Excerpt for Revelry and Redemption: The Real Story of the Death of Charles Lennox, Fourth Duke of Richmond by , available in its entirety at Smashwords


 

 

 

 

REVELRY AND REDEMPTION

THE REAL STORY OF CHARLES LENNOX

FOURTH DUKE OF RICHMOND

 













BY LESLIE SMITH DOW

 


























DEDICATION



For my son, Shaughnessy, a real seanachie if ever there was one.






“Sometimes those gathered would merely watch the fire and its shadows, but at other times it seemed to move them to tell stories of real or imagined happenings from the near or distant past.  And if the older singers or storytellers of the clann Chalum Ruaidh, the seanaichies, as they were called, happened to be present they would “remember” events from a Scotland which they had never seen, or see our future in the shadows of the flickering flames.” – No Great Mischief, Alistair MacLeod, McClelland and Stewart (Toronto, 1999)



I wish to thank Donald Dow, my husband, for his unstinting faith and support of this project and Kyle Dow, for his superlative bilingual editing skills. The City of Ottawa Arts Grants Program graciously contributed funds toward the completion of this project.

 

CHRONOLOGY

 

1764   Charles Lennox born September 9, Scotland

1777   Visits Paris with a tutor, along with his first cousin, Edward Fitzgerald

1778   Commissioned lieutenant in army; enters Sussex militia

1784   Secretary to Board of Ordnance and to his uncle, Charles Lennox, 3rd    Duke of Richmond, Master General of the Ordnance, London, England

1787   Joins 35th Regiment of Foot, stationed in Edinburgh, Scotland

1788   Accepts captaincy in Coldstream Guards, London; receives commission as lieutenant-colonel in army at large. 

1789   Fights duels with Frederick, Duke of York, and Theophilus Swift, London

Re-joins 35th Regiment in Edinburgh

Marries Charlotte Gordon, Sept. 9, Banffshire, Scotland

1790   Birth of daughter, Mary; member of Parliament for Sussex

1791   Birth of son, Charles, the Earl of March

1792   Birth of daughter, Sarah; posted to Ireland with 35th

1793   Birth of son, John George; posted to Leeward Islands with 35th

1794   Sees battle in Martinique, St. Lucia, St. Dominique

1795   Sent back to Martinique; fever epidemic kills many; regiment sails for England, then to Gibraltar; birth of daughter, Georgiana

1797  Relieved of command, sent back to England for insubordination

Birth of son Henry Adam

1797   Raises second battalion of 35th at Sussex

1798   Promoted major-general; birth of daughter, Jane

1799   Battle in Holland; birth of son, William Pitt

1800   Promoted colonel-commandant

1801   Birth of son, Frederick

1802   Promoted colonel; birth of son, Sussex

1803   Promoted lieutenant-general; birth of daughter, Louisa Madelina

1804   Birth of daughter, Charlotte

1806      Becomes 4th duke of Richmond and Lennox; resigns parliamentary seat

Appointed High Steward for Chichester

1807   Appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland

1809   Birth of daughter, Sophia Georgiana

1813   Leaves Ireland for England

1814   Resides in Brussels

1815   Promoted general; observes Battle of Waterloo

Rides to Paris with Wellington

1816   Lives in Cambrai, France, with army of occupation

1817   Returns to England, appointed Lord Lieutenant of Sussex

1818   Withdrawal of allied occupying army from France

Appointed Governor-in-Chief of British North America

1819   Dies August 28, in Richmond, Upper Canada, of rabies; buried in Quebec

Charles Lennox, Earl of March, becomes 5th duke of Richmond and Lennox


 

 

 

 

CAST OF CHARACTERS

 

The Lennox and Gordon families:

General Charles Lennox, 4th duke of Richmond and Lennox, Knight of the Garter.

Charlotte Gordon Lennox, duchess of Richmond and Lennox, heir to Scottish dukedom of Gordon

 

Their children:

Charles, Earl of March, future 5th duke of Richmond

John  

William

Mary

Charlotte

Jane

Arthur

Sussex

Frederick

Sophie 

Sarah, eloped with Sir Peregrine Maitland

Georgiana 

Henry, drowned at sea

Louisa

 

Their Relatives:

Jane, Duchess of Gordon, wife of the ruthless politician and kidnapper

Alexander, 4th Duke of Gordon, filthy rich Scottish landlord, father of Charlotte, duchess of Richmond

Charles, 3rd Duke of Richmond and Lennox, statesman and libertine, uncle to Charles, 4th duke of Richmond

Gen. Lord Gordon Lennox, father of Charles, 4th duke of Richmond

Lord Edward Fitzgerald, first cousin of Charles, 4th duke of Richmond, hopelessly romantic war veteran, mommy’s boy and dangerously handsome rebel

 

The Royal Family:

The Duke of York, commander of British armed forces

The Duke of Kent, ex-commander and sadist, father of Queen Victoria

The Prince of Wales, hopeless nincompoop known as “Prinny”; regent after 1811; King George IV in 1820

King George III, madman whose policies lost the U.S.A. for Britain

Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg, loyal wife and mother

 

The Military:

Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington, Chief Secretary of Ireland, field marshal, cabinet minister and eventually Prime Minister, and 

Richard Colley, Marquis of Wellesley, Arthur’s cold and calculating brother, just back from a tyrannical reign in India

Robert Wellesley-Pole, a Chief Secretary of Ireland, Arthur’s good brother

Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of France, tactical genius

Gen. Sir Peregrine Maitland, dashing, pompous husband of Sarah Lennox

Major George Bowles, secretary, aide-de-camp and bedpan emptier for 4th duke of Richmond

Lieutenant-Col. Frances Cockburn, battle veteran and extremely well-organized deputy quarter-master general of His Majesty’s Armed Forces in British North America

Colonel J. Maule, beleaguered commandant of Drummond Island; later came down with a bad case of cabin fever

Colonel Thew Burke, overly-officious commandant of Richmond Military Settlement

Lt.-Col. Elias. W. Durnford, extremely able Commander of the Royal Engineers in British North America

Lieutenant Joshua Jebb, surveyor with the Corps of Royal Engineers

Major-General Louis de Watteville

Major de Salaberry, commander, Canadian Fencibles

General Gordon Drummond, Commander-General of Upper Canada

Sir George Provost, court-martialed former Governor of the Canadas

Rear Admiral Sir George Cockburn, over-achieving brother of Francis.

Sir James Cockburn, Baronet, under-achieving father of the above and court-martialed former commander of the 35th Regiment

Captain Henry Milnes, charming but too-tall soldier with a penchant for teenaged girls and other men’s wives.

 

Politicians, civil servants and clergy:

Henry Bathurst, 3rd earl Bathurst, master of the mint and minister for trade

William Pitt, longtime British Prime Minister,

Charles Henry Fox, first cousin to the 4th duke of Richmond

Sir Robert Peel, another Chief Secretary of Ireland, and father of London’s Metropolitan Police Force, known as “the Peelers”

Lord Granville Leveson-Gower, first earl Granville, handsome diplomat who had a lifelong affair with Countess Bessborough

Bishop Jacob Mountain, Anglican Bishop of Quebec

Bishop Octave Plessis, Catholic Bishop of Quebec

Louis-Joseph Papineau, politician and revolutionary 

 

 The Idle (and Indebted) Rich:

Hon. John Thomas Capel, another hopelessly indebted gambler

Lady Caroline Capel, his devoted but meddling wife

Henrietta Frances Spencer Ponsonby, Countess of Bessborough, professional gossip and sister to

Georgiana Spencer Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire, ancestor of Princess Diana

Lady Elizabeth Foster, energetic mistress to a bevy of dukes, including Devonshire, Bedford and Richmond (3rd)

Richard Brinsley Sheridan, playwright, politician and cruel husband to

Elizabeth Linley Sheridan, mistress of Edward Fitzgerald

The 6th Duke of Devonshire, dilettante

Pamela Sims, daughter of the Duc d’Orleans, wife of Edward Fitzgerald

Emily Lennox Fitzgerald, duchess of Leinster, mother of 21,mistress to William Ogilvie, impoverished and possibly illegitimate Scottish schoolmaster

Lady Caroline Paget, future 5th duchess of Richmond and Lennox, daughter of

One-Leg, the Marquis of Anglesey, future wildly popular Lord Lieutenant of Ireland

Anne Prevost, jealous teenager and daughter of Sir George Prevost

Alicia Cockburn, object of Anne’s jealousy and two-timing wife of Francis Cockburn

 

 


CHAPTER SUMMARIES

 

PART I  REVELRY

PROLOGUE: The Finest Formed Man, August, 1819, Richmond, Upper Canada.

 

Charles Lennox is dying in the barn of the Chapman farm, of rabies contracted from the bite of an infected fox 60 days before. He has spent 13 months in Canada, and has already seen a great deal more of Upper and Lower Canada than any of his predecessors. His stamina, for one who has never shown much ambition before, is astounding.  He wavers in and out of consciousness.  He froths at the mouth and begins to behave like an animal. He still has a few lucid moments, in which he reflects upon how he came to be in the bush and wishes to see his children again. He is particularly concerned that his “plans” be forwarded to his good friend the Duke of Wellington, the war hero who defeated Napoleon.  The plans are the duke’s strategy for the defence of British North America, including a communications network that would eventually be completed after decades of work.

 

CHAPTER ONE:  The Beggar’s Bennison  Edinburgh, 1789-England, 1806


Early in life, Charles Lennox exhibits his taste for the finer things in life:  riding horses, drinking, gambling, smoking and, of course, sex.  He is introduced to some of these skills while on a teenaged spree in Paris with his cousin, Lord Edward Fitzgerald,  hopeless romantic and future Irish rebel. The easy-going, wine-swilling Lennox and his cousin make a pact to join the army. Lennox is no great success, but manages to rise up the ranks, with the help of his influential uncle, the 3rd duke of Richmond, whose heir he is increasingly likely to become. Lennox, however, has a fierce temper, which increasingly gets him into trouble, particularly the shocking duel with the Duke of York, which could have gotten him killed twice over. Surviving this embarrassing scrape, Lennox immediately fights another duel, this time creating a large hole in a relative of Jonathan Swift. Retreating to Scotland, Lennox consoles himself with the masturbatory practises of the Beggar’s Bennison, though he eventually comes round to the idea of marriage. Uniting his clan with that of the powerful Scottish Gordons, Lennox makes more powerful friends and begins fathering a brood children which will eventually reach 14.  In 1806, he becomes the becomes 4th duke of Richmond and  Lennox, leading to his appointment as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland the following year.

 

CHAPTER TWO: Drowning the Shamrock, Dublin, 1806-1813

 

His now-delicate political position proves something of a challenge to the new duke, who prefers endless social drinking to complex political strategizing.  To ease the tension, Richmond has an affair with the Lady Edward Somerset, one of whose notes the duchess of Richmond opens. Though Richmond is not openly antagonistic to Catholics (indeed, he invites them to his drinking bouts at Dublin Castle) he gets into trouble when he uses heavy-handed tactics to suppress meetings. Chief Secretary, Arthur Wellesley, the future Duke of Wellington, manages to extricate him on several occasions, but all too soon, the future saviour of the realm departs to fight Napoleon and Richmond is left with a succession of minders which include Wellesley’s well-meaning brother and Sir Robert Peel (inventor of the London Metropolitan Police Force, better known as “the Peelers”. Finally, though, Richmond sees the writing on the wall and asks to be relieved. His request is not granted until 1813, when he departs for a short stint at Goodwood, followed by self-imposed exile in Brussels. Rumours of his wife’s vast gambling debts plague the family, prompting concerns that their daughters must marry well to save the clan from ruin.

 

CHAPTER THREE:  Revelry by Night, Brussels, 1814-Paris 1818


After unsuccessful attempts to marry their daughters to the highest bidders during the ruinously expensive London social season, the Richmonds decamp for less than swank digs in Brussels where, within a year, the duchess will make them all famous with an ill-timed festivity. Lord Byron’s famous poem, The Pilgrimmage of Childe Harolde, Canto IV, contains the passage, “there was the sound of revelry by night,” which begins a stanza dedicated to the duchess’s grand ball, which took place as Napoleon’s troops stealthily marched through Belgium and virtually to the outskirts of Brussels. Most of the British army’s officers attended the ball, including Wellington, who fatuously remarked upon hearing the news in the duke of Richmond’s study that “Napoleon has humbugged me.”  Richmond viewed the hideously bloody Battle of Waterloo from a good, clean vantage point and later rode with the victorious Wellington to Paris, where he revelled in the tributes conferred upon the occupying army. Though his daughter eloped with war hero Sir Peregrine Maitland, who would eventually go on to oppress Upper Canada, Richmond charitably forgave them. Having saved considerable money while in France, Richmond and his family returned home briefly to Sussex. Their tenure would be brief: Richmond had earned another political appointment, this time as Governor-in-Chief of Canada. 

 

 

PART II:  REDEMPTION

 

Prologue:  The Irrepressible Lieutenant Joshua Jebb. Kingston, Upper Canada, 1816

 

Lt. Joshua Jebb strode up to his knees in mud across his wild Canadian landscape. Like Coleridge with a compass, the young member of the Royal Corps of Engineers found himself in love with every bursting bud and frost-rimmed bog. The drab ethereal beauty of a white-tailed deer, not yet in its ruddy summer colours, enthralled him. He was made for Canada, and it for him.

The task at hand was not meant to be so pleasant.  Surveying a route for the long-discussed secondary waterway to Montreal--bypassing the St. Lawrence made risky by American marauders--in an early Canadian spring would have deterred even more seasoned men. Jebb--singlehandedly if necessary--would open the magnificent country he had seen to settlers, commerce and trade, allowing it to be seen by all for what it truly was: some of the best land God ever made.  The brave new world, far from being a mere “quelques arpents de neige” had seduced him utterly. It was neither the first nor the last time this curious effect would be felt.

 

CHAPTER FOUR: Taking Care of Business, Upper and Lower Canada, August-September, 1818

 

Having read reports of the pitiful state of BNA’s defences, Richmond immediately undertook a tour of inspection of his new domain, via Sorel, Montreal, Cornwall, Prescott, Kingston and York.  The British had long sought to establish a second communications link with rest of Upper Canada away from vulnerable St. Lawrence and avert tragedy of War of 1812. Richmond reads Lt. Joshua Jebb’s exciting ideas regarding the Rideau River Valley area and although he does not have time this year, he vows to inspect the route personally next summer. He returns to Quebec to find his daughters being chatted up by officers; undaunted by the fact that his duchess and half of his family declined to accompany him to the Far North, he actively participates in the Garrison Club, the Tandem club and other rollicking social events-Richmond family gold plate causes a stir at the Chateau. Yet the duke is somehow changed by Canada.  He works hard at his new plans for re-fortifying Canada, as well as on the communications system underpinned by canal routes. There are, though, unexpectedly irritating roadblocks to  running the colonies, including a stellar cast of Canadian politicians who stand in his way such as Bishop Plessis makes an issue of French Canadian Catholic rights, reminding the duke unhappily of his time as Ireland’s Lord Lieutenant.  He becomes temperamental, overreacting to the situation and leading to a political crisis his predecessor, Sherbrooke, had worked hard to avoid.

 

CHAPTER FIVE: The Nasty Little Fox, Quebec, Lower Canada, January-May, 1819; William Henry, Lower Canada-York, Upper Canada, June-July, 1819.

 

The new year is rung in with pitched battles between Richmond and the members of the Legislative Council, who form a famously intellectual and committed cast of characters. Richmond has little chance against such orators as Plessis, Nielson, Papineau, Bishop Mountain and others. With the approval of his old ally, Lord Bathurst, he gives his now-infamous speech proroguing parliament. But such anti-democratic tactics are not acceptable to the independent-minded members of the Lower Canadian legislature, and his actions unleash a hornet’s nest. Richmond gives up on the legislature and instead plans his summer progress, which includes a trip to Drummond Island, the farthest-flung of British outposts in Upper Canada. The hell-hole is under siege – from scurvy and incompetence and Richmond vows to personally take matters in hand. On the way; he is bitten by a rabid fox at Sorel, an incident recounted by one of his daughters.  The family departs nonetheless for Prescott, Kingston and York via canoes, voyageurs and steamships.  In York the family are reunited with the Maitlands. Peregrine, like his father-in-law, proves unnecessarily very heavy-handed.  Rebellion is in the air.

 

CHAPTER SIX:  The Heart of Darkness, Drummond Island, Upper Canada, July-August, 1819

 

Drummond Island is famous for starving troops and bureaucratic incompetence, a symbol of the gradual British retreat from Lake Superior under the ridiculous peace terms of the 812 conflict. Repeated pleadings of commandants for food, and even permission to build a fortification with rotting piles of lumber fall on deaf ears.  The history of the British presence on the island is a virtual black comedy. One commandant wrote in May, 1816, that the scurvy deaths weren’t too bad that month—only five men were lost.

 

Getting there was half the problem.  Previous expeditions had to hire American steamships since no British naval vessels were available; Richmond managed to commandeer one for his use, and hoist his petard over Drummond Island. Within a few months, he had returned to York and then Kingston before beginning his fateful overland journey up the Rideau River Watershed. Guided by Lt. Joshua Jebb’s minutely detailed survey of the area, Richmond is finally able to feel he will accomplish something grand during his lifetime: redemption is close at hand.  Never has he felt so intensely motivated about a project.  He covers miles and miles on horseback and on foot, wearing out his fitter aides with his dedication.  But soon, Richmond begins to act strangely.  His aides, Lt.-Col. Francis Cockburn and Maj. George Bowles, begin to keep damage-control diaries to exonerate themselves if necessary.

 

CHAPTER SEVEN: The Diary of Death, Kingston-Perth, August, 1819

 

Death stalked Richmond all along the old Kingston Road to Perth. At the Rideau Ferry where they stopped for lunch, the hotel keeper was later found to have murdered most of his overnight guests, stuffing their bodies in the walls. At the Perth Military Settlement, Richmond made merry with the discharged men and their families bravely turning the wilderness into English countryside. Privately, the governor of the Canada’s is increasingly out of control; Bowles and Cockburn are desperate for a miracle.

 

At the Richmond Arms, in the hastily re-named military settlement of Richmond, astride the banks of the Jock River, Richmond confesses that if he were a dog, he would be shot as a mad one. He has trouble drinking, sleeping and swallowing. He appears in public with his uniform askew, unshaven, raving and wild-eyed. His aides decide to take affirmative action, and arrange for him to return to Montreal poste-haste.  The local surgeon, Dr. Collis, is consulted about the problem, and prescribes gargling with a little wine. Richmond obliges with a few bottles, but no cure is effected. Though he has become petrified of water, Richmond’s aides load him into a canoe for a trip to the Ottawa River. The now-deranged governor jumps out of the canoe, over several six-foot fences and sprints off toward the limitless bush, stopping only to ask a bone-idle, poverty-stricken farmer how his clearing is going. Richmond is eventually confined to a cattle barn on Chapman’s Farm, where his condition deteriorates sharply.

 

CHAPTER EIGHT:  Death and the Duke,  Chapman’s Farm, August 27-29, Montreal and Quebec, September, 1819

 

Richmond dictates his last will and testament, mentioning each of his many children, as well as his wife and numerous acquaintances. Meanwhile, several of his children heartrendingly await their papa’s return to Montreal, where. Major Thew Burke, another Waterloo veteran, has been dispatched with the bad news.  Philemon Wright, future lumber magnate and founder of Wrightsville (now Hull, Quebec), has come to waits to take his body to the waiting steamship on the Ottawa River. Contrary to Richmond’s wishes, a state funeral is held in Quebec City and his body interred in the Anglican Cathedral. His children depart immediately for England, though Mary later returns as the wife of Sir Charles Augustus Fitzroy, who has been appointed lieutenant-governor of Prince Edward Island.  Back in England, Richmond’s successor as Governor-in-Chief, the Earl of Dalhousie, is appointed. His outlook is even worse that Richmond’s, and relations with Canadians continue to deteriorate. The duke of Wellington, though his appointment as Master General of the Ordnance (and eventually Prime Minister), helps put many of Richmond’s plans--which had been conveyed directly to him for safekeeping—into place.

 

CHAPTER NINE: The Legacy of the Stone Duke

Richmond’s vision took years to accomplish but eventually the updated fortifications at Quebec City, Halifax, Kingston, Isle-de-Noix, Sorel and elsewhere--along with the network of canals he planned—are finished, though by a stroke of bad luck most were soon rendered militarily ineffective. Happily, many of the canals—in Lachine and Perth and along the Ottawa, Rideau and Trent Rivers, are still working today; the Halifax Citadel, Fort Henry, Fort Lennox and Quebec City’s Citadel can still be visited. In concrete terms, Richmond probably accomplished more than any of his predecessors, however, his legacy of bad English-French/Protestant-Catholic relations left a long-standing legacy of friction under which Canada continues to chafe.

 

Bibliography

Sources include major history texts, letters of the Lennox family from the Goodwood archives, the correspondence of other aristocrats as well as Canadian military records, the duke’s own military correspondence and that of British-Canadian army officers, particularly the curious “diaries of death” composed by Lt.-Col. Francis Cockburn and Maj. George Bowles.

 

 


 REVELRY AND REDEMPTION

THE REAL STORY OF CHARLES LENNOX

4TH DUKE OF RICHMOND



PART ONE

 

PROLOGUE: THE FINEST FORMED MAN

 

 

Richmond, Upper Canada

 

 

I never knew a man of whom it could be said with so much justice that he was always so anxious to find an excuse for the misconduct of his friends, and to put the most charitable construction on the acts of every human being.  It is probably true to say that Charles II is more faithfully represented in the Dukes of Richmond than in any of his other descendants.  They carry the King’s happy disposition in their posterity, his good companionship, his soft nature. The fourth duke inherited the family’s good looks.  Indeed, he was known as ‘the finest formed man in England.’


--attributed to Sir Robert Peel, Chief Secretary of Ireland,1812-1818.

 

 

 

About six or seven o’clock in the evening we proposed his removing from the Barn into the house to which he consented and we removed him accordingly.  From the time of his being put to bed though more tranquil his delirium continued and he appeared to be getting gradually weaker. The perspiration continued at times so much so that we deemed it advisable to change his linen.  About 1 o’clock in the morning the difficulty of getting rid of his saliva was much increased and from this time I do not think he recognized any one.(1)

 

--Col. Francis Cockburn, writing in his diary on August 27-28, 1819, of the duke of Richmond’s fatal illness.

 









General Charles Lennox, fourth duke of Richmond and Lennox, Governor of British North America and Commander-in-Chief of its Armed Forces, lay convulsed on a mound of straw in the breezeway of Chapman’s Barn, near the banks of the shallow, winding Jock River. It was August 27th, 1819, and the last agonies of death were upon him.  The rabies virus, carried in the bite of a fox, had done its work.  Richmond’s situation was hopeless.

The newly-appointed governor had held his post only 11 months when he stopped at the Lower Canadian outpost of William Henry on a tour of inspection.  An animal lover, the duke’s stopped to look at young fox recently captured by the men of the garrison, and offered to buy it.  Next day, the duke’s new acquisition was delivered to the governor at Manoir Richelieu. When he tried to pet the fox, it bit him, leaving three bleeding scratches on his hand. His daughter Louisa later wrote that her father came into her room with his hand wrapped up, and told her what had happened. Later that evening, the duke reported pain in his shoulder, but it soon passed.  The small punctures healed so quickly there was no thought of interrupting the already well-laid plans for a protracted vice-regal tour of Upper and Lower Canada.

But over the next two months, a strange malady gradually took possession of the duke. It began with his uncharacteristic irritability and difficulty swallowing.  Within a few days, Richmond had developed a pronounced aversion to water, and had become unpredictable, shouting and walking off without warning.  He also reported excessive sensitivity to certain smells. As the disease reached its final stages, the duke seemed like a man possessed:  he had bursts of bizarre, almost super-human energy followed by painful convulsions.  Sixty days after being bitten, the governor died, raving and foaming at the mouth, in a miserable Upper Canadian backwoods shanty.

Lt.-Col. Francis Cockburn, deputy quarter-master-general to the British forces was at his side, along with his long-time military secretary, Major George Bowles who had been with him at the Battle of Waterloo.  Dr. Christopher Collis, a former army surgeon who had initially misdiagnosed the duke with a sore throat,  was called out from the nearby military settlement of Richmond.  When the duke’s malady proved surprisingly resistant to the doctor’s usual cure-all remedy of gargling with a little warm wine, the hapless Dr. Collis next resorted to the equally ineffective prescription of blood-letting.  It was to no avail.  The dying duke’s paroxysms “were increasing with additional violence,” Bowles wrote, yet the duke “seemed to meet each with additional fortitude.”(2)

During his brief periods of lucidity, Richmond’s mind wandered through the alleys of Edinburgh, over the battlefields of Belgium, and onto the pitching deck of a man o’ war sailing the sun-salted breezes of the West Indies.  Many of his 54 years had been spent in ardent appreciation of horse racing and hunting, dogs, fine wines, cigars, gambling, the delights of parenthood, the camaraderie of friends, and the loving charms of attractive women. 

In this vast and brave new world now threatened by social equality, Richmond trod carefully. Always courteous and genial even to the lowliest citizen, the duke nonetheless took care to buffer himself with officers of his regiment and other high-ranking members of society, many of whom, unfortunately, had their own plans. Bishop Jacob Mountain sought the ascendancy of the Anglicans (and the English) at nearly any cost, while the French-Canadian liberal bourgeoisie led by  Louis-Joseph Papineau sought to hamstring the British colonial system and bring their own agenda to the fore.  Papineau, along with a stellar cast of political associates, sought a more independent legislature, free from British veto and the whims of its undemocratic, military governor. To them, hereditary titles, vast estates, powerful friends--and, for that matter, the office of military governor itself—were irritations not benedictions. 

Faced with mounting recalcitrance, Richmond tried to take on a new persona—that of a man redeemed—while maintaining his dignity as head of a British colony still under martial rule. Formerly known for his excesses, the duke would emerge as a hard-working visionary: a planner, tactician and commander.  Never had Richmond been so serious and so driven. His aim was the revitalizing of war-torn, neglected British North America. It was an ambitious, impossible task, compounded by lack of manpower, a disinterested Colonial Office and a stingy British Treasury, by months-long communications delays and the lack of any system of reliable internal contact within the separate colonies.   Richmond rose to this challenge, with the same energy he had previously marshaled to defend real and imagined slights to his honour. For the first time in his life, he had a concrete sense of purpose, and a destiny to fulfill.

In a few short months Richmond and his staff had inspected and itemized many of the colonies’ woeful defenses, recommending repairs, rebuilding and even re-creation on a colossal scale.  Surveyors busily mapped water and land routes to open up defensive and communications routes impermeable to the Americans. Richmond resolutely called for more troops, which would be needed to man the refurbished forts and outposts, for more engineers to plan, for more navvies to labour, and especially for more settlers.  The indefatigable new governor laid plans to visit all the new military settlements, and even the most far-flung of the colony’s outposts, the wretched Drummond Island.

All these good intentions collapsed amidst a storm of controversy less than a year into Richmond's governorship.  Once again the duke’s old bull-headedness reared its ugly head, when, facing opposition to certain requests (among them an increase in budget) he huffily prorogued parliament. Suspending the rights of a people who took democracy very seriously was a disastrous move, destroying carefully crafted political policies built up during Sir John Coape Sherbrooke’s benign and popular rule. The ensuing political crisis would simmer for years after Richmond’s untimely, spectacular death, leaving a brackish taint on his contribution to Canadian history.

What follows is the story of those days of life and death, of ideas lost amid opportunity, of shining paths blazed only to vanish in a Chimera of bureaucratic mist.  It is the story of how age-old political diversions pitting birth, nationality, language and religion against each other rose again to spellbind yet another land, one whose future should have been only boundless fortune.


 


Chapter One

THE BEGGAR’S BENISON

Britain, Ireland, The West Indies, Holland

1764-1806

 

     “May your prick and your purse never fail you.”

                              --The beggars’ blessing

 

 

 

On a warmish Edinburgh summer evening, mercifully free of rain, Lieutenant-Colonel Lord Charles Lennox made his way down from The Castle through the city’s winding, still-light evening streets of high summer.  The handsome 23-year-old bachelor had just returned to Edinburgh’s steep streets and the sins of its subterranean cellars after a two-month absence.  He had discovered Edinburgh’s joys two years before when he joined the 35th Regiment of Foot, a unit comprised of Englishmen of his native Sussex.

Lennox continued to pick his way down a steep, narrow cobblestone close long ago claimed by darkness. Chairmen lingered on the steps ready to transport wealthy patrons comfortably to their destinations offered their services; he waved them vigorously off.  Nor did the alternately pretty and poxy guises of streetwalkers claim his attention that night.  Though the mind-expanding philosophies of the Scottish Enlightenment were lost on the convivial Lennox, his destination was still more far more promising than a back-alley rut with a disease-infested whore.

The foot of the close was as dark as a dungeon, lit only by a shaded lamp surrounded by a gang of disheveled ne’er-do-wells playing a game of dice on the stones. At the sound of his approach, the game ceased, the lamp was unshuttered and the group glared balefully at the intruder.  Unperturbed, Lennox returned their gazes, and walked toward them.  After examining him for a moment, one of their number thumped heavily with his cudgel on the iron-banded wooden door behind him. The door opened a crack.  Lennox deposited a few coins in the outstretched hand of the man with the cudgel and was whisked out of the night.

The officers of the 35th had generously  unveiled some of the city’s most exhilarating customs, including sponsoring Lennox’s arousing induction into the Most Ancient and Most Puissant Order of the Beggar’s Bennison and Merryland. As a Knight Companion of the order, he enjoyed all of the considerable privileges of membership (3) in a club whose raison d’etre was sex. It was a popular gathering-spot: most of Scotland’s male nobility was said to have darkened its doors during its infamously liberated history. Lennox had arrived just in time.  A ribald meeting was already in full swing.  Handing his coat to the footman, he sunk into a padded leather club chair, ordered a bottle of claret and a chop for his supper.  A new candidate for membership bumped his way around an adjoining room, having been primed to attention by several of the city’s most skilled mistresses of the dark. The disheveled candidate, his cravat and jacket undone, hair rumpled and cheeks smeared with rouge, clutched at his unbuttoned trousers and attempted to conceal an enormous erection with a monogrammed dinner napkin.  A silver platter was proffered, and the initiate placed his penis upon it.  Several other redoubtable club members, having similarly risen to the occasion, solemnly placed their penises upon the platter so that they touched the new member’s.  Having gotten acquainted, the new member swore an oath, had his health drunk, accompanied by clapping, stomping (and the occasional ecstatic groan) as the gathering ushered in the next phase of the festivities. Tumbling out of their dressing room, five or six scantily-clad “belles-dames” began dancing their way around the room. To minimize temptation (and eliminate later questions of paternity) no one was allowed to fondle the girls, much less ravage them; there was no copulation.  Undaunted by the club’s edicts, the extroverted members masturbated furiously, and at the sound of a trumpet, attempted the rather improbable feat of simultaneous ejaculation.

Modeled on London’s infamous Hellfire Club, the Beggar’s Bennison met in comfortable, convenient downtown quarters, having abandoned the drafty ruins of the more northerly Castle Dreel some years before. The Beggar’s Bennison was by no means unique. Its rival, the equally scandalous Wig Club was formed as a vicious parody on the Whig political party and its associated men’s club.  The renegade Wig Clubbers paid homage to a wig reputedly made out of the pubic hair of King Charles II’s mistresses—including Lennox’s great-great-grandmother, Louise Renee de Pentacoet de Keroualle; the Stuart king himself was Lennox’s great-great-grandfather.

 Louise, a lady-in-waiting at the French court, acted as Maid of Honour to the king’s favourite sister, Henrietta, while she was in France negotiating peace terms with King Louis XIV.  Sent back to England with Henrietta by Louis in 1670 to keep an eye on the king, Louise did her job admirably.  The beautiful and lusty Louise, described as "the young wanton," quickly replaced Nell Gwyn as the monarch’s favourite mistress.  Two years later, she inevitably bore a child, named Charles Stuart after his papa (though his surname was later changed). Louise became Duchess of Portsmouth, title to the seigneury of Aubigny and honourary English citizenship. The doting royal father heaped titles and honours on the boy, among them the dukedom of Richmond King Charles’ most lavish gift to his illegitimate son was the right to collect duty of 12 pence per kettle of coal shipped from Newcastle, a bequest worth 20,000 pounds per year by the late eighteenth century.  Lennox, as heir apparent to his uncle Charles, the liberal, highly-educated third duke of Richmond and Lennox, stood to inherit it all. 

After thirty years of marriage, the 3rd duke’s duchess, the Scottish Mary Bruce, had produced no offspring. Richmond, on the other hand, had at least three illegitimate daughters by his housekeeper, Mrs. Bennett, whom he declined to formally recognize.  There was no pressing reason for him to do so:  the Richmond clan was rich and powerful, related by blood of marriage to the country’s most powerful people noble or common and the 3rd duke of Richmond was one of its brightest lights; his nephew paled in comparison.  For the time being, Lennox was content to savour life’s delights without qualm. His devil-may-care attitude, his total lack of snobbery and his friendly sociability with people of all ranks were already becoming well-known.  He was liked and respected by the men of his regiment as a talented athlete, a true sportsman and a man of honour. But behind Lennox’s easy-going demeanour was a quick, stubborn temper, which, when it flared, could lead him into serious personal and professional difficulties.

 Lord Charles was inconveniently born in a Scottish barn on September 9, 1764, the only son of Lord George Henry Lennox.  His mother, Lady Louisa Kerr, was a daughter of Scotland’s fourth Marquis of Lothian, and such a keen sportswoman that she was disinclined to lose a moment’s fishing--even for her son’s birth.(4) Unexpectedly going into labour, she was brought to a nearby barn to deliver her third child. The event had little lasting impact on the new Lennox, who grew tall, strong and so handsome he was said to be the best-looking man in England. Lennox inherited not only his great-grandmother’s good looks, but her love of amorous gratification.  From his great-grandfather the king he gained an innate and obsessive love of horses—riding them, racing them, breeding them and especially betting on them.  When not on military manoeuvres, Lennox, like most of his compatriots, whiled away the hours hunting to hounds, playing cricket, tennis and cards, as well as gambling, smoking and drinking heavily.

  The sophisticated bachelor’s eighteenth-century world swirled with never-ending soirees where debauched party-goers drank, took laudanum (liquid opium), slept with partners of either sex, and, incredibly, plotted the affairs of state.  Victims within this fast-paced, spectacularly irresponsible orbit were many and legendary.  While Marie Antoinette blithely played milkmaid on her “farm” at Versailles, aristocrats were commonly embarrassed or even ruined by the huge debts of the many habitual gamblers in their midst. Playing cards for money consumed countless hours—or even days--at a time.  In one memorable card game, Prince Adolphus, a brother of the Prince of Wales, won 80,000 pounds sterling playing rouge et noir.  Play continued and the prince lost not only the money he had won but went another 12,000 pounds into debt.

Many noble families were fractured by the discovery of such staggering debts, as well as by extra-marital affairs, sexually-transmitted diseases and illegitimate children. The sprawling Lennox clan, led by the 3rd duke’s example, was no exception. Everyone, it seemed, had a lover’s skeleton or two in their closets. Charles’ aunt Emily had carried on a long affair with her children’s tutor. His aunt Sarah, though married, had lived openly with her lover. The family’s intricate dysfunction would colour the young Charles’ later ideas about the sanctity of marriage.

 Yet the clan was close. As a young man, Charles lived mostly at Stoke, Sussex where Lord George had the “livings” of several estates, though the rent amounted to a paltry 600 pounds annually. The third duke, a diplomat and cabinet minister, lived only three miles away at Goodwood, the family’s lavish ancestral home.  The brothers had successively commanded the 33rd Regiment;  George later transferred to the 25th .  In 1777, George, an aide-de-camp to George III, went to Paris as his brother’s secretary.  The posting to the French court created an opportunity for the 13-year-old Charles Lennox to go on an “educational tour” of the fabled city with his Irish first cousin, Edward Fitzgerald, who was a year older. Nominally accompanied by a tutor, the handsome pair romped through the City of Lights, improving their riding, fencing, and studying  military tactics.  The pair were so alike that a description of Edward’s character could have been equally applied to Charles: both were lovable, frank, open, benevolent, chivalrous, unassuming and courageous, and possessed of great stamina.(5)The American Revolution had broken out the year before and the city was abuzz with talk of the new Republicanism. The two teenagers, well placed to hear even the softest whispers from the royal court, drank it all in.

It was hardly surprising that within a year, Lennox and Fitzgerald decided to join the army. Excited at the prospect of combat in the Americas, each  purchased lieutenant’s commissions. Both were disappointed. Fitzgerald’s mother couldn’t bear the possibility of her favourite son marching to war in a line regiment; Lennox, the heir to the Richmond dukedom, couldn’t be exposed so recklessly to danger.  Instead, the boys were sent to Sussex to parade with the duke’s Sussex Militia. Fitzgerald, who had never been to England before, was given charge of setting up a new militia encampment on the South Downs. Though he executed his task perfectly, the hopelessly romantic and restless Edward quickly became bored. In 1780, he insisted upon taking up his commission with the 96th Regiment of Foot, encamped in southern Ireland. He remained there for months, finally exchanging his commission for a place in the 19th, which sailed from Cork in February, 1781, for Charleston, South Carolina. He was quickly wounded in action, though not seriously, then sent to the Caribbean under the stern General Charles O’Hara—whom Lennox would much later encounter to his peril. Fitzgerald struck up a lasting friendship with the commander and, thanks to his excellent French, acted as an interpreter in Martinique. He returned home on half-pay two years later.

Lennox, meanwhile, bided his time in Sussex. In 1784, he became secretary to his uncle Charles, and to the Board of Ordnance. As Master-General of the Ordnance, Richmond was a cabinet minister responsible for supplying the army with military firepower and equipment between 1783 and 1795.  Nephew and uncle weren’t at all alike, though they worked well together. The 3rd duke’s flashy intellectualism had earned him important political positions, but without constant stimulation, he became bored. Lennox, on the other hand, preferred time-honoured aristocratic pastimes, particularly socializing; Fitzgerald was more like his uncle, sharing at least initially, his philosophical passions.

In 1787, the time came for the fledgling to spread his wings. Richmond secured his nephew a commission as captain in the 35th Regiment of Foot, effective August 29.  Lennox headed north to Edinburgh, where he would remain for 18 merry months. 

In 1788, King George III went mad. Parliamentary debate on appointment of a Regency was heated; finally, it was decided that George, the Prince of Wales should be regent, though Queen Charlotte would have care of the king and his household. George III’s recovery a few months later deferred the issue, though the monarch—who hated his eldest son--accused the prince of plotting to succeed him at all costs.   The king’s bouts of madness and unpredictable behaviour were later determined to be caused by porphyria, a rare accumulation of certain body chemicals affecting the skin and nervous system.  His condition led to constant royal wranglings and a climate of political mistrust which persisted for years.(6)

 For the Richmonds, there was an inescapably personal element to the monarch’s eccentricities.  As Prince of Wales, the young, awkward George had made a veiled proposal of marriage to the ill-fated Sarah Lennox. When he became king in 1760, George III snubbed Sarah, and wed Charlotte of Mecklenburgh. In order to avoid scandal, Sarah quickly and unhappily married  Sir Charles Bunbury, a man rumoured to be unable or simply unwilling to father children. Falling in with the Duchess of Devonshire’s ribald set, she met Lord William Gordon and began an affair. They ran off to Scotland where they lived together openly.  Sarah gave birth to a daughter, Louisa.  Gordon, though, had no money, and Sarah was persuaded to return home to Goodwood, where she lived under the strict supervision of the third duke. Only when she was happily married to army officer George Napier was she allowed back into “society.” The 3rd duke, who had been a fixture at court, blamed the inept monarch. From then on, the pair cultivated a mutual, life-long distaste. The 3rd duke prominently opposed the monarch at every turn with his liberal political philosophies like manhood suffrage, independence for the American colonies and emancipation for Irish Catholics.  Urged the union of Ireland and Britain as a merger of  “two hearts,” the 3rd duke  helped draft the 1774 Quebec Act, championing civil government for the colony in the House of Lords. Eventually, the American invasion of Canada and the excesses of the French Revolution turned him back toward the more conventional Tory platform, while nudging Edward Fitzgerald toward ever more liberal Whiggery, Republicanism and eventually rebellion.

 The third duke turned his energies instead to practical applications, taking the unheard-of step of mounting field guns on wagons to accompany cavalry, resulting in the creation of the Royal Horse Artillery in 1793.  He also formed a special driver corps, organizing the formerly jumbled supply wagons into trains. Suddenly, war was mobile.  It was also becoming more accurate.  Working closely with firearms pioneer Henry Nock, the duke helped invent the Duke of Richmond Musket, a vast improvement over the Brown Bess, a smooth-bore, flint-lock musket accurate for only 100 yards. When fired, the weapon’s barrel became so hot a soldier could hardly touch it; only one shot out of 200 had any effect. The third duke could often be seen rambling about Hyde Park, often with the duke of York, testing out the latest in explosive military devices in the name of army reform.  The group became so absorbed in their experiments Richmond forgot to ensure manufacturing of the weapons had actually begun. When the French declared war later that year, there were not enough guns to go around, and Richmond had to buy inferior muskets abroad.  Though Nock had developed several superior weapons under the duke’s patronage, the affair tainted his reputation and they never became standard issue.

The duke of York was equally inventive, if less forgetful.  He relaxed harsh army discipline much to the dismay of his younger brother, William, the duke of Kent who happily enforced flogging for just about every offence.  York also tried to do away with the hopeless mess created by indiscriminate purchase of commissions, and advocated the enlightened view that advancement through the ranks ought to be based on merit.  This move turned into the scandal of the century when York’s mistress was found to be receiving kickbacks under the new and improved system. York was relieved of his post as commander-in-chief, though he was later reinstated.

It was a rare, though brief period of peace within the vast British Empire, and a respite for the weary men of the 35th.  Also known by one of George III’s inexplicable decrees as the Dorsetshire Regiment, they preferred to be called the Orange Lilies.(7)Britain’s chief rival, France, was momentarily preoccupied with its growing civil strife, though it would soon export its increasingly deadly conflict. When a captaincy became available in York’s Coldstream Guards—the famous Lillywhites, who had helped restore Charles II to the throne--it seemed only natural the 3rd duke would use his influence with Prime Minister William Pitt,(8) to obtain the posting for his nephew.  The real bonus of the position was a lieutenant-colonelcy in the army at large (a commission Fitzgerald had also asked of his uncle, but was refused).  It was too good to pass up. On March 26, 1789, Lennox cheerfully packed his bags and headed south to London.

Fitzgerald, meanwhile, was on his way home from another North American odyssey . His comparative poverty had caused his cousin, Georgiana Lennox—Charles’ sister—to cruelly reject his proposal in 1787, only to marry the rich and politically powerful Henry Bathurst, 3rd Earl Bathurst.  Fitzgerald fled back to the army, taking up a major’s post with the 54th Regiment in St. John, New Brunswick.  After a landmark map-making tramp through the woods to Quebec City, the wandering Fitzgerald set off for the most distant of the British outposts, the dismal Fort Michimilackinac on Lake Superior. He topped the two-year venture off with a canoe ride down the Mississipppi to New Orleans.  Back in London, he had a disastrous fling with the famous singer Elizabeth Linley, wife of politician and playwright Robert Brinsley Sheridan, with whom he had a daughter. Linley died of consumption soon afterwards and the little girl was raised by Sheridan. Fitzgerald was heartbroken.

Lennox’s new posting had also been a disaster. The duke of York decided Lennox, a supporter of Tory Prime Minister William Pitt, was a political enemy and was outraged to find him thrust under his command. York and his brother the Prince of Wales ironically supported Charles James Fox, Lennox’s cousin and the leader of the liberal Whig opposition. The Whigs advocated, among other things, removal of the monarch in favour of a regency led by Wales.  A smear campaign about Lennox’s lifestyle, his “bastard” origins, and the Lennox family’s courage was begun; York was said to be their originator.  It took less than two months for Lennox’s famous temper to boil over.  He confronted York with the accusations, using less than diplomatic language. York accused Lennox of uttering expressions “unworthy of a gentleman.”  Lennox, insulted, promptly challenged him to a duel.

Lennox’s challenge was astonishingly reckless; York’s acceptance of it was almost incomprehensible. As a prince, York was under no obligation to reply to the challenge.  At the time, duelling was permitted but frowned upon and ways had been invented to allow both parties to “give satisfaction” –or “save face”--without incurring serious damage. One accepted method was to shoot into the air without taking aim when given the cue to fire. Another way around the problem was to take vague aim, but deliberately miss the opponent by a wide margin. Lennox chose neither method.

On May 26, 1789, Lennox faced York on Wimbledon Common, just outside London.  As the mists were creeping over the lawns, Lennox, a crack shot, aimed directly at York’s head and fired. The musket ball just grazed the duke’s forehead, shooting a curl right off of his powdered wig. His was another challenge to long-established authority: in France, the recently reconvened Third Estate (representing the middle class, peasants and labouring poor) had just declared itself a National Assembly, with the right to redraw the constitution. It was a double affront even Lennox’s liberal uncle Richmond wouldn’t tolerate; he was left to wade out of the mess on his own.

Had Lennox killed or even injured the second in line to the British throne, he would have been charged with high treason, punishable by death. Even issuing the demand should have resulted in severe punishment.  Several hand-coloured etchings of the debacle were rushed into print, with titles like “Brunswick triumphant!,” “The Prince and the Poltroon,” and “The Coward Comforted.” None were meant to compliment Lennox; rather, they seemed to implicate the 3rd Duke of Richmond, William Pitt and others in a plot to harm the royal prince. York, realizing things had gone too far, generously saved his junior officer’s hide by publicly stating he had no quarrel with the hot-blooded marksman. Lennox’s fellow officers sat squarely on the fence, drawing up a classically noncommittal memorandum which stated he had “behaved with courage” (a fact they had not previously admitted) but under the circumstances “not with judgement.”  Clearly though, the troublemaker had to go. On June 20, it was quietly arranged that Lennox would exchange his captaincy in the guards for Lord Strathnairn’s colonelcy of the 35th, which was happily still in Edinburgh.

Though Lennox was eager to embark for more hospitable northern climes, the hostilities were not yet concluded. Despite his general popularity, Lennox’s apparent disrespect for authority, coupled with his freewheeling lifestyle had made him another potentially deadly enemy. Theophilus Swift, a Dublin lawyer and professional eccentric challenged Lennox to a duel. The affront in question was that Lennox had the gumption to fire at the “presumptive heir” to the throne. Swift, a distant relation of Gulliver’s Travels author Jonathan Swift, would later earn himself dubious fame defending a serial killer known as the London Monster, thought to be Jack the Ripper’s inspiration. In a rambling 40-page rococo diatribe disguised as an open letter to George III, Swift lamented Lennox’s “polluted person” (another swipe at Louise de Keroualle’s easy virtue) and ostentatiously pledged to spill his own blood--just as his ancestors had done--in misplaced defense of the monarchy.

The hot-headed Lennox was only too pleased to grant what might easily have been Swift’s last wish. On July 3, 1789, the two challengers met in a field near London’s Uxbridge Road.  Lennox once again took direct aim and hit Swift dead centre. The spectators certainly got their money’s worth: an observer of the festivities cheerfully reported that Lennox made Swift’s body “shine through the sun.”  Swift survived his gaping wound, learning a painful lesson: Lennox did not back down once roused.

 The two incidents were gossiped about everywhere; Lennox had become notorious. Less than two months later, the enfant terrible received a hero’s welcome from the 35th. The lads had Edinburgh Castle illuminated to honour their unscathed warrior and hastened to organize a regimental dinner.   Lennox’s detractors suspected he had organized the feast himself; the lieutenant-colonel admitted only to contributing ten guineas toward liquor for toasts to his own good health; his officers had added another ten guineas. The donations were generous considering Lennox, who had just been given a raise, earned less than ¾ of a guineq(9) per day.  During the fete, Lennox was presented with the freedom of the city and elected an honourary member of the corporation of goldsmiths.  On July 14, the Bastille prison fell. England, which had just stood down from catastrophic conflicts (including the American Revolution from 1776 to 1783 and an Irish uprising between 1782 and 1784) prepared to stand up again--in defence of the French monarchy. 

The year proved yet more eventful for Lennox.  On his birthday he married 19-year-old Lady Charlotte Gordon, the eldest daughter of Alexander Gordon, fourth duke of Gordon and Jane Maxwell.  Born Sept. 20, 1768, Charlotte was the eldest of seven children, though it was her younger brother, George, known as the Marquess of Huntly, who was destined to inherit the wealth and power of the Gordon dukedom.(10)The opinionated Gordons had traditionally--and, at times, forcefully--supported the Stuart kings; the first duke had been imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle for championing the Jacobite cause.  This soon changed their political opinions, leading  Alexander, the fourth duke of Gordon to be more circumspect, and a good deal more practical.

Gordon was a fitting father-in-law for Lennox, who warmed to his passionate, sporting side, though not his methodical administration. Unlike his new son-in-law, this duke was an excellent hands-on manager of his lucrative estates.  Money flowed into his hands so freely that the preeminent Scottish jurist and philosopher Henry Home (later known as Lord Kames), described him as Britain’s greatest subject based on the value of his rent roll.

 Jane, Duchess of Gordon, had different inclinations and very definite ambitions. She was the daughter of the baronet Sir William Maxwell, raised in comparative poverty in Kinrara, where she had little opportunity for higher education or social commingling. Yet she was formidably intelligent, tall, handsome and, to English ears, loud.  Jane didn’t care. She used her position as duchess to her own ends (chiefly political ones) and behaved just as she pleased. Credited with re-introducing tartan not only to the highlands but as a bona fide English fashion, Jane created a stir wherever she went.  The duke of Gordon had at least two illegitimate children, which his duchess routinely adopted in addition to her own seven offspring; all loved her in return.

But Jane had a ruthless side.  She was intimately involved in Scotland’s ruthless and time-honoured “gang” politics, even, it was said, kidnapping a rival supporter during the 1780 general election and locking him in a cellar for the duration of the campaign.  Eventually leaving her husband to play feudal laird in the Scottish countryside, the formidable duchess decamped for the brighter political and social lights of London. There, the duchess led an invigorating solo life at the forefront of London’s riotous political scene, including a not-so-private affair with Henry Dundas, Pitt’s best friend and political adviser.  As a hostess, she rivalled the trend-setting Georgiana Spencer Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire.(11) Writer Horace Walpole, the 4th earl of Orford, called her the Empress of Fashion. As a politician, she helped Pitt rebuild the Tory party, even acting as ministerial whip during government debates. For her pains, Jane was ridiculed not by the opposition and less talented and ambitious ladies in society, called “manly,” lacking in scruples and dangerous. Pitt, too was made fun of, for being the duchess’s pawn. Though high society sneered at her Scottish brogue and strident imperiousness, she was undeterred; her vindictive lash was felt often.  The duchess of Gordon had become a powerful woman at a time when female disenfranchisement was the rule, even having her own candidates stand for election in Scotland.

 Jane’s sharp tongue was passed to her daughter, Charlotte, whom she had tried to get Pitt to marry. He declined. Second in line was Lennox, who accepted. He had little time to reflect on his decision. The pair were hurriedly married in Jane’s dressing room at the sumptuous Gordon Castle estate in Banffshire, Scotland, with two servants serving as witnesses.  Charlotte was said to have inherited many of her mother’s less desirable characteristics, disliked for her bad temper and ceaseless gossip.

Neither marriage nor an ill-humored wife bothered the new bridegroom  much. Marriages, after all, were not made for love but power and money—and the Gordons had plenty of both. Lennox, like most members of the British nobility during the late eighteenth century was unencumbered by the new notion of sensibility, which proffered married love and fidelity as its chief virtue. Regardless of personal feelings, heirs had to be produced.  The newlyweds did their dynastic duty and their first child, Mary, arrived promptly on August 15, 1790.  She soon had a brother, Charles, born August 3, 1791, who, as the eldest son, was welcomed as heir.  In 1792, Charlotte was pregnant again, through she steadfastly accompanied her husband and his regiment to Ireland, which was swirling with whispers of rebellion and rumours of French invasion. That year, Fitzgerald went with American writer Thomas Paine to Paris where he renounced his title and became a revolutionary.  There, he married a strikingly similar woman, Pamela Sims, the illegitimate daughter of another rebel, the duc d’Orleans (known as Phillippe l’Egalite), a Republican-leaning cousin of Louis XVI, who was beheaded on January 21, 1793.(12)On February 1, France declared war on Britain, then invaded Holland. The duke of York was sent to oversee the British defense of the country, horribly botching the job. His name would go  down in musical history as the ineffective military commander who his troops to the top of the hill and marched them down again.(13)

In Fitzgerald’s absence, the United Irishmen had been formed in Belfast under the dynamic Theobald Wolf Tone. Though the initial aims of the United Irishmen were chiefly to break the English hold on the Irish and assert independence, things quickly changed when France declared war. The Irish Parliament quickly passed the Catholic Relief Act, giving Catholics the right to vote (with restrictions) and to elect Catholics to parliament though they were not allowed to take their seats. This assured Catholics would vote only for Protestants, frustrating supporters of Irish independence and Catholic Emancipation alike. Fitzgerald returned that year to Ireland with his bride, arousing suspicion in many quarters. No one was sure if Fitzgerald was working for Irish independence, for French Republicans or to restore the French monarchy with Phillippe Egalite as its missing head.


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