Princess Charlotte (1796-1817) by Charlotte Jones, 1807.

Princess Charlotte of Wales’ account books

Amongst the wonderful resource of the ‘George III Papers’ which are now in the public domain, I came across some early account books for the teenager, Princess Charlotte of Wales, which make fascinating reading. Perhaps it’s just me, but don’t you just love rifling through old account books and diaries? It’s amazing what you can learn about people’s lives, that they’d never expect to be divulged.

Lady de Clifford by Joshua Reynolds (Wiki commons)
Lady de Clifford by Joshua Reynolds (Wiki commons)

I thought I would share with you just a few of the purchases made with her £10 a month ‘pocket-money’, given to her via Lady de Clifford, who replaced Lady Elgin as her governess. I did, however, notice that Charlotte managed to boost her monthly allowance, not by doing odd jobs, but from winnings made from playing card games – yes, she did make some loses too, in fact one week in particular she lost fourteen shillings each day, but overall it looks as if she this pastime was quite lucrative and she was clearly an accomplished card player, but not so good at chess, the only entries denote losses made and never any wins.

Much of her pocket-money was spent on charitable donations mainly to the poor, entries show a wide variety of such payments made most months, such as

Gave to a poor woman 10 shillings and six pence

Gave to a little girl one pound one shilling

A poor man five shillings

To a sailor two shillings and three pence

To a fisherman two shillings

She also clearly enjoyed reading as she paid twelve shillings for a German book, plus a further four shillings and sixpence to have it bound, then a few days later she spent five shillings on a book of maps. There were also regular payments for bibles and ten shillings and six pence for a copy of The Pilgrims Progress.

Charlotte clearly took an interest in art, as there were regular payments made to Paul Colnaghi, the appointed print seller to the Prince Regent who employed him to arrange the Royal Collection.

Miniature of Princess Charlotte by Charlotte Jones. c 1815. Royal Collection Trust
Miniature of Princess Charlotte by Charlotte Jones. c 1815. Royal Collection Trust

For some unknown reason she on 15th July 1808 she paid two pounds two shillings for 4 blackbirds – I have absolutely no idea what that was about!

As you would expect for a teenager she was becoming aware of fashion and jewellery. Eye jewellery was very popular and to keep up with the trends of the day Charlotte purchased ‘an eye with garnets’ at two pounds twelves shillings and sixpence. A coral necklace, perhaps the one worn in this miniature.

 Eye of Princess Charlotte (1796-1817) c. 1816-17. Royal Collection Trust
Eye of Princess Charlotte (1796-1817) c. 1816-17. Royal Collection Trust

Two red leather purses at a cost of fifteen shillings and six pence. A silver snuff-box at two pounds, eleven shilling and six pence and a slightly cheaper tortoiseshell snuff-box. Quite regular payments were made to a Mr Duncan, a tailor.

Miniature of Princess Charlotte by Charlotte Jones. Inscribed 1812. Royal Collection Trust
Miniature of Princess Charlotte by Charlotte Jones. Inscribed 1812. Royal Collection Trust

An umbrella, a parasol and a bonnet were bought for the autumn of 1808 and a pair of spectacles early 1809 along with a frock, a gown and some handkerchiefs.

Princess Charlotte of Wales (1796-1817) by Mrs Anne Mee (before 1814).
Princess Charlotte of Wales (1796-1817) by Mrs Anne Mee (before 1814).

Charlotte appear to have been taken an interest in music as she paid four pounds, eight shillings and six pence for a flageolet and nineteen shillings for a flute.

Less likely purchases for a Regency teenager included two swords, one of which she had engraved, a knife, and a medal of Lord Nelson.  Quite who all of her purchases were for we will never know, but it’s a fascinating read.

In our latest book, All Things Georgian, one of our stories relates one of the two sub-governesses to Princess Charlotte of Wales, a Mrs Martha Udny and coincidentally we have come across various references to payments made to her, simply referred to as Mrs U, in the account books.

Take a romp through the long eighteenth-century in this collection of 25 short tales. Meet actresses, whores and high-born ladies, politicians, inventors, royalty and criminals as we travel through the Georgian era in all its glorious and gruesome glory. In roughly chronological order, covering the reign of the four Georges, 1714-1830, set within the framework of the main events of the era and accompanied by over 100 stunning colour images. Available in hardback, April 2019.

Source Used

Account book of Princess Charlotte of Wales  – GEO/ADD/17/82

Featured Image

Princess Charlotte. Inscribed 1807 by Charlotte Jones. Royal Collection Trust. Princess Charlotte gave this portrait to her sub-governess, Martha Udny, in 1807 when she was 10 years old.

Princess Charlotte of Wales, after George Dawe, 1817.

Princess Charlotte of Wales’ Russian dress, 1817

With the end of the Napoleonic Wars two years earlier, anything Russian was eminently fashionable in 1817, when the portrait was painted. Princess Charlotte of Wales, only legitimate child of the Prince Regent (later George IV) was desperate to have the Russian Order of St Catherine bestowed on her. She’d been trying for the honour since at least 1813, with little success. (The order was only given to women, primarily those of the Russian royal family but also occasionally granted to foreign queens and high-ranking princesses.)

Princess Charlotte of Wales, after George Dawe, 1817.
Princess Charlotte of Wales, after George Dawe, 1817. Royal Collection Trust.

The well-known portrait of her, by George Dawe and dated to 1817 (shown above), depicts the princess in a Russian style dress, known as a sarafan, and – supposedly – wearing the Star of the Order of St Catherine’s. The notes on the Royal Collection Trust website say of the portrait:

At her left breast she wears the star of the Order of St Catherine, which she received on 1 July 1817, from Maria Feodorovna, wife of Paul I, in gratitude for hospitality shown to her son Nicholas during his visit to London. (Princess Charlotte’s husband, Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, also served under the Russian Emperor during the Napoleonic Wars.)

Now, we don’t want to contradict the RCT who surely know better than us, but we can find no corroborating evidence that Charlotte ever received this honour, and upon zooming in to the portrait, the Star insignia which she is wearing looks incorrect. It almost appears to have the Prince of Wales feathers atop it and is not studded with diamonds, as it should be. Maybe, however, Dawe chose to paint it this way? Although we have our suspicions, we really can give no confirmation one way or another and will have to rely on the royal collection’s assertion that this is the Star of the Order of St Catherine.

Detail from the portrait of Princess Charlotte of Wales
Detail from the portrait of Princess Charlotte of Wales by George Dawe.

The dress Charlotte wears could almost have been copied from a portrait of Sophia Petrovna Svechina, a Russian exile in Paris. She was painted by François Joseph Kinson in 1816, just a year before Charlotte sat for her portrait, wearing a remarkably similar dress.

Portrait of Sophia Petrovna Svechina (1782—1857) by François Joseph Kinson. An outstanding Russian woman of her time, a daughter of state secretary of the Empress Catherine II, a lady-in-waiting, writer, mistress of the famous literary salon in Paris, took a special place among Russian Catholics.
Sophia Petrovna Svechina (1782—1857) by François Joseph Kinson. An outstanding Russian woman of her time, a daughter of state secretary of the Empress Catherine II, a lady-in-waiting, writer and mistress of the famous literary salon in Paris. Via Wikimedia.

A Sarafan is a Russian trapezoidal jumper (or pinafore) dress, and a traditional folk costume. These two Russian portraits show the subjects wearing dresses that are also very like that worn by Charlotte.

Russian woman and child
Russian woman and child – image sourced via Pinterest.
Portrait of a girl in Russian dress by an unknown artist.
Portrait of a girl in Russian dress by an unknown artist. State Russian Museum, St Petersburg.

No doubt Charlotte had her dress especially made (it was produced in England) for the portrait and to set off her Russian order, whether being worn legitimately or not. Charlotte’s version of this Russian dress is made from blue silk, trimmed with gold lace which has red highlights, and edged with gold fringe. Amazingly, it has survived and is also in the royal collection. As you can see from the images below, it has either faded slightly, or Dawe used a little artistic licence to darken it in his portrait of the princess.

Princess Charlotte of Wales' Russian style dress.
Princess Charlotte of Wales’ Russian style dress. Royal Collection Trust.
Back view of Princess Charlotte of Wales' Russian style dress. Royal Collection Trust.
Back view of Princess Charlotte of Wales’ Russian style dress. Royal Collection Trust.

When she sat for her portrait, the princess was pregnant. Her child – a son – was stillborn, and Charlotte died from complications following the birth the next day, 6 November 1817. She was just twenty-one years of age. Had she or her son lived, they would have been heir to the British throne.

Copies of the painting were made, many with slight variations. One shows the dress in white instead of blue, another leaves off the gold trimming. This version below shows the dress in a darker hue, and with a much more extravagant ‘blouse’ beneath, with lace sleeves.

Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales by George Dawe. © National Portrait Gallery, London.
Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales by George Dawe. © National Portrait Gallery, London.

Interestingly, when George Dawe’s brother, Henry Edward Dawe, made a mezzotint copy of the portrait after the princess’ death, which was published in January 1818 and an amalgamation of two of the portraits already given above, the Order of St Catherine pinned to Princess Charlotte’s breast was totally omitted.

Hand coloured mezzotint of Princess Charlotte by Henry Edward Dawe, after the painting by George Dawe.
Hand coloured mezzotint of Princess Charlotte by Henry Edward Dawe, after the painting by George Dawe. Royal Collection Trust.

George Dawe subsequently spent many years at the Russian court where he painted many of the nobility there. It is thought that he used the portrait of Princess Charlotte as inspiration for his later one of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna. Certainly, the rich colour of the dress and the pose are reminiscent of the princess’ portrait. It increases the pathos of poor Princess Charlotte’s picture however; how she would have loved to be painted with her arms around her children. Sadly, that was not to be.

Charlotte (Alexandra Feodorovna), Empress of Russia, with her eldest children, Alexander and Maria c. 1821
Charlotte (Alexandra Feodorovna), Empress of Russia, with her eldest children, Alexander and Maria c. 1821. Via Wikimedia

 

Sources 

Letters of the Princess Charlotte, 1811-1817 (1949)

Autobiography of Cornelia Knight, Lady Companion to the Princess Charlotte of Wales: With Extracts from Her Journals and Anecdote Books, Volume 1 (1861)

The Death of Princess Charlotte 1796-1817

Prince George (later King George IV) and Princess Caroline’s daughter, Princess Charlotte, tragically died shortly after the birth of her still-born son on 6th November 1817. As the original ‘people’s princess’, we thought we would take a look at how the media of the day reported this sad news.

Princess Charlotte Memorial Ring, Black enamel mourning band, dated 1817, commemorating the death of Princess Charlotte.
Princess Charlotte Memorial Ring, Black enamel mourning band, dated 1817, commemorating the death of Princess Charlotte.

On Wednesday, 5th November 1817 Claremont House, at 10pm, issued the following bulletin.

At nine o’clock this evening, her Royal Highness Princess Charlotte was delivered of a still-born male child. Her Royal Highness is doing extremely well.

Caroline, Princess of Wales, and Princess Charlotte by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1801. Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017
Caroline, Princess of Wales, and Princess Charlotte by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1801. Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017.

The London Gazette gave a more detailed account of the events leading up to her death.

Her Royal Highness, the Princess Charlotte Augusta, daughter of his Royal Highness the Prince Regent and consort of his Serene Highness Prince Leopold of Saxe-Cobourg was delivered of a stillborn son at 9 o’clock last night, and about half past twelve her Royal Highness was seized with great difficulty of breathing, restlessness and exhaustion, which alarming symptoms increased till half past 2 o’clock this morning, when her Royal Highness expired, to the inexpressible grief of his Royal Highness the Prince regent, of her illustrious consort, the Prince Leopold and of all the Royal family.

Princess Charlotte c1816 by Charlotte Jones. Courtesy of the Royal Collection
Princess Charlotte c1816 by Charlotte Jones. Courtesy of the Royal Collection

At 6 o’clock on 6th November, Claremont House issued this statement.

I had hoped to have sent you very, very different tidings; and yesterday, when I despatched my last letter to you, I felt confident that my next would have announced the commutation of our wishes, in the birth of a future heir or heiress. However, I will endeavour to write all I have heard, as well as the general grief and consternation will allow me. Monday in the night, or about 3 on Tuesday morning, her Royal Highness was taken ill, and expresses were sent off to the great Officers of State, the Archbishop of Canterbury immediate attendance, Earl Bathurst, Lord Sidmouth, the Lord Chancellor, Mr Vansittart, together with the Archbishop and Bishop immediately attended.

Dr Baillie and Dr Croft were the medical attendants. During the whole of Monday, the labour advanced slowly, but without the least appearance of danger. Princess Charlotte showed uncommon firmness and the utmost resignation. Towards evening, as the labour lingered, it was deemed advisable to send for Dr Sims, who arrived in the middle of the night. Nothing could be going better, though too slowly and the excellent constitution of the Princess gave every assurance that she would not be too much exhausted by the delay. No language, no panegyric can be too warm for the manner in which Prince Leopold conducted himself. He was incessant in his attendance and no countenance could more deeply express the anxiety he felt. Once or twice he exclaimed to the medical attendant that the unrepining patient endurance also a deep affliction at her sufferings being so lengthened.

About six o’clock yesterday, the labour advanced more rapidly, and no apprehensions were entertained of any fatal results; and the child was ascertained to be still living. At nine o’clock her Royal Highness was delivered of a male child, but still-born. Throughout the whole of this long and painful labour, her Royal Highness evinced the greatest firmness, and received the communication of the child being dead borne with much resignation and saying that it was the will of God.

Prince Leopold exclaimed to the medical attendants as soon as the intelligence was communicated to him ‘Thank God, thank God, the Princess is safe’. The child was perfect, and one of the finest infants brought into the world.

The Princess was composed after her delivery, and though of course much exhausted, every hope was entertained of her doing well. This pleasing intelligence being communicated to the great officers of State who left Claremont about 11 o’clock.  

It was reported that although exhausted the Princess took some gruel, but expressed difficulty in swallowing it, she also complained of feeling very chilly and a pain in her stomach. The nurse, Mrs Griffiths was concerned and summoned the doctors to return.

A little after 12, a change was observed in her Royal Highness, her quiet left her, she became restless and uneasy and the medical attendants were alarmed. Expresses were sent off, I believe to the Officers of State stating the change that had taken place. From half past 12 restlessness and convulsions increased till nature and life were quite exhausted, and her Royal Highness expired at half past 2 this morning. Prince Leopold was with her Royal Highness at this agonizing moment.

Princess Charlotte of Wales c.1817, by Joseph Lee. Courtesy of the Royal Collection
c.1817, by Joseph Lee. Courtesy of the Royal Collection

Featured Image

The Funeral Ceremony of Her Royal Highness Princess Charlotte of Wales and Saxe Coburg in St. Georges Chapel, Windsor, 19 of November 1817.  Published 1 Feb 1818. Courtesy of the Royal Collection RCIN 750746

Fashions for December 1815

The December 1815 issue of Rudolph Ackermann’s Repository of arts, literature, commerce, manufactures, fashions and politics featured a design for an evening dress and a walking dress, both the creation of Mrs Bean, a milliner and dressmaker of Albemarle Street, Piccadilly.

FASHIONS FOR DECEMBER, 1815

Evening Dress

A crimson satin slip, underneath a frock of three-quarters length made of the silver-striped French gauze; the slip ornamented at the feet with clusters of flowers, and a narrow border of white satin edged with crimson ribbon: the frock has a border of white satin, edged to correspond, and is drawn up in the Eastern style, confined by a cluster of flowers. The body of the dress has open fronts, with a stomacher, which are severally trimmed en suite: short open sleeve, to correspond with a quilling of tull around the arm. Head-dress à la Chinoise, composed of pearl; the hair braided, and ornamented with a wreath of flowers. Ear-rings and drops, pearl; necklace, the French negligé. Gloves, French kid, worn below the elbow, and trimmed with a quilling of tull. Sandals, white kid.

fashion-december-1815-ackermann

Walking Dress

Pelisse of walking length, composed of blue twilled sarsnet, fastened down the front with large bows of white satin ribbon, and ornamented at the feet with a border of leaves formed of the same sarsnet, edged with white satin: the bottom of the pelisse, trimmed with white satin, is drawn into small festoons; sleeve ornamented at the shoulder and the hand to correspond; a French embroidered ruff. A French hat composed of the blue twilled sarsnet, trimmed with white satin edged with blue, and decorated with a large plume of ostrich feathers. An Indian shawl of crimson silk, richly embroidered in shaded silks. The pocket-handkerchief French cambric, embroidered at the corners. Shoes, blue morocco, tied with bows high upon the instep. Stockings with embroidered clocks. Gloves, York tan.

The silver-striped French gauze is a novel and elegant article, which, fashioned by the ever varying and approved taste of Mrs. Bean, requires to be viewed, before a just idea can be received of its fascinating effect: it is allowed to be the lightest and most splendid costume ever yet presented by the amateur to the votaries of fashion.

Mrs Charlotte Bean, the wife of Thomas Bean, was a milliner and dressmaker located at 32 Albemarle Street just off Piccadilly. Her designs were frequently featured in Rudolph Ackermann’s Repository of arts, literature, commerce, manufactures, fashions and politics, and she was a court dressmaker to ‘Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Kent and also the Princess Charlotte of Saxe Coburg by special appointment’.

Mrs Bean's trading card
Mrs Bean’s trading card. British Museum.

Indeed, Mrs Bean made twenty-six dresses and pelisses for Princess Charlotte’s wedding trousseau in 1816. We list a few of them here.

A Prussian blue and white striped satin dress, with a beautiful garniture; above which is a rich broad blond lace, tastefully looped up in the form of shells.

We imagine this striped satin dress to look something like the one Charlotte is wearing in this picture. Brighton Museums
We imagine this striped satin dress to look something like the one Charlotte is wearing in this picture.
Brighton Museums

A full dress over a rich white satin, ornamented with silver, the garniture silver leaves intermixed with full puffings of tulle; this forms at the bottom a tasteful scallop, above which are large bunches of silver double lilacs, the sleeves striped with silver, and finished at the top with a narrow wreath of corresponding flowers.

A train dress of net, richly embroidered with a beautiful border of roses and buds a quarter and a half deep round the train, the embroidery coming up to meet the waist; body and sleeves richly worked to correspond; the whole dress lined with rich white satin.

A beautiful primrose silk high morning dress, trimmed and worked in a most unique style of elegance.

Could this high morning dress, which seems to have defied description, possibly be this one? FIDM Museums
Could the high morning dress, which seems to have defied description, possibly be this one, known to have been worn by Princess Charlotte?
FIDM Museums

An elegant violet and white striped satin pelisse, lined with white satin, trimmed with leaves of violet, and white blond cuffs and collar; bonnet to match, with a beautiful plume of white feather.

Very beautiful clear India muslin dress, most elegantly worked in lace work and satin stitch, forming bunches of wheat ears and corn flowers; at the bottom a waved border of the same, finished with very full rows of elegant English lace; short sleeves, composed of rows of satin, and lace body to correspond, made low to meet the waist, with a satin slip, which forms a very elegant dress.

A very rich evening primrose satin dress, with a deep flounce of blond lace, of a very beautiful tulip pattern, above which is a broad embroidery of pearls, in grapes and vine leaves; the top and sleeves ornamented with pearls to correspond.

Perhaps the rich evening primrose satin dress looked something similar to this detailed gown, embellished with pearls and finished with a deep flounce of lace?
Perhaps the rich evening primrose satin dress looked something similar to this detailed gown worn by Princess Charlotte, embellished with pearls and finished with a deep flounce of lace?

Possibly Anne, the wife of Sir William Abdy, Baronet, had been one of Mrs Bean’s best customers? Abdy was reputed to be the richest commoner in the land and his beautiful wife would have ensured that she was dressed in the latest fashions. However, if Anne perused the December 1815 issue of Ackermann’s Repository, she would have known that the gowns pictured were now beyond her means. She had eloped from her home on Hill Street, Berkeley Square just months earlier, stepping into a gig with her (somewhat impoverished) lover, Lord Charles Bentinck, and into a new life. By the end of the year she was living with him, pregnant with his child, and awaiting the outcome of the Criminal Conversation case which had been brought by her husband and which had commenced on the 1st December 1815.

Her fateful decision to elope was to have far reaching consequences, as we detail in our latest book, A Right Royal Scandal: Two Marriages That Changed History, affecting people as far away on the social scale as the daughter of a Romany gypsy and the British royal family themselves.

Berkeley Square, 1813.
Berkeley Square, 1813. © The Trustees of the British Museum

Source:

Hone’s authentic account of the Royal Marriage, 1816

Header image: THE PRINCESS CHARLOTTE & PRINCE LEOPOLD GOING TO ESHER CHURCH  c.1816. Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

 

If you have already read An Infamous Mistress: The Life, Loves and Family of the Celebrated Grace Dalrymple Elliott, then A Right Royal Scandal forms a sequel to Grace’s story, continuing the life of her granddaughter through to the publication of Grace’s memoirs (set during the French Revolution), and beyond and the second family of Grace’s son-in-law, Lord Charles Bentinck. But A Right Royal Scandal can also be read as a stand-alone book. It is available now in the UK (and to pre-order in the US and elsewhere) from our publisher Pen and Sword, Amazon and all good bookshops.

(Readers outside the UK might find Book Depository useful, as they ship free worldwide and have competitive prices.)