|Born||3 April 1772|
|Died||21 November 1834 62)(aged|
|Title||Princess Olive of Cumberland (disputed)|
|Spouse(s)||John Thomas Serres (m. 1791 div. 1804)|
Olivia Serres (3 April 1772 – 21 November 1834), known as Olive, was a British painter and writer, born at Warwick. She is also known as an English impostor, who claimed the title of Princess Olive of Cumberland.
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to the west and Scotland to the north-northwest. The Irish Sea lies west of England and the Celtic Sea lies to the southwest. England is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south. The country covers five-eighths of the island of Great Britain, which lies in the North Atlantic, and includes over 100 smaller islands, such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.
Olive was born Olivia Wilmot, the daughter of Robert Wilmot, a house painter, in Warwick. [ citation needed ] She then devoted herself to painting and literature, producing a novel, some poems and a memoir of her uncle, the Rev. Dr Wilmot, in which she endeavoured to prove that he was the author of the Letters of Junius .At the age of ten she was sent to board with her uncle, James Wilmot, rector of Barton-on-the-Heath. In 1789 she rejoined her father in London. She had a talent for painting and studied art with John Thomas Serres, (1759–1825), marine painter to George III, and she married Serres in 1791. They had two daughters. Olive exhibited her paintings at the Royal Academy of Arts and the British Institution, but was financially reckless; both she and her husband were imprisoned for debt. The Serres came to a parting of the ways, with acrimony on both sides: from Serres because Olive had had several affairs when he was away, and from Olive because she was given an allowance of only £200 per annum. George Fields, an artist friend, moved in with Olive and she gave birth to his son prior to her divorce in 1804.
Warwick is the county town of Warwickshire, England. It lies near the River Avon, 11 miles (18 km) south of Coventry and just west of Leamington Spa and Whitnash. At the 2011 Census, the population was 31,345. Signs of human activity date to the Neolithic period and constant habitation to the 6th century AD. It was a Saxon burh in the 9th century; Warwick Castle was built during the Norman conquest of England. Warwick School claims to be the country's oldest boys' school. The earldom of Warwick, created in 1088, controlled the medieval town and built town walls, of which Eastgate and Westgate survive. The castle grew into a fortress, then a country house. The Great Fire of Warwick in 1694 destroyed much of the medieval town. Warwick missed 19th-century industrialisation, but has grown since 1801, when the population was 5,592.
James Wilmot was an English clergyman and scholar from Warwickshire. During his lifetime, he was apparently unknown beyond his immediate circle.
Barton-on-the-Heath is a village and civil parish in the Stratford-on-Avon district of Warwickshire, England. According to the 2001 census the parish had a population of 85. From the Census 2011 population details are included in the neighbouring civil parish of Little Compton. The village is in the extreme south of Warwickshire, close to the borders with Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire. There is a church, dedicated to St Lawrence.
In 1817, Olive wrote a letter to the Prince Regent,[ citation needed ] claiming that she was the natural daughter of Prince Henry, Duke of Cumberland by Mrs. Olive Payne (who was James Wilmot's sister and her actual aunt). She asked the prince for financial support. In a petition to George III, she put forward a claim to be the natural daughter of the Duke of Cumberland, the king's brother.
George IV was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and King of Hanover following the death of his father, King George III, on 29 January 1820, until his own death ten years later. From 1811 until his accession, he served as Prince Regent during his father's final mental illness.
Prince Henry, Duke of Cumberland and Strathearn was the sixth child and fourth son of Frederick, Prince of Wales, and Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, and a younger brother of George III. His 1771 marriage to a commoner against the King's wishes prompted the Royal Marriages Act of 1772.
In 1820, after her father, her uncle, and King George III had died, she revised her story. James Wilmot, she claimed, had secretly married the princess Poniatowski, sister of King Stanislaus II of Poland, and their daughter had married the Duke of Cumberland in 1767 at the London house of a nobleman. Olive claimed to be the only child of this marriage, [ citation needed ]and that her mother had died "of a broken heart" on the Duke of Cumberland's "second" and "bigamous" marriage to Anne Horton.
She herself, ten days after her birth, was, she alleged, taken from her mother, and substituted for the still-born child of Robert Wilmot. [ citation needed ] She also claimed to have received support from the king of Poland and to have been created the Duchess of Lancaster by George III in May 1773, which, she said, entitled her to the income of the Duchy of Lancaster.[ citation needed ] In a memorial to George IV she assumed the title of Princess Olive of Cumberland, placed the royal arms on her carriage and dressed her servants in the royal liveries.According to Olive Serres, King George III had learned the truth and had given her £5000 in cash and a yearly pension of £500 for life.
The Duchy of Lancaster is, since 1399, the private estate of the British sovereign as Duke of Lancaster. The principal purpose of the estate is to provide a source of independent income to the Sovereign. The estate consists of a portfolio of lands, properties and assets held in trust for the Sovereign and is administered separately from the Crown Estate. The duchy consists of 18,433 ha of land holdings, urban developments, historic buildings and some commercial properties across England and Wales, particularly in Cheshire, Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, Lancashire and the Savoy Estate in London. The Duchy of Lancaster is one of two royal duchies: the other is the Duchy of Cornwall, which provides income to the Prince of Wales.
Olivia Serres's claim was supported by documents, and she bore sufficient resemblance to her alleged father to be able to impose on numerous gullible people. [ citation needed ]In 1821, she had herself rebaptized as the daughter of the Duke of Cumberland at Islington Church, and "announced" her parentage in several letters to the newspapers and in pamphlets. She actually succeeded in obtaining some courtesies in response to her claims of royal status, such as being permitted to pass through the Constitution Gate.
Duke of Cumberland is a peerage title that was conferred upon junior members of the British Royal Family, named after the historic county of Cumberland.
The same year, however, she was arrested again for debt and placed in the King's Bench Prison. She appealed to the public for contributions, placing posters reading "The Princess of Cumberland in Captivity!" all over London, and publishing, in 1822, further details of her claims. On her release, she had an affair with Sheriff J. W. Parkins, a London eccentric, who turned against her when she failed to honour her debts to him. She next had an affair with a young man who called himself William Henry FitzClarence, who claimed to be an illegitimate son of the Duke of Clarence.[ citation needed ]
Olive managed to persuade Sir Gerard Noel, a member of Parliament, to make inquiry into her claims, but by this time the royal family was fighting back. Having located her birth certificate, a statement by Robert Wilmot stating that he was her natural and lawful father , and a statement from Princess Poniatowski that none of King Stanislaus's sisters had ever been to England.[ citation needed ] In 1823 Sir Robert Peel, then Home Secretary, speaking in parliament, responded to Noel's speech in Olive's favour with a denunciation of her documents as forgeries and her story as a fabrication. It was concluded that her claims were false, but Olive escaped prosecution for forgery.[ citation needed ]
Her husband, who had never given her pretensions any support, expressly denied his belief in them in his will. [ citation needed ]Olive continued to have economical problems and was for the rest of her life in and out of debtors' prisons. In 1830 she again published a pamphlet staking a claim on royalty.
Serres became friendly with Lady Anne Hamilton, who had been lady-in-waiting to Queen Caroline, and gained her confidence. In 1832 Lady Anne wrote a history called "The Authentic Records of the Court of England for the Last Seventy Years", which contained many accusations of scandals. The publisher, J. Phillips, was prosecuted and convicted but fled into exile.Serres has been identified as the author of an expanded version of the text which included more scandals, from financial malpractice up to murder; the resulting book was published in two volumes under the title "The Secret History of the Court of England", but still claiming that Lady Anne Hamilton was the author. For her part, Lady Anne disclaimed any connection with the two volume publication. "The Secret History of the Court of England" was suppressed in the United Kingdom, a fact noted when it was much reprinted in the United States.
Serres died on 21 November 1834 leaving two daughters.
Her elder daughter married Antony Ryves, a portrait painter. She upheld her mother's claims and styled herself Princess Lavinia of Cumberland. In 1866 she took her case into court, producing all the documents on which her mother had relied, but the jury, without waiting to hear the conclusion of the reply for the crown, unanimously declared the signatures to be forgeries.
Serres' pretensions have been called the result of an absurd vanity. Between 1807 and 1815 she had made the acquaintance of some members of the Royal family. From this time onward, she is claimed to have been obsessed with the idea of raising herself, at all costs, to their social level. The tale once invented, she brooded so continuously over it that she may have ended by believing it herself.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Olivia Serres .|
Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg was Princess of Wales by marriage to Frederick, Prince of Wales. She was one of only four Princesses of Wales who never became queen consort as her eldest son succeeded her father-in-law as George III of the United Kingdom in 1760 rather than her spouse, who had died nine years earlier. Augusta was presumptive regent of Great Britain in the event of a regency between the death of her spouse in 1751, until the majority of her son in 1756, though in the event her father-in-law, George II, lived until 1760.
Maria Anne Fitzherbert was a longtime companion of George IV of the United Kingdom before he became king. In 1785, they secretly contracted a marriage that was invalid under English civil law because his father, King George III, had not consented to it. She was a Roman Catholic and so had the marriage been approved and valid, George would have lost his place in the line of succession since the law then forbade Catholics and spouses of Catholics from becoming monarch. Before marrying the prince, Fitzherbert had been twice widowed. Her nephew-in-law from her first marriage, Cardinal Weld, persuaded Pope Pius VII to declare the marriage sacramentally valid.
The Royal Marriages Act 1772 was an act of the Parliament of Great Britain, which prescribed the conditions under which members of the British royal family could contract a valid marriage, in order to guard against marriages that could diminish the status of the royal house. The right of veto vested in the sovereign by this act provoked severe adverse criticism at the time of its passage. It was repealed as a result of the 2011 Perth Agreement, which came into force on 26 March 2015. Under the Succession to the Crown Act 2013, the first six people in the line of succession need permission to marry if they and their descendants are to remain in the line of succession.
Frederica of Mecklenburg-Strelitz was a German princess who became, by marriage, princess of Prussia, princess of Solms-Braunfels, Duchess of Cumberland in Britain and Queen of Hanover as the consort of Ernest Augustus, King of Hanover.
Anne, Princess Royal and Princess of Orange was the second child and eldest daughter of King George II of Great Britain and his consort Caroline of Ansbach. She was the spouse of William IV, Prince of Orange, the first hereditary stadtholder of all seven provinces of the Northern Netherlands. She was Regent of the Netherlands from 1751 until her death in 1759, exercising extensive powers on behalf of her son William V. She was known as an Anglophile, due to her English upbringing and family connections, but was unable to convince the Dutch Republic to enter the Seven Years' War on the side of the British. Princess Anne was the second daughter of a British sovereign to hold the title Princess Royal. In the Netherlands she was sometimes known as Anna van Hannover.
Princess Thyra of Denmark, Danish pronunciation: [ˈtyːʁə], was the youngest daughter and fifth child of Christian IX of Denmark and Louise of Hesse-Kassel. In 1878, she married Ernest Augustus, the exiled heir to the Kingdom of Hanover. As the Kingdom of Hanover had been annexed by Prussia in 1866, she spent most of her life in exile with her husband in Austria.
This is a list of those who have held the title Princess of the United Kingdom from the accession of George I in 1714. This article deals with both princesses of the blood royal and women who become princesses upon marriage.
Princess Sophia Matilda of Gloucester was a great-granddaughter of King George II of Great Britain and niece of King George III.
Princess Mary, Duchess of Gloucester and Edinburgh was the eleventh child and fourth daughter of King George III of the United Kingdom and his consort Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.
Cecilia Underwood, 1st Duchess of Inverness was a mistress of Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex. Despite marrying, their union was in contravention of the Royal Marriages Act 1772 and as such was considered legally void. Consequently, she could not be styled either as the Duchess of Sussex nor a Princess. She was created Duchess of Inverness, in her own right, by Queen Victoria, on 10 April 1840.
Maria, Duchess of Gloucester and Edinburgh was Countess Waldegrave from 1759 to 1766 as the wife of James Waldegrave, 2nd Earl Waldegrave, and a member of the British royal family from 1766 as the wife of Prince William Henry, Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh.
Lavinia Jannetta Horton Ryves, née Lavinia Serres, was a British woman claiming to be a member of the British royal family, calling herself "Princess Lavinia of Cumberland".
Duchess of Cambridge is the principal courtesy title held by the wife of the Duke of Cambridge. The title is legally gained upon marriage. Five of the eight Dukes of Cambridge did not marry, and thus there are only three Duchesses of Cambridge including the current Duchess, Catherine, wife of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge.
Anne, Duchess of Cumberland and Strathearn was a member of the British Royal Family, the wife of Prince Henry, Duke of Cumberland and Strathearn.
George Rex was a British-born entrepreneur who spent most of his adult life in the Cape Colony, South Africa. He founded the town of Knysna in the Western Cape and played a key role in its development. Rex filled a number of positions in the Cape Colony – including Marshal of the Vice-admiralty Court, notary public to the Governor and advocate for the Crown – before settling on the farm Melkhoutkraal, in the Knysna district. George Rex was the alleged first son of King George III.
Hannah Lightfoot the 'Fair Quaker' who is said to have been the first wife of George III of the United Kingdom.
John Thomas Serres was an English maritime painter who enjoyed significant success, including exhibiting extensively at the Royal Academy, and was for a time Maritime Painter to King George III.
Lady Anne Hamilton was a courtier and friend of the British queen Caroline of Brunswick.
Olive: Princess of Cumberland (1772–1834) - A Royal Scandal by Miles Macnair (Nov 2011). ISBN 978-1-85858-481-2
|Wikisource has the text of the 1885–1900 Dictionary of National Biography's article about Serres, Olivia .|