Mrs Mary Robinson
was lady of the day to the then 18-year-old Prince of Wales in 1780. A lovely, witty actress with dark hair the Prince first beheld as Predita in “The Winter’s Tale” at Drury Lane Theater Dec. 3, 1779. He lavished gifts on her including a splendid equipage that cost him 900 guineas. In the heat of his passion the Prince wrote her a bond for 20,000 pounds. At the end of the affair Fox negotiated the return of the bond in exchange for an annuity of 500 pounds. Linked to Lord Lyttelton, Lord Nottington, Fighting Fitzgerald, Captain Ayscough, before the Prince of Wales. She became a published poet. Mary was next involved with Colonel Banastre Tarleton. This relationship lasted sixteen years.
Mrs Grace Dalrymple Eliot
born Grace Dalyrymple in 1758. She gained initial entry to the highest society circles through her brief marriage to a wealthy, fashionable London physician some twenty years her senior. Grace gave birth to a daughter in March 1782 and christened her Georgiana Fredrica Augusta Seymour in honor of her putative father. This paternity is in some doubt though as the lady had other lovers at the time. The Prince introduced Grace to the Duke of Orleans in 1784 and two years later she went to live in Paris, where she stayed during the 1790’s.
Elizabeth, Viscountess Melbourne was born Elizabeth Milbanke, the daughter of a Yorkshire baronet. She was married off to the son of a wealthy lawyer Peniston Lamb (later Lord Melbourne, created Viscount in 1770) in 1769. She used her superior education, attention to detail, and business acumen to manage her amiable but dissolute husband’s affairs. She oversaw the building of Melbourne House. Lady Melbourne was the Duchess of Devonshire’s closest confidante. The famous Whig hostess entertained a brilliant company that included Charles James Fox, George Canning, and Charles Grey at her residence in Piccadilly. Richard Brinsley Sheridan recorded her witty repartee in the character of Lady Teazle in his 1777 play The School for Scandal. Following the common practice of upper-class women during the eighteenth century, Lady Melbourne remained faithful to her husband until her son Peniston was born. Lord Egremont may have fathered William and Emily Lamb. Her son William was a future Prime Minister. Lady Melbourne had an affair with the Prince of Wales during the period 1780 to 1784. Her fourth son George Lamb born in July 1784 is said to be the son of the Prince of Wales. Her correspondence with Byron when she was 60 and he 24 is famous.
Wife of a double-bass player in the Drury Lane orchestra.
Elizabeth Bridget Armistead
was the Prince’s mistress from 1780 to 1784. She was first the mistress of Lord George Cavendish the brother of the Duke of Devonshire then the Prince of Wales. She married Charles James Fox in 1795. In 1823, she was awarded a £500 a year allowance from the Privy Purse from her old friend, The Prince of Wales (by now King George IV).
Mrs. Maria Anne Fitzherbert
unlike the Prince’s other connections was respectable. Born Maria Anne Smythe on 26 July 1756 the eldest daughter of Walter Smythe of Brambridge in Hampshire. Her paternal grandfather was a Baron and her mother was half-sister of the 1st Earl of Sefton. At 18 she married Edward Weld of Lulworth Castle, Dorset a rich landowner 26 year her senior. He had intended to leave her his property but when he died three months later in a fall from a horse everything went to his brother because he had neglected to sign his new will. In 1777, she married Thomas Fitzherbert of Swynnerton Park in Staffordshire another Catholic gentleman. Her husband and infant son died in the south of France in 1781. He left her an annuity of 1,000 pounds and a town house in Park Street. She was introduced to the Prince when he saw her at the opera in 1784 with her uncle Henry Errington. He courted her by fair means and foul set upon having his way. In order to have her he had to go through a form of marriage, marriage of a Prince to a Catholic being illegal, on Dec. 15, 1785. James Ord born in the autumn of 1786 and reared by Catholics in America was probably a son of this union. Unlike the other women he was linked to Mrs. Fitzherbert often lent the Prince money from the annuity of 1,800 pounds her husband had left her. The Prince of Wales ended the relationship in 1794 just before his engagement to Caroline of Brunswick. He gave
Mrs. Fitzherbert an annuity of 3,000 pounds for life. In 1799, tired of Lady Jersey and sorry for himself over his disastrous marriage, he began to woo Maria again. She agreed to reconcile with the Prince only when the Pope in 1800 said hers was the only true marriage. The Prince again abandoned her in 1807 for the Marchioness of Hertford.
Mrs. Anna Maria Crouch
A beautiful young singer and actress to whom he gave a bond for 10,000 pounds. Captain Jack Payne went to her Haymarket house in 1793 and negotiated the settlement down to 1,000 guineas, had she but known he had 2,000 more in the coach.
Frances, Lady Jersey
Occupied the Prince from 1794 to 1798. Her husband George Bussey Villers the 4th Earl of Jersey was the Prince of Wales Master of Horse. Born Frances Twysden in 1753 she was the daughter of the Irish Bishop of Raphoe. At 17 she married the 4th Earl of Jersey then 35. He was a member of the Prince’s household as the Lord of the Bedchamber. The Prince first tried to bed her in 1782 without success.She had affairs with the diplomat William Fawkener and the 5th Earl of Carlisle. In 1794 as a 41 year old grandmother but still highly attractive she began an affair with the Prince of Wales. It is she who encouraged him to break off his relationship with Mrs. Fitzherbert and marry in order to settle his debts. She also encouraged the choice of Caroline of Brunswick whom she felt would be no threat to her hold over the Prince. She was made one of Princess Caroline’s Ladies in waiting.
Isabella, Lady Hertford
was the Prince’s mistress from 1807 to 1819. Born Isabella Anne Ingram Sheperd Irvine in 1760 the daughter of the 9th Viscount Irvine. Became the second wife of the 2nd Marquis of Hertford 18 years her senior in 1776 when she was just 16. The Marchioness was tall, handsome, and elegant but a little portly. Late in 1806 her husband suddenly took her to Ireland to keep her away from the Prince, but this clumsy attempt only increased his ardor. By the summer of 1807 he was a regular guest of the Hertfords in their London mansion Manchester House and Ragley Hall, the family seat in Warwickshire. She was influential in the Prince’s turn to the Tories. The Prince was particularly fond of the Hertford’s dissolute son the Earl of Yarmouth.
Elizabeth, Countess Conyngham later Marchioness of Conyngham
Was the Prince Regent’s mistress from 1819 to his death in 1830. Born Elizabeth Denison in 1770 the daughter of a self-made merchant banker. Married Viscount Conyngham an Irish peer four years her senior when she was 24. She and her husband had moved in the Prince’s circle since 1812 as friends of the Hertfords. Viscount Conyngham became Earl of Conyngham in 1797. Then made Marquis in 1816. The 48-year-old Marchioness was a beautiful, shrewd, greedy, voluptuous woman. It was said that she received jewels worth £80,000 from the king. She had had an affair in the 1790’s with the Honourable John Ponsonby future Lord Ponsonby. The handsomest man of his time, he was saved form being hanged from a lamppost in Paris during the Revolution by the intervention of women who thought him too attractive to kill. More affairs followed, including a fling with the future Czar Nicholas I of Russia during a visit to London in 1816. The Prince provided her with the expensive clothes and jewels she desired, while she was just the tonic he needed to be in a jolly mood.
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Link will appear as Hanson, Marilee. "Mistresses of Prinny" https://englishhistory.net/georgian/prinny-mistresses/, January 12, 2022