The First Duke of Sussex

In light of the news that His Royal Highness, Prince Harry, will become the Duke of Sussex upon his marriage to Meghan Markle, we thought we should take a brief look at the previous holder of the title.

Prince Augustus, Duke of Sussex (1773-1843). Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017
Prince Augustus, Duke of Sussex (1773-1843). Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

Prince Augustus Frederick was the sixth son of King George III and had this title conferred upon him in November 1801. Even then there was fake news, as we quickly found out. The media were frantically reporting that Prince Augustus Frederick was to become the Duke of Cambridge and that his brother Adolphus was to be the Duke of Sussex. Quite how the media managed to get it back to front we’re really not sure, but it took them almost a month to get the titles correct. Either way, we have two brothers granted the titles Duke of Cambridge and Duke of Sussex.

Finally, on 30th November 1801, this statement appeared naming the correct holders of the titles

The King has been pleased to grant his most dearly beloved son Prince Augustus Frederick and to the heirs male of his Royal Highness’s body lawfully begotten, the dignities of Baron of Arklow, Earl of Inverness and Duke of Sussex, of the United Kingdom and Great Britain and Ireland.

The King has also been pleased to grant to his most dearly beloved son Prince Adolphus Frederick and to the heirs male of his Royal Highness’s body lawfully begotten, the dignities of Baron of Culloden, Earl of Tipperary and Duke of Cambridge, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

The conferring of the title upon Prince Augustus Frederick meant that his heirs would also automatically be granted the title, but this was not to be the case as the prince married Lady Augusta Murray. Their marriage contravened the Royal Marriages Act  as they were first married abroad, then married in England but without fully identifying themselves, nor did they seek permission from the monarch.

Lady Augusta Murray by Richard Cosway. Gregory Allicar Museum of Art at Colorado State University
Lady Augusta Murray by Richard Cosway. Gregory Allicar Museum of Art at Colorado State University

The couple did, it was reported, attend church three times to have their banns read, but the clergyman who married them assumed that Frederick was the prince’s surname as no title was given.

5th December 1793 at St George's Hanover Square, the couple were married as Augustus Frederick and Augusta Murray
5th December 1793 at St George’s Hanover Square, the couple were married as Augustus Frederick and Augusta Murray

This married was annulled but the couple remained together and had two children, both of whom would of course now be illegitimate. However, the union was not to last and in 1801, the couple went their separate ways.

Prince Augustus was married a second time in 1831, to Lady Cecilia Gore, but managed a second marriage that contravened the Royal Marriage Act as once again he did not seek royal approval also and possibly, more importantly, the marriage was morganatic, i.e. she was not a royal princess. Despite this, they remained together until his death in April 1843.

Cecilia, Duchess of Inverness, miniature by Jane North. Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017
Cecilia, Duchess of Inverness, miniature by Jane North.
Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

It has been announced that Apartment 1 at Kensington Palace is being renovated ready for the new Duke and Duchess of Sussex to move into. Interestingly, this apartment was the former home of the first Duke of Sussex and his second wife, Cecilia, too.

London Courier and Evening Gazette 07 January 1805
London Courier and Evening Gazette 07 January 1805

When they occupied it the apartment was much larger and encompassed the one now known as 1A, which is currently the home of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and his family.

A Front View of the Royal Palace of Kensington, 1751. At the far left, at right angles, stands what is now Apartment 1 which is being renovated for the new Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Linking that to the main palace is the apartment now occupied by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Apartment 1A.
A Front View of the Royal Palace of Kensington, 1751. At the far left, at right angles, stands what is now Apartment 1 which is being renovated for the new Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Linking that to the main palace is the apartment now occupied by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Apartment 1A. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.

We have written about other royal marriages too. Did you know that a Romany girl married one of Prince Harry’s direct ancestors? Which scandalous elopement is one of the skeletons in the royal family’s closet? Click here to find out more.

Sources Used 

Kentish Gazette 31 January 1794 

Chester Chronicle 31 January 1794

Featured Image

Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex (1773-1843)  c.1792-3, Watercolour on ivory | RCIN 420975 by Edward Miles (1752-1828). Courtesy of the Royal Collection.

 

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2 thoughts on “The First Duke of Sussex

  1. nmayer2015

    Prince Augustus’ and l Lady Augusta’s marriage was annulled because it contravened the Royal marriage act. The church considered them married. Augustus i didn’t marry again until lady Augusta died. He did once again contravene the royal marriage act but Victoria chose to overlook that and made his wife a peeress in her own right. When the Duke of Sussex died, his son tried to have some recognition as his son but the courts turned him away for being illegitimate. I wonder if his father remembered him in his will.
    Rebecca Probert has written a book about the Royal Marriage Act and why it should be repealed Many of the descendants of Queen Victoria’s numerous children throughout Europe still notify the Queen when they plan to marry as a courtesy though they are far down the line of succession. The other act that has prevented some marriages and made the marriage of Prinny to Mrs Fitzherbert is the act of settlement of around 1707 that says that any one in the line of succession who marries a catholic or who was a Roman Catholic would lose his place in line. I think one of the Queen’s relatives preferred to marry for love and willingly gave up his small chance at the throne.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. artandarchitecturemainly

    The details of the failed or inappropriate marriages are sometimes so silly, you wonder how the royal family survived. Augustus Frederick was a long LONG way from inheriting the throne, for goodness sake!

    But the ivory miniatures are sublime.

    Liked by 1 person

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