Thursday, April 7, 2011

William IV, Mrs. Jordan and the Family They Made

Daniel Willis, an American royal genealogist whose previous books include The Descendants of King Louis XIII, The Descendants of King George I of Great Britain and Romanovs in the 21st Century, has turned his attention to William IV and his descendants, with the publication of William IV, Mrs. Jordan and the Family They Made.

William IV, who was the Duke of Clarence before he succeeded his brother, George IV, in 1830, was the third son of George III and his consort, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.  As the third son,  William had not been expected to succeed to the throne.  He found his career in the Royal Navy, and found connubial bliss with an actress, Dorothy Jordan.  They met in 1790, and shortly afterward, Dorothy became the Duke of Clarence's mistress.  In 1794, she gave birth to a son, George, the first of nine children born of this relationship.


William expected that he would spend the rest of his life with Dorothy, and the nine FitzClarences.  But the death in childbirth of Princess Charlotte of Wales, heiress presumptive to the throne would change William's life forever.  Several years earlier,  William, aware that he might have to marry and produce a legitimate heir, and Dora separated.  She died in 1815.   Three years later, William found an accommodating Princess Adelheid of Saxe-Meiningen, and married her.  Unlike Dora Jordan,  Princess Adelheid's attempt at fecundity was met with failure.  One daughter lived for only a few months, several stillbirths and marriages were the result of William's marriage.  Thus, when William died in 1837, he was succeeded by his 18-year-old niece, Princess Victoria of Kent.

William IV and Dorothy Jordan have more than 900 descendants that include Prime Minister David Cameron, the late Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of Malta, Fra Andrew Bertie,  the writer Sir Rupert Hart, the Duke of Fife, the Marquess of Bute, the Earls of Erroll, Gainsborough and Portland, among other British noble families. 

The last male line descendant, Anthony FitzClarence, 7th Earl of Munster, died in 2001.  

This is a comprehensive genealogy of William and Dora's descendants complete with dates and places of births, deaths and marriages.   The genealogy is complemented by a biographical-historical text about the descendants themselves, their marriages, their families, their successes, foibles and failures.  If I have one quibble it would be that Daniel's text needs a bit of editing.  That quibble aside,  I can say that I heartily recommend William IV, Mrs. Jordan and the Family They Made (CreateSpace: $35.00).


William IV, Mrs. Jordan and the Family They Made

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