Dr George Nott

‘Deep down, Charlotte may have been disturbed by the extent to which Dr Fisher and Lady de Clifford argued, but the person who bore the brunt of the conflict was the Rev. Dr George Nott, her chaplain and sub – preceptor. Kindly, liberal, patient Dr Nott was responsible for religious instructions, English, Latin and ancient history, and he received conflicting instructions from the governess and preceptor in almost every field. On top of that, since he saw himself as Charlotte’s moral tutor, he added to his burden by trying to teach her to be honsest. But he was no more successful in that than in spelling. Charlotte wanted to mend her ways. She liked Dr Nott and was eager to please him. She told him so several times. In one note to him she wrote, “Let me most humbly implore your forgiveness…Never shall another lie come out of me.” But, like many children in discordant households, she had discovered that a little falsehood here and there could go a long way towards establishing her innocence or reducing the burden of her studies; it was a tool too useful to abandon completely.'[an extract from ‘Charlotte&Leopold’ by James Chambers]’But [Prince of Wales] made no attempt to settle the Bishop. His only desire was that the learned churchman, with daughters of his own, would cure Charlotte of telling lies. The Prince was well aware of his own tendency to lie when driven into a corner: “You know,” he once said to Lady Spencer, “you know that I don’t speak the truth, and that my brothers don’t…the Queen having taught us to prevaricate.” He hoped that the Bishop would teach Charlotte to be
truthful. But it was Dr. Nott, the Bishop’s assistant, who undertook this task. From eight to nine every morning, after reading prayers with the Princess, he gave her religious instruction and did his utmost to instil into her a determination to be honest as the day. “Never shall another lie come out of me!” she assured him in her impetuous way, and for the moment she meant it. She truly desired to please Dr. Nott. She wrote him little notes, telling him her problems, asking questions on religious matters: she had always taken an interest in religion, and when quite small had announced that in her opinion Joseph should not have been afraid of returning to Judea, when God had told him through an angel that he might do so. “But I leave that”, she ended, “to be settled by the Bishop of London and Lady Elgin.”

Dr. Nott always answered her notes most helpfully and kindly. He also tried to teach her English, Latin, and “Ancient” History for an hour and a half each day. It must have been uphill work. Charlotte was woefully ignorant: her education under Lady Elgin had been sketchy. Scholarly Dr. Nott was grieved by her handwriting and appalled by her spelling: she made mistakes, he said, “which a common servant would have blushed to have committed”.

He upbraided her for her laziness and lack of interest: “When are we to have the satisfaction of seeing your mind animated with a becoming pride and a generous resolution to improve?” he wrote after three months of unrewarding labour.

He also tried to curb her violent bursts of rage, but without success. Although truly penitent and anxious to please him, Charlotte went on scamping her homework, refusing to learn, and making scenes. In the end Dr. Nott broke down: the strain was too great.

Charlotte, now ten years old, was stricken with remorse: his illness was her fault. He might die, and she would be to blame. She prayed fervently, for forgiveness – God’s and Dr Nott’s – and for his recovery.

Fortunately, he survived. “Now”, wrote Charlotte, “I shall labour to recover your health by my industry, and wish to please and make you happy.”

[an extract from ‘Prinny’s Daughter: A Biography of Princess Charlotte of Wales’ by Thea Home]

dr nottPicture: Armorial bookplate of George Frederick Nott from http://www.flickr.com/photos/58558794@N07/8524211701/

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