The Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn (Edward Augustus; 2 November 1767 – 23 January 1820) was the fourth son of King George III of the United Kingdom and the father of Queen Victoria. Recently he has been styled the "Father of the Canadian Crown."
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 the first prince to enter the United States (travelling to Boston by foot from Lower Canada after independence (1794). On June 27, 1792, Edward is credited with the first use of the term "Canadian" to mean both French and English setters 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.
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 twice-paternal grandaunt, for whom the Duchess of Argyll, Lady of the Bedchamber to the Queen, stood proxy).
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. During 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 and he imported from Marseilles Madame de Saint-Laurent.
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 furture King of the French). The only remains of the residence is a small rotunda built by Edward for his regimental band to play music.
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.[note 1]
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 but his harsh discipline brought disaster precipitating 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 he was 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 which 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. He continued to serve as honorary colonel of the 1st Regiment of Foot (the Royal Scots) until his death.
In spite of proving a disaster as a soldier, and though it was behaviour to some extent he shared with his siblings, it has been suggested his excesses as a military disciplinarian were not part of his natural character but were 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—probably separating appropriate military behaviour from appropriate civilian behaviour. Though it seems to go against his unpopularity with 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".
An heir to the throne
Following the death in November 1817 of the only legitimate grandchild of George III, Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales, the royal succession began to look uncertain. The Prince Regent and his younger brother, 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, already considering marriage and encouraged into this particular match with her sister-in-law by his now-deceased niece Princess Charlotte, became engaged to Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld (17 August 1786 – 16 March 1861) and the couple 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 was Emich Carl, 2nd Prince of Leiningen, with whom she had two children: a son Carl and a daughter Feodora.
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[when?], to the outrage of the Prince Regent, who demanded to know what place the child had there.
Later life and legacy
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 was 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". In 1829 the Duke's former aide-de-camp purchased the house from the Duchess in an attempt to reduce her debts.
Following the birth of Princess Victoria in May 1819 the Duke and Duchess sought to find a place where they could live inexpensively, considering the Duke's great debts (which were not paid until his daughter took the throne and paid them over time from her income). 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.
The Duke of Kent and Canadian Confederation Debate
When Edward was living in Quebec (1791-3) he met up with Jonathan Sewell, an American Loyalist that played trumpet in the Prince's regimental band. Sewell would rise in Lower Canadian society to become, among other things, the and Attorney General and Chief Justice. In 1814, Sewell forwarded the Duke of Kent 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,
The Duke of Kent died of pneumonia on 23 January 1820 at Woolbrook Cottage, Sidmouth, Devon and was buried at St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle. He died only 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, since 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.
Various sources report that the Duke of Kent had mistresses. In Geneva: Adelaide Dubus, who died in childbirth of their daughter Adelaide Victoria Auguste Dubus (1789–in or after 1832) and Anne Gabrielle Alexandrine Moré 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.
The Duke was accompanied from 1790 until his marriage in 1818, 28 years, by Madame de Saint-Laurent or Madame de Saint-Laurent born Thérèse-Bernardine Montgenet. 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.
Titles, styles, honours and arms
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
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.
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.
HRH 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.
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.
- 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 defenses)
- 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 Beechy's portrait of the Duke of Kent hangs in the salon of Nova Scotia's Government House.
- 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
- 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)
- 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
The Prince Edward Islands are also named after him, the smaller of the two islands also bears his name.
There is a statue of the prince in Park Crescent, London. Installed in January, 1824, the statue is seven feet two inches tall, it 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 of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn|
- The Duke of Kent
- We have the pleasure to announce the safe arrival of the Duke of Kent in England. His Royal Highness landed at Plymouth on Sunday evening under a Royal Salute from the Forts, the ships on the Sound, Cawsand Bay and the Hamoaze and set off immediately for Weymouth to pay his respects to their Majesties.
- While we rejoice in his safe arrival we cannot but regret that ill health should again have been the cause of his Royal Highness's return to this country , especially when we reflect on the motives which induced him to quit England.
- Before his Royal Highness was created Duke of Kent with a suitable income, he had incurred some debts. On his returning to England on finding that he was unable to live in any degree suitable to his rank, and at the same time to discharge his debts, he generously resolved again to go to America, and to remain there, living solely on his pay as an Officer, till his debts were entirely liquidated, to which purpose he gave up the whole of his income allowed him by Government, and in this resolution he persisted, till repeated bilious attacks compelled him to quit that country.
- We are sensible that an idea once prevailed that his Royal Highness, in early life, had participated in several of the fashionable vices of the age; but nothing was ever more remote from the truth—for it may be truly said of the Duke of Kent (what can be said of very few men of Rank) that he never was known to be intoxicated, or ever won or lost a farthing at any kind of play in his life; that he never endeavored to seduce the wife of another, or even made a promise he did not do his utmost to perform—his rigid adherence to his word is so remarkable that no consideration has ever induced him to swerve from a promise he has once given. To these good qualities his Royal Highness united a most benevolent disposition; and amidst all his pecuniary embarrassments he has invariably set apart 500l. a year of his income for the relief of private indigence and distress—throughout all British America he was so universally beloved, that the loss of his presence is reckoned one of the greatest misfortunes that could have befallen the country. And we have no hesitation in expressing our conviction, that no measure will more strongly contribute to pacify and reconcile all ranks of people in Ireland, than the presence of his Royal Highness in that country, where we now understand it is the intention of the Government to employ him.
- —The Times, Wednesday, 3 Sep 1800; pg. 2; Issue 4890.
- Michael Taube, "A Neglected Royal" (Toronto: Literary Review of Canada, 2013), 43.
- Whitehall, 23 April 1799.
The King has been pleased to grant to His Most Dearly-Beloved Son Prince Edward, and to the Heirs Male of His Royal Highness's Body lawfully begotten, the Dignities of Duke of the Kingdom of Great Britain, and of Earl of the Kingdom of Ireland, by the Names, Styles, and Titles of Duke of Kent, and of Strathern, in the Kingdom of Great Britain, and of Earl of Dublin, in the Kingdom of Ireland. London Gazette issue 15126, page 372, published 20 April 1799.
- Whitehall, 17 May 1799.
The King has been pleased to appoint His Royal Highness General Edward Duke of Kent, K.G. to be General and Commander in Chief of His Majesty's Forces in North America, in the Room of General Robert Prescott. London Gazette issue 15133, page 458, published 14 May 1799.
- London Gazette issue 15840, page 1114, published 3 September 1805
- Nathan Tidridge, "Prince Edward, Duke of Kent: Father of the Canadian Crown (Toronto, Dundurn Press, 2013), 90.
- Elizabeth Longford, ‘Edward, Prince, duke of Kent and Strathearn (1767–1820)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004
- Nathan Tidridge, "Prince Edward, Duke of Kent: Father of the Canadian Crown (Toronto: Dundurn Press, 2013), 56.
- The Times, Monday, 22 Jul 1799; pg. 3; Issue 4541.
- By the arrival of the Packet from America we learn that the Duke of Kent was to embark at Halifax for this country about the 5 August on board of the Assistance, Captain Hall, his Royal Highnesses state of health rendering his return to England necessary. Very few Officers have been so constantly kept on foreign service as his Royal Highness, who we have reason to believe is coming home to be appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. The Times, Friday, 22 Aug 1800; pg. 3; Issue 4880.
- London Gazette issue 15464, page 304, published 23 March 1799
- Whitehall, 25 November 1805.
His Majesty has been pleased to grant unto His Royal Highness Edward Duke of Kent the Offices and Places of Keeper and Paler of the House Park of Hampton-Court, and of Mower of the Brakes there, and of the Herbage and Passage of the said Park, with the Wood called Browsings, Windfall Wood, and dead Wood, happening in the said Park; and of all the Barns, Stables, Outhouses, Gardens and Curtilages belonging to the Great Lodge in the said Park, together with the said Lodge itself &c. during his Majesty's pleasure. London Gazette issue 15865, page 1467, published 23 November 1805
- T F T Baker, C R Elrington (Editors) A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 7 Victoria County History 1982, pp. 128-131
- R. A. Jones, ‘Scheener, Edward Schencker (1789–1853)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004
- Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online Vol VI
- Marks of Cadency in the British Royal Family
- Lives & Portraits of Public Characters. 3. London: J. Cumberland. 1828. p. 50. http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=7oUNAQAAIAAJ&pg=PA50.
- Naftel, W.D. (2005). Prince Edward's Legacy: The Duke of Kent in Halifax: Romance and beautiful buildings. Halifax, Nova Scotia: Formac Publishing. ISBN 978-0-88780-648-3.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Prince Edward Augustus, Duke of Kent and Strathearn.|
- Cottage Orné: Woolbrook cottage in May 2009, now the Royal Glen hotel
- Biography at the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online
- Nathan Tidridge's "Prince Edward, Duke of Kent: Father of the Canadian Crown"
Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn
House of Hanover
Cadet branch of the House of WelfBorn: 2 November 1767 Died: 23 January 1820
|Governor of Gibraltar
John Campbell, of Strachur
|Commander-in-Chief, North America
The Duke of Atholl
|Grand Master of the
Antient Grand Lodge of England
The Duke of Sussex
as Grand Master of the United
Grand Lodge of England
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