Prince William Henry, Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh

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Prince William Henry
Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh
Prince William Henry, c. 1800
Born(1743-11-25)25 November 1743
Leicester House, Westminster
Died25 August 1805(1805-08-25) (aged 61)
Gloucester House, Westminster
Burial4 September 1805
(m. 1766)
IssuePrincess Sophia
Princess Caroline
Prince William Frederick
FatherFrederick, Prince of Wales
MotherPrincess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha
Military career
Allegiance Kingdom of Great Britain
 United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service1766–1805
RankField Marshal
Commands heldGOC Northern District

Prince William Henry, Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh, KG PC FRS (25 November 1743 – 25 August 1805), was a grandson of George II and a younger brother of George III of the United Kingdom.



William Henry (left) with his brother Henry, from a family group portrait of 1751.
William Henry, aged 11, by Liotard

Prince William Henry was born at Leicester House, Westminster. His parents were Frederick, Prince of Wales, eldest son of George II and Caroline of Ansbach, and Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, then Princess of Wales. He was baptized at Leicester House eleven days later. His godparents were his paternal uncle by marriage, the Prince of Orange; his paternal uncle, the Duke of Cumberland; and his paternal aunt, Princess Amelia.[citation needed] He was fourth in the line of succession at birth.

His father died in 1751, leaving the Prince's elder brother, Prince George, heir-apparent to the throne. He succeeded as George III on 25 October 1760, and created William Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh and Earl of Connaught on 19 November 1764.[citation needed] He had been made a Knight of the Garter on 27 May 1762, and invested on 22 September of that year.[1] In 1764 he began to court Maria Walpole, the Dowager Countess of Waldegrave, an illegitimate granddaughter of Sir Robert Walpole.[2]

Career and marriage[edit]

The Duke by Thomas Gainsborough, c.1775.[3]

He initially wished for active service in the military, but his health and intelligence both proved insufficient. Instead he was appointed colonel of the 13th Regiment of Foot in 1766. That same year he and Maria married in secret in his home on Pall Mall. This marriage only became known to the King after the passing of the Royal Marriages Act 1772. The Duke and Maria lived at St Leonard's Hill in Clewer, near Windsor and had three children, all of whom were styled Highness from birth and used the territorial designation of Gloucester in conjunction with their princely styles, as great-grandchildren in the male line of George II.

In 1767 he was promoted to major-general and made colonel of the 3rd Regiment of Foot Guards.[4] The same year he was made Warden of Windsor Forest, gaining the post's official residence at Cranbourne Lodge.[5] In 1768 he employed the renowned violin maker Richard Duke as his official instrument maker; giving him private lodgings in Old Gloucester Street and workshops in Gloucester Place.[6] He was made the thirteenth Chancellor of the University of Dublin in 1771, holding the post until 1805.

Prince William Henry, Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh, by Johan Zoffany, c. 1780

The Duke and Maria's first child, Princess Sophia of Gloucester (Sophia Matilda; 29 May 1773 – 29 November 1844), was born in 1773. Princess Caroline of Gloucester (Caroline Augusta Maria; 24 June 1774 – 14 March 1775) followed just over a year later and was christened privately on 22 July 1774 – her godparents were the Duchess of Gloucester (her mother), the Hereditary Duchess of Brunswick-Lüneburg (her paternal aunt) and the Hereditary Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg (her uncle by marriage).[citation needed] However, Princess Caroline died aged just nine months following a smallpox inoculation, intended to protect her from the disease.[7] The Duke and Maria had a third and final child in 1776, Prince William Frederick (15 January 1776 – 30 November 1834).

With the outbreak of the American War of Independence, the Duke hoped for a field command, but George refused. He made a request to serve in the forces of Frederick II of Prussia during the War of Bavarian Succession (1777–1779) – George consented but Frederick himself turned down the offer. He later transferred to the 1st Regiment of Foot Guards, and he became a field marshal on 18 October 1793.[8] He went on to be General Officer Commanding Northern District in 1796,[9] a command that he held until 1802.[10]

In 1780, he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society and remained interested in medical and scientific matters of the day.[11] In 1797, he invited Norwich surgeon Philip Meadows Martineau to dine with him at Raynham Hall, the home of the Marquess of Townshend. The Marquess was, like Martineau, a Whig and, at this time, Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk.[12] In 1825, Sir William Beechey exhibited his portraits of both Martineau and the Duke at the Royal Academy.[13]

Later life[edit]

In 1782 an illegitimate daughter was born to the Duke, Louisa Maria La Coast (6 January 1782 – 10 February 1835), who later married Godfrey Macdonald, 3rd Baron Macdonald. Her mother was the Duke's mistress Lady Almeria Carpenter, a daughter of the first Earl of Tyrconnell.[14]

Portrait in 1804 by Sir William Beechey.

The Duke died at Gloucester House in London in 1805 and was succeeded as duke by his son William Frederick. He was buried at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.[15]

Titles, styles, honours and arms[edit]

Titles and styles[edit]

  • 25 November 1743 – 19 November 1764: His Royal Highness Prince William[16]
  • 19 November 1764 – 25 August 1805: His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh

His peerages were gazetted on 17 November 1764.[17]



The Duke's coat of arms

William was granted use of the arms of the kingdom, differenced by a label argent of five points, the centre bearing a fleur-de-lys azure, the other points each bearing a cross gules.[18]



  1. ^ "No. 10247". The London Gazette. 25 September 1762. p. 1.
  2. ^ "Prince William Henry, Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/29456. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  3. ^ The portrait remained in his studio unfinished on his death, before being bought by the Prince Regent for the Duke's eldest daughter, Sophia. It is now in the collection of the National Army Museum.
  4. ^ "No. 10796". The London Gazette. 5–9 January 1768. p. 3.
  5. ^ Jane Roberts (1 January 1997). Royal Landscape: The Gardens and Parks of Windsor. Yale University Press. p. 50. ISBN 978-0-300-07079-8.
  6. ^ Charles Beare and John Dilworth (2001). "Duke, Richard". Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.08285.
  7. ^ Berkshire History: Biographies: Maria Walpole, Duchess of Gloucester (1737–1807)
  8. ^ "No. 13582". The London Gazette. 15 October 1793. p. 913.
  9. ^ Mackenzie, Eneas (1827). "Historical events: 1783 – 1825, in Historical Account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Including the Borough of Gateshead". Newcastle-upon-Tyne. pp. 66–88. Retrieved 18 December 2015.
  10. ^ Baines, Edward (1825). "History, Directory, and Gazetteer, of the County Palatine of Lancaster". William Wales & Co. p. 15.
  11. ^ "Prince William Henry, Duke of Gloucester (1743-1805)". © Nash Ford Publishing 2003. Retrieved 25 September 2023.
  12. ^ "His Royal Highness, The Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh Dines This Day With P. M. Martineau Of This City". Norfolk Chronicle. 2 December 1797. Retrieved 23 February 2023. Prince William of Gloucester has been on a visit this week at the Marquis of Townshend's —. His Royal Highness dines this day with P. M. Martineau, Esq. of this city.
  13. ^ "The Royal Academy". New Times (London). 2 May 1825. Retrieved 23 February 2023.
  14. ^ Charles Watkins; Ben Cowell (2012). Uvedale Price (1747–1829): Decoding the Picturesque. Boydell Press. pp. 36–37. ISBN 978-1-84383-708-4.
  15. ^ "Royal Burials in the Chapel since 1805". College of St George - Windsor Castle. Retrieved 5 March 2023.
  16. ^ The London Gazette calls him "His Royal Highness Prince William" "No. 10212". The London Gazette. 25 May 1762. p. 2.; "No. 10247". The London Gazette. 25 September 1762. p. 1.; "No. 10411". The London Gazette. 21 April 1764. p. 1.
  17. ^ "No. 10470". The London Gazette. 17 November 1764. p. 1.
  18. ^ Marks of Cadency in the British Royal Family
  19. ^ Genealogie ascendante jusqu'au quatrieme degre inclusivement de tous les Rois et Princes de maisons souveraines de l'Europe actuellement vivans [Genealogy up to the fourth degree inclusive of all the Kings and Princes of sovereign houses of Europe currently living] (in French). Bourdeaux: Frederic Guillaume Birnstiel. 1768. p. 4.

External links[edit]

Prince William Henry, Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh
Cadet branch of the House of Welf
Born: 14 November 1743 Died: 25 August 1805
Military offices
Preceded by GOC Northern District
Succeeded by
Preceded by Colonel of the 13th Regiment of Foot
Succeeded by
Preceded by Colonel of the 3rd Regiment of Foot Guards
Succeeded by
Preceded by Colonel of the 1st Regiment of Foot Guards
Succeeded by
Academic offices
Preceded by Chancellor of the University of Dublin
Succeeded by
Peerage of Great Britain
New creation Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh
Succeeded by
Peerage of Ireland
New creation Earl of Connaught
Succeeded by