Maria Fitzherbert
Mistress of British king
Maria Fitzherbert
Maria Fitzherbert was the wife (in secret) of George, Prince of Wales. The future George IV secretly underwent a form of marriage with her when he was 23. Though Maria had been disinherited by her first husband, his nephew persuaded Pope Pius VII to declare the marriage valid.
Biography
Maria Fitzherbert's personal information overview.
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News
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A lot more attention-grabbing than William and Kate mugs - Irish Times
Google News - almost 6 years
The couple being married are the prince of Wales (later the corpulent and intransigent George IV) and Maria Fitzherbert. The priest is the Irish writer, orator and politician Edmund Burke. The identity of one of the witnesses, who has wine bottles in
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Google News article
Timeline of married monarchs - Yellow Advertiser
Google News - almost 6 years
The future George IV had already married the Catholic Maria Fitzherbert, but since the Act of Succession, imposed by William III in an attempt to banish Catholicism from Britain, meant the marriage was not valid, George had to find a Protestant bride
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The Royal Wedding: Trees, tiaras and trestle tables - The Independent
Google News - almost 6 years
Yet Henry was positively besotted compared with the future George IV (then Prince Regent), who in 1795 was forced for reasons of state to abandon his secret Catholic "wife" (Maria Fitzherbert) and marry his cousin, Caroline of Brunswick
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A royalist dream — Harry, King of Saxony - World Tribune
Google News - almost 6 years
... emitted unpleasant smells, and then eventually absconded to Italy with her manservant, Bartolomeo Pergami, leaving her husband, the debauched George IV, in the arms of Maria Fitzherbert whom he had secretly married before even meeting Caroline
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ANTIQUES
NYTimes - almost 13 years
Images to Be Held Close to the Heart ''Portrait miniatures are like passport photos: they're small, portable and realistic,'' said Emma Rutherford, the head of portrait miniatures at Bonhams, a London auction house. ''Their accuracy is what makes them so exciting.'' Miniature portrait collecting is a small field, with only a few specialists. In the
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NYTimes article
Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Maria Fitzherbert
    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 1837
    Age 80
    Died on March 27, 1837.
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  • 1833
    Age 76
    Some scholars have suggested that Maria Fitzherbert had one, possibly two, children by her marriage to the future king. "In 1833, after the King's death, one of his executors, Lord Stourton, asked her to sign a declaration he had written on the back of her marriage certificate.
    More Details Hide Details It read: 'I Mary Fitzherbert... testify that my Union with George P. of Wales was without issue.' According to Stourton, she, smiling, objected, on the score of delicacy." Indeed, during her early days in Brighton with the Prince of Wales, his uncle the Duke of Gloucester and other friends believed Mrs. Fitzherbert to be pregnant. Members of the Wyatt family claim to being descendants of George IV by her. On Fitzherbert's death it is stated that her children were adopted by a Scottish family, named Wyatt, whose name they assumed. Afterwards they came south settling in Erith, Kent. The Wyatt family, in the person of J.G. Wyatt, a former Erith man who later moved to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada and Isabella Annie Wyatt claimed title to a portion of the Fitzherbert estate in 1937.
  • 1830
    Age 73
    Following the death of George IV on 26 June 1830, it was discovered that he had kept all of Fitzherbert's letters, and steps were taken to destroy them.
    More Details Hide Details Fitzherbert told George IV's brother, King William IV, about their marriage and showed him the document in her possession. He asked Fitzherbert to accept a dukedom, but she refused, asking only permission to wear widow's weeds, and to dress her servants in royal livery. Architect William Porden designed Steine House, on the west side of Old Steine in Brighton, for Fitzherbert. She lived there from 1804 until her death in 1837. She was buried at St John the Baptist's Church in the Kemp Town area of Brighton.
    In June 1830, when the King was dying, he eagerly seized her "get well soon" letter and, after reading it, placed it under his pillow.
    More Details Hide Details Fitzherbert – who had no idea just how ill he was – was deeply hurt that he had never replied to her final letter. However, before dying, the King asked to be buried with Fitzherbert's eye miniature around his neck, which was done.
  • THIRTIES
  • 1795
    Age 38
    So the Prince married Caroline on 8 April 1795. In 1796, three days after Caroline gave birth to their daughter, Princess Charlotte of Wales, on 10 January, the Prince of Wales wrote his last will and testament, bequeathing all his "worldly property... to my Maria Fitzherbert, my wife, the wife of my heart and soul".
    More Details Hide Details Although by the laws of the country she "could not avail herself publicly of that name, still such she is in the eyes of Heaven, was, is, and ever will be such in mine…". However, this did not lead to a reunion. The Prince finally sought a reconciliation with his "second self" during the summer of 1798. By then, he had separated from Caroline for good and was bored with his mistress, Frances Villiers, Countess of Jersey. They reconciled again after Pope Pius VII deemed their marriage legitimate. During the first few years of his reign as King George IV, he turned violently against Fitzherbert and several of his former associates. Whenever he mentioned her name it was "with feelings of disgust and horror", claiming that their union "was an artificial marriage… just to satisfy her; that it was no marriage – for there could be none without a licence or some written document." Fitzherbert was in possession of documents and after their final break her demands for her annuity payments were often accompanied by veiled threats to go public with her papers if she did not receive the funds.
  • 1794
    Age 37
    On 23 June 1794, Fitzherbert was informed by letter that her relationship with the Prince was over.
    More Details Hide Details George told his younger brother, Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany, that he and Fitzherbert were "parted, but parted amicably", conveying his intention to marry their first cousin, Duchess Caroline of Brunswick. According to King George III it was the only way out of a hole: his heir apparent's debts of £600,000 would be paid the day he wed.
  • 1793
    Age 36
    His brother, Prince Augustus Frederick, contracted an invalid marriage with Lady Augusta Murray in 1793 without the King's consent and had two children with her.
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  • TWENTIES
  • 1784
    Age 27
    The twice widowed Fitzherbert soon entered London high society. In spring, 1784, she was introduced to a youthful admirer: George, Prince of Wales, six years her junior. The prince became infatuated with her and pursued her endlessly until she agreed to marry him. Secretly, and – as both parties were well aware – against the law, they went through a form of marriage on 15 December 1785, in the drawing room of her house in Park Street, London.
    More Details Hide Details Her uncle, Henry Errington, and her brother, Jack Smythe, were the witnesses. This invalid marriage ceremony was performed by one of the prince's Chaplains in Ordinary, the Reverend Robert Burt, whose debts (of £500) were paid by the prince to release him from the Fleet Prison.
  • 1781
    Age 24
    She was widowed again on 7 May 1781.
    More Details Hide Details He left her an annuity of £1000 and a town house in Park Street, Mayfair.
  • TEENAGE
  • 1775
    Age 18
    Fitzherbert married Edward Weld, 16 years her senior, a rich Catholic landowner of Lulworth Castle in July 1775.
    More Details Hide Details Weld died just three months later after a fall from his horse and having failed to sign his new will. His estate went to his younger brother Thomas, father of Cardinal Weld. His widow was left effectively destitute, had little or no financial support from the Weld family and was obliged to remarry as soon as she could. She married a second time, three years later, to Thomas Fitzherbert of Swynnerton, Staffordshire. She was ten years younger than he. They had a son who died young.
  • 1772
    Age 15
    The marriage was not valid because it had not received the prior approval of King George III and the Privy Council as required by the Royal Marriages Act 1772.
    More Details Hide Details Had approval been sought, it might not have been granted for many reasons including, for example, Fitzherbert's Roman Catholic allegiance. Had consent been given and the marriage been legal, the Prince of Wales would have been automatically removed from the succession to the British throne under the provisions of the Bill of Rights and the Act of Settlement 1701.
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1756
    Born
    Born on July 26, 1756.
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