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The Duke of York affair (1809) and the complexities of wartime patriotism*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 February 2009

Philip Harling
Affiliation:
University of Kentucky

Abstract

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.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1996

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References

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‘Aspects of English radicalism: the suppression and re-emergence of the constitutional radical tradition 1795–1809’ (unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University of Cambridge, 1971), pp. 340–62Google Scholar; Dinwiddy, J. R., ‘Parliamentary reform as an issue in English politics, 1800–1810’ (unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University of London, 1971), ch. 5Google Scholar; John, Cannon, Parliamentary reform 1640–1832 (Cambridge, 1973), p. 152.Google Scholar

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7 See for instance Hansard, XX, cols. 470–7 (6 June 1811); Morning Chronicle, 28 May 1811; Scourge (June 1811), 486.

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9 See Thorne, R. G. (ed.), The house of commons, 1790–1820 (5 vols., London, 1986), V, 487–90Google Scholar; Paul, Berry, By royal appointment: a biography of Mary Ann Clarke, mistress of the duke of York (London, 1970), pp. 70–1.Google Scholar

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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

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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).

30 Ibid. no. 65 (26 March 1809).

31 Iain, McCalman, Radical underworld: prophets, revolutionaries, and pornographers in London, 1795–1840 (Cambridge, 1988), pp. 3942, 162–77, 204–31.Google Scholar

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33 See, for instance, Lenore, Davidoff and Catherine, Hall, Family fortunes: men and women of the English middle class, 1780–1850 (Chicago, 1987), pp. 151–2Google Scholar; Anna, Clark, ‘Queen Caroline and the sexual politics of popular culture’, pp. 48–9, 52–4, 61–2.Google Scholar

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37 Hansard, XIII, col. 590 (15 March 1809).

38 Ibid. cols. 278–9 (10 March 1809).

39 George III to Spencer Perceval, 20 Feb. 1809, Later correspondence of George III, ed. Aspinall, , v, 205.Google Scholar

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41 Hansard, XIII, col. 590 (15 March 1809).

42 See for example Lynn Hunt, introduction, and Sarah, Maza, ‘The diamond necklace affair revisited (1785–1787): the case of the missing queen’, in Lynn, Hunt, (ed.), Eroticism and the body politic (Baltimore and London, 1991), 113, 6389Google Scholar; Colley, , Britons, pp. 251–2.Google Scholar

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).

45 Ibid. col. 579 (15 March 1809).

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47 Berry, , By royal appointment, pp. 4852.Google Scholar

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.

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55 Duke of York to Charles Abbot, 23 Feb. 1809, Hansard, XII, cols. 1032–3 (23 Feb. 1809).

56 Ibid. XIII, col. 238 (9 March 1809).

57 Ibid. cols. 378, 385–6 (13 March 1809).

58 Garlick, , Macintyre, and Cave, (eds.), Farington diary, IX, 3415 (5 March 1809).Google Scholar

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).

63 Ibid. no. 11, col. 409 (18 March 1809).

64 Colley, , Britons, pp. 220–1.Google Scholar

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

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68 Colley, , Britons, p. 50.Google Scholar

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).

74 Ibid. col. 202 (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

76 Clarke, , The rival princes, I, pp. X–XI.Google Scholar

77 For contrasting opinions on this question, see Harvey, , Britain in the early nineteenth century, pp. 233–5Google Scholar, and Berry, , By royal appointment, pp. 70–1.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.

80 Reid, W. Hamilton, Memoirs of the life of Colonel Wardle (London, 1809), p. 82.Google Scholar

81 Hansard, XIII, cols. 52–3 (8 March 1809).

82 Ibid. cols. 236–7 (9 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), 75118Google Scholar; Cunningham, , ‘The language of patriotism’, esp. 5762Google Scholar; John, Belchem, ‘Republicanism, constitutionalism, and the radical platform’, Social history, VI (1981), 132.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. 33216Google 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).

92 Ibid. no. 20, col. 791 (20 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).

97 Colley, , ‘The apotheosis of George III’, p. 97.Google Scholar

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