Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Notter-in-Laws of George III

George III
When we research the Regency Era we have to take in account the monarchs and royals. The Regency itself is of course the ten years during the worst madness of George III, from 1811 to 1820 in which his son reigned in his place. After which George IV ruled for ten more years, till 1830, in his own name. He was followed by his brother William, for seven years.

And then Victoria came to the throne. The daughter of the fourth son of George III.

George III had 9 sons, though, two dying in infancy, Octavius and Alfred. Of the other seven, four had mistresses that were of very long duration. These mistresses and the marriages are worth examining.

Queen Charlotte
Only four though are we concerned with, of the seven which grew to adulthood.

Of those seven, four maintained long relationships with women whom they so cherished and with whom they consorted that the ladies were as wives to them. George, Frederick, William, and Edward had relationships that were of such strength, or in fact were marriages, that the women cannot be ignored.

And if by example, or by coincidence so many of the first circle of the Ton also carried on affairs, these royals' relationships need to be examined. We can’t ignore it in our Regencies. To forget that one of the Princes was really shacked up with one of these ladies would put our tales out of the context of the times.

So we need take a look at our Princes and their mistresses.

George IV
George IV
His mistress/wife Maria Fitzherbert from 1785 to 1794, and then from 1798 to the 1820’s, though he was married to Princess Caroline of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel.

We all should know that Geroge did not like the bride he took to secure the payments of his debts (600,000 pounds or about 1.2 billion in todays reckoning) and achieve the allowance he desired, a woman to whom he was only dedicated for a few short years until the birth of his beloved Charlotte. Three days after which he wrote a new will giving all to Mrs. Fitzherbert.

For over 30 years Mrs Fitzherbert and the Prince were together, and when asked directly if she had ever had children of the Prince and King, she coyly changed the topic of conversation to something else. And never would she sign a statement saying she had not had children.

Maria Fitzherbert
Maria had been married twice before she met and married George. It is fairly well documented that now she had proof that the two did get married secretly. She was the granddaughter of a Baronet and niece of an Earl. Her first husband was Edward Weld who died 3 months after the marriage and left her with nothing. Then she married Thomas Fitzherbert who died in 1781, but left her with 1000 pounds (about 2 million dollars) and a town house in Park Street, in Mayfair.

She married George, Prince of Wales at the time, on December 15, 1785. George paid the debts of Reverend Robert Burt to get him out of the Fleet Prison to perform the ceremony. It was not a legal marriage for the marriages act of 1772 forbade George to marry without the approval of the King and his Privy Council. If it had been legal, George would never have become king. So an interesting conundrum. But it did mean that the two acted as if they were married for a number of years.

Princess Caroline of Brunswick-Wolfenbütte
Thirty of more years, with the minor interruption of Princess Caroline. An interruption that began with a letter on June 23rd 1794 and then ended with a reconciliation during the summer of 1798. Their final separation came in the early years when he began to reign as George IV. At his death though, it was discovered that George had kept all her letters.

William IV, finding the truth in the assertions of the marriage, offered to make Mrs. Fitzherbert a Duchess, but instead she just asked to wear widows’s weeds and dress the servants in royal livery. She died in 1837.

Frederick, Duke of York and Albany
Frederick, Duke of York and Albany
His mistress was Mary Anne Clarke from 1803 to sometime between 1809 and 1811; he then married Princess Frederica of Prussia.

Mary Anne Clarke
Of the four major mistresses that the princes had, Mary Anne is my least favorite and she should have been so much better able to have held onto her position than the others. She was first wed before she was eighteen to a stonemason. She was the daughter of a tradesman. Her husband went bankrupt and she left the man. She had several liaisons so that when she met the Duke, in 1803, she was well established as a courtesan.

Princess Frederica of Prussia
Frederick set her up in a fashionable residence. He was the Commander-in-Chief of the army, the ultimate reason for her downfall. She could not resist selling commissions in the army to support their lavish lifestyle. After she admitted this to the House of Commons, the Duke was forced to resign his post. Later it was found that he had no knowledge of the sales. Yet he surely knew that he spent money and allowed her to do so and that they were living beyond his allowance.

But then the money must have grown on trees. The Duke cut all ties to the woman, though he paid her a large sum of money so she would not publish letters he had written her. Then, when he was exonerated, he was reinstated as Commander-in-Chief of the army by the Prince Regent, his elder brother.

Mary Anne was later tried for libel and imprisoned. Her daughter by the Stonemason would marry Louis-Mathurin Busson du Maurier. Her grandson was the caricaturist George du Maruier and great-granddaughter was Daphne du Maurier.

William IV, also Duke of Clarence
William IV, also Duke of Clarence
His mistress, Dorothea Jordan who he lived with for twenty years and gave him ten children.  He then married Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen.

This is my favorite of the mistresses for with ten children, this was a true marriage between successful people. Dorothea Bland was the daughter of stagehand and an actress, theater people, and when thirteen, her father left her mother and four other siblings for another actress.

Dorothea Jordan
Dorothea thus went into the family business and became famous, known to have the most beautiful legs on stage of the day. There was no Mister Jordan, as the other ladies of the royals were married prior to catching a Prince. She did have an affair with the manager of the Theater Royal, Cork, Richard Daly and had a daughter when she was twenty, named Frances.

Then in England, she had an affair with an army Lieutenant named Charles Doyne. He proposed but she went to work for the theater company operated by Tate Wilkinson. This is when she took the name Mrs. Jordan. After Wilkinson, she had an affair with George Inchbald. She would have married Inchbald, but he did not ask. In 1786, she began an affair with Sir Richard Ford, who promised to marry her. They had three children together. When she realized that Ford was never going to wed her, she traded up to William.

She began her affair with William in 1791 and moved in with him at Bushy House.
Bushy House

Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen
They raised their ten children there for the next twenty years. Sounds like a marriage to me. After twenty years they separated and William gave her a yearly stipend. She raised the girls and he took custody of his sons. For his dignity, he asked that she not return to the stage to continue to receive her stipend. When one of her son-in-laws came into debt and needed funds, she did return to the stage to raise the necessary monies. William then cut her off and took back care of their daughters.

Now broke, she fled to France in 1815 and died a year later in poverty. Her descendants include many of the famous. One is David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom as of this posting.

Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn
Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn

His mistress for twenty-eight years was Julie de St. Laurent, until he then married 1818, Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, who became the mother of Queen Victoria.

Julie de St. Laurent
Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld
The Duke had several mistresses but for twenty-eight years he was enamored of Thérèse-Bernardine Montgenet or Julie de St. Laurent. It is suggested that the two met in Geneva in 1791. She then joined the Duke in Gibraltar. When King George learned of this, he sent Edward to Canada, and Julie followed again to Quebec City. In 1803, the Duke moved back to London and she took up in a small house in Knightsbridge. There are several rumors about sons born to the Duke who would obviously have been older than Victoria.  There were also rumors that a wedding occurred that was morganatic, though any marriage would be contrary to the Marriages Act of 1772.

The circumstances of the Duke of Kent and his mistress provide perhaps the best material should a writer wish to turn the Regency on its head with a fantasy. Their first son is rumored to have been born in 1793 and the second in 1794. When Prinny assumed the throne as Regent in 1811, the boys would have been eighteen and seventeen. Or when he came to the throne in his own right in 1820, twenty-seven and twenty-six. Young men!

While doing research I came across paintings of the other sons and their wives:

 Ernest Augustus

 Augustus Frederick


And then there are the princes who died in infancy:

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Mr. Wilkin writes Regency Historicals and Romances, Ruritanian (A great sub-genre that is fun to explore) and Edwardian Romances, Science Fiction and Fantasy works. He is the author of the very successful Pride & Prejudice continuation; Colonel Fitzwilliam’s Correspondence. He has several other novels set in Regency England including The End of the World and The Shattered Mirror. His most recent work is the humorous spoof; Jane Austen and Ghosts.

The links for all locations selling Mr. Wilkin's work can be found at the webpage and will point you to your favorite internet bookstore: David’s Books, and at various Internet and realworld bookstores including the iBookstore, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords.

He is published by Regency Assembly Press
And he maintains his own blog called The Things That Catch My Eye

You also may follow Mr. Wilkin on Twitter at @DWWilkin
Mr. Wilkin maintains a Pinterest page with pictures and links to all the Regency Research he uncovers at Pinterest Regency-Era


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