RepositoryRoyal Archives
CollectionWilliam Henry, Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh
ReferenceGEO/MAIN/54291-54423, 54505B-D
TitlePapers of William Henry, Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh, 1764-1805
Date1764-1805
DescriptionThis collection comprises the following:
1. GEO/MAIN/54291-544233, Correspondence of William Henry, Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh, 1765-1805.
2. GEO/MAIN/54505B-D, Accounts of William Henry, Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh, 1764-1801.
LanguageEnglish
French
Extent116 documents
LevelCollection
Admin HistoryWilliam Henry was born 14 November 1743 at Leicester House. He was the fifth child, and third son, of Frederick, Prince of Wales and Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha. He was invested as a Knight of the Garter on 22 September 1762, and bestowed the titles of the Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh, and the Earl of Connaught on 19 November 1764. On behalf of his elder brother, George III, he travelled on the continent to visit various members of royalty and the nobility, as well and making progresses at home. In 1766 he was appointed Colonel of the 13th Regiment of Foot and promoted to Major General in 1767. In the same year he became Colonel of the 3rd Regiment of the Foot, and in 1770 appointed to the 1st Regiment of the Foot, rising to the rank of Field General in 1793. William held various other positions throughout his life including: President of the London Hospital; Ranger of Hampton Court Park and Cranbourne Chase; Warden of Windsor Forest; and Chancellor of Trinity College, Dublin.
The Duke secretly married Maria, Dowager Countess of Waldegrave (1736-1807), the illegitimate daughter of Edward Walpole and granddaughter of Sir Robert Walpole, on 6 September 1766. The marriage was kept hidden from George III, until [Henry] Duke of Cumberland revealed his own unsanctioned marriage in 1772. The Duke of Cumberland's revelation stimulated George III to pass the Royal Marriages Act, which made it necessary for William to reveal his own marriage. An enquiry took place to establish the validity of the marriage, which was completed before the birth of their first child to ensure legitimacy, and although George III accepted the marriage's validity he refused to be in the Duchess' presence or make provision for her. This led to strained relations between the brothers, but the Duke maintained good relations with his nephews, including George, Prince of Wales (1762-1830).
The Duke's marriage produced three legitimate children: Princess Sophia Matilda (1773-1844), Princess Caroline (1774-1775), and Prince William Frederick (1776-1834). After the death of Princess Caroline from smallpox in 1775 the Duke, who increasingly suffered from ill health, spent the majority of his time with his family in warmer climates, such as Italy and the south of France, and it was the recurrence of his ill health in 1777 that led to a reconciliation between William and George III, after which the King allowed provision for the Duke's children.
It is thought that William had one illegitimate daughter, Louisa Maria la Coast (1782-1835), with his mistress Lady Almeira Carpenter (1752-1809), the Duchess of Gloucester's Lady in Waiting. Lady Carpenter lived with the Duke and Duchess contributing to the breakdown of the Duke's marriage, but it was due to his wife's 'unfortunate turn of mind' that the Duke separated his children from their mother, sending his son to Cambridge University and employing Miss Dee as chaperone and governess for his daughter Sophia.
In 1787 the Duke returned to Britian, and although his marriage had all but ended the Duchess remained living with the Duke and Lady Carpenter at Gloucester House until his death on 25 August 1805. He was interred at St. George's Chapel, Windsor on 4 September 1805.
Custodial HistoryThe majority of these records are believed to have been part of the original acquisition from Apsley House in 1912. See individual entries for alternative custodial history.
ArrangementIt is unknown whether the accounts and correspondence were originally kept together, but have been amalgamated to create this artificial collection.
The original order of the correspondence is unknown, and it is also unknown when the letters were brought together as a collection, assigned reference numbers, and arranged predominantly chronologically. This chronological order has been retained, with minimal intellectual rearrangement within the catalogue to maintain this order. Sub-Series levels have been created for each year for which correspondence survives, and undated letters have been given probable dates and catalogued within the relevant Sub-Series, whilst retaining their physical order. Letter enclosures have been crossed referenced with their accompanying documents (where known) and catalogued immediately following the accompanying letter to reflect the documents physical order and administrative use.
The account books have also been catalogued chronologically.
Catalogued and arranged summer 2019.
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