King George IV – Post Mortem

From this:

by Richard Cosway, watercolour on ivory, circa 1780-1782

To this in the space of just a  few years.

A Voluptuary Under the Horrors of Digestion. Lewis Walpole Library.
A Voluptuary Under the Horrors of Digestion. Lewis Walpole Library.

And all stages in between.

The gouty George IV relaxing before nine portraits.

The former lover of Grace Dalrymple Elliott and alleged father of her child, King George IV died on the 26th June 1830.

Cause of death

According to a report in The Times newspaper dated 30th June 1830:


The statement made in The Times, Monday last, of the post mortem examination of the late King was substantially correct. His late majesty’s primary and mortal disorder was, an ossification of the vessels of the heart, and that organ was, as we mentioned, enveloped in masses of fat. Sir Astley Cooper remarked, that he never saw the heart so oppressed with that morbid obstruction to its action: the surgical instruments had to unfold the masses of fat.  The sergeant-surgeon, it is said discovered also a small calculus, which had evidently for some space of time been formed in the further cavity of the bladder, and it was this which had for the last three or four years required, near the Royal person, the occasional attendance of a surgeon, (we believe Mr Brodie and in ordinary attendance Mr O’Reilly), although the local functions were not generally so impeded as to indicate the fixed existence of actual local disease.

The late King’s physicians were of the opinion, after the post mortem examination, that his majesty’s struggle against death would have been probably prolonged for three or four weeks, had it not been for the rupture of the blood-vessel last Thursday, the evacuation which ensued, though not considerable, was yet sufficient to exhaust the shattered remains of the King’s constitution. The rupture of the blood-vessel took place during a violent fit of coughing.

The remains of his late Majesty were on Monday night enclosed in the leaden coffin, the Lord Steward, who remains in attendance, directing these arrangements. The coffin is place on trestles  in the chamber of the deceased. 

 A broadsheet illustrating the procession, dirge and funeral



Grace Dalrymple Elliott: Inventor of the Bellona Cap or Helmet, 1786

As many of you will be aware we are busily writing the biography of the noted 18th century courtesan Grace Dalrymple Elliott, for a few months mistress of ‘Prinny,’ who was later to become King George IV.  Her daughter Georgiana was said to be the Prince’s progeny.

Grace's daughter Georgiana as an infant. The portrait is now held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Grace’s daughter Georgiana as an infant. The portrait is now held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

So far much of our work has been researching her life, leaving little time to write any blogs about her.  We’re really excited by this research which will shed new light on Grace but in the meantime we felt that it really was about time we began to share something about her with our readers.  Whilst we can’t give away too much yet, there are one or two things we can release and so we give you the Bellona Cap or Helmet, as invented by Grace herself which was the height of fashion and taste during the spring of 1786 in Paris.

Firstly a description of the cap from The General Evening Post of the 30th March 1786, and it’s attribution to Grace’s invention:

Bellona’s helmet is the fashionable ornament at present in Paris for the mode comme il faut. The vizor is of tiger spotted sattin, bordered with a narrow black ribbon, the cawl, very high and puffed, of blue sattin, tied round with a broad nakara-coloured ribbon, edged with black. This ribbon forms a large bow before, and another behind, and joins two wide lappets of Italian gauze, descending below the waist. Five feathers, two of which are green, two nakara, and one black, form the crest of this beautiful helmet: The hair flowing behind, and two large buckles falling on the bosom, complete the tout ensemble. The honour of this invention is intirely due to our handsome countrywoman Mrs. E____, still the favourite of the D. of O.

The Whitehall Evening Post, reporting a couple of days later also made mention of Grace.

Mademoiselle E. the Duke of O.’s mistress, is at present the Perdita of Paris. Her new invented Bellona Cap is the reigning ton there . . .

And now, the cap itself, from Cabinet des Modes, 15th March 1786. As you can see it completely matches the description above, right down to the black edged nakara (bright poppy red) ribbons.

Bellona cap, as worn by Grace Dalrymple Elliott.

In case you wondered, this is not an image of Grace sporting the hat, sadly!  We do know from archive records that not only was Grace an innovator of fashion but that she was also the Imelda Marcos of hats, having purchased in the region of 100 hats and bonnets  in a wide variety of colours, styles and fabrics, but predominantly made from silk and taffeta, over a two year period whilst in France, costing in total around 2,000 Francs!

Bellona was a Roman goddess of war, always depicted wearing the military helmet which inspired this cap. In ancient Rome senate meetings were held in the Temple of Bellona (Templum Bellonæ) where the fetiales (priestly advisers) held ceremonies regarding war, peace and foreign treaties which raises the very interesting possibility that Grace was presenting herself as such an adviser to her lover, the Duke of Orléans, in pre-revolutionary Paris?

Courtesy of British Museum -  Image AN00058095
Courtesy of British Museum –  Image AN00058095

For more information about hats from the era, you might enjoy our blog ‘Hideous Hats’.

First successful manned hot air balloon launched in America – 23rd June 1784

Hot air ballooning was very much in fashion in the 1780s and most people know the Montgolfier Brothers made the first hot air balloon flights in France in 1783.  We also know from our previous blog that the first men who died in a manned hot air flight were Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and Pierre Romain in 1785. However, across the other side of the world, a year earlier according to the St James Chronicle of 28th August 1784, a young man aged just 13, by the name of Edward Warren was the first person to participate in a US balloon flight. The exact date of this flight seems to vary between the 23rd and 25th June.

Authentic accounts from Baltimore, in Maryland, mention Mr Carns, an inhabitant of that Town, had constructed several air-balloons which has succeeded beyond expectation.  On the 25th June last, he sent up a large aerostatic Globe, to which one Edward Warren, a youth of 13 years of age, was fastened; the balloon went out of sight, and was in the air near two hours, when the weather being exceedingly calm, it descended about two miles from Baltimore, amidst the acclamations of the people, who liberally rewarded the boy for the intrepidity he had shown upon the occasion.

Mr Carns apparently wanted to make the attempt himself, but was too large for the basket, so Edward was a last minute substitution.

We have searched everywhere we can think of to find out what became of the young man, but without success. Do any of our American readers know what became of Edward Warren?

An air balloon invented in the last century
Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library
The Royal Dockyard at Chatham. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.

Thunder and Lightning: the storm of 18th June 1764

On Monday the 18th of June 1764 much of southern and eastern England was struck by a prolonged and violent thunderstorm together with torrential rain and hail with catastrophic results. It struck in the afternoon, described as a ‘Tempest of thunder and lightning . . . the claps succeeded each other incessantly for near an hour, and seemed to run into one another like the ignited flashes of the Aurora Borealis’.

Many people were killed and injured, animals in fields struck down and the crops in farmers fields flattened and destroyed, buildings caught alight and church steeples tumbled to the ground.  The heavy rain caused rivers to overflow their banks and flood properties and villages; there was untold misery.


St. Bride’s Church in London’s Fleet Street was one of those affected when the storm raged between two and three o’clock in the afternoon; the steeple of the church was shattered and the falling masonry damaged several nearby houses. The total damage was estimated at 2000l. The steeple, measuring 234ft had been a later addition to the church designed by Sir Christopher Wren after the original had been destroyed in the Great Fire of London, the steeple being added between 1701-1703. The lightning strike destroyed the top 8ft of the steeple. Rayleigh parish church in Essex was similarly affected.

The Powder Mills on Hounslow Heath had a lucky escape when a tree within a few yards of one of the mills was ‘cleft asunder’ by lightning, another bolt striking one of the gibbets on the heath. At Chatham docks the Ramillies man of war was another casualty, being hit with a ‘ball of fire,’ splintering the deck and masts, only the ferocity of the rain preventing the ship from further damage by fire.

A View of Chatham Dockyard, Kent, 1774; Elias Martin; Historic Dockyard, Chatham
A View of Chatham Dockyard, Kent, 1774; Elias Martin; Historic Dockyard, Chatham

The damage caused by this June thunderstorm brought about a more widespread acceptance for the installation of lightning rods on the top of tall buildings and church steeples in imitation of the practice already widely adopted in America. Benjamin Franklin famously first experimented with lightning rods, fixing one to the roof of his house and attaching to it a wire that ran to another rod in the ground. His belief, that the lightning would strike the rod on his roof and that the electricity would pass to the rod in the ground, was correct, but the practice had not received much popularity in Britain until the June 1764 storms after which the British began to look for preventative measures. However, King George III decreed that lightning rods used in Britain should be blunt-ended not pointed.

Christ Church, Doncaster, South Yorkshire, from the West, Showing the Spire Struck by Lightning by John Hepworth; (c) Doncaster Museum Service
Christ Church, Doncaster, South Yorkshire, from the West, Showing the Spire Struck by Lightning
by John Hepworth (c) Doncaster Museum Service

Part of the problem was that people believed that a pointed lightning rod did not merely conduct the electricity away, but attracted the strike in the first place; one ending in a knob or blunt end being safer although Christ Church in Doncaster would disagree as in 1836 their steeple was destroyed by lightning shortly after a blunt-ended rod had been placed on the top of it!



London Evening Post, 19th, 21st and 26th June 1764—1730.html

Two ‘Waterloo Children’

The Battle of Waterloo by William Sadler II
The Battle of Waterloo by William Sadler II

On the 19th June 1815, the day after the battle of Waterloo, a daughter was born to a serving officer of the British army and his wife at Brussels, named in honour of the battle and the victory as Waterloo Deacon.

Her father was Ensign Thomas Deacon of the 2nd Battalion of the 73rd Foot; he had not been present at Waterloo having been injured at the battle of Quatre Bras on the 16th June. His wife, Martha, together with their three children, had accompanied her husband to war. Martha, formerly Martha Durand, daughter of John Hodson Durand whose own nabob father had acquired a large fortune in India, had married Thomas Deacon at St. George’s, Hanover Square, 31st August 1809.

Waterloo Deacon

The following is taken from the account of Thomas Morris who served alongside Deacon at Quatre Bras.

Ensign Deacon, of our regiment, was on my right, close to me, when we were charging the enemy, and a private on my left being killed by a musket-ball, through the temple the officer said, “Who is that, Morris?” I replied, “Sam Shortly;” and, pointing to the officer’s arm, where a musket ball had passed through, taking with it a portion of the shirt-sleeve, I said, “You are wounded, Sir.” “God bless me! so I am,” said he, and dropping his sword, made the best of his way to the rear. After getting his wound dressed, he went in search of his wife, who, with her three children, he had left with the baggage guard. During the whole night, he sought her in vain; and the exertion he used was more than he could bear, and he was conveyed by the baggage-train to Brussels.

The poor wife, in the meantime, who had heard from some of the men that her husband was wounded, passed the whole night in searching for him among the wounded, as they passed. At length, she was informed that he had been conveyed to Brussels, and her chief anxiety then, was how to get there. Conveyances, there were none to be got; and she was in the last state of pregnancy; but, encouraged by the hope of finding her husband, she made the best of her way on foot, with her children, exposed to the violence of the terrific storm of thunder, lightning, and rain, which continued, unabated, for about ten hours. Faint, exhausted, and wet to the skin, having no other clothes than a black silk dress, and light shawl, yet, she happily surmounted all these difficulties; reached Brussels on the morning of the 18th, and found her husband in very comfortable quarters, where she also was accommodated; and the next day gave birth to a fine girl, which was afterwards christened “Waterloo Deacon.” He never joined us again, but went out with his family, to the first battalion, in the East Indies.

The full name of the little girl was Isabella Fleura Waterloo Deacon.

The Morning Post newspaper gave a list of the ‘State of the Wounded British Officers remaining at Brussels, July 12, 1815’.  On this list, we find, under the 73rd Regiment of Foot, Ensign Deacon, mentioned as recovering from wounds to his arm which bears out the above. The supplement to the London Gazette published on Saturday, July 1st had listed his wounds as ‘severe.’

The 28th Regiment at Quatre Bras by Elizabeth Thompson, 1875
The 28th Regiment at Quatre Bras by Elizabeth Thompson, 1875

Ensign Deacon, subsequently promoted to Lieutenant after his recovery, travelled with the 73rd Foot to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and there he was appointed Fort Adjutant, first at Trincomalee, 1819-23, and then at Colombo, 1824-25. Several of his children sadly perished there; in the cemetery at Trincomalee are the remains of Eliza Deacon who died 1st March 1818 aged 11 months and Anne Deacon who died 7th November 1820 aged 7 months, both recorded as the daughters of Lieutenant Deacon of the 73rd and in the Dutch cemetery at Galle on the island of Sri Lanka is the following tombstone:

Here lies the remains of MARGARET MARY DURAND DEACON, daughter of Lieut. THOMAS DEACON, Staff Officer at this Station, and of MARTHA ANN, his wife, who died Jany. 14th, 1831, aged 18 months and 12 days; also of EDWARD DURAND DEACON, son of the above, who died 18th July, 1832, aged 18 months; also of HENRY AUGUSTUS DURAND DEACON son of the above, who died 20th July, 1832, aged 2 months and 26 days.

In 1822 Thomas Deacon transferred to the 16th Foot and in 1824 into the Ceylon Rifles. By 1836 he was Captain in the 28th Foot and in 1847 of the 25th Foot. His daughter Louisa Maria Deacon, who must have been one of the children who made that walk to find their father amidst the mayhem of battle in 1815, married William Moir, Deputy Assistant Commissary-General at Kandy on the 17th October 1824.

The Field of Waterloo by John Heaviside Clark (courtesy of the National Army Museum).
The Field of Waterloo by John Heaviside Clark (courtesy of the National Army Museum).

Isabella Fleura Waterloo Deacon lived a long life and travelled far, possibly made of the same mettle as her parents.  She died at 14 St Andrew’s Road in Southsea, Hampshire, where she lived with her niece and her niece’s husband, Mary Elizabeth Isabella de Courcy and Alfred Malpas Tippetts, Surgeon Major General, aged 84 years on the 22nd February 1900. Mary Elizabeth Isabella de Courcy Tippetts was the daughter of Colonel Charles Clement Deacon who was born around 1811, brother of Isabella Fleura Waterloo and another of those three Deacon children who were present at the battle in 1815.

The Village of Waterloo in 1815 by George Jones, 1821, courtesy of the National Army Museum
The Village of Waterloo in 1815 by George Jones, 1821, courtesy of the National Army Museum

One further ‘Waterloo Child’ can also be mentioned, as recounted in 1818 just three years after the battle by Christopher Kelly, the father being an unnamed member of the 27th (Inniskilling) Foot, and present at Waterloo.

A private of the twenty-seventh regiment, who was severely wounded, was carried off the field by his wife, then far advanced in pregnancy: she also was severely wounded by a shell, and both of them remained a considerable time in one of the hospitals at Antwerp in a hopeless state. The poor man had lost both his arms, and the woman was extremely lame, and here gave birth to a daughter, to whom it is said the Duke of York has stood sponsor, and who has been baptized by the name of Frederica McMullen Waterloo.

The bravery of these two wives was certainly equal to that of their husbands.

The Battle of Waterloo: The British Squares Receiving the Charge of the French Cuirassiers by Henri Félix Emmanuel Philippoteaux, 1874 (c) Paintings Collection; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
The Battle of Waterloo: The British Squares Receiving the Charge of the French Cuirassiers by Henri Félix Emmanuel Philippoteaux, 1874 (c) Paintings Collection; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation


Sources used:

Recollections of Military Service, in 1813, 1814 & 1815, Through Germany, Holland, and France; including some details of the battles of Quatre Bras and Waterloo by Thomas Morris, late Sergeant of the 2nd Battalion of the 73rd Regiment of Foot, 1845

The memorable Battle of Waterloo by Christopher Kelly Esqr, 1818

List of Inscriptions on Tombstones and Monuments in Ceylon, of historical or local interest with an obituary of persons uncommemorated by J. Penry Lewis, C.M.G., Ceylon Civil Service, retired, 1913

The Morning Post, 1st July 1815 and 21st July 1815

Hampshire Advertiser, 28th February 1900

Two Tragically Die in Balloon Accident – 15th June 1785

Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier  a French chemist and physics teacher was one of the first pioneers of aviation along with his companion Pierre Romain.  However, on Wednesday the 15th June 1785 tragedy stuck when the pair were to find their places in the history books for becoming the first fatalities  in an air crash – not quite the accolade they were seeking when trying to cross the English Channel from France to England!

Balloon - Pilatre de Rozier

An extract from a letter from Boulogne dated 15th June 1785 appeared in The Derby Post and several others the following day giving an account of their tragic deaths.

Poor Pilartre de Rozier and a Mons. Romain ascended in the grand balloon, at seven this morning, and made a fine appearance in the ascent, bidding fair for a prosperous voyage to England, but in half an hour, when they were at a great height, and about three miles from the town, the balloon caught fire, and of course fell to the ground. The two intrepid adventurers were dashed to pieces. I was with the bodies in half an hour and never saw anything so shocking.

I examined the bodies, but do not find anything broke above the middle, so that they must have come down perpendicularly, but their legs and thighs are broke in many places. I shook hands with Rozier almost the last person in his life time; he was a fine young fellow, and thought for several days past had a presentiment of his untimely end in his countenance; he has been indefatigable for this week in preparing his machine – I hope to never hear of another being attempted in this or any other country; but people blame him, as it was owing to the Montgolfier he carried with the balloon, which set it on fire.

The articles continues …

The late celebrated Mr Pilatre de Rozier was the first hardy adventurer, who ascended attached to a fire balloon at Paris on the 15th October 1783, about ten months after Mr. Montgolfier had invented that singular machine.  On his return from the sky, he received the compliments due to his courage and activity, having shown to the world, the accomplishment of what had been for ages desired and attempted in vain.

It is thought the melancholy exists of M. Pilatre de Rozier and his no less unfortunate companion, will in some measure check the too-soaring ideas of the many candidates for aerial fame, who are now in our metropolis, who had pledged themselves to the public shortly to encounter, at the peril of their existence, the dangers of an element as fickle as it is unknown.

M. Rofier was to have been married immediately on his arrival in England, to a Miss Dyer, a beautiful young lady of great fortune in Yorkshire.

Balloon - accident

Possibly unable to cope with the loss of her fiance, the beautiful and accomplished Miss Susan Dyer apparently died just eight days later at a convent in Boulogne, reports stating that her death was possibly a suicide. however, this seems to have been countered by an article in The Botanic garden by Erasmus Darwin & William Blake written 1825 which states that she ‘lingered for some months and died of grief‘ – perhaps a less dramatic and possibly more accurate account.

According to The Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser of the 20th June, Rozier’s companion. Romain, did not die immediately, but was conscious enough to ask for water just before taking his last breath. Little appears to have been recorded about Romain, however he was selected for this attempt by Rozier due to his vast knowledge of physics and mechanical power. He was a young man only 27 or 28. He was described as being of a florid complexion, middle sized, well built and active.

The modern hybrid gas and hot air balloon is named the Roziere balloon after his pioneering design. A commemorative obelisk was later erected at the site of the crash. The King of France had a medal struck and gave his family a pension of 2,000 livres.

Tethered balloon.
Tethered balloon.

Georgian Newspaper Project and Bath Ancestors


We have a habit of accidentally stumbling across things whilst doing our research and having found a wonderful online Georgian Newspaper Project that has been set up by Bath Record Office we just had to share it with you. The project contains information from the Bath Chronicle for the years 1770 – 1800. So far we have spent many a happy hour searching it and finding all sorts of useful snippets on information and decided it warranted a mention on our blog as a highly recommended resource for any interested in this era.

It can be accessed by clicking here.

In addition to this they have a searchable database to help you trace your Bath ancestors.

Happy searching everyone 🙂