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Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn

Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn

Prince of Great Britain
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro Prince of Great Britain
A.K.A. Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn
Gender male
Birth 2 November 1767 (London)
Death 23 January 1820 (Sidmouth)
Family
Mother: Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
Father: George III of Great Britain
Spouse: Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld
Children: Queen Victoria
The details
Biography

The Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn KG KP GCB GCH PC (Edward Augustus; 2 November 1767 – 23 January 1820) was the fourth son and fifth child of King George III of the United Kingdom and the father of Queen Victoria.
Prince Edward was created Duke of Kent and Strathearn and Earl of Dublin on 23 April 1799 and, a few weeks later, appointed a General and commander-in-chief of British forces in North America. On 23 March 1802, he was appointed Governor of Gibraltar and nominally retained that post until his death. The Duke of Kent was appointed Field-Marshal of the Forces on 3 September 1805.
He was the first member of the royal family to live in North America for more than a short visit (1791–1800) and, in 1794, the first prince to enter the United States (travelling to Boston on foot from Lower Canada) after independence.
On June 27, 1792, Edward is credited with the first use of the term "Canadian" to mean both French and English settlers in Upper and Lower Canada. The Prince used the term in an effort to quell a riot between the two groups at a polling station in Charlesbourg, Lower Canada. Recently he has been styled the "Father of the Canadian Crown" for his impact on the development of Canada.

Early life

Prince Edward was born on 2 November 1767. His parents were the reigning British monarch, George III, and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.

As a son of the British monarch, he was styled His Royal Highness The Prince Edward from birth, and was fourth in the line of succession to the throne. He was named after his paternal uncle, the Duke of York and Albany, who had died several weeks earlier and was buried at Westminster Abbey the day before his birth.

Prince Edward was baptised on 30 November 1767; his godparents were the Hereditary Prince of Brunswick-Lüneburg (his paternal uncle by marriage, for whom the Earl of Hertford, Lord Chamberlain, stood proxy), Duke Charles of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (his maternal uncle, for whom the Earl of Huntingdon, Groom of the Stole, stood proxy), the Hereditary Princess of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel (his paternal aunt, who was represented by a proxy) and the Landgravine of Hesse-Kassel (his paternal grandfather's sister, for whom the Duchess of Argyll, Lady of the Bedchamber to the Queen, stood proxy).

Army

The Prince began his military training in Germany in 1785. King George III intended to send him to the University of Göttingen, but decided against it upon the advice of the Duke of York. Instead, Prince Edward went to Lüneburg and later Hanover, accompanied by his tutor, Baron Wangenheim. From 1788 to 1789, he completed his education in Geneva.

In 1789, he was appointed colonel of the 7th Regiment of Foot (Royal Fusiliers). In 1790, he returned home without leave and, in disgrace, was sent off to Gibraltar as an ordinary officer. He was joined from Marseilles by Madame de Saint-Laurent.

Canada

Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn By William J. Weaver, Province House (Nova Scotia)

Due to the extreme Mediterranean heat, Edward requested to be transferred to Canada, specifically Quebec, in 1791. Edward arrived in Canada in time to witness the proclamation of the Constitutional Act of 1791, become the first member of the Royal Family to tour Upper Canada and became a fixture of British North American society. Edward and his mistress, Julie St. Laurent, became close friends with the French Canadian de Salaberry family - the Prince mentored all of the family's sons throughout their military careers. Edward guided Charles de Salaberry throughout his career, and made sure that the famous commander was duly honoured after his leadership during the Battle of Chateauguay.

The prince was promoted to the rank of major-general in October 1793 and the next year served successfully in the West Indies campaign being mentioned in dispatches and receiving the thanks of parliament.

After 1794, Prince Edward lived at the headquarters of the Royal Navy's North American Station which was Halifax, Nova Scotia. He was instrumental in shaping that settlement's military defences, protecting its important Royal Navy base, as well as influencing the city's and colony's socio-political and economic institutions. Edward was responsible for the construction of Halifax's iconic Garrison Clock, as well as numerous other civic projects (St. George's Round Church). Lieutenant Governor Sir John Wentworth and Lady Francis Wentworth provided their country residence for the use of Prince Edward and Julie St. Laurent. Extensively renovated, the estate became known as "Prince's Lodge" as the couple hosted numerous dignitaries, including Louis-Phillippe of Orléans (the future King of the French). The only remains of the residence is a small rotunda built by Edward for his regimental band to play music.

Prince Edward commemorated Lt. Benjamin James, Royal Nova Scotia Regiment, who died while trying to rescue those who drowned in HMS Tribune (1797), Old Burying Ground (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

After suffering a fall from his horse in late 1798, was he allowed to return to England. On 24 April 1799, Prince Edward was created Duke of Kent and Strathearn and Earl of Dublin, received the thanks of parliament and an income of £12,000. In May that same year the Duke was promoted to the rank of general and appointed Commander-in-Chief of British forces in North America. He took leave of his parents 22 July 1799 and sailed to Halifax. Just over twelve months later he left Halifax and arrived in England on 31 August 1800 where it was confidently expected his next appointment would be Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.

Gibraltar

Appointed Governor of Gibraltar by the War Office, gazetted 23 March 1802, the Duke took up his post on 24 May 1802 with express orders from the government to restore discipline among the drunken troops. The Duke's harsh discipline precipitated a mutiny by soldiers in his own and the 25th Regiment on Christmas Eve 1802. The Duke of York, then Commander-in-Chief of the Forces, recalled him in May 1803 after receiving reports of the mutiny, but despite this direct order he refused to return to England until his successor arrived. He was refused permission to return to Gibraltar for an inquiry and, although allowed to continue to hold the governorship of Gibraltar until his death, he was forbidden to return.

As a consolation for the end of his active military career at age 35, he was promoted to the rank of field marshal and appointed Ranger of Hampton Court Park on 5 September 1805. This office provided him with a residence now known as The Pavilion. (His sailor brother William, with children to provide for, had been made Ranger of Bushy Park in 1797.) The Duke continued to serve as honorary colonel of the 1st Regiment of Foot (the Royal Scots) until his death.

Though it was a tendency shared to some extent with his brothers, the Duke's excesses as a military disciplinarian may have been due less to natural disposition and more to what he had learned from his tutor Baron Wangenheim. Certainly Wangenheim, by keeping his allowance very small, accustomed Edward to borrowing at an early age. The Duke applied the same military discipline to his own duties that he demanded of others. Though it seems inconsistent with his unpopularity among the army's rank and file, his friendliness toward others and popularity with servants has been emphasized. He also introduced the first regimental school. The Duke of Wellington considered him a first-class speaker. He took a continuing interest in the social experiments of Robert Owen, voted for Catholic emancipation, and supported literary, Bible and abolitionist societies.

His daughter, Victoria, after hearing Lord Melbourne's opinions, was able to add to her private journal of 1 August 1838 "from all what I heard, he was the best of all".


Personal life and interests

Marriage

Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, Commander-in-Chief, North America, 1791–1802

Role in the royal succession

Following the death in November 1817 of Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales, the only legitimate grandchild of George III, the royal succession began to look uncertain. The Prince Regent and his younger brother Frederick, the Duke of York, though married, were estranged from their wives and had no surviving legitimate children. King George's surviving daughters were all past likely childbearing age. The unmarried sons of King George III, the Duke of Clarence (later King William IV), the Duke of Kent, and the Duke of Cambridge, all rushed to contract lawful marriages and provide an heir to the throne. (The fifth son of King George III, the Duke of Cumberland, was already married but had no living children at that time, whilst the marriage of the sixth son, the Duke of Sussex, was void because he had married in contravention of the Royal Marriages Act 1772.)

Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld

For his part the Duke of Kent, aged 50, was already considering marriage and he became engaged to Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld (17 August 1786 – 16 March 1861) who had been the sister-in-law of his now-deceased niece Princess Charlotte. They were married on 29 May 1818 at Schloss Ehrenburg, Coburg, (Lutheran rite) and again on 11 July 1818 at Kew Palace, Kew, Surrey.

A widow with two children, Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld was the daughter of Duke Franz Friedrich of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld and sister of Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld husband of the recently-deceased Princess Charlotte. The new Duchess of Kent's first husband had been Emich Carl, 2nd Prince of Leiningen, with whom she had had two children: a son Carl and a daughter Feodora.

Issue

They had one child, Princess Alexandrina Victoria of Kent (24 May 1819 – 22 January 1901), who became Queen Victoria on 20 June 1837. The Duke took great pride in his daughter, telling his friends to look at her well, for she would be Queen of England and bringing the infant to a military review, to the outrage of the Prince Regent, who demanded to know what place the child had there.

Mistresses

Madame de Saint-Laurent- Mistress of Prince Edward

Various sources report that the Duke of Kent had mistresses. In Geneva, he had two mistresses, Adelaide Dubus and Anne Moré. Dubus died at the birth of their daughter Adelaide Dubus (1789 – in or after 1832). Anne Moré was the mother of Edward Schenker Scheener (1789–1853). Scheener married but had no children and returned to Geneva, perhaps significantly in 1837, where he later died.

In 1790, while still in Geneva, the Duke took up with "Madame de Saint-Laurent" (born Thérèse-Bernardine Montgenet), the wife of a French colonel. She went with him to Canada in 1791, where she was known as "Julie de Saint-Laurent". She accompanied the Duke for the next 28 years, until his marriage in 1818. The portrait of the Duke by Beechey was hers.

There is no evidence of children but many families in Canada have claimed descent from the couple.

Canadian Confederation

While Prince Edward lived in Quebec (1791–93) he met with Jonathan Sewell, an immigrant American Loyalist who played trumpet in the Prince's regimental band. Sewell would rise in Lower Canadian government to hold such offices as Attorney General, Chief Justice, and Speaker of the Legislative Assembly. In 1814, Sewell forwarded to the Duke a copy of his report "A plan for the federal union of British provinces in North America." The Duke supported Sewell's plan to unify the colonies, offering comments and critiques that would later be cited by Lord Durham (1839) and participants of the Charlottetown and Quebec Conferences (1864).

Edward's 1814 letter to Sewell:

My dear Sewell,

I have had this day the pleasure of receiving your note of yesterday with its interesting enclosure. Nothing can be better arranged than the whole thing is or more perfectly, and when I see an opening it is fully my intention to point the matter out to Lord Bathurst and put the paper in his hands, without however telling him from whom I have it, though I shall urge him to have some conversation with you relative to it. Permit me, however, just to ask you whether it was not an oversight in you to state that there are five Houses of Assembly in the British Colonies in North America. If I am not under an error there are six, viz., Upper and Lower Canada, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and the islands of Prince Edward and Cape Breton.

Allow me to beg of you to put down the proportions in which you think the thirty members of the Representatives Assembly ought to be furnished by each Province, and to suggest whether you would not think two Lieutenant-Governors with two Executive Councils sufficient for an executive government of the whole, namely one for the two Canadas, and one for New Brunswick and the two small dependencies of Cape Breton and Prince Edward Island, the former to reside in Montreal, and the latter at whichever of the two (following) situations may be considered most central for the two provinces whether Annapolis Royal or Windsor.

But, at all events, should you consider in your Executive Councils requisite I presume there cannot be a question of the expediency of comprehending the two small islands in the Gulf of St. Lawrence with Nova Scotia.

Believe me ever to remain, With the most friendly regard, My dear Sewell, Yours faithfully,

EDWARD

United Grand Lodge of England

In January 1813 Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex, became Grand Master of the Premier Grand Lodge of England, and in December of that year Prince Edward became Grand Master of the Antient Grand Lodge of England. On 27 December 1813 the United Grand Lodge of England was constituted at Freemasons' Hall, London with the Duke of Sussex as Grand Master.

Later life

Castle Hill Lodge 1814

The Duke of Kent purchased a house of his own from Mrs. Fitzherbert in 1801. Castle Hill Lodge on Castlebar Hill Ealing was then placed in the hands of architect James Wyatt and more than £100,000 spent. Near neighbours from 1815 to 1817 at Little Boston House were US envoy and future US President John Quincy Adams and his English wife Louisa. "We all went to church and heard a charity sermon preached by a Dr Crane before the Duke of Kent", wrote Adams in a diary entry from August 1815.

Following the birth of Princess Victoria in May 1819, the Duke and Duchess, concerned to manage the Duke's great debts, sought to find a place where they could live inexpensively. After the coast of Devon was recommended to them they leased from a General Baynes, intending to remain incognito, Woolbrook Cottage on the seaside by Sidmouth.

Death

The Duke of Kent died of pneumonia on 23 January 1820 at Woolbrook Cottage, Sidmouth, and was interred in St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle. He died six days before his father, George III, and less than a year after his daughter's birth.

He predeceased his father and his three elder brothers but, as none of his elder brothers had any surviving legitimate children, his daughter Victoria succeeded to the throne on the death of her uncle King William IV in 1837.

In 1829 the Duke's former aide-de-camp purchased the unoccupied Castle Hill Lodge from the Duchess in an attempt to reduce her debts; the debts were finally discharged after Victoria took the throne and paid them over time from her income.

Titles, styles, honours and arms

Arms of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn used from 1801 until his death.

Titles and styles

  • 2 November 1767 – 24 April 1799: His Royal Highness The Prince Edward
  • 24 April 1799 – 23 January 1820: His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent and Strathearn

Honours

Prince Edward was appointed a Knight of the Order of St. Patrick on 5 February 1783 and a Knight of the Order of the Garter on 2 May 1786. George III appointed him a member of the Privy Council on 5 September 1799. His elder brother, the Prince Regent (later King George IV), appointed the Duke of Kent a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath in the military division on 2 January 1815 and a Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Guelphic Order (military division) on 12 August 1815.

Arms

As a son of the sovereign, the Duke of Kent had use of the arms of the kingdom from 1801 to his death, differenced by a label argent of three points, the centre point bearing a cross gules, the outer points each bearing a fleur-de-lys azure.

The Duke of Kent and Strathearn was the last Grand Master of the Ancients Grand Lodge of England before the Union of that body with the Premier (Moderns) Grand Lodge of England to form the United Grand Lodge of England in December 1813. His Brother the Duke of Sussex became the first Grand Master of the latter Institution.

Legacy

Plaque attached to portrait of Prince Edward that hangs at Government House, Prince Edward Island
Edward Scriven engraving of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathern (1834) after W. Beechey's portrait. Presented by Professor Thomas H.B. Symons to Mr. Charles MacKay, Clerk of the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island, in the presence of Ms. Catherine Hennessey on Friday, October 11, 2013. A plaque under the engraving reads "Donated by Tidridge Family in honour of Catherine Hennessey CM". The engraving remains on permanent display at Province House.

In Canada

Prince Edward Island

  • The legislature of St. John’s Island voted to change its name to Prince Edward Island in honour of Prince Edward on November 29, 1798. The Act received Royal Assent by King George III on February 2, 1799, and came into effect on June 3, 1799.
  • Kent College (Established in 1804 by Lieutenant Governor Edmund Fanning and his Legislative Council, the college would eventually become the University of Prince Edward Island), Charlottetown
  • Kent Street, Charlottetown
  • Prince Edward Battery
  • Kent Street, Georgetown

A copy of Sir William Beechy's portrait of the Duke of Kent hangs in Prince Edward Island's Government House.

Nova Scotia

  • Castle Hill Drive, Halifax (named after an English residence in Ealing, West London, purchased by the Duke of Kent from Maria Fitzherbert in 1800)
  • Chain Rock Drive, Halifax (named after an iron ring leftover from a chain Prince Edward ordered slung across Bedford Basin as part of its defences)
  • Edwardsville, Cape Breton Island
  • Julie’s Walk, Halifax (named after Madame de St. Laurent)
  • Kent Avenue, Halifax
  • Kent Park, Halifax
  • Kent Street, Halifax
  • Kentville, King's County (Named in 1826 after a vote by the inhabitants to honour a 1794 visit by the Prince)
  • Lodge Drive and Lodge Crescent, Halifax (Named after the Prince’s Lodge)
  • Martinique Beach, Halifax (Prince Edward took part in the 1794 Capture of Martinique)
  • Point Edward, Cape Breton Island (Named in the 1790s)
  • Prince Edward Trail, Hemlock Ravine Park, Halifax
  • Prince’s Lodge and Hemlock Ravine, Halifax
  • Prince’s Walk, Halifax
  • St. Laurent Place, Halifax

A copy of Sir William Beechey's portrait of the Duke of Kent hangs in the salon of Nova Scotia's Government House.

Quebec

  • The Duke of Kent Tournament and Trophy, Royal Quebec Golf Club
  • Kent Course, Royal Quebec Golf Club
  • Kent House, Quebec City (Home of Prince Edward from 1791–1794 – currently the Residence of the French Consulate in Quebec)
  • Kent House, Montmorency Falls
  • Kent Gate, Quebec City (Built in 1879, and partially funded by Queen Victoria, to honour the Duke of Kent’s residence in Quebec)
  • Rue du Duc-de-Kent, Quebec City
  • Rue du Duc-de-Kent, Beauport
  • Rue Kent, Gatineau
  • Rue Kent, Longueuil
  • Rue Kent, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue
  • Rue du Prince-Édouard, Quebec City
  • Avenue Duke-of-Kent, Pointe-Claire

New Brunswick

  • Kent County
  • Prince Edward Street, Saint John
  • Prince Edward Square, Saint John
  • Telegraph Hill (Named after the semapore-telegraph system set up by the Duke of Kent between Halifax and Fredericton)

Ontario

  • Kent Street, Ottawa (Originally called Hugh Street, it was renamed after the Duke of Kent in the late 19th century)
  • Prince Edward County
  • Prince Edward Street, Brighton
  • Point Edward Village
  • Township of Edwardsburgh/Cardinal

Rest of the World

South Africa

The smaller of the two islands of the Prince Edward Islands is named after him.

United Kingdom

There is a bronze statue of the prince in Park Crescent, London. Sculpted by Sebastian Gahagan and installed in January 1824, the statue is seven feet two inches (2.18m) tall and represents the Duke in his Field Marshal's uniform, over which he wears his ducal dress and the regalia of the Order of the Garter.

Ancestors

The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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