Princess Augusta Sophia of the United Kingdom

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Princess Augusta Sophia
Augusta Sophia of the United Kingdom.jpg
Portrait by William Beechey
Born8 November 1768
Buckingham House, London, England
Died22 September 1840(1840-09-22) (aged 71)
Clarence House, London, England
Burial2 October 1840
House Hanover
Father George III of the United Kingdom
Mother Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz

Princess Augusta Sophia of the United Kingdom (8 November 1768 – 22 September 1840) was the sixth child and second daughter of King George III and Queen Charlotte.

George III of the United Kingdom King of Great Britain and Ireland

George III was King of Great Britain and King of Ireland from 25 October 1760 until the union of the two countries on 1 January 1801, after which he was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until his death in 1820. He was concurrently Duke and prince-elector of Brunswick-Lüneburg ("Hanover") in the Holy Roman Empire before becoming King of Hanover on 12 October 1814. He was the third British monarch of the House of Hanover, but unlike his two predecessors, he was born in Great Britain, spoke English as his first language, and never visited Hanover.

Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz Queen consort of the United Kingdom as the wife of King George III

Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz was the wife of King George III. She served as Queen of Great Britain and Queen of Ireland from her wedding in 1761 until the union of the two kingdoms in 1801, after which she was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until her death in 1818. She was also the Electress of Hanover in the Holy Roman Empire until the promotion of her husband to King of Hanover on 12 October 1814, after which she was also queen consort of Hanover.

Contents

Childhood and adolescence

A portrait of King George III, Queen Charlotte, and their six eldest children in 1770. Augusta is the baby in her mother's arms. King George III and Queen Charlotte with their six eldest children.jpg
A portrait of King George III, Queen Charlotte, and their six eldest children in 1770. Augusta is the baby in her mother's arms.

Princess Augusta Sophia was born at Buckingham House, London, the sixth child and second daughter of George III (1738–1820) and his wife Queen Charlotte. Her father so much wanted the new baby to be a girl that the doctor presiding over the labor thought fit to protest that "whoever sees those lovely Princes above stairs must be glad to have another." The King was so upset by this view he replied that "whoever sees that lovely child the Princess Royal above stairs must not wish to have the fellow to her." To the King's delight, and the Queen's relief, the baby was a small and pretty girl. [1]

Buckingham Palace Official London residence and principal workplace of the British monarch

Buckingham Palace is the London residence and administrative headquarters of the monarch of the United Kingdom. Located in the City of Westminster, the palace is often at the centre of state occasions and royal hospitality. It has been a focal point for the British people at times of national rejoicing and mourning.

Charlotte, Princess Royal British princess

Charlotte, Princess Royal, was Queen of Württemberg as the wife of King Frederick I. She was the first daughter and fourth child of King George III of the United Kingdom and his wife, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.

The young princess was christened on 6 December 1768, by Frederick Cornwallis, The Archbishop of Canterbury, in the Great Council Chamber at St. James's Palace. Her godparents were Prince Charles of Mecklenburg (her maternal uncle, who was visiting England), The Queen-consort of Denmark (her paternal aunt, for whom The Duchess of Ancaster and Kesteven, Mistress of the Robes to The Queen, stood proxy) and The Hereditary Duchess of Brunswick-Lüneburg (her paternal aunt, for whom The Duchess of Northumberland, Lady of the Bedchamber to The Queen, stood proxy). [2] Lady Mary Coke declared the month-old Augusta "the most beautiful infant I ever saw". [1]

Frederick Cornwallis Archbishop of Canterbury

Frederick Cornwallis was Archbishop of Canterbury, and the twin brother of Edward Cornwallis.

Archbishop of Canterbury senior bishop of the Church of England

The Archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop and principal leader of the Church of England, the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion and the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury. The current archbishop is Justin Welby, who was enthroned at Canterbury Cathedral on 21 March 2013. Welby is the 105th in a line which goes back more than 1400 years to Augustine of Canterbury, the "Apostle to the English", sent from Rome in the year 597. Welby succeeded Rowan Williams.

Caroline Matilda of Great Britain Queen consort of Denmark and Norway, 1766–1772

Caroline Matilda of Great Britain was by birth a Princess of Great Britain and member of the House of Hanover and by marriage Queen consort of Denmark and Norway from 1766 to 1772.

Princess Augusta was the middle of the elder trio of princesses that consisted of her, her older sister Charlotte (born 1766) and her younger sister Elizabeth (born 1770). In 1771, the two elder Princesses started traveling to Kew to take lessons under the supervision of Lady Charlotte Finch and Miss Frederica Planta. The Princesses, who had formerly been very close to their brothers now saw little of them, except when their paths crossed on daily walks. In 1774, Martha Goldsworthy, or "Gouly" became the new head of their educations. The Princesses learned typically feminine pursuits, such as deportment, music, dancing, and arts, but their mother also ensured that they learned English, French, German, Geography, and had well-educated governesses.

Princess Elizabeth of the United Kingdom member of the British Royal Family

Princess Elizabeth of the United Kingdom was the seventh child and third daughter of King George III and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. After marrying the Landgrave of Hesse-Homburg, Frederick VI, she took permanent residence in Germany as landgravine.

Kew Palace Grade I listed historic house museum in London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, United Kingdom

Kew Palace is a British royal palace in Kew Gardens on the banks of the Thames up river from London. Originally a large complex, few elements of it survive. Dating to 1631 but built atop the undercroft of an earlier building, the main survivor is known as the Dutch House. Its royal occupation lasted from around 1728 until 1818, with a final short-lived occupation in 1844. The Dutch House is Grade I listed, and open to visitors. It is cared for by an independent charity, Historic Royal Palaces, which receives no funding from the Government or the Crown. Alongside the Dutch House is a part of its 18th-century service wing, whilst nearby are a former housekeeper's cottage, brewhouse and kitchen block – most of these buildings are private, though the kitchens are open to the public. These kitchens and Queen Charlotte's Cottage are also run by Historic Royal Palaces.

Lady Charlotte Finch British noble

Lady Charlotte Finch served as royal governess to the children of King George III and Queen Charlotte for over thirty years, holding the position from 1762 to 1793. She was born to Thomas Fermor, 1st Earl of Pomfret, and his wife Henrietta Louisa Jeffreys, both of whom held court appointments. The couple were educated and frequently travelled with their growing brood of children to the continent. Charlotte, like her sisters, was well-educated; in 1746, she married the Hon. William Finch and had issue including George Finch, 9th Earl of Winchilsea.

Princess Augusta, aged thirteen. Princess Augusta in 1782.jpg
Princess Augusta, aged thirteen.

The young Augusta was a great favorite with Miss Planta, who called her "the handsomest of all the Princesses" though compared to her older sister, she was "childish". However, the princess was painfully shy, and stammered when in front of people she didn't know. From an early age Augusta was fixed on being good and was often upset when she did not succeed. Her behavior veered in between troublesome and well-mannered. She sometimes threw tantrums and hit her governesses, though she also often had a calm disposition and family-minded ways. She strongly disliked the political tensions that by 1780 had sprung up between her elder brothers and their parents, and preferred to occupy herself with her coin collection. As all her sisters were, Augusta was sheltered from the outside world so much that her only friends were her attendants, with whom she kept up a frequent correspondence.

In 1782, Augusta had her debut into society at the King's birthday celebrations. As she was still terrified of crowds, her mother did not tell her daughter about her debut until two days before it happened. Later that year, the Princess's youngest brother, Alfred, died, followed eight months later by her next youngest brother, Octavius. When the Princesses went to see the summer exhibition in 1783 at the Royal Academy, they were so distraught by the portraits of their two youngest brothers that they broke down and cried in front of everyone. In August 1783 came the birth of Augusta's youngest sibling, Amelia. She stood as a godmother, along with Charlotte and George. Although the birth of her sister did not erase the pain she felt at losing her brothers, Augusta did not dwell on their deaths as her father did.

Debutante upper class girl introduced to society

A debutante or deb is a young woman of aristocratic or upper-class family background who has reached maturity and, as a new adult, comes out into society at a formal "debut" or possibly debutante ball. Originally, the term meant the woman was old enough to be married, and part of the purpose of her coming out was to display her to eligible bachelors and their families with a view to marriage within a select circle.

Prince Alfred of Great Britain Member of the British Royal Family; 14th child and 9th son of King George III and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz

Prince Alfred was a member of the British Royal Family as the fourteenth child and ninth and youngest son of King George III and his queen consort, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Alfred became ill after his inoculation against the smallpox virus; his early death at the age of nearly two, along with the demise of his brother Prince Octavius six months later, was a shock to their parents. In his later bouts of madness King George would have imagined conversations with both of his youngest sons.

Prince Octavius of Great Britain British prince

Prince Octavius was the thirteenth child and eighth son of King George III and his queen consort, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Six months after the death of his brother Prince Alfred, Octavius was inoculated with the smallpox virus. Several days later, he became ill. His subsequent death at the age of four devastated his parents, and in particular his father. George bemoaned the death of his son, of whom he was exceedingly fond; the king's later bouts of madness would involve hallucinations of his two youngest sons.

By the time they reached their teens, the three eldest Princesses were spending a great deal of time with their parents. They accompanied them to the theater, to the Opera, and to Court, and their once academic lessons began to wind down, with music and the arts becoming the new focus. They heard famous actresses such as Sarah Siddons read, and along with Charlotte and their parents, Augusta met John Adams when he was presented to the Queen. The three girls were always dressed alike at public functions, the only difference ever in their dresses being color. Though so often displayed in public, Augusta still was happiest at home, where she adored her younger brothers Ernest, Augustus, and Adolphus. She was also extremely close to her sister Elizabeth, as Charlotte was often haughty and overly conscious of her position as Princess Royal. [1]

Sarah Siddons 18th-century Welsh-born actress

Sarah Siddons was a Welsh-born English actress, the best-known tragedienne of the 18th century. Contemporaneous critic William Hazlitt dubbed Siddons as "tragedy personified".

John Adams 2nd president of the United States

John Adams was an American statesman, attorney, diplomat, writer, and Founding Father who served as the second president of the United States from 1797 to 1801. Before his presidency he was a leader of the American Revolution that achieved independence from Great Britain, and also served as the first vice president of the United States. Adams was a dedicated diarist and regularly corresponded with many important figures in early American history including his wife and adviser, Abigail, and his letters and other papers are an important source of historical information about the era.

Ernest Augustus, King of Hanover King of Hanover

Ernest Augustus, known for most of his adult life as the Duke of Cumberland, was King of Hanover from 20 June 1837 until his death. He was the fifth son and eighth child of King George III of the United Kingdom and Hanover. As a fifth son, Ernest seemed unlikely to become a monarch, but none of his four elder brothers had a legitimate son who survived infancy. The Salic Law, which barred succession to or through a female, prevailed in Hanover; therefore, when his elder brother King William IV died in 1837, Ernest succeeded him as King of Hanover. In the United Kingdom the succession to the monarchy was determined by male-preference primogeniture, a different system, and his niece Victoria became queen, thus ending the personal union between the British and Hanoverian crowns that had existed since 1714.

Early adulthood

Since they were quickly approaching a marriageable age, Augusta and the Princess Royal were given their first lady-in-waiting in July 1783. Augusta frequently wrote to her elder brother William, who was in Hanover for military training. She was a good correspondent, telling him family news and encouraging him to tell her what was happening in his life. She reveled in his attention and in the little gifts he sent her, even though the Queen tried to discourage William from taking up his sister's valuable time. Though their academic lessons were nearly over, the Queen was loath to have her daughters waste time, and made sure that the Princesses spent hours studying music or art, learning many types of specialty work from different masters.

The princesses did not "dress" until dinner, wearing morning gowns nearly all day. Even when "dressed", the Royal family often wore plain clothes, far removed from the ornate splendor of other courts. As there were six princesses, the Queen's expenses even for these clothes was enormous, and she tried to keep costs down and within the allowance she was given. Moving into this new phase of life meant that the amount of money the Queen was spending on her three eldest daughters was rapidly increasing. The Princesses constantly needed dresses, hats, trimmings, fans, and other items. The quarterly expense for their clothes was estimated to be £2000, and the expense of all their servants and tutors added to that. Yet it all paid off in one way: the Princesses were quickly becoming a familiar sight to the public. When their group portrait was exhibited to the people, it was marveled at for the porcelain impersonal beauty they displayed. They were dressed the same, and only their accessories hinted at the very different personalities that lay underneath the painted masks. [1]

By 1785, Augusta and Charlotte were reaching an age where they could be considered as potential brides for foreign princes. In that year the Crown Prince of Denmark (later King Frederick VI) indicated to King George III that he would break off every other discussed proposal for the hand in marriage of a British princess. He was also supposed to prefer Augusta to her older sister. However, the King declared that after the horrible treatment of his younger sister by the Crown Prince's father, King Christian VII, he would never send one of his daughters to the Danish court. As their friends and ladies of the court began to get married, the princesses wondered when their turn would come. In 1797, she received a proposal from Prince Frederick Adolf of Sweden, a proposal given without the approval of the Swedish royal house. [3] A British princess, especially from so fertile a mother, was a prize, but Augusta's father seemed increasingly unwilling to allow his daughters to marry. [4]

Relationship with Brent Spencer

Largely denied access to personal relationships with men of their own rank, several of the daughters of George III embarked on such romances with gentleman at court. Augusta Sophia first met Sir Brent Spencer, a senior Anglo-Irish officer in the British Army, around 1800. As she wrote to her brother, the future King George IV, then Prince Regent, in 1812, the two had entered into an understanding around 1803, while Spencer was stationed in England. In 1805 he was appointed as an equerry to the king. The couple conducted their romance with the utmost privacy, and Augusta asked the Prince Regent in 1812 to consent to her marrying Spencer, promising further discretion in their behavior. [5] [6]

While no record of a marriage between the two exists, it was noted at the court of Hesse-Homburg at the time of her sister Elizabeth's marriage in 1818 that Augusta was "privately married." It was Spencer who informed Augusta of her mother's death later that year, and Spencer was said to be holding a locket with Augusta's picture when he died in 1828. [4] [7]

Later life

According to a flyer held by the V&A Archives, Princess Augusta was a patron of L. Bertolotto's flea circus.

In 1828 Augusta was heard to remark to a friend: “I was ashamed to hear myself called Princess Augusta, and never could persuade myself that I was so, as long as any of the Stuart family were alive; but after the death of Cardinal York [in 1807], I felt myself to be really Princess Augusta”. [8]

She died on 22 September 1840 at Clarence House, St. James, London, and was buried at St George's Chapel, Windsor on 2 October, after lying in state at Frogmore. [9]

Titles, styles, honours and arms

Titles and styles

Arms

As of 1789, as a daughter of the sovereign, Augusta Sophia had use of the arms of the kingdom, differenced by a label argent of three points, the centre point bearing a rose gules, the outer points ermine. [10]

Coat of Arms of Augusta Sophia of the United Kingdom.svg

Ancestors

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References

  1. 1 2 3 4 Princesses, The Six Daughters of George III. Flora Fraser.
  2. Yvonne's Royalty Home Page: Royal Christenings
  3. Charlottas, Hedvig Elisabeth (1936) [1800–1806]. af Klercker, Cecilia (ed.). Hedvig Elisabeth Charlottas dagbok [The diary of Hedvig Elizabeth Charlotte] (in Swedish). VII 1800-1806. Translated by Cecilia af Klercker. Stockholm: P.A. Norstedt & Söners förlag. pp. 270–271. OCLC   14111333. (search for all versions on WorldCat)
  4. 1 2 Princesses, the Six Daughters of George III. Flora Fraser.
  5. Dorothy Margaret Stuart, The Daughters of George III (Fonthill Media, 2017), pp 110–120
  6. Hadlow, Janice. A Royal Experiment.
  7. A Royal Experiment. Janice Hadlow.
  8. L. J. Jennings (ed.), The Croker Papers The Correspondence and Diaries of the Late Right Honourable John Wilson Croker. Volume I (London, 1885), p. 406.
  9. "No. 19902". The London Gazette (1st supplement). 7 October 1840. pp. 2222–2223.
  10. Marks of Cadency in the British Royal Family
  11. Genealogie ascendante jusqu'au quatrieme degre inclusivement de tous les Rois et Princes de maisons souveraines de l'Europe actuellement vivans [Genealogy up to the fourth degree inclusive of all the Kings and Princes of sovereign houses of Europe currently living] (in French). Bourdeaux: Frederic Guillaume Birnstiel. 1768. p. 5.

Further reading