CollectionPapers of William Frederick, Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh
Record TypeWritings (documents)
TitlePapers of William Frederick, Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh, 1793-[c.1843]
DescriptionThis collection also includes the papers of the Duke of Gloucester's sister, Princess Sophia Matilda of Gloucester. This collection comprises the following files:

1. Correspondence of William Frederick, Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh, 1793-1832.
2. Papers of Princess Sophia Matilda of Gloucester, 1794-[c.1843].
Extent33 documents
Admin HistoryPrince William Frederick of Gloucester was born on 15 January 1776 at Palazzo Teodoli, Rome where his parents William Henry, Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh (1743-1805) and Maria, Dowager Countess Waldegrave (née Walpole) (1736-1807), were living in exile after incurring George III's displeasure for marrying without his consent in 1766. His parents' marriage was not a happy union and when their relationship irrevocably broke down in 1787 Prince William Frederick attended Trinity College Cambridge with the permission of George III.
Prince William Frederick was a professional soldier, becoming Colonel of both the 6th (1st Warwickshire) Regiment of Foot and 3rd Regiment of Foot Guard, and moving up through the ranks to become Field General in 1816. He became a Knight of the Garter in 1794, after his father's persistent requests that his son should have comparable standing to foreign royalty, and upon the death of his father in 1805 he inherited the titles of the Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh, and Earl of Connaught.
The Duke did not have a high reputation and was often referred to by several nicknames including 'Silly Billy' (in reference to his perceived lack of intelligence) and 'Slice of Gloucester' or 'Cheese'. In addition,he did not enamour himself to George IV as he supported his estranged wife, Caroline of Brunswick, and failed to condone the Regency. In general, he was thought pompous for placing weight upon his Royal status, but he took an interest in current affairs, taking his seat in the House of Lords, and was an advocate of the abolition of slavery. He was also President of the Africa Institution, Governor of Portsmouth from 1827-1834, and from 1811 until his death he was Chancellor of Cambridge University.
On 22 July 1816 he married his cousin Princess Mary at St. James's Palace, a union which was without issue.
The Duke of Gloucester died on 30 November 1834 at Bagshot Park and was interred at St. George's Chapel, Windsor.

The Duke of Gloucester's sister, Princess Sophia Matilda of Gloucester, was born on 26 May 1773 in Mayfair. She resided with their parents, principally abroad for the first part of her life, but upon the breakdown of her parents' marriage her father engaged Miss Dee as chaperone and governess to prevent her mother corrupting her mind. She had various other residences throughout her life including Gloucester Lodge and New Lodge at Winkfield. In 1816 she became Ranger of Greenwich Park and moved to the Ranger's House in Blackheath. She died unmarried and without issue on 29 November 1844 and was buried at St. George's Chapel, Windsor.
Custodial HistoryThese records are believed to have been part of the original acquisition from Apsley House in 1912. See File level for alternative Custodial History.
ArrangementThis collection is comprised of two series to reflect the separate physical location of the records, administrative history, and the distinction between the individuals' papers; the original order is unknown.
Catalogued skeletally to File level, Autumn 2020.
Related MaterialSee also William Henry, Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh, GEO/MAIN/54291-54423, and the correspondence of Princess Mary, Duchess of Gloucester and Edinburgh, GEO/ADD/12
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