Tag Archives: miss frances garth

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

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


Royal Nursery: Countess of Elgin

‘A few weeks later the Prince was faced with another crisis. Lady Dashwood became gravely ill, and could not attend to her duties in the Royal Nursery (…) It was several months before “this most incomparable and amiable woman” was replaced. Eventually, in January 1797, Martha Countess of Elgin was appointed. A new set of nursery rules was drawn up, ‘TO BE OBSERVED BY LADY ELGIN AND MISS GARTH AS GOVERNESS AND SUB-GOVERNESS TO HER ROYAL HIGHNESS THE PRINCESS CHARLOTTE OF WALES.’

Regularity of hours, the importance of midday sleep and daily airing are stressed. “It is absolutely necessary that her R.H. goes to bed at or before eight o’clock-& it is requested that either Lady Elgin or Miss Garth will attend occasionally at her Royal Highness’s dinner supper&undressing.” There is no mention of the child’s mother, and once again the rules are signed by the Prince.’

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

‘In 1804, Princess Charlotte’s little world received a fresh shock. Lady Elgin, now in her sixties, and suffering from gout and weak health, resigned. There is a suggestion, in her letter to the King, that she was compelled to do so, “by a new arrangement of education deemed necessary, as her Royal Highness is advancing in life’. Whatever the reason, this resignation was unfortunate from Charlotte’s point of view: ‘Eggy’ was the one person – apart from her grandfather – for whom she had both respect and affection. It is noticeable that in the new regime which followed, the young Princess began to show signs of becoming a problem child. She was noisy and disobedient; she showed off and told lies. Gentle, good Lady Elgin, who had watched over her “precious charge” so carefully, had succeeded in curbing her temper and instilling in her something of the prim virtue of the model child of that period; and although Charlotte’s temperament was far too passionate and impulsive to remain within these bounds, her affection to Lady Elgin often brought her to her senses when nothing else would. Under ‘Eggy’ we find Charlotte, age five, weaving a tasselled cape string for her grandfather, and sewing laboriously and probably not very well at a footstool for the Queen. She wrote to the King that she wished the cape string were better, “but it is the first I have ever done…” “Pray come back soon to Kew,” she ends, “and for Eggy and me,” and signed herself “Your dutiful Child, Charlotte”. This docile child was to vanish with Lady Elgin’s departure.

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


Portrait: Martha Bruce, Countess of Elgin and Kincardine by Allan Ramsay, 1762, National Gallery of Scotland

Royal Nursery: Miss Frances Garth

‘Lady Dashwood, as governess, was supported by Miss Frances Garth, whose pedigree was considered by the King and the Queen to be impeccable. This was surprising, for by one of the strange anomalies to be met with in this family, she was the niece of General Thomas Garth, who, when Equerry to the King, had a love affair with his daughter Princess Sophia and got her with child.When Miss Garth was engaged as sub-governess, the Queen wrote to the Prince of Wales, ‘Her appearance is neat and clean, not offensive in her manners but modest and pleasing, not befeathered, nor any inclinations to get into the great world.’ If only she knew of what Glenbervie called ‘the supposed royal connection’, she certainly did not take advantage of it. The only criticism we hear of this admirable lady is that she was ‘lacking in firmness’, which as Charlotte grew from baby to child, was necessary in dealing with her.’
[an extract from ‘Prinny’s Daughter: A Biography of Princess Charlotte of Wales’ by Thea Home]
Picture: The Old Manor, Puddletown, Dorset where General Thomas Garth lived with his son. According to Wikipedia, ‘Garth rented Ilsington House at Puddletown, which was often visited by the royal family en route for Weymouth’. Picture taken from http://www.westcountrytiling.com/photos/gallery/large/new/47.jpg