, Windsor, on 7 August 1783, the fifteenth child and sixth daughter of King George III and Queen Charlotte. She was their youngest child, being more than twenty years junior to George, Prince of Wales, their eldest. She was christened in the grand council chamber at St James’ Palace on 19 September (1) by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The favourite daughter of George III

Amelia’s birth came after the deaths of the two youngest princes, Alfred in August 1782 and the much-loved Octavius in May 1783. George III had been very attached to Octavius, and Amelia in some measure replaced him in her father’s affections. She became her father’s favourite child and when she was young, the King would sit on the carpet playing with her.

Princess Amelia from the Lady's Magazine (1792) Princess Amelia from The Lady's Magazine (1792)
Princess Amelia from The Lady's Magazine (1792)
The education of a Princess

A pretty girl, Amelia grew to be tall and slender in person and graceful in demeanour. Like her sisters, her education was supervised by Lady Charlotte Finch and she was taught such academic subjects as English, French and geography as well as the accomplishments of a young lady – music, art and needlework. She became proficient on the piano and skilled at riding, her favourite pastime, but her frequent ill health prevented her from attaining as much as her sisters.

Precarious health

Unfortunately, Amelia’s health was never robust, and in 1798, when she was fifteen, she became ill with tuberculosis in her knee. By eighteen, she was also suffering from erysipelas, a painful bacterial skin infection also known as St Anthony’s fire. All kinds of treatments were tried including bleeding, blistering, leeches and sea bathing, as well as various remedies such as beef tea and calomel.

Princess Amelia  from The Georgian Era (1832)
Princess Amelia
from The Georgian Era (1832)

A summer in Worthing

During the summer of 1798, Amelia spent the summer in the quiet resort of Worthing rather than the King’s favourite place, the more lively resort of Weymouth. The Prince of Wales was a regular visitor, riding over most mornings from Brighton to see her, and sending presents when he could not visit. He wanted her to stay with him at the Pavilion, but his parents would not allow her to be moved.

Amelia was very fond of her brother George, calling him her “dear angelic brother” or her “beloved eau de miel”. She found his visits “really and truly a cordial”.

George IV  from La Belle Assemblée (1820)
George IV from La Belle Assemblée (1820)
In the spring of 1799, Amelia was declared to be in a state of convalescence and a grand entertainment was given by the Queen at Frogmore on 8 March to celebrate her recovery.

Sea bathing in Weymouth

Amelia frequently visited Weymouth with her family, but her health was deteriorating and by the summer of 1799, she was not well enough to walk on the esplanade with her sisters, but stayed in Gloucester Lodge playing music, entertaining her young niece, Princess Charlotte, or making presents for her family.

The following year, she was back in Weymouth, and experienced an alarming incident. One morning she entered her bathing machine to find two men inside who refused to leave. The proprietor eventually had to frighten them out by drawing the machine into the waves and the defeated men were jeered by the crowd as they hurriedly made their exit.

Gloucester Lodge on Weymouth seafront
Gloucester Lodge on Weymouth seafront
Love in Weymouth

In 1801, Amelia was once again bathing in salt water for her health in Weymouth, attended by one of the King’s equerries, Colonel Charles Fitzroy. Fitzroy was twenty years older than Amelia and the second son of Lord Southampton, who was descended from an illegitimate son of Charles II. George III was devoted to Fitzroy and referred to him at Court as Prince Charles.

Charles FitzRoy from The Romance of Princess
Amelia by WS Childe-Pemberton (1911)
Amelia fell in love with Colonel Fitzroy and desperately sought her brother George’s support to marry him. The Queen was vehemently opposed to the match. From as early as 1803, it appears that the Queen was aware of Amelia’s attachment to Fitzroy and repeatedly remonstrated with her daughter about “this unpleasant business”. Amelia never forgave her mother for her denigration of her love and complained to her brothers about the Queen’s lack of affection for her.

Amelia told her brother Frederick, the Duke of York, that she considered herself married already and began signing her letters AFR – Amelia FitzRoy – Charles’ “affectionate and devoted wife and darling” from about 1804.

Princess Amelia from The Romance of Princess Amelia  by WS Childe-Pemberton (1911)
Princess Amelia from The Romance of Princess Amelia
by WS Childe-Pemberton (1911)
Amelia’s last illness

Amelia grew progressively worse and returned again to Weymouth in 1808 with her sister Mary as her devoted companion and nurse. A bathing machine was adapted for her use so that she could bathe in the sea water without effort. Other days, she went sailing, being lifted up the side of the boat in a slung chair.

“Remember me”

When she realised that her life was ending, Amelia arranged for the Court jewellers, Rundell, Bridge and Co, to prepare a ring as a final gift to her father. The ring was set with one of her jewels and a lock of her hair pressed under a small crystal window and was inscribed with the words “Remember me”. When the King visited her chamber, Amelia put the ring on his finger and her father promptly burst into tears.

George III  from The History of the Reign of George III   by Robert Bissett (1822)
George III
from The History of the Reign of George III
 by Robert Bissett (1822)

An unfulfilled legacy

However, her last thoughts were for her forbidden love, Colonel Fitzroy:
“Tell Charles I die blessing him.” 
In her will, she left everything to Fitzroy except for a few legacies. However, Amelia had lived beyond her means and had borrowed money from her siblings and likely also from Fitzroy. In reality, all she had to bequeath was her jewellery, and even this, George persuaded Fitzroy to renounce his claim to for the sake of delicacy and it was given to Mary instead. Afterwards, George showed some remorse that he had not been able to better fulfil his sister’s dying wishes.

The death of George III’s favourite daughter

Amelia died at Augusta Lodge, Windsor, on 2 November 1810. On Tuesday 13 November (2), the day of her funeral, every shop in Windsor was closed. The funeral procession was lit by torchlight and the Dean of Windsor led the service and the body was interred in St George’s Chapel at Windsor. The Countess of Chesterfield was the Chief Mourner, supported by Lady Halford, the Countess of Ilchester and the Countess of Macclesfield.

Princess Amelia's coffin  from La Belle Assemblée (1810)
Princess Amelia's coffin from La Belle Assemblée (1810)
The King was stricken with grief at the death of his favourite child and rapidly descended into a period of derangement from which he never recovered.

Princess Amelia  by Mirabelle Knowles (2012)   after William Beechey (1797)
Princess Amelia
by Mirabelle Knowles (2012)
 after William Beechey (1797)
Notes
(1) Some sources state the date as 17 September.
(2) Some sources state the date as 14 November.

Sources used include:
Bell, John, La Belle Assemblée, various (1806-1831, London)
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)
Clarke, The Georgian Era (Vizetelly, Branston and Co, 1832, London)
Hall, Mrs Matthew, The Royal Princesses of England (1871, London)
Hibbert, Christopher, George IV (Longmans,1972, Allen Lane, 1973, London)
Hodge, Jane Aiken, Passion and Principle (John Murray,1996, London)
Oulton, Walley Chamberlain, Authentic and Impartial Memoirs of Her Late Majesty Charlotte, Queen of Great Britain and Ireland (1819, London)
Purdue, AW, George III, daughters of (act.1766-1857), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, (Oxford University Press, 2004, online edn, May 2009, accessed 10 Feb 2012)
Watkins, John, A Biographical Memoir of Frederick, Duke of York and Albany (1827, London)

All photographs by Andrew Knowles - www.flickr.com/photos/dragontomato

Monday, 21 May 2012

The Six Princesses: Princess Sophia (1777-1848)

Princess Sophia  from A Biographical Memoir of Frederick,   Duke of York and Albany by John Watkins (1827)
Princess Sophia
from A Biographical Memoir of Frederick,
 Duke of York and Albany by John Watkins (1827)
Profile

Princess Sophia (3 November 1777 - 27 May 1848) was the fifth daughter of George III and Queen Charlotte. She never married, but was rumoured to have had an illegitimate son in Weymouth in 1800.

Birth of a fifth daughter

Princess Sophia was born at Windsor Castle on 3 November 1777, the twelfth child of George III and Queen Charlotte. She was christened on 1 December in the grand council room at St James’ by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Sophia was given into the care of a wet nurse, the wife of a Lieutenant Williams, who applied for the position after dreaming that she had been given it! She was appointed when none of the three preferred applicants was able to take up the role.

Princess Sophia from La Belle Assemblée (1807)
Princess Sophia from La Belle Assemblée (1807)
A royal upbringing

Sophia was educated with her sisters by various governesses and tutors under the supervision of Lady Charlotte Finch. Her lessons included English, French, German, geography, history, music, art and needlework.

The Princesses were brought up under the austere eye of their watchful mother, constantly chaperoned and allowed very little freedom to develop relationships outside of their family group. In Court, they were expected to stand in the presence of the King and Queen, often for hours at a time.

Character

Sophia was a pretty girl with a fiercely passionate nature, which made her somewhat unruly and inclined to be moody. She was the favourite sister of the Duke of Clarence and the Duke of Kent, who called her his “dear little angel”. The Duke of Cumberland watched over her with an intensity that was not considered entirely healthy.

Duke of Kent  from A Biographical Memoir of Frederick,   Duke of York and Albany by John Watkins (1827)
Duke of Kent
from A Biographical Memoir of Frederick,
 Duke of York and Albany by John Watkins (1827)
The Nunnery 

George III was very fond of his daughters, but was in no hurry to see them grow up. He had strong views on what was a suitable match for his beloved daughters; he was vehemently opposed them marrying beneath them or marrying Catholics. This severely limited the options for suitable husbands.

In addition, Queen Charlotte liked to have her daughters in attendance on her, and became particularly reliant on their company as the King’s illness progressed. The Princess Royal finally got married in 1797, but matches for her sisters were not forthcoming. Perhaps if the King had remained well he would have secured them the husbands that they so desperately wanted, but in the event, the younger five Princesses continued unwed.

Sophia was not happy and in 1812, she wrote to her brother, the Prince of Wales, in her tiny writing, mourning the lot of her unmarried sisters and herself, and thanking him for his kindness to the “four old cats” in the “Nunnery” at Windsor.

Sophia received an offer of marriage from a German prince in 1801, but this was not accepted by her parents and she never married.

Windsor Castle from the Thames  from Memoirs of Her Late Majesty Charlotte by WC Oulton (1819)
Windsor Castle from the Thames
from Memoirs of Her Late Majesty Charlotte by WC Oulton (1819)
Forbidden love

Deprived of marriage, the passionate Sophia seems to have fallen in love with one of the few gentlemen she was allowed to meet. General Thomas Garth was one of the King’s equerries, a small man over thirty years her senior, whose face was disfigured by a large purple birthmark over his forehead and around one eye.

Although an unlikely choice for the young Princess, her sister Mary’s teasing gives some credence to the relationship; she referred to Garth’s birthmark as “the purple light of love”. It has been suggested that they may have gone through some kind of secret marriage ceremony, but they never lived together openly, and this remains conjecture.

An illegitimate son

There is evidence, however, to suggest that in August 1800, Sophia gave birth to an illegitimate child whilst staying in Weymouth. It would appear that Garth had the opportunity to be alone with Sophia one evening when the King and Queen were in London. Sophia had been ill for some time and was living in the Queen’s Lodge at Windsor, where her bedroom was beneath Garth’s.

Weymouth beach
Weymouth beach
Nine months later, Sophia was “brought to bed”, so Lady Bath told Greville. Lady Bath claimed to have the news on the authority of Lady Caroline Thynne who was Mistress of the Robes to the Queen at the time, an honest woman who would have been in a position to know the truth.

It was feared that this distressing news might have a detrimental effect on the King and so he was told that Sophia had dropsy and was then miraculously cured by eating roast beef. The King was almost blind by this time and it is possible that he was unaware of the real state of affairs. Regardless, he seemed to accept what he was told and repeated the story of the miracle cure, saying that it was a “very extraordinary thing”.

Rumours

The boy believed to be Princess Sophia’s son was christened Thomas and left in Weymouth at the home of Major Herbert Taylor, the Private Secretary to the Duke of York and afterwards to the King. Garth accepted paternity of the boy, and remained in favour at Court, receiving promotion and being appointed to a responsible position in the household of Princess Charlotte. According to Lord Glenbervie, Sophia occasionally visited Thomas.

There was an alternative, far more alarming, story that arose after the original scandal broke in 1829, which suggested that the child was in fact fathered by Sophia’s brother, Ernest, Duke of Cumberland, who had always seemed to have an unnatural interest in his sister. The rumour may have been started by the Princess of Wales, and it appears that some, including the Duke of Kent, believed it. Others have disputed whether Thomas was Sophia’s son at all.
Ernest, Duke of Cumberland  from The Lady's Magazine (1793)
Ernest, Duke of Cumberland
from The Lady's Magazine (1793)
A permanent invalid

Throughout her life, Sophia was subject to indifferent health, suffering from spasms and fits of depression that were indicative of her father’s illness. As she grew older, she was inclined to indulge in her invalidism, enjoying the attentions of her brothers who pampered her. The Duke of Kent referred to her as “poor little Barnacles” and the Prince of Wales sent her gifts and visited her.

The influence of Sir John Conroy

On the Queen’s death in 1818, Sophia inherited the Lower Lodge at Windsor, but she chose to live at Kensington, close to the Duchess of Kent and the young Princess Victoria. Both Sophia and the Duchess fell under the influence of the handsome, imposing and ambitious John Conroy. Sophia was charmed by Conroy’s easy confidence, and his efficiency in protecting her from the impositions of her supposed son, Thomas Garth. Conroy took control of her finances which he proceeded to expend on his own advancement.

Duchess of Kent  from La Belle Assemblée (1825)
Duchess of Kent
from La Belle Assemblée (1825)
Such was Conroy’s influence over her that Sophia was persuaded to speak to her brother on his behalf, gaining him the title of Knight Commander of the Hanoverian Order. Unfortunately, her susceptibility to Conroy’s influence alienated her from the young Victoria who hated Conroy’s position in her mother’s household.

Death of a Princess

Notwithstanding her indifferent health, Sophia lived until she was seventy. She died at her house in Vicarage Place, Kensington, on 27 May 1848, and was buried at Kensal Green Cemetery in London.

Sources used include:
Bell, John, La Belle Assemblée, various (1806-1831, London)
Chedzoy, Alan, Seaside Sovereign - King George III at Weymouth, (Dovecote Press, 2003, Dorset)
Hall, Mrs Matthew, The Royal Princesses of England (1871, London)
Hibbert, Christopher, George IV (Longmans,1972, Allen Lane, 1973, London)
Hibbert, Christopher, Queen Victoria (HarperCollins, 2000, London)
Hodge, Jane Aiken, Passion and Principle (John Murray,1996, London)
Oulton, Walley Chamberlain, Authentic and Impartial Memoirs of Her Late Majesty Charlotte, Queen of Great Britain and Ireland (1819, London)
Papendiek, Mrs, Court and private life in the time of Queen Charlotte: being the journals of Mrs Papendiek assistant keeper of the wardrobe and reader to her Majesty, edited by her granddaughter, Mrs Vernon Delves Broughton (1887, London)
Purdue, AW, George III, daughters of (act.1766-1857), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, (Oxford University Press, 2004, online edn, May 2009, accessed 10 Feb 2012)
Watkins, John, A Biographical Memoir of Frederick, Duke of York and Albany (1827, London)

All photographs © Andrew Knowles - www.flickr.com/photos/dragontomato

Monday, 14 May 2012

The Marriage of Princess Mary and Prince William of Gloucester

The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester
from A Biographical Memoir of Frederick,
 Duke of York and Albany
by John Watkins (1827)
A scarcity of potential husbands

George III loved his daughters very much but seemed reluctant to allow them to grow up. He was vehemently opposed to them marrying beneath them or marrying Catholics, which severely limited their choice of potential husbands, and was anxious that the elder should marry before the younger. As a result, none of his daughters were married before they were thirty and Princess Mary was no exception, not marrying until 1816, when, at the age of forty, she married her cousin, the Duke of Gloucester.

An enduring affection

It has been suggested that the attachment between the Duke of Gloucester and Princess Mary was of long-standing, but was thwarted by opposition and duty.

Princess Charlotte
from La Belle Assemblée (1816)
When Princess Charlotte was born in 1796, thoughts immediately turned to potential marriage partners for the baby who was expected to be the future Queen of England. Being of royal blood and Protestant faith, the Duke of Gloucester was deemed to be a possible candidate and was consequently honour bound to remain single.

Although he was twenty years her senior, this does not seem to be too outrageous a suggestion because of the paucity of eligible husbands. However, whether this decision was made as a result of the duty or ambition of either the Duke or his parents, or indeed, a royal request, it is difficult to fathom.

Marriage of the Princess Charlotte

When Princess Charlotte broke off her engagement to Prince William of Orange in 1814, she seemed for a while to favour the Duke of Gloucester. However, her father detested his cousin and was adamant in his opposition to the match.

Charlotte then met and fell in love with Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, and on 2 May 1816, they were married.

Princess Charlotte and Prince Leopold
from La Belle Assemblée (1816)
Marriage of Princess Mary and Prince William of Gloucester

Just two months later, on 22 July 1816 (1), Mary married her cousin, William Frederick, the Duke of Gloucester. The Queen did not object to the match but the Prince Regent was not in favour for the same reasons that he had rejected his cousin as a suitor for his daughter. He had never liked the Duke and this dislike had grown when his cousin had openly supported his estranged wife, Princess Caroline. However, he had reluctantly given his consent when his much-loved sister asked for it. The alacrity with which the marriage was arranged after Princess Charlotte’s wedding seems to fit with the suggestion that the Duke was bound to her as long as she remained unmarried.

The wedding was a private affair and the guests were the same as those who had attended the Princess Charlotte’s wedding a few months before.

La Belle Assemblée gave this account of the wedding:

The altar

“A superb altar was erected in the grand saloon of the Queen’s Palace: the new throne which was put up there directly over the principal door to the grand entrance, for the Queen to receive the addresses of the Princess Charlotte and the Prince Leopold, formed the back of the altar, which gave it an additional splendid appearance. The whole was formed of crimson velvet and gold lace, principally from the Chapel Royal and Whitehall chapel.”

The guests

“The foreign ambassadors with their ladies first entered the saloon followed by the cabinet ministers and their ladies, who proceeded to the right. The great officers of state and those of the royal households, except those in immediate attendance, took their stations to the left. The Queen placed herself on the left of the altar, in a state chair prepared for her: Princess Augusta, Elizabeth, the Duchess of York, and the Princess Sophia of Gloucester, went to her left, with their female attendants after them.

The Prince Regent took his station on the right of the altar, with his royal brethren near him, Every thing being properly arranged, the Lord Chamberlain retired to introduce the Duke of Gloucester and present him to the altar.

The Lord Chamberlain then, with the Duke of Cambridge, introduced the Princess Mary and the royal Duke, and presented her Royal Highness to the Prince Regent, who gave her away in marriage to the Duke of Gloucester.”

The wedding dress

The following is a description of Princess Mary’s wedding dress:

“Her Royal Highness looked most lovely. Her head-dress was without feathers, and she wore a brilliant fringed necklace: a bandeau of brilliants forming a wreath of roses encircled her forehead; a row of brilliant crescents, with light sprigs, as if issuing from their centres, formed a coronet, and was placed on the crown of her head. Her earrings were of pearl, and her girdle of brilliants, to correspond to the bandeau. Her bracelets of brilliants formed a chain, with flowers in the clasps, and a brilliant flower brooch adorned her bosom.”

Honeymoon at Bagshot Park

Bagshot Park
from Select Illustrations of the County of Surrey
by GF Prosser (1828)
“At a quarter before ten o’clock the bride took off her nuptial ornaments, and arrayed in a white satin pelisse, with a white satin French bonnet, she set off with her royal husband to Bagshot, amidst the blessings and good wishes of her family, and the loud huzzas of the multitude assembled on the happy occasion.”

Royal entertainment

The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester entertained the inhabitants of Bagshot, where they were to live, on 6 August 1816 in celebration of their marriage. Over 1000 people attended the entertainment with roast beef, plum pudding and fine ale served on the lawn at Bagshot

The Orangery, Bagshot Park
from Select Illustrations of the County of Surrey
by GF Prosser (1828)
The marriage

It has been suggested that the marriage was not entirely happy and that the Duke was somewhat tyrannical in the management of his household. His politics certainly strained his relationship with the Prince Regent even further which cannot have helped family harmony.

However, I like to believe that the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester were happy. Mary must certainly have known her husband far better than was customary for ladies of her station. Queen Charlotte had met George III just hours before their marriage and the Prince of Wales had also agreed to marry a woman he had never seen, with disastrous consequences. The Duke has been described as boring and pompous but Mary was fond of him. Sadly, they had no children.

Widowhood

The Duke died on 30 November 1834 and was buried in St George’s Chapel at Windsor. Mary survived him by over twenty years, living a retired life, but loved by many, including Queen Victoria and her family. She died on 20 April 1857 and was buried next to her husband.

Windsor Castle - the final  resting place
of the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester
from Memoirs of Queen Charlotte
 by WC Oulton (1819)



Note
1 Some sources state the date of the wedding as 23 July 1816.

Sources used include:
Bell, John, La Belle Assemblée, various (1806-1831, London)
Hall, Mrs Matthew, The Royal Princesses of England (1871, London)
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)
Prosser, GF, Select Illustrations of the County of Surrey comprising picturesque views of the seats of the nobility and gentry (C&J Rivington, 1828, London)
Purdue, AW, George III, daughters of (act.1766-1857), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, (Oxford University Press, 2004, online edn, May 2009, accessed 10 Feb 2012)
Watkins, John, A Biographical Memoir of Frederick, Duke of York and Albany (1827, London)

Friday, 11 May 2012

The Assassination of Spencer Perceval 11 May 1812

Spencer Perceval,
from The Life and Administration of the  Right Hon. Spencer Perceval
by Charles Williams (1813)
On 11 May 1812, Spencer Perceval was assassinated. He remains the only British Prime Minister to have been assassinated.

A difficult political situation

Spencer Perceval became First Lord of the Treasury in 1809 when the Duke of Portland’s health made it impossible for him to continue leading the government. He was not the King’s first choice, but such was the division in the government at the time that many of the politicians refused to serve with one another. Perceval was eventually chosen to form a cabinet, effectively making him Prime Minister. He also kept the role of Chancellor of the Exchequer as no one else would accept it.

The assassination

The June 1812 issue of La Belle Assemblée included a long account of the assassination of Perceval and subsequent trial of his murderer. It gave the following account of the assassination:

“On the 11th May, about a quarter past five, as the Right Honourable Spencer Perceval, Chancellor of the Exchequer and First Lord of the Treasury &c. &c. was entering the lobby of the House of Commons, he was shot by a person of the name of Bellingham, who had place himself for that purpose at the side door leading from the stone staircase. Mr Perceval was in company with Lord F Osborne, and immediately on receiving the Ball, which entered the left breast, he staggered and fell at the feet of Mr W Smith, MP for Norwich, who was standing near the second pillar. The only words he uttered were – “Oh! I am murdered,” and the latter was inarticulate, the sound dying between his lips. He was instantly taken up by Mr Smith, who did not recognise him until he had looked in his face. The report of the pistol immediately drew great numbers to the spot, who assisted Mr Smith in conveying the body of Mr Perceval into the Speaker’s apartments, but before he reached them, all signs of life had departed.”

The assassin

John Bellingham, a disgruntled bankrupt, shot Perceval as the figurehead of the government which he held responsible for his financial misfortune. Had he been of a mind to escape, he probably could have done so, as little attention was paid him in the furore surrounding the fallen Perceval. However, such was not his intention. Bellingham was arrested, tried at the Old Bailey, pronounced guilty and sentenced to death.

Tribute to Perceval 

Spencer Perceval,
from The Georgian Era (1832)
Before the death sentence was given, the Recorder spoke these words:

“You have been guilty of the murder of a person whose suavity of manners disarmed hostility and rancour. By his death charity has been deprived of its warmest friend, and religion of its best support, and the country of its greatest ornament. A man whose public character and talents were capable of saving his country. The murder you have perpetrated in the midst of unarmed men, confiding in their innocence and the sacred functions vested in them by their country, and in the very sanctuary of the law.”

This post was written on 11 May 2012 to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Spencer Perceval's assassination.

Sources used include:
Bell, John, La Belle Assemblée (1812, London)
Clarke, The Georgian Era (Vizetelly, Branston and Co, 1832, London)
Williams, Charles, The Life and Administration of the Right Hon. Spencer Perceval (1813)

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

The Six Princesses: Princess Mary (1776-1857)

Princess Mary  from A Biographical Memoir of Frederick,   Duke of York and Albany by J Watkins (1827)
Princess Mary
from A Biographical Memoir of Frederick,
 Duke of York and Albany by J Watkins (1827)
Profile

Princess Mary (25 April 1776-30 April 1857) was the 11th child and 4th daughter of King George III and Queen Charlotte. She married her cousin William, Duke of Gloucester, and was the only one of her siblings to be photographed.

Birth of the fourth Princess

Mary was born on 25 April 1776 at Buckingham House, and was christened on 19 May in the great council chamber at St James’ Palace by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Education

The Princesses were educated at home by governesses and teachers under the direction of Lady Charlotte Finch. It was the Queen, however, who ultimately had control. Together with the King, she chose all the tutors and sub-governesses, attended her daughters’ schoolroom whenever her other duties allowed and arranged the timetable of governesses to ensure that her children were always supervised. The Princesses were taught English, French, German, geography, history, music, art and needlework. Mary was very musical and became skilled at copying drawings in chalk.

Entertaining diversions

Life in the royal household followed a strict routine and the Princesses were allowed very little freedom. Occasionally, the tedium was interrupted by a trip or entertainment. On 17 May 1787, The Way to Keep Him, a comedy, was privately performed for the King and Queen; the Princesses Charlotte, Augusta, Elizabeth, Mary and Sophia were all present.

The Princesses also attended the grand festival at Westminster on 28 May, featuring music by Handel, and a further comedy, The Jealous Wife, was performed for them at Buckingham House on 30 May by Mrs Siddons and Mr Kemble. At other times, they visited the theatre or an exhibition, but there was little scope for independent amusement.

Mrs Siddons  from La Belle Assemblée (1812)
Mrs Siddons
from La Belle Assemblée (1812)

Princess Mary in public

On 2 June 1788, the Spanish ambassador held a magnificent gala at Ranelagh which Mary and her elder sisters attended. The amusements included a lottery of watches and jewellery, moving transparencies, Spanish children dancing and fireworks, as well as country dancing in which Mary took part.

Mary attended Court for the first time in June 1791 to celebrate the King’s birthday; her cousin, Prince William of Gloucester, also made his first appearance. Mary danced a minuet with her brother William, Duke of Clarence.

Weymouth 

In 1789, and in most subsequent summers until 1805, Mary visited Weymouth with her family. The Princesses went bathing in the sea and rode a donkey chaise around the Shrubbery. Sometimes they attended a public breakfast given by some local dignitary or went out in the carriage to a country estate. In the evening they played cards or went to the theatre where the King was invariably amused by a repetition of the same plays.

Weymouth, Dorset
Weymouth, Dorset
Weymouth in the wet was very trying, as the family were confined in too small a space with nothing to do. Mary described it as – “a perfect stand still of everything and everybody” and wrote that life there was “more dull and stupid” than ever.

Mary visited Weymouth again in 1808 when she accompanied Princess Amelia there as she battled against tuberculosis. Mary was her sister’s devoted nurse and constant companion and Amelia referred to her as “Dearest Minny”.

After her marriage, she visited Weymouth with her husband, the Duke of Gloucester, and it was while staying at Gloucester Lodge in 1817 that she heard the devastating news of Princess Charlotte’s death in childbirth.

Gloucester Lodge, Weymouth,  as it is today today
Gloucester Lodge, Weymouth,
as it is today today
Affectionate and outspoken

Mary was kind and affectionate and was the Prince of Wales’ favourite sister. On her death, Prince Albert described her as “a lady whose virtues and qualities of the heart had commanded the respect and love of all who knew her”.
The Prince of Wales, later George IV  from Memoirs of her late royal   highness Charlotte Augusta  by Robert Huish (1818)
The Prince of Wales, later George IV
from Memoirs of her late royal
 highness Charlotte Augusta
by Robert Huish (1818)
Although Mary was more self-contained than her sisters and very discreet in her behaviour, she had a disconcerting habit of speaking her mind. She once offended her brother, the Duke of York, by commenting on how fat he had become, excusing herself with the words: “It is so very visible that I could not help making the remark.”

Marriage

On 22 July 1816, Mary married her cousin, William Frederick, Duke of Gloucester. The couple lived at Bagshot Park, in Surrey, about eleven miles from Windsor, and Gloucester House, Park Lane, in London. William and Mary had no children.
William Frederick, Duke of Gloucester  from A Biographical Memoir of Frederick,   Duke of York and Albany  by John Watkins (1827)
William Frederick, Duke of Gloucester
from A Biographical Memoir of Frederick,
 Duke of York and Albany
by John Watkins (1827)

Final years

After the Duke’s death in 1834, Mary lived a retired life, but her kindness and benevolence endeared her to all. She was the last surviving child of George III and the only one of her generation to be photographed.

She died on 30 April 1857 at Gloucester House in London at the age of 81 and was taken by the Great Western Railway from Paddington to Windsor, where she was buried beside her husband in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, on 9 May.

Queen Victoria wrote of her: “Her age, and her being a link with bygone times and generations…rendered her more and more dear and precious to us all, and we all looked upon her as a sort of grandmother.”

Sources used include:
Bell, John, La Belle Assemblée, various (1806-1831, London)
Chedzoy, Alan, Seaside Sovereign - King George III at Weymouth, (Dovecote Press, 2003, Dorset)
Hall, Mrs Matthew, The Royal Princesses of England (1871, London)
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)
Papendiek, Mrs, Court and private life in the time of Queen Charlotte: being the journals of Mrs Papendiek assistant keeper of the wardrobe and reader to her Majesty, edited by her granddaughter, Mrs Vernon Delves Broughton (1887, London)
Purdue, AW, George III, daughters of (act.1766-1857), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, (Oxford University Press, 2004, online edn, May 2009, accessed 10 Feb 2012)
Watkins, John, A Biographical Memoir of Frederick, Duke of York and Albany (1827, London)


All photographs © Andrew Knowles - www.flickr.com/photos/dragontomato

Friday, 4 May 2012

Princess Elizabeth - the artist

Princess Elizabeth
from La Belle Assemblée (1806)
Elizabeth the designer

Princess Elizabeth, the third daughter of George III and Queen Charlotte, was a notable designer and artist.

She painted a trellis on the ceiling of the Picnic Room in Queen Charlotte's Cottage at Kew.

The painted trellis on the ceiling of the Picnic Room
in Queen Charlotte's Cottage, Kew
Elizabeth designed the hermitage at Frogmore - a small round building with a thatched roof situated in the south west corner of the garden. She also painted the Princess Royal’s closet at Frogmore in imitation of rich japan.

She was responsible for the decorations at the lavish entertainment given by Queen Charlotte at Frogmore in August 1799 to celebrate the recovery of the Princess Amelia.

Oulton describes them in his Memoirs of the Late Queen Charlotte:
“The pillars were covered with bay leaves and artificial flowers, wreaths of flowers decorating the intermediated spaces at the top; the chandeliers suspended from the ceiling were in the shape of a bee hive: at the upper end of them formed the tassel; between each row of lamps were interwoven ears of corn, blue bells, violets, lilies of the valley.”
The Birth and Triumph of Cupid

Birth from The Birth and Triumph of Love (1796)
In 1795, a series of twenty-four prints was published under the name of Lady Dashwood from drawings by Princess Elizabeth entitled “The Birth and Triumph of Cupid”. In La Belle Assemblée, the set of engravings was alternatively called “The Progress of Cupid”. They were engraved by PW Tomkins, the court engraver, who had studied under Bartolozzi, and were published at the King’s expense. La Belle Assemblée describes the pictures as “allegorical representations of the power of love”.

The Birth and Triumph of Love

Triumph from The Birth and Triumph of Love (1796)
The prints inspired Sir James Bland Burges to write an epic poem in the style of Spenser. Sir James was the undersecretary of state for foreign affairs until 1795 when he was made a baronet and became Knight Marshal of the King’s household. He took the name Lamb in 1821 in order to receive an inheritance. The plates were republished with the poem under the title “The Birth and Triumph of Love” in 1796 and met with considerable acclaim.


Opening lines from The Birth and Triumph of Love
by Sir James Bland Lamb
The complete set of 24 prints is available here - Regency History on Facebook

The Power and Progress of Genius

A second series of twenty-four sketches was issued in 1806 called “The Power and Progress of Genius”. La Belle Assemblée records that “Her Royal Highness has likewise distributed among her most favoured circle another publication and tribute to the fine arts just finished. It is entitled ‘The Progress of Genius’ and exhibits, under allegorical images, the different acts of that intellectual power.”

A vignette of the hermitage

A review in Noctes Ambrosianæ talks of a work of Pyne consisting of a hundred plates which are facsimiles of coloured drawings by various artists of different rooms in the various royal palaces – a History of Royal Residences. He notes that “it may not be uninteresting to know, that the vignette, representing the hermitage, in the garden at Frogmore, is copied from a plate etched by the Princess Elizabeth herself”. Robert Shelton Mackenzie wrote that the Princess “drew and etched, as well as if she had been an artist”.

Sources used include:
Bell, John, La Belle Assemblée, various (1806, London)
Hall, Mrs Matthew, The Royal Princesses of England (1871, London)
Hibbert, Christopher, George IV (1972, 1973)
Lamb, Sir James Bland, The Birth and Triumph of Love (1823, London)
Oulton, Walley Chamberlain, Authentic and Impartial Memoirs of Her Late Majesty Charlotte, Queen of Great Britain and Ireland (1819, London)
Wilson, John, with memoirs and notes by Robert Shelton Mackenzie, Noctes Ambrosianæ 1819-1824 (1867, New York)

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

The Six Princesses: Princess Elizabeth (1770-1840)

Princess Elizabeth  from The Lady's Magazine (1793)
Princess Elizabeth
from The Lady's Magazine (1793)
Profile

Princess Elizabeth (22 May 1770 - 10 January 1840) was the third daughter of King George III and Queen Charlotte. She was a gifted artist and married Prince Frederick of Hesse-Homburg at the age of 47.

Birth of Princess Elizabeth

Princess Elizabeth was born at Buckingham House on 22 May 1770, the seventh child of King George III and Queen Charlotte. She was christened by the Archbishop of Canterbury in the great council chamber at St James’ on 17 June.

The Queen's Palace (Buckingham House), from The Microcosm of London (1808-10)
The Queen's Palace (Buckingham House),
from The Microcosm of London (1808-10)
Queen Charlotte was an advocate of vaccination and so the young Princess was inoculated against smallpox on 1 October 1775, along with her brothers, Ernest and Augustus.

A restrictive upbringing

Elizabeth and her sisters received their education at home, under the auspices of Lady Charlotte Finch. They were taught English, modern foreign languages, geography, history, music, art and needlework. Elizabeth had excellent taste in music and was particularly gifted artistically, excelling in both design work and painting.

Read more about Princess Elizabeth - the artist.

The Princesses were allowed very little freedom; Queen Charlotte had to approve of every book that they read and every acquaintance that they made.

Visits and holidays

There was little variation in their routine except for the occasional outing or visit, such as in 1785, when Elizabeth was in the party that went to the Egham Races and to Oxford, and visited Lord and Lady Harcourt at Nuneham.

The royal family visited the seaside at Weymouth almost every year from 1789 to 1805 for the sake of the King’s health. Elizabeth also visited Bath with her mother in 1817, a visit which ended abruptly because of the death of Princess Charlotte.

Weymouth
Weymouth
Elizabeth's first ball

Elizabeth made her first appearance in the ball room at the King’s birthday celebrations in 1785, where she walked a minuet with Lord Rochford. Her dress was “the very counterpart of the Princess Royal’s”, suggesting that there was little scope for individuality.

An alarming incident

On 29 April 1788, Princess Elizabeth suffered an alarming incident. While she was sitting in her room, she was disturbed by the entrance of an unknown man, who must have climbed over the wall into the Queen’s garden. On the Princess alerting her attendants, the man was seized and forced to leave, but he returned a short while later to request an interview with the Princess so that he could pour out his love for her! The intruder was a hairdresser of the name of Spang who proved to be insane and was committed to Tothill Fields Bridewell.

Person and character

Elizabeth was very sensitive and emotional, but inclined to be rather managing. She suffered from poor health and became very overweight. As a result, her sisters nicknamed her Fatima.

Princess Elizabeth  from A Biographical Memoir of Frederick,  Duke of York and Albany by John Watkins (1827)
Princess Elizabeth
from A Biographical Memoir of Frederick,
Duke of York and Albany by John Watkins (1827)

The reluctant spinster

Elizabeth passionately desired to get married and have children of her own. Ever hopeful of becoming a bride, she drank sugar melted in water at night, supposedly to keep her temper sweet, and took long walks to prevent herself getting any fatter.

In the meantime, she kept herself occupied. She wrote her mother’s letters, collected porcelain and kept some Chinese pigs in a field at Frogmore. Unable to have her own children, she looked after other people’s children and devoted herself to charitable works for orphans.

Frogmore House  from Memoirs of Her Late Majesty Queen Charlotte  by WC Oulton (1819)
Frogmore House
from Memoirs of Her Late Majesty Queen Charlotte
by WC Oulton (1819)
The loves of Princess Elizabeth

There are unsubstantiated rumours that, as a young woman, Elizabeth had an affair with one of the King’s pages which resulted in an illegitimate child.

In 1808, the Duke of Orleans, the future French King Louis-Philippe, made her an offer which she desperately wanted to accept. However, the Queen was horrified at the proposed match because he was a penniless Roman Catholic.
King Louis Philippe of France  from Life of Louis Philippe  by SG Goodrich (1848)
King Louis Philippe of France
from Life of Louis Philippe
by SG Goodrich (1848)
Marriage at last

It was not until 1818 that Elizabeth received another offer of marriage, this time from Philip Augustus Frederick, Hereditary Prince of Hesse-Homburg, with whom she had been corresponding for two years. The Queen initially seemed resigned to the marriage, but when she realised that she would soon be deprived of her favourite daughter’s company, she became very difficult, causing Elizabeth considerable distress. Eventually, the Queen withdrew her opposition, having gained the assurance that Elizabeth would remain in England for a while after the marriage.

Prince Frederick did not have a prepossessing appearance: he was extremely fat, had flamboyant whiskers and smelled of garlic and tobacco. He was known to the public as “Humbug”.

Prince Frederick of Hesse-Homburg  from The New Monthly Magazine (1818)
Prince Frederick of Hesse-Homburg
from The New Monthly Magazine (1818)
A royal wedding

Prince Frederick and Princess Elizabeth were married on 7 April 1818 at Buckingham House. The Prince of Wales lent them the Royal Lodge at Windsor for their honeymoon, but unfortunately they were forced to travel in an old landaulet because the new coach that Elizabeth had ordered was not ready because the manufacturer had gone on strike and the journey was so bumpy that it made Prince Frederick sick!

They left Buckingham House on 3 June and then, having spent a week in Brighton, they sailed for Frankfurt.

Although it is doubtful whether it was a love match, the marriage appears to have been a great success. Elizabeth’s dowry funded the repair of Frederick’s castles in Hesse-Homburg and on 20 January 1820, Frederick succeeded his father as the Landgrave of Hesse-Homburg. Elizabeth seemed genuinely fond of her husband, calling him her “beloved Bluff”, but the marriage, unsurprisingly, did not produce any children.

Final years and death

After her husband’s death in 1829, Elizabeth divided her time between Homburg and Hanover. In 1835 to 1836, she visited England and spent much of her time visiting spas.
She died at Frankfurt am Main on 10 January 1840 aged 69.

Sources used include:
Bell, John, La Belle Assemblée, various (1806-1831, London)
Chedzoy, Alan, Seaside Sovereign - King George III at Weymouth, (Dovecote Press, 2003, Dorset)
Colburn, H, The New Monthly Magazine and Universal Register (1818, London)
Hall, Mrs Matthew, The Royal Princesses of England (1871, London)
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)
Purdue, AW, George III, daughters of (act.1766-1857), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, (Oxford University Press, 2004, online edn, May 2009, accessed 10 Feb 2012)
Watkins, John, A Biographical Memoir of Frederick, Duke of York and Albany (1827, London)

All photographs © Andrew Knowles - www.flickr.com/photos/dragontomato