RepositoryRoyal Archives
CollectionCorrespondence of William IV
Record TypeWritings (documents)
ReferenceGEO/MAIN/35856-36182; GEO/MAIN/44561-45274
TitlePrivate and official papers of William IV
Date1779-1839
DescriptionThe papers are divided into four series:

1. GEO/MAIN/44598-45274 - Private papers of William as Prince and Duke of Clarence, 1794-1830
2. GEO/MAIN/35856-35983 - Official and other papers of William IV, 1830-1839
3. GEO/MAIN/35984-36182 - Military correspondence of William IV, 1830-1833
4. GEO/MAIN/44561-44597- Correspondence from William IV to Alexander Whitehead and others, 1787-1834
LanguageEnglish
Extent552 documents and 1 object (lock of hair)
Physical DescriptionLoose and bound manuscript papers.
LevelCollection
Admin HistoryBorn in London on 21 August 1765, William Henry, third son of George III and Queen Charlotte, entered the Navy at the age of 14. He soon sailed for the West Indies as midshipman in the Royal Navy. At his return, a few years later, he decided not to pursue a career in the Navy, but preferred to settle down in London. Between 1791 and 1811, William had an affair with an actress, Mrs Dorothea Jordan, with whom he had 10 illegitimate children. After the relationship ended, William abandoned Dorothea to her own destiny, although he did take great care of their children who were also allowed to access some royal premises.
In 1818 William married Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen, the daughter of George I, Duke of Saxe-Meiningen, and together they spent the first period of the marriage in Germany for financial reasons.
He assumed the title of Duke of Clarence in 1789 and was already 61 years old when his brother, Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany (second in line to the throne) died in 1827. The then King, George IV, was suffering ill health and his eventual death on 26 June 1830 meant that William acceded the throne as William IV and his reign would last seven years.
Custodial HistoryThe military correspondence of William IV (GEO/MAIN/35984-36182) is believed to have been previously part of the Victorian papers and a pencil note inside the front cover of this volume reads 'formerly Z 480'.
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