As the nights start to draw in, it’s a perfect time to curl up in the warmth by your fireside with a book or two and so we’re delighted that our publisher, Pen & Sword, have chosen to offer both our current biographies as a discounted bundle deal. Even more so as they are perfect companion books to each other, together telling the full story of the infamous eighteenth-century courtesan, Grace Dalrymple Elliott and her extended Scottish family as well as documenting the life of her daughter and granddaughter, continuing into the Regency and Victorian eras and culminating in a marriage into the British royal family.
And, is it yet too early to mention Christmas and Christmas shopping? These two books would make the perfect festive present for anyone who is interested in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century history, the French Revolution or indeed anyone who has an interest in the royal family or has enjoyed watching period dramas such as Victoria on ITV.
You can buy both An Infamous Mistress: The Life, Loves and Family of the Celebrated Grace Dalrymple Elliott and A Right Royal Scandal: Two Marriages That Changed History, in hardback, with a saving of 30% off RRP when bought together for a limited time by clicking here and selecting the ‘get this product as part of a bundle’ offer at the top of the page.
If you have enjoyed An Infamous Mistress and A Right Royal Scandal, watch out for our third biography, A Georgian Heroine: The Intriguing Life of Rachel Charlotte Williams Biggs, coming soon.
The Pastor’s Fireside: The family of Sir Thomas Acland, 10th Bt, Being Read to by the Vicar of Silverton by Henry Singleton (1766–1839); National Trust, Killerton.
As we recounted in our earlier blog about David Garrick’s Shakespeare Jubilee held over three days in September 1769, the all too typical British weather meant that the pageant which was to have been the grand finale of the event had to be cancelled. Instead, Garrick turned his pageant into a play, The Jubilee, which premiered a month later at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane on the 14th October, running for over ninety performances.
The comedic actress Frances Abington was among the stars of the day who appeared; she played the Comic Muse, Thalia, a role in which she was depicted by Joshua Reynolds.
The play was based on Garrick’s planned pageant and was also something of a tongue-in-cheek retrospective on the celebrations which had taken place in Stratford when the town had been so crowded with visitors that many had to sleep in their coaches and the persistent rain had led to flooding.
“The Stratford Jubilee was, in October, transferred to Drury-Lane. In order to give it a dramatic form, Garrick invented a comic fable, in which the inferior people of Stratford and the visitors were exhibited with great pleasantry. As it was never published, an exact account is not to be expected. We remember a scene in an inn-yard, with a postchaise standing at the remote end: when a crowd, after much diverting talk, withdrew from the place, a voice was heard from the inside of the chaise. Moody was within; he let down the blind, and, in the character of an Irishman, complained, that not being able to get a lodging, be was obliged to sleep in his chaise. He then came forward amidst bursts of applause; King soon joined him, and they two were the life of the piece. The dialogue throughout was carried on in a vein of humour. The songs that had been heard at Stratford were, occasionally, intermixed; and the whole concluded with a grand procession, in which Shakspeare’s plays were exhibited in succession, with a banner displayed before each of them, and a scene painted on the canvas to mark the play intended. A train of performers, dressed in character, followed the colours, all in dumb shew acting their respective parts. Mrs. Abington, at last, in a triumphal car, represented the Comic Muse. Dr. Arne’s music, the magnificence of the scenery and decorations, and the abilities of the actors, conspired to establish the entertainment in the public opinion in so powerful a manner, that we are assured, by a gentleman who has a collection of the playbills, that it was repeated no less than one hundred times in the course of the season. During the run of the piece, Garrick, on several intermediate nights, ascended a pulpit raised on the stage, and there spoke his Ode to the Memory of Shakspeare in a style of graceful eloquence.
Garrick had lost a huge amount of his own money on the jubilee celebrations in Stratford upon Avon, but he recouped his losses and more besides during his play’s run at the Theatre Royal. Despite his losses, he would appear to have been less extravagant than his brother during the celebrations.
During the celebration of Garrick’s Jubilee, his brother George, purchased an inkstand, which the poet is said to have used, and a pair of fringed gloves, which it was assumed he had worn. David Garrick, notwithstanding all his enthusiasm for Shakspeare, was too careful of his purse to part with its contents for reliques, the genuineness of which was so questionable.
All in all, the play proved to be more of a success than the jubilee held in Stratford, at least for David Garrick.
This dramatic piece was revived by Mr. Kemble, on the 23d of April, 1816, exactly two hundred years after the death of Shakespeare, but it was not very favourably received.
The manuscript copy of The Jubilee can be read here.
Quotations from Shakespeariana: plays, Volume 1, 1825
The actor and theatre manager David Garrick as Shakespeare’s Richard III by William Hogarth, c.1745. Walker Art Gallery.
For those familiar with this period of history, you will no doubt be well aware of the relationship the Duke of Clarence had with the actress Dorothea Jordan and that she had 10 illegitimate children with him.
To ensure the continuity of the family line though, William, Duke of Clarence was persuaded/coerced/cajoled/bullied into marrying, take it as you will.
We came across this extract from a letter in the Georgian Papers written by his mother Queen Charlotte to Prinny (George, Prince Regent) in 1817 which we thought would be of interest and quite clearly shows Queen Charlotte’s view of the Duke of Clarence’s illegitimate offspring.
I doubt he will think it advisable to marry by that I mean his pecuniary affairs which lay heavy at his heart as to what relates to his children I should think that is a point which if he marries must be settled amongst themselves, for as they are not to live under the same roof I cannot see why if the princess is reasonable she should object to see those children. I enclose the copy and make no further comments upon it as it will explain the whole.
Next, we have Williams extremely heartfelt view about any possible marriage. The underlined words are of his doing, not ours.
Bath December 18th, 1817
Your Majesty having requested me to put my thoughts in writing on the subject of the letter from the Prince Regent I take up my pen to state as clearly as I can my sentiments and real situation.
I acknowledge a private and public duty and only wish to reconcile the two together: if the cabinet consider the measure of my marrying one of consequence they ought to state to me what they can and will propose for my establishment for withoutpreviously being acquainted with their intentions as to money matters I cannot and will not make any positive offer to any Princess: I have ten children totally and entirely dependent on myself. I owe forty thousand pounds of funded debt for which of course I pay interest, and I have a floating debt of sixteen thousand pounds: in addition to all which if I marry I must have a town house and my house at Bushy completely repaired and entirely new furnished: thus situated and turned fifty it would be madness in me to marry without previously knowing what my income would be: If that settlement is made which I can consider adequate I shall only have to explain my real situation as the fond and attached father of ten children to the Princess whom I am to marry: for without a complete understanding of my full determination to see when and where I please my daughters I cannot and will not marry. As for the Princess, I think under all consideration the Princess of Dannemark (sic) is probably the most proper provided her character is that which I should trust will bear investigation.
I hope I have expressed myself to your Majesty’s satisfaction: one comfort at least I have that I have opened my heart most fully and entirely and shall therefore leave in your Majesty’s hands these lines as the complete sentiment that must ever dictate my line of conduct on a measure in which both my public and private duty is concerned.
Your Majesty’s most affectionate and dutiful son
Clearly, the suggestion of him marrying the Princess of Dannemark fell on deaf ears, but marry he did, for in July 1818 a suitable match was found for him – Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen who was half his age.
The couple married only a week or so after having met. Was it a happy marriage? Well, apparently so as it lasted until his death in 1837.
La promenade en famille : a sketch from life by James Gillray. The Duke of Clarence, Mrs Jordan and some of their children.
Earlier this year I was fortunate enough to pay a visit to Uppark House, near Petersfield, Sussex and thought I would share a little information from my trip.
In 1747 Sir Matthew Fetherstonhaugh and his wife Sarah Lethieullier purchased Uppark House and estate in Sussex.
For around ten years the couple redecorated the house and spent much of their time travelling in France, Italy and Austria on lavish shopping trips, purchasing a wide variety of antiquities for their new house.
The couple only had one child, Henry, known as Harry, who was ‘safely delivered’ at Uppark on 22nd December 1754 according to the newspaper report in the Newcastle Courant just less than one week later. He was baptized at the local church in Harting, Sussex a few weeks later, on January 14th, 1755.
Matthew was to die before Harry reached his majority but fortuitously wrote his will just before he died in March 1774, appointing his widow Sarah and her brother Benjamin Lethieullier as guardians to their only son Harry.
Like his father, the educated and extremely wealthy Harry also undertook the Grand Tour and added to the antiquities that his parents had purchased.
He also commissioned the renowned Humphry Repton to add a new pillared portico, a dairy and to landscape the garden, creating some spectacular views from the house.
Harry was a good friend of the Prince of Wales who stayed at Uppark during the mid-1780s. In 1780, Harry had a short-lived affair with Emma Hart, later to become Lady Emma Hamilton, he even provided her with a cottage on the estate.
After this he became something of a confirmed bachelor and recluse until that is, at the ripe old age of 71 he happened to hear the head of the milking parlour, Mary Ann Bullock singing and fell in love with her immediately.
Mary Ann was a mere 21 years of age. A marriage licence was issued 9th September 1825 and the couple married a few days later, despite such a massive age gap. Harry also arranged for Mary Ann to be educated in Paris. Upon his death in 1846, he left the entire estate to her.
Mary Ann’s family moved to the village from Streatham, Surrey, where Mary Ann was born on 16th December 1804 (her parents were William and Ann Bullock). The couple had several children baptized in Surrey, prior to moving to Harting, Sussex at which point they produced several more children including Frances (1817) who lived at Uppark with her sister and was sole executrix of her sisters will in 1874. Despite being a scandalous marriage in its day, the union lasted some 21 years, so perhaps the age gap didn’t matter after all.
During our research for A Right Royal Scandal which features Flitwick and Ampthill, we came across this shocking murder which took place on Monday, 1st December, 1788, in Flitwick Wood, just two miles from Ampthill, Bedfordshire.
The victim was an Elizabeth White, of Ampthill, who according to her sisters, went out on the morning of the murder to meet a Joseph Cook(e), a baker of Steppingley, near Ampthill and told them she would be home by dinner time. There was speculation that Cook was a criminal and that she had gone to meet him for money (there were also rumours which were found to be untrue that she was pregnant). Elizabeth never returned.
Her body was discovered between eleven and twelve the following day by an old man and his two sons, as they were gathering sticks in the wood. Her throat had been cut, an incision of about four or five inches in length, and down to the neck bone. There were four or five wounds near her mouth, her jaw bone had been broken and three of her upper teeth were bent out of place, her cheek bone was fractured, there were also several wounds and bruises on her head, one wrist was badly bruised and one of her fingers had been cut off just above the nail in a slanting direction, and another finger had been cut down to the second joint. A white handled case knife with about an inch broken off from the point, and the blade of a new pen-knife (both very bloody) with the piece of her finger, were found on her cloak, close to where the body lay.
The Coroner’s Jury sat to discuss the death. Mr Boldington junior, surgeon, at the request of the jury, cut open her head and found upon the head and face ten wounds, but no other fractures other than on the cheek and jaw bones; it was his opinion that the bruises were given with the claws and face of a hammer.
Cook was arrested and with other corroborating circumstances was committed by the Coroner to Bedford gaol to await his trial. The newspaper reported that he was a married man and described his wife as a very neat, decent woman, saying the couple had three or four fine children.
At the assizes, the trial took upwards of nine hours and the jury went out for an hour and a quarter before pronouncing their verdict: death! At the time of his demise, Cook acknowledged his guilt to the clergyman who attended him and he was then taken to the place of execution in a post-chaise. After the hanging, his body was cut down and delivered to the surgeons for dissection.
Elizabeth was buried on 6th December, 1788 at St Andrew’s church, Ampthill.
Thomas Carr of Lincoln was a hawker of almanacks and fish… and yes, we think that’s an odd combination too! He was well-known around the county’s markets, famous enough for a print to be made of him.
Underneath the print is some very helpful genealogical information about Thomas.
Thomas Carr of Lincoln
The well-known dealer in Almanacks & Fish being born at Hexthorpe near Doncaster and was christenened the 19th of October 1718.
So, Thomas wasn’t really a Lincolnshire man, but had obviously lived in the city of Lincoln for long enough that he was described as being of his adopted town. His baptism can be found, exactly as described on the print, in the parish registers of Hexthorpe, a small village on the outskirts of Doncaster in south Yorkshire.
He died in 1807, described as being of an advanced age: he was 89 years old, maybe not to us such an old age these days, but for someone back then, who had gained his living as a hawker which would have been a tough occupation for someone of advancing years, he didn’t do badly at all.
Last week died, at an advanced age, Thomas Carr, well known here, and to those who frequent Lincoln markets, as a vender of almanacks.
Stamford Mercury, 7th August 1807
Thomas’ funeral was held at St Swithin’s Church in Lincoln on the 26th July, and he was described in the burial register as a widower. St Swithin’s has undergone several reconstructions during its life. Originally located near the Sheep market, it was ravaged by fire in 1644 during the English Civil War and stood in ruins for just over a century and a half. The ruins can be seen in the drawing below, next to the The Greyfriars, the remains of a Franciscan friary dating back to the 1200s.
In 1801 a new church was erected on Sheep Square; a pencil drawing of this church can be seen be clicking here. In the 1880s the present church was built. The old Greyfriars buildings still stand next to it.
We follow on from our last post and have a look at the wedding itself. So, just over two weeks after leaving her parents in Brunswick, Princess Caroline was to marry Prince George with her assumption that she would eventually become Queen of England. Despite reservations on the part of the ‘happy couple’ and the likes of Lord Malmesbury, this marriage was going ahead ‘come hell or high water’.
Prince George was not impressed by his future bride and amongst other things questioned her personal hygiene and for her part, she thought him fat! This all sounds like a recipe for complete disaster and history confirms for us that this was to be a very short-lived and disastrous marriage, especially as Prince George had already illegally married the love of his life, Maria Fitzherbert.
Planning a wedding isn’t easy at the best of times and when you’re new to a country and its customs it’s perhaps even more stressful. Today, choosing the wedding dress is something that most brides looks forward to, in some instances turning into ‘bridezilla’ in the process. For Princess Caroline, however, no such worries as her future mother-in-law took responsibility for deciding how the bridesmaids and even her future daughter-in-law should look for the big day as can be seen in this letter from the Royal Archives.
19 November 1794
My dearest son I received yesterday the pattern of the Princesses night dress, which is very elegant and pritty [sic], but nothing else, not even an answer to my letter which is rather singular. Pray be so good as to enquire of Princess Sophia of Gloucester if she has a pattern glove and if so to send it me. What to do about shoes I do not know and feel very sorry about it particularly as I thought to have expressed myself circumstantially enough upon every subject to the Duchess as you will see by the copy of any letter which I send for my justification.
I also spoke to the King about the robe. He says that the Princess may be married in a gown and petticoat if you like it, also that he had no objection to a robe. I beg therefore a determination upon that subject. The sooner it is settled the better both for me and the bride’s maids who must be dressed the same. Apropos you must speak as soon as you can to the King for I understand that it is the right of the Kings’ Lord Chamberlain to do them and not yourself. But pray do not name me but I believe there are but four instead of six.
The Queen went on to say that it all needed to be sorted as quickly as possible to allow tradespeople enough time to prepare everything. It’s not clear from the letter sent by Queen Charlotte to her son whether she was taking responsibility for the dress itself, however, the newspaper reports state that:
The Bride-Maids to the Princess have got elegant dresses to correspond with each other, made up for the Royal Marriage, at the Queen’s expense. The wedding dress and jewellery are superb beyond description. The Queen has furnished the whole of the Princess’s wardrobe.
So, if that were the case, then some of the derogatory comments made about Caroline’s appearance would have to rest at her door. People described Caroline as ‘an overdressed, bare bosomed, painted-eye-browed figure’.
It’s interesting that there were two paintings showing the wedding dress; the first by Henry Singleton, showing what appears to be a soft, flowing gown.
The second one commissioned by King George III was painted by Gainsborough Dupont, nephew and student of Thomas Gainsborough which looks altogether different, much heavier, more detailed and with her wearing the robe as per Queen Charlotte’s letter. She is also wearing her wedding ring and different jewellery.
According to the newspaper reports of the marriage,
The Royal Bride was dressed in silver tissue with a crimson velvet robe. She wore a coronet of diamonds valued at twenty thousand pounds. The Prince had on a chocolate coloured coat richly embroidered with silver and rich epaulets.
The report described the scene.
Her Royal Highness the Princess seemed a little flustered upon her first entering the chapel but perfectly regained her composure before the commencement of the ceremony. Her manner was easy, affable and engaging in the highest degree. The Prince displayed the most amiable sensibility and seemed so much affected at one time as to be unable to repeat the necessary part of the ceremony after the Archbishop. The whole scene was affecting and sublime.
What the press was unaware of was that the Prince had needed more than a few drinks to steady his nerves and had to be supported throughout the wedding – he was ‘affected’ not by the emotion of the occasion but by drink!
The ceremony took place on Wednesday 8th April 1795 with the prince somewhat intoxicated throughout and only just being capable of consummating the union afterwards!
For more on the wedding and Caroline of Brunswick, please see a guest blog we wrote for Julia Herdman.