CollectionPapers of Frederick, Duke of York and Albany
ReferenceGEO/MAIN/43192-43248, 43359-44560, GEO/ADD/6
TitlePapers of Frederick, Duke of York and Albany, 1778-1869
Date1714-1869
DescriptionThis collection has been catalogued in the following Series:

1. Correspondence of Frederick, Duke of York and Albany, 1778-1832
2. Financial papers of Frederick, Duke of York and Albany, 1797-1827
3. Additional papers of Frederick, Duke of York and Albany, 1714-1869
LanguageEnglish
French
Extent4 volumes, 901 documents
LevelCollection
Admin HistoryPrince Frederick Augustus was born at St James's Palace on 16 August 1763, the second son of George III and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, and the following year, upon the death of Klemens August of Bavaria (1700-1761), Prince Frederick gained the Prince-Bishopric of Osnabrück (a title of the Holy Roman Empire which alternated between a member of the Catholic and Protestant faith). He held this position until 1803 when, due to the German Mediatisation, it was incorporated into the Electorate of Hanover.
Prince Frederick lived in Hanover from 1781 to 1787 and whilst there attended the University of Gottingen, as did his younger brothers. During this period he was bestowed with the Dukedom of York and Albany, and the Earldom of Ulster on 27 November 1784, and became a member of the Privy Council, taking his seat in the House of Lords in 1787. The Prince had also become a Knight of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath in 1767, followed by a Knight of the Garter in 1771. In addition to these honours he became Warden of Windsor Forest in 1805.
The Duke of York was a professional soldier, leading the campaign of the First Coalition War and commanding the Flanders Campaign from 1793 to 1795. He held various positions including: Lieutenant General of the 2nd Horse Grenadier Guards in 1784, Colonel of the Coldstream Guards in 1784, Colonel of the 60th Regiment of the Foot in 1797, and became Commander in Chief of the Military in April 1795, although he did not take official command until 1798. However his service became marred in scandal and controversy resulting in his resignation as Commander in Chief in 1809. This was caused by the discovery that his mistress, Mary Anne Clarke, had been selling commissions in his name. Although the Duke was eventually acquitted by the Select Committee in March (as they found no evidence to link him to the accusation) he resigned his post due to his tarnished reputation. It subsequently emerged that his chief accuser, Gwyllym Wardle, had in fact paid Clarke and the exonerated Duke regained his position as Commander in Chief in 1811. During his term as Commander in Chief he oversaw the Napoleonic Wars and the restructure (both administrative and structural) of the British military. His reforms arose as he was aware of the inherent flaws and inefficiencies within the system, such as large numbers of incompetent officers, and therefore increased promotion through merit, supported the establishment of the Royal Military College at Sandhurst, and improved the poor conditions for all soldier. However, his distinguished career was not only marred by the commission scandal but saw him unflatteringly immortalised as the 'Grand Old Duke of York' due to a failed campaign of the Anglo-Russian invasion of Holland, 1799, which resulted in a withdrawal.
The Duke of York married Princess Frederica of Prussia (1767-1820) at Charlottenburg, Berlin on 29 September 1791, with a second ceremony held upon their arrival in England a few months later at Buckingham House on 23 November 1791. Although the union was celebrated and well perceived by the public it was not a successful marriage. The couple became estranged after three years, with the Duchess principally residing at Oatlands, Surrey, and the Duke at Horse Guards. Their union would remain without issue and the Duchess died at Oatlands of consumption in 1820.
The death of George III, earlier that same year, January 1820, led to the Duke of York becoming heir presumptive to the British and Hanoverian thrones. He held this position until his death on 5 January 1827 from an attack of dropsy at the Duke of Rutland's residence, Rutland House. He was subsequently buried at St. George's Chapel, Windsor on 20 January 1827.
Custodial HistoryThe majority of these records are believed to have been part of the original acquisition from Apsley House in 1912. See series and file levels for alternative custodial history.
ArrangementThis artificial collection is comprised of three series to reflect the separate physical location, and custodial and administrative history of the records; the original order is unknown. The majority of documents within this collection have been catalogued to maintain the physical order of the records. See series and file levels for additional arrangement information.
Catalogued skeletally to file level, Autumn 2020.
Related MaterialFor papers relating to Frederick, Duke of York and Frederica Charlotte, Duchess of York's marriage treaty of 1791, see also GEO/MAIN/32741-32751, 32755-32757
NotesFrederick, Duke of York and Albany's accounts for 1787, and Frederica, Duchess of York and Albany's accounts for 1792 are held by Coutts & Co.
Papers related to Mary Ann Clarke and Frederick, Duke of York's case are held as Berkshire Record Office within the collection D/EPb.
Proofs of Mary Ann Clarke's recollections are held at The National Archives collection reference TS 11/120.
RepositoryRoyal Archives
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