CollectionPapers of Augustus, Duke of Sussex
ReferenceGEO/MAIN/47811-48309A; GEO/ADD/9/1-520
Title Letters to, from and concerning Augustus, Duke of Sussex (as Prince and Duke)
DateJanuary 1777 - July 1842
Description1. Correspondence between the Duke of Sussex and George III and the Prince of Wales, January 1785 - July 1842

2. Additional correspondence of, and concerning, Augustus, Duke of Sussex, including letters from members of his family, July 1786 - November 1845

3. Letters, mainly from Augustus, Duke of Sussex, to Thomas Joseph Pettigrew, February 1818 - February 1841

4. Papers of Edward Livingston, Governor to Prince Augustus, including papers concerning the Prince's financial affairs 1777-1799
LanguageEnglish
French
Extent1 and a half boxes, 1 volume, 2 folders
Admin HistoryPrince Augustus Frederick was the sixth son and the ninth child of George III and Queen Charlotte. He was born at the Queen’s House (now Buckingham Palace) on 27 January 1773. He was baptised in the Great Council Chamber, at St. James’s Palace, on 25 February 1773. His godparents, Ernest II, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, Prince George of Mecklenburg-Strelitz and Princess
Louise of Hesse, were all represented by proxies. Prince Augustus was educated by tutors in England until 1786 when he was sent, with his brothers Prince Ernest and Prince Adolphus, to continue his education at the University of Göttingen in Germany. He was nominated a Knight of the Garter on 2 June 1786.

The three Princes left Göttingen in January 1791. A naval career had been planned for Prince Augustus but he was asthmatic and concerns over his health ended the plans for his career. Prince Augustus was the only one of George III’s surviving younger sons who did not pursue a career in the army or the navy. He briefly considered becoming a cleric in the Church of England but
this also was not pursued. Prince Augustus was on a study tour of Italy when, at Rome, he met and became enamoured of Lady Augusta Murray (c.1768-1830), the second daughter of the Earl of Dunmore. The couple married in Rome, secretly and in contravention of the Royal Marriages Act, on 4 April 1793, repeating the ceremony on 5 December 1793 at St. George’s Hanover Square, following their return to London, but again without revealing their full identities. The King was incensed by the marriage, and it was declared null and void by the Court of Arches on 3 August 1794. Nevertheless two children were born to the couple, a son, Augustus Frederick d’Este (1794-1848) and a daughter Augusta Emma d’Este (1801-1866).

On 27 November 1801 Prince Augustus was created Duke of Sussex, Earl of Inverness and Baron Arklow. In 1805, during the Napoleonic Wars, the Duke served in Britain as Lieutenant-
Colonel of the “Loyal North Britons” Volunteers Regiment. He held the honorary post of Colonel of the Honourable Artillery Company from 1817, and of Captain-General (at which point the posts were united) from 1837 onward.

The Duke of Sussex and Lady Augusta Murray later became estranged and she died at Ramsgate, Kent on 5 March 1830. On or about 2 May 1831, the Duke made a second marriage, again in contravention of the Royal Marriages Act, with Lady Cecilia Underwood (c.1788-1873). In 1840 Lady Cecilia was created Duchess of Inverness by Queen Victoria. William IV appointed the Duke of Sussex Chief Ranger and Keeper of St James’s Park and Hyde Park on 29 January 1831. The Duke of Sussex was known for his liberal views, which led to his becoming estranged from his father and the court. He supported parliamentary reform, the abolition of the slave trade, Catholic emancipation, the removal of civil restrictions on Jews and dissenters and the abolition of the Corn Laws. Denied a service career, the Duke found his outlet in charity work. He became Grand Master of Freemasons in 1811. He was a steady friend and benefactor to art, science and literature. He was elected President of the Society of Arts in 1816 and President of the Royal Society from 1830 to 1838. He valued learning and he built up a large library of over 50,000 volumes.

The Duke of Sussex was regarded with affection by his niece Queen Victoria and in 1840 he gave her away at her wedding. He was a godfather to his great-niece, Victoria, Princess Royal, at her baptism in 1841. In 1842 Queen Victoria appointed the Duke as Governor of Windsor Castle. The Duke of Sussex died of erysipelas at Kensington Palace on 21 April 1843. The Times commented that ‘No death in the royal family short of the actual demise of a monarch could have occasioned a stronger feeling of deprivation’. He was buried, at his own request, at the public cemetery at Kensal Green so that his wife could, eventually, be buried with him.
Custodial HistoryThese documents are believed to have been part of the original Apsley House acquisition
Publications'Royal Duke: Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex' by Mollie Gillen, London, 1976

Letters from this collection may also appear in the volumes of the correspondence of George III and George IV edited by A. Aspinall and J. Fortescue
LevelCollection
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