CollectionLady Augusta Murray
Record TypeCommonplace Books
TitleLady Augusta Murray's commonplace books and book of cures
DescriptionThe collection consists of four commonplace books, one book of cures, a booklet of copied excerpts from Voltaire's plays, and a printed book.

Volumes GEO/ADD/51/1-4a consist of commonplace books in which Lady Augusta copied excerpts from other texts as well as her own thoughts, and thus provide us with a unique window into her interior life between 1785 and 1810. The first, choronologically, appears to be GEO/ADD/51/3, which is labelled 'Vol. 5th' which appears to mostly date from 1785-1792, but has annotations to 1797. GEO/ADD/51/1 appears to date from around 1789. GEO/ADD/51/4a, which is labelled 'Vol. 6th' appears to date from 1796, but has annotations up to 1810. GEO/ADD/51/2 appears to date from 1802-1805.

GEO/ADD/51/4b contains copies of Voltaire's plays, and is undated, though the last play was published 1778, so we assume this was copied between this date and Lady Augusta's death.

GEO/ADD/51/5 is Lady Augusta Murray's book of cures, which contains treatments and cures for ailments and conditions, and contains entries dating from 1794 to 1812.

GEO/ADD/51/6 is a printed volume, 'Secresy; or, the Ruin on the Rock', Vol. 1.
Extent6 volumes, 1 booklet, 39 documents (1 file)
Admin HistoryLady Augusta Murray was born in London on 27 January 1768, to John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore and Lady Charlotte Stewart, daughter of Alexander, the 6th Earl of Galloway.

From at least 1785, and probably also before then, Lady Augusta kept commonplace books, in which she copied excerpts from texts she had read, as well as her own thoughts, with a predominant theme of feelings, emotions and sentiments. The young Lady Augusta appears to have had an idealistic view of love and was keen reader of contemporary authors.

Lady Augusta is best known for her illegitimate marriage to Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex, sixth son of George III, in 1793. After a brief betrothal, the couple were married at the Hotel Sarmiento, Rome, on 4 April 1793, without witnesses. With no consent having been sought or obtained, the marriage was in contravention of the Royal Marriages Act 1772. They married again after the publication of banns on 10, 17 and 24 November 1793 (GEO/MAIN/48050-6), in a ceremony on Thursday, 5 December 1793 at St George's Hanover Square, London. Augusta was heavily pregnant. The couple used their correct names but did not reveal their full identities (GEO/MAIN/48050-6).

The couple's first child, Augustus Frederick d'Este, was born at 16 Lower Berkeley Street, Manchester Square, London (home of the Earl of Dunmore), on 13 January 1794. The following day, both marriages were declared legally null and void under the Royal Marriages Act 1772, at the Court of Arches (GEO/MAIN/48050-6), and hence, Lady Augusta could not be styled as the Duchess of Sussex or Her Royal Highness. Nevertheless, Lady Augusta maintained custody of the child. From at least 1794, Lady Augusta Murray wrote a book of cures, in this collection, in which she documented treatments and cures for ailments and conditions, with several cures and treatments pertaining to the care of her son and, later, her daughter.

After the birth, the Prince was sent to Italy. Between 1797 and 1798, the Prince met with the Italian contralto Giuseppina Grassini, when she performed at the marriage of the Prince of Wurttemberg to Princess Charlotte Augusta of the Two Sicilies, and they were living together in Naples by March 1798 (Gillen, 98-9). Although she did not follow him when he left Naples, according to his governor, Edward Livingston, writing to the Archbishop of Canterbury, he 'kept up a constant correspondence' with her 'and has made her the most solemn promise to take her into his family' (28 August 1799, RA GEO/MAIN/48156-7). Lady Augusta was prevented from seeing the Prince until 10 August 1799 when she joined him at Berlin, returning to London in October 1799. He joined her in May 1800 and they briefly lived as Prince and Princess Augustus Frederick at 40 Lower Grosvenor Street until December 1800 when he went to Portugal for his health. They never met again (Gillen). Their second child, Augusta Emma d'Este, was born at Grosvenor Street, London, on 11 August 1801. Lady Augusta's commonplace book labelled 'Vol. 6th', which is in this collection, was written around this time, and a marked shift in her mood is noted, with the copied text and her own words depicting an often unhappy state of mind.

In March 1802 Lady Augusta went to Lisbon, in an unsuccessful attempt to see the Prince, and was there 'the sport of his mistress and dependents' (RA GEO/MAIN/48236-9). He then undertook to support her with an annuity of £4,000. In 1806, following the commencement of legal proceedings, an agreement was made with the King whereby her debts were paid and she received an additional pension of £1,438 per annum. One of Lady Augusta's commonplace books, kept between 1802 and1805, paints an image of an often despairing state of mind, and references often her broken-heartedness and sense of betrayal. Her son, Augustus Frederick, went to Harrow and Winchester. In 1806 Lady Augusta was given royal licence to use the surname De Ameland instead of Murray, 'in respect to her descent from those ancestors who originally used that name' (The London Gazette, 15966:1364, 14 October 1806). She died at Mount Albion, East Cliff, Ramsgate, Kent, in March 1830.

Rumours surrounded Lady Augusta's relationship with her cousin, Lord Archibald Hamilton (1770-1827), and persisted over time. Lady Holland wrote that Lord Archibald had been damaged by an early liaison with Lady Augusta, and that she had a son by him (BL/51549, Lady Holland to Grey, 29 December 1810). On 19 March 1806, Joseph Farington was told by Thomas Hughes, Clerk of the Closet to the King, that the Duke of Sussex did not believe the daughter to be his (Farington, Vol. 7, 2698-9). On 15 July 1844 the Duke of Cumberland wrote to Lord Strangford, 'As to Augusta d'Este, she is as much my Brother's daughter as she is mine, but [is] Lord Archibald Hamilton's which my Brother was fully convinced of by a Discovery of Letters, that were lost by Lady Augusta and was the cause of his separating from her' (quoted in Bird, 220). Gillen (54-5, 116) suggests that Lady Augusta had been engaged to Lord Archibald before she met the Duke of Sussex and had certainly worn his ring, but that long before a year had passed after the birth of the daughter, the Prince had accepted that the child was his. Lady Augusta herself denied the stories in a long letter to the Prince of Wales, dated 9 May 1802, in which she blamed the Duke of Cumberland for spreading the rumours, further circulated by Lady Charlotte Durham (GEO/MAIN/48236-9). Lady Augusta's later commonplace books draw heavily on the theme of calumny and injustice.

Bird, A., The damnable Duke of Cumberland: a character study and vindication of Ernest Augustus Duke of Cumberland and King of Hanover, London: Barrie and Rockliff, 1966.
Gillen, M., Royal Duke: Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex (1773-1843), London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 1976.
Garlick, K., Macintyre, A., Cave, K. (eds.), The diary of Joseph Farington, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1978-1984.
Custodial HistoryDonated 1956
ArrangementThe ordering of the volumes from 1 - 6 in the Georgian Papers reflects the order in which the volumes were labelled when they were originally accessioned. During cataloguing in 2017, two volumes were found to be labelled GEO/ADD/51/4 and so these were separated into 4a and 4b.
Related MaterialGEO/ADD/43/3a; GEO/MAIN/48050-6; GEO/MAIN/48156-7; GEO/MAIN/48236-9
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