Tag Archives: martha bruce countess of elgin and kincardine

The Affair With Testament (Part 1)

‘In March 1806, while they were living at Windsor, ten – year – old Charlotte went into a room where Mrs Campbell was writing at a table. When Charlotte asked what she was doing, Mrs Campbell answered that she was making her will.

“Then I’ll make mine too”, said Charlotte. And so she did, in the same childish detail as she kept her accounts.

“I make my will. First I leave all my best books, and all my books, to the Rev. Mr. Nott.
Secondly, to Mrs. Campbell my three watches and half my jewels.
Thirdly, I beg Mr. Nott, whatever money he finds me inpossession of, to distribute to the poor, and all my money I leave to the poor to them. I leave with Mr. Nott all my papers which he knows of, and I beg him to burn those which he sealed up. I beg the Prayer Book which Lady Elgin gave to me may be given to the Bishop of Exeter, and the Bible Lady Elgin gave me may be given to him also. Also all my playthings the Miss Fishers are to have. And lastly, concerning Mrs. Gagarin and Mrs. Louis, I beg that they may be very handsomly paid, and that they may have a house. Lady de Clifford the rest of my jewels, except those that are most valuable, and those I beg my father and mother, the Prince and Princess of Wales, to take. Nothing to Mrs. Udney, for reasons. I have done my will, and trust that after I am dead a great deal may be done for Mr. Nott. I hope the King will make him a Bishop.

Charlotte.
March, 1806
My birds to Mrs. Gagarin and my dog or dogs to Mrs. Anna Hatton my chambermaid.”

When Dr Nott saw the will, he entered into the spirit of the game and suggested that Charlotte was being too unkind to Mrs Udney. Charlotte agreed and added a codicil making a bequest to Mrs Udney as well. But by then, somehow – and it is not difficult to guess how – the original will had found its way into the hands of the Prince of Wales, who allowed himself to be convinced that it had been written under the influence of Mrs Campbell.

[an extract from ‘Charlotte&Leopold’ by James Chambers]

testament

Picture: an eighteenth century testament http://www.scottishhandwriting.com/18cTIntro.asp

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Lady de Clifford

Charlotte’s governess, Lady Elgin, has been asked to resign just before the move. Her only known offence had been to take Charlotte to visit her grandfather, the interfering old King. But she had done so without first obtaining permission from her father, and that had been more than enough to infuriate him (…)

In place of Lady Elgin, Charlotte’s father appointed the Dowager Lady de Clifford, a dignified but barely graceful Irish woman, who was well past fifty years old. She had lived for some time at the Palace of Versailles before the French Revolution; and the Prince, who, despite his many faults, was justifiably renowned for his deportment, hoped in vain that she might be able to imbue his daughter with some of the qualities of that most elegant of courts.

Charlotte was a temperamental tomboy, and Lady de Clifford was too good natured to discipline her effectively. Every time she tried to be strict, the Princess was more than a match for her. Charlotte might not have wanted to behave like a princess, but she was all too well aware that she was one, and she used the fact whenever it suited her.

On one occasion, when she burst merrily into a room, Lady de Clifford attempted to scold. “My dear Princess”, she said, “that is not civil; you should always shut the door after you when you come into a room”.

“Not I indeed”, said Charlotte. “If you want the door shut, ring the bell.”

Neither took their battles at heart, however. The antagonists were soon fond of each other, and Lady de Clifford did everything she could to make Charlotte’s life less lonely.

[an extract from ‘Charlotte&Leopold’ by James Chambers]

492px-Sophia,_mrs_Edward_Southwell,later Lady Clifford_by_Joshua_Reynolds

Picture: Sophia, mrs Edward Southwell, later Lady de Clifford (1743-1828) by Joshua Reynolds, 1766, Sotheby’s

An Unexpected Invitation To The Windsor Castle

‘”The formation of character” in Hannah More’s opinion, “is the grand object to be accomplished,” and here Lady Elgin would have agreed: the character of her “dear precious charge” was her constant preoccupation. Charlotte was emotional, affectionate, but strong – willed; moreover, she was highly strung and we hear of her being “nervous from the weather”. As Lady Elgin knew, she was also affected by the circumstances of her life; in particular, the highly charged atmosphere in which the Princess of Wales lived. In August 1804, Lady Elgin wrote from Shrewsbury Lodge, where she and Charlotte were staying for the summer, describing an unexpected visit from the Princess of Wales.

“On Sunday [August 19] her Royal Highness arrived in great spirits here calling from her carriage that she had great news to tell us, & desired us to guess what would give us the greatest pleasure. Princess Charlotte immediately exclaimed, <<Going to Windsor.>> <<Not just that,>> reply’d her Royal Highness, <<but you are going to Kew, to see their Majesties, &the King has wrote me to desire I would tell you to come in order to take leave of you and me>> (addressing Princess Charlotte) <<before he goes to Weymouth.>>”

“The Princess”, said Lady Elgin, “continued in high spirits and staid to luncheon.” But the Dowager grew more and more uneasy. It was very odd, this verbal message from the King, no word from the Queen, or from one of the princesses. She had never taken Charlotte to see her grandparents without a written invitation; and she began to fear that for some reason the Queen was angry with her.

The Princess offered to take them in her carriage, but Lady Elgin insisted that they should go separately, as Charlotte had better be kept quiet: she was already “agitated from her joy”. When they arrived, “the dear good King” received them with the greatest kindness, and took them into the dining – room. “I was quite stupefied,” wrote the poor worried lady, “when his Majesty said he was alone, and that he came merely to see the Princess of Wales and the dear little girl before he went to Weymouth.” The Princess of Wales the arrived, and the King took her into another room, leaving Lady Elgin trembling with agitation at the appalling breach of etiquette – to visit the King without the Queen’s command, or even knowledge. “I really never was in such a state,” she said; but she revived a little when the party sat down to dinner. The King ate heartily of pudding and dumpling, and insisted upon making the coffee himself.

As Lady Elgin was aware, the King had been seriously ill in 1801, another bout of the strange and frightening malady that affected his mind. This time the illness had been short – lived, but although his bodily health was good, he continued to become quickly excited or depressed, or to indulge in freakish impulses.

She felt now that there was something strange and unnatural in this summons. “I have got you, all to myself,” he said to Charlotte, embracing her fervently and, turning ti Lady Elgin, he added, “The Prince has given up the child to me, but it is not settled.” So nervous was she of the possible consequences of this unauthorized visit that she immediately wrote a full account of it to the Prince. He had been trying to negotiate a reconciliation with his father; but now he forgot everything in the drama of the moment. The King was planning to capture Princess Charlotte and return her to her mother, he believed. The Princess of Wales was trying to insinuate herself into the King’s favour, and must at all costs be thwarted. He told Lady Elgin to keep a close guard on Princess Charlotte; not to part with her “on any account or under any pretence whatsoever”.


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

charlotte caroline lady elgin and the king

Lady Elgin Doesn’t Like Princess of Wales And Charlotte Loves Performing

‘Charlotte, aged two, paid regular visits to her mother in Blackheath, but spent most of her time at Carlton House, where she occasionally saw her father. In March, she went to stay at Windsor, and the King gave her “a very large rocking horse”. She was overjoyed, and her aunts wished that the Prince had been there “to see her dear little countenance”. Lady Elgin, whom Charlotte called Eggy, was firm, kind and good, and tried to teach the child to love both her parents equally. This cannot have been easy, Lady Elgin did not approve of the Princess of Wales or her effect on Charlotte, and was tempted to cut short their visits to her. Lord Minto, who was often at Blackheath, wrote, “The child comes only when Lady Elgin chooses; she was there yesterday, and was led about by Lady Elgin in a leading – string; though she seems stout and able to trot without help.” He saw her again and told his wife that she was ‘one of the finest and pleasantest children I even saw…remarkably good and governable”. He may have changed his mind after his next visit. On this occasion, the Princess of Wales, giving a spirited performance of a fond mother, “romped about on the carpet” with her little girl, after which the ladies played on the pianoforte and the excited little girl danced, “which she likes as well as possible.” Charlotte, who was not yet three, then sang “God save the King”, followed by “Hearts of Oak”, and after this it is not surprising to learn that there was a scene: Charlotte screamed and stamped, and everybody scolded her. Miss Garth (who had returned on the departure of Miss Hayman) then said rather feebly, “You have been so very naughty I don’t know what we must do to you.””You must s’oot me,” said Charlotte, who had watched soldiers drilling at Weymouth.”‘
[an extract from ‘Prinny’s Daughter: A Biography of Princess Charlotte of Wales’ by Thea Home]

charlotte caroline and lady elgin

Miss Hayman Leaves

‘When Charlotte was one and a half she went to Weymouth with the King and the Queen and their daughters. Princess Elizabeth wrote to the Prince of Wales:”I must tell you an anecdote of Charlotte which has amused me much. When she goes to bed she always says, <<Bless papa, mamma, Charlotte and friends,>> but having been crueley [sic] bit by fleas the forgoing night, instead of ‘friends’ she introduced ‘fleas’ into her prayer. Lady Elgin being told of it said we must make her say ‘friends’; Miss Hayman with much humour answered, <<Why, Madam, you know we pray for our enemies & surely the fleas are [the] only ones H.R.H. has, so she is perfectly right.”It seems a pity that cheerful, jolly Miss Hayman did not remain with Charlotte; but she queered her own pitch by becoming too friendly with the Princess of Wales. The Princess took a fancy to her, and asked if Miss Hayman might be allowed to look after her accounts in her spare time. This produced an explosion from the Prince.

“The Sub-Governess is a person whose constant attendance must be such as will entirely preclude every other occupation…And as the welfare of my child, from the affection I bear to her, & not for the sake of worldly applause” (a hit at the Princess’s exhibitionism) “will ever be the constant object of my most vigilant care, I never shall relax in the smallest degree from that attention to her which I feel to be the true duty of a parent.”

Miss Hayman had no choice but to resign. Lord Minto, who was friendly with the Princess of Wales, wrote to his wife: “Miss Hayman has just been dismissed by the Prince because, being uncommonly agreeable and sensible, the Princess liked her company.”

So it was: you could not be a friend of the Princess and work for the Prince. Miss Hayman became Caroline’s Privy Purse, and shared her banishment from Court. But Princess Charlotte continued to enjoy her friendship.’

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

Princess_Elizabeth_(1770-1840)

Portrait: Princess Elizabeth of the United Kingdom (1770 – 1840) by Willam Beechay, Royal Collection

Charlotte And Her Family

‘In her childhood, Charlotte abounded in good health and ebullient high spirits. She was a beautiful little girl, as may be seen from Lawrence’s portrait of her. Not yet aware of the brooding bitterness and hatred which divided her parents, she found herself the centre of a benevolent world, where her every word received attention, and her pretty ways were greeted with rapture. As we have seen, at one and a half she was already acknowledging the cheers of the crowd and joining in their shouts of ‘Huzza’. When, from a window overlooking the Mall, she saw Canning ride past and raise his hat, she tried to imitate his gesture and tore her muslin cap. The impression one gets from all the early recorded stories of Charlotte is of a happy recklessness, and a warm heart. From the first she singled out her grandpapa as the person she was fondest of: it was a rather touching relationship, doomed to end abruptly with the King’s final withdrawal into the darkness of disease in 1811.

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Royal Nursery: Miss Hayman

‘After Lady Elgin had been with the Princess for six months, Miss Garth was replaced by Miss Hayman, who was described as “rough in manner, right in principle, blunt in speech, tender in heart”. She arrived at Carlton House on June 1, 1797, and is the first person to give us a description of Princess Charlotte.

“My little charge was playing about. I took no notice of her at first, except to admire her great beauty and great likeness to the Prince. She soon began to notice me; showed all her treasures and played all her little antics, which are numerous. She is the merriest little thing I ever saw – pepper – hot too: if contradicted she kicks her little feet about in a great rage, but the cry ends in a laugh before you know well which it is”.’

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

Picture: a detail from the portrait by Thomas Lawrence

Charlotte1806