Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The Succession to the British Throne- November 1817

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I found this list of the first 123 persons in line to the British throne following the death of Princess Charlotte and her stillborn son in November 1817 while researching information on the Duke of Cambridge and his marriage to Princess Augusta of Hesse-Cassel. 

This article was published in the Times on November 29, 1817. The death of Charlotte, the only legitimate grandchild of King George III, led to three of George III's unmarried sons, two of whom had given up their long term mistresses, in search of a royal bride.  The stakes were clear.  Marry a young, and hopefully, a fertile princess, and perhaps, your child could succeed to the throne. Charlotte's father, the Prince Regent was long estranged from his wife, Caroline (who was 27th in line to the throne, as her mother, Augusta, was George III's sister.).  The Duke of York and Albany's marriage was childless.  The Duke of Clarence and St. Andrews was the father of 11 illegitimate children, ten of them by Dorothy Jordan, who had been dumped by the duke several years earlier. (The Duke of Fife and former Prime Minister David Cameron, are among William IV's many descendants.  The Duke of Fife is also a descendant of Queen Victoria.)

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The Duke of Kent and Strathearn ended his 28-year-relationship with a French woman, Julie St. Laurent, shortly before his marriage to the widowed Victoire Princess of Leiningen (who happened to the sister of Princess Charlotte's widower, Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saafeld.

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The Duke of Cumberland and Teviotdale was married to his first cousin, the twice-widowed, Frederica of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.  She had given birth to ten children during her first two marriages, although only six survived.   In January 1817,  nearly two years after her marriage to the Duke of Cumberland, Frederica gave birth to a stillborn daughter.   At 39 years old, Frederica was not expected to have another child, yet in April 1818, she gave birth to another stillborn daughter.

George III's sixth son, Augustus, the Duke of Sussex, was a non-starter, as he had married Lady Augusta Murray, daughter of the Earl of Dunmore,  in 1793, in contravention of the Royal Marriages Act, which meant that the marriage had not been approved by the King, and, therefore, was not valid.  The marriage was annulled a year later, but the Duke and Lady Augusta remained together until 1801.  They had two children, Augustus (1794-1848 and Augusta (1801-1866).  The Duke's children were not heirs to the British throne nor could Augustus inherit his father's dukedom. 

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The seventh son, the Duke of Cambridge, was said to the the king's favorite.  He had no scandals attached to his name, nor any illegitimate children.  He was popular in Hanover, where he served as Viceroy, representing the King, as George III was king of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland,  and the King of Hanover.

It was a winner takes all succession race ... unless the winner was a princess.  Salic law (males only) was the rule in Hanover.   In 1818, after the Dukes of Cambridge, Clarence, and Kent, wed their German princesses, it seemed unlikely that the succession could lead to separate sovereigns for the United Kingdom and Hanover.   The new Duchess of Cambridge was in her own right 63rd in the line of succession to the British throne.

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By the end of 1818, four of the duchesses were pregnant.  The Duchess of Cambridge gave birth to a son, Prince George, on March 26, 1819.  One day later, the Duchess of Clarence gave birth to a daughter, Princess Charlotte, who lived for only eight hours.  Both babies were born in Hanover.    Fast forward to May 24, where the Duchess of Kent gave birth to a daughter, Princess Alexandrina Victoria, and three days later, in Berlin, the 41-year-old Duchess of Cumberland gave birth to a son, Prince George.

Two of the 1819 babies remained only children, although Prince George of Cumberland had six much older half-siblings.  The Duke of Kent died in January 1820, as did George III.  The Prince Regent succeeded to the throne and reigned until 1830. After the death of the Duke of York in 1827, the Duke of Clarence became the heir presumptive, and he succeeded his brother, George, as William IV.  None of his children by his wife survived infancy.

Three of the four 1819 babies survived.  Two became sovereigns in their own right.   The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge remained in Hanover until 1837.  They had two more children: Princess Augusta (1822) and Princess Mary Adelaide (1833).   The Cumberland and Cambridge lines (the latter through female descent) married descendants of the Duke of Kent.

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1 comment:

Corey Samuels Rosen said...

I'm surprised to see Princess Frederica Catherine of Wurttemberg (#25), wife of Jerome Bonaparte, sometime Queen and King of Westphalia, as well as the inclusion of their son, Jerome Napoleon (#26). I'm surprised because Jerome Bonaparte was Catholic and I thought the succession was limited to Protestants and that it even excluded Protestants who were married to Catholics. This Times article seems more like a list of descendants of the Electress Sophia rather than a list of people eligible to succeed to the throne. Just a thought.