Published online by Cambridge University Press: 11 February 2009
The essay examines the forced resignation of the duke of York as commander-in-chief of the British army in 1809 as a case study in the complexities of patriotism during the Napoleonic war. The recent work of Linda Colley and others has emphasized the conservative use of wartime patriotism as a means of defending the established political order in general and royalty in particular. But the parliamentary and outdoor pressure that prompted the duke to step down in response to suspicions that he had permitted his mistress to trqffick in army commissions indicates that staunch supporters as well as critics of the status quo did not hesitate to invoke patriotism as a means of criticizing royalty when it was thought to have neglected its duty to set a good moral example to the nation. There is no question that a large majority of the duke's critics felt that royalty was integral to what they believed was Britain's uniquely privileged position in the world. But the York affair suggests that a great many ‘patriotic’ Britons felt that the royal family had to be protected from its own occasional indiscretions as well as from the Napoleonic peril.
1 Hansard, XII, col. 186 (27 Jan. 1809).
2 Ibid. XIII, col. 709 (17 March 1809).
3 Nicholas, Cox, ‘Aspects of English radicalism: the suppression and re-emergence of the constitutional radical tradition 1795–1809’ (unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University of Cambridge, 1971), pp. 340–62Google Scholar; Dinwiddy, J. R., ‘Parliamentary reform as an issue in English politics, 1800–1810’ (unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University of London, 1971), ch. 5Google Scholar; John, Cannon, Parliamentary reform 1640–1832 (Cambridge, 1973), p. 152.Google Scholar
5 See for example [Anon, .], Authentic memoirs of Mrs. Clarke (London, 1809), pp. 52 ff.Google Scholar; [Anon.], Royal love lyrics, from royal love letters, with notes and illustrations (London, 1809)Google Scholar; Pindar, Peter Junior [pseud.’, Three r–––l bloods (London, 1812), p. 5Google Scholar; Wardle, Gwyllym Lloyd [pseud.], Biographical memoirs & anecdotes of the celebrated Mrs. Clarke, giving a true and impartial account of her adventures and intrigues from her birth to the present time (London, n.d.: 1809?), p. 20.Google Scholar
6 For Caroline, see Prothero, Iorwerth J., Artisans and radicals in early nineteenth-century London: John Gast and his times (Folkestone, 1979), ch. 7Google Scholar; Laqueur, Thomas W., ‘The Queen Caroline affair: politics as art in the reign of George IV, Journal of Modem History, LIV (1982), 417–66CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Anna, Clark, ‘Queen Caroline and the sexual politics of popular culture in London, 1820’, Representations, XXXI (1990), 47–68Google Scholar; Hunt, Tamara L., ‘Morality and monarchy in the Queen Caroline affair’, Albion, XXIII (1991), 697–722.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
7 See for instance Hansard, XX, cols. 470–7 (6 June 1811); Morning Chronicle, 28 May 1811; Scourge (June 1811), 486.
8 See for example Greville's account of the outpouring of ‘panegyricks upon his publick services and his private virtues’ at the time of his death in 1827. Lytton, Strachey and Roger, Fulford (eds.), The Greville memoirs, 1814–1860 (8 vols., London, 1938), 1, 167Google Scholar (12 Feb. 1827).
10 Linda, Colley, Britons: forging the nation 1707–1837 (New Haven, 1992), p. 371Google Scholar. For similar reasoning, see Colley, , ‘Whose nation? Class and national consciousness in Britain 1750–1830’, Past & Present, no. 113 (1986), especially 103–4, 114–17Google Scholar. For even stronger statements of the contested nature of war-time patriotism, see Hugh, Cunningham, ‘The language of patriotism’, in Raphael, Samuel (ed.), Patriotism: the making and unmaking of British national identity (3 vols., New York and London, 1989), 1, esp. 65–6Google Scholar; Miles, Taylor, ‘John Bull and the iconography of public opinion in England, c. 1712–1929’, Past & Present, no. 134 (1992), esp. 95–8.Google Scholar
11 Linda, Colley, ‘The apotheosis of George III; loyalty, royalty and the British nation 1760–1820’, Past … Present, no. 102 (1984), 128.Google Scholar
15 This list of ‘stabilizers’ is based on the one provided by Mark, Philp in ‘The fragmented ideology of reform’, in Mark, Philp (ed.), The French Revolution and British popular politics (Cambridge, 1991), p. 50Google Scholar. For the force of loyalism and conservative thought, see for instance Dozier, Robert R., For king, constitution, and country: the English loyalists and the French Revolution (Lexington, KY, 1983)Google Scholar; Dickinson, H. T., Liberty and property: political ideology in eighteenth-century Britain (London, 1977), pp. 270–318Google Scholar; idem, ‘Popular loyalism in Britain in the 1790s’, in Eckhart, Hellmuth (ed.), The transformation of political culture: England and Germany in the late eighteenth century (Oxford, 1990), pp. 503–34Google Scholar; Schofield, T. P., ‘Conservative political thought in Britain in response to the French Revolution’, Historical Journal, XXIX (1986), 601–22CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Robert, Hole, ‘British counter-revolutionary popular propaganda in the 1790s’, in Colin, Jones (ed.), Britain and revolutionary France: conflict, subversion and propaganda (Exeter, 1983), pp. 53–69Google Scholar. See also the compelling rejoinders of Mark, Philp, ‘The fragmented ideology’Google Scholar, and of John, Dinwiddy, ‘Interpretations of anti-Jacobinism’, in Philp, (ed.), French Revolution, pp. 50–7 and 38–49Google Scholar, respectively. For the institutional authority within the ‘balanced constitutions’, see for instance Clark, J. C. D., English society 1688–1832: ideology, social structure and political practice during the ancien regime (Cambridge, 1985)Google Scholar, and Joanna Innes's persuasive rebuttal, ‘Jonathan Clark, social history and England's “ancien regime”’, Past & Present, no. 115 (1987), 165–200Google Scholar. For pluralism and social institutions, see especially Christie, Ian R., Stress and stability in late eighteenth-century Britain: reflections on the British avoidance of revolution (Oxford, 1984)Google Scholar; idem, ‘Conservatism and stability in British society’, in Philp, (ed.), French Revolution, pp. 169–87Google Scholar; David, Eastwood, ‘Patriotism and the English state in the 1790s’, in Philp, (ed.), French Revolution, esp. pp. 161–5Google Scholar. For a sharply divergent assessment of British society in the revolutionary era, see Roger, Wells, Wretched faces: famine in wartime England, 1793–1801 (Gloucester, 1988)Google Scholar; idem, ‘English society and revolutionary politics in the 1790s: the case for insurrection’, in Philp, (ed.), French Revolution, pp. 188–226.Google Scholar
16 Hansard, XII, cols. 194–6 (27 Jan. 1809).
17 Perceval to George III, [2 Feb. 1809], The later correspondence of George III, ed. Arthur, Aspinall (5 vols., Cambridge, 1962), V, 187.Google Scholar
18 At one point, for instance, she claimed she was a widow, but was later forced to admit that for all she knew, her long-estranged husband was still very much alive. Hansard, XII, cols. 282–4, 334 (1 Feb. 1809).
19 See for example Edinburgh Annual Register, 11, part 1 (1809), 163Google Scholar; Hansard, XIII, cols. 178–9 (9 March 1809), 272–3 (10 March 1809), 367–8 (13 March 1809).
20 Perceval to George III, 14 Feb. 1809, Later correspondence of George III, ed. Aspinall, , V, 195.Google Scholar
21 For example, Christian Observer, VIII, no. 86 (Feb. 1809), 129–30, and no. 87 (March 1809), 196; W. H. Fremantle to the marquis of Buckingham, 16 Feb. 1809, Memoirs of the court and cabinets of George III, duke of Buckingham and Chandos (4 vols., London, 1855), IV, 318–19Google Scholar; Charles Watkin Williams Wynn to Henry Williams Wynn, 2 March 1809, Correspondence of Charlotte Grenville, lady Williams Wynn, with her three sons, ed. Rachel, Leighton (London, 1920), pp. 141–2Google Scholar; J. W. Ward to Helen d'Arcy Stewart, [Feb. 1809], Letters to ‘Ivy’ from the first earl of Dudley, ed. Romilly, S. H. (London, 1905), p. 65.Google Scholar
22 See for instance Courier, 20 Feb. 1809.
23 Hansard, XIII, cols. 61–2, 73–5 (8 March 1809).
24 Examiner, no. 63, 174 (12 March 1809).
25 Lord Auckland to Lord Grenville, 31 Jan. 1809, Historical Manuscripts Commission, Report on the manuscripts of J. B. Fortescue, esq., preserved at Dropmore (10 vols., London, 1892 ff.), IX, 276.Google Scholar
26 Hansard, XII, col. 336 (3 Feb. 1809).
27 Francis Horner to J. A. Murray, 2 Feb. 1809, British Library of Political and Economic Science (London School of Economics), Francis Horner papers, IV, fo. 31. See also Sydney Smith to John Allen, 21 Feb. 1809, Letters of Sir Sydney Smith, ed. Smith, Nowell C. (2 vols., Oxford, 1953), I, 155Google Scholar; third earl of Hardwicke to Charles Yorke, 1 March 1809, British Museum Additional Manuscripts (Add. MSS) 35394, fo. 2 (Hardwicke papers).
28 Mr. Redhead Torke's weekly political review, VI, no. 6 (11 Feb. 1809).
29 Examiner, no. 60 (19 Feb. 1809).
31 Iain, McCalman, Radical underworld: prophets, revolutionaries, and pornographers in London, 1795–1840 (Cambridge, 1988), pp. 39–42, 162–77, 204–31.Google Scholar
32 For instance, Rowlandson's, The road to preferment through Clarke's passage, in Stephens, F. G. and George, M. D. (eds.), Catalogue of prints and drawings in the British Museum (11 vols., 1870 ff.), VII, 758, no. 11239.Google Scholar
34 Christian Observer, VIII, no. 86 (Feb. 1809), 131.
35 Earl Grey to Lord Auckland, [Feb. 1809], The journal and correspondence of William, Lord Auckland, ed. Bishop of Bath & Wells, (4 vols., London, 1864), IV, 318.Google Scholar
36 Marquis of Buckingham to Lord Grenville, 12 Feb. 1809, Historical Manuscripts Commission, Fortescue, IX, 277.
37 Hansard, XIII, col. 590 (15 March 1809).
39 George III to Spencer Perceval, 20 Feb. 1809, Later correspondence of George III, ed. Aspinall, , v, 205.Google Scholar
40 See Thomas, Rowlandson, The prodigal son's resignation, in Stephens, and George, (eds.), Catalogue of prints and drawings in the British Museum, VIII, 771, no. 11267.Google Scholar
41 Hansard, XIII, col. 590 (15 March 1809).
43 For instance, Miss Elizabeth Taylor [pseud.?], Authentic memoirs of Mrs. Clarke, in which is portrayed the secret history and intrigues of many characters in the first circles offashion and high life (2nd edn, London, 1809).Google Scholar
44 Hansard, XIII, cols 281, 284 (10 March 1809).
48 Hansard, XII, col. 301 (14 March 1809).
49 Political register, XV, no. 8 (25 Feb. 1809), cols. 262–4; Clarke, Mary Anne, The rival princes (2 vols., London, 1810), I, p. X.Google Scholar
50 Earl Temple to the marquess of Buckingham, 26 Feb. 1809, Buckingham and Chandos, Memoirs of the court and cabinets of George III, iv, 325–6.Google Scholar
51 Courier, 13 Feb. 1809.
52 Kenneth, Garlick, Angus, Macintyre and Kathryn, Cave (eds.), The diary of Joseph Farington (14 vols., New Haven, 1978–1984), IX, 3404 (20 Feb. 1809).Google Scholar
53 Lady Williams Wynn to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, Thursday, n.d. , Correspondence of lady Williams Wynn, ed. Leighton, , p. 139.Google Scholar
54 Spencer Perceval to Charles Abbot, 18 Feb. 1809, Public Record Office (P.R.O.), Colchester papers, 30/9/15.
55 Duke of York to Charles Abbot, 23 Feb. 1809, Hansard, XII, cols. 1032–3 (23 Feb. 1809).
59 Courier, 24 Feb. 1809.
60 Hansard, XIII, cols. 230–1 (9 March 1809).
61 For example, Sun, 2 Feb. 1809; Times, 29 March 1809.
62 Political register, XV, no. 6, col. 221 (11 Feb. 1809).
65 William, Jerdan, The autobiography of William Jerdan (4 vols., London, 1842), I, 111–12Google Scholar. For a detailed assessment of right-wing newspapers' coverage of the York affair, see Sack, James J., From Jacobite to conservative: reaction and orthodoxy in Britain, c. 1760–1832 (Cambridge, 1993), pp. 138–40.Google Scholar
66 Horner, to J. A. Murray, 11 Feb. 1809, Memoirs and correspondence of Francis Horner, ed. Leonard, Horner (2 vols., London, 1843), I, 453.Google Scholar
67 Marquis of Buckingham to Thomas Grenville, 7 March 1809, Add. MSS 41852, fos. 346–7 (Thomas Grenville papers).
70 Morning Chronicle, 20 Feb. 1809.
71 Sun, 16 March 1809.
72 Horner to J. A. Murray, 25 March 180g, Horner papers, vol. IV, fo. 46.
73 Hansard, XLL, col. 190 (27 Jan. 1809).
75 For details of the suits, see Thorne, (ed.), The house of commons, 1790–1820, V, 487–8Google Scholar; Trial: the king, on the prosecution of Gwyllym Lloyd Wardle, esq., M.P., against Francis Wright, Daniel Wright, and Mary Anne Clarke (London, 1809)Google Scholar; General Evening Post, 12 Dec. 1809; Lieutenant-General Sir Thomas Trigge to Sir Charles [Hastings], 13 Dec. 1809, Historical Manuscripts Commission, Report on the manuscripts of the late Reginald Rawdon Hastings, esq., of the manor house, Ashby de la £ouche (3 vols., London, 1928), III, 75–6.Google Scholar
78 Clarke, , The rival princes, I, 22–3Google Scholar. Kent ostensibly sought revenge against the commander-in-chief for having been relieved of his command of the garrison at Gibraltar after his harsh disciplinary methods had incited a mutiny there.
79 Satirist (June 1811), p. 502.
81 Hansard, XIII, cols. 52–3 (8 March 1809).
83 Courier, 16 Feb. 1809.
84 Times, 13 March 1809.
85 See for example Thompson, E. P., The making of the English working class (Vintage edn, London, 1963), p. 79Google Scholar; James, Epstein, ‘Understanding the cap of liberty: symbolic practice and social conflict in nineteenth-century England’, Past & Present, no. 122 (1989), 75–118Google Scholar; Cunningham, , ‘The language of patriotism’, esp. 57–62Google Scholar; John, Belchem, ‘Republicanism, constitutionalism, and the radical platform’, Social history, VI (1981), 1–32.Google Scholar
86 For a detailed discussion of ‘constitutionalist’ radicalism during the Napoleonic wars, see Philip, Harling, The waning of ‘Old Corruption’: the politics of economical reform in Britain, 1779–1846 (Oxford, 1996), ch. 4.Google Scholar
87 Major John Cartwright to Thomas Northmore, 27 June 1809, The life and correspondence of Major Cartwright, ed. Cartwright, F. D. (2 vols., London, 1826), I, 391Google Scholar. Reid, , Memoirs of the life of Colonel Wardle, pp. 33–216Google Scholar, gives excerpts from roughly seventy-five of the meetings.
88 Political register, XV, no. 13, col. 502 (1 Apr. 1809); no. 18, col. 702 (6 May 1809); no. 17, col. 644 (29 Apr. 1809).
89 See for example Political register, XV, no. 17, col. 644 (29 apr. 1809).
90 See note 3.
91 Political register, XV, no. 18, col. 704 (6 May 1809).
93 Reid, , Memoirs of the life of Colonel Wardle, p. 38Google Scholar: speech of a Mr Quinn at the Common Hall meeting of 1 Apr. 1809.
94 Norfolk chronicle, 6 May 1809.
95 Gentleman's magazine, lxxix, 348 (Apr. 1809).
96 Political register, XV, no. 18, col. 701 (6 May 1809).