The Duchess, The Countess and The Curate

Robert Brown
February 2013
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Revd Edward Palmer
BA Oxon (1757 – 1826)

 

 

Revd Edward Palmer BA Oxon (1757 – 1826) was Perpetual Curate of Moseley from 1786 to 1826. He came to live in the village from Curdworth where he was also curate and made his farewell sermon in 1818 (the year that Emily Brontë was born and Queen Charlotte died). He was also the Vicar of Stoke Goursey in North Somerset, from 1788 until his death. This is now part of the Quantock Coast Benefice, close to Dunster Castle. There is an interesting historical connection between Edward Palmer and the local events in Moseley even before he came to live here. In the year 1791, there were two seemingly unconnected events of which I read.

First, on 11 July 1791, Revd Edward Palmer, of Curdworth, the Perpetual Curate of Moseley, was appointed Chaplain to HRH the Duchess of Cumberland, who had herself recently been widowed following the death of Prince Henry, Duke of Cumberland and Strathearn, younger brother of King George III, in 1790.

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The Priestley Riots

Secondly, at the time of the Priestley Riots which took place from 14 July to 17 July 1791, Squire John Taylor had rented Moseley Hall to the Dowager Lady Carhampton (neé Judith Maria Lawes), the widow of Simon Luttrell , 1st Earl of Carhampton (Irish Peerage). When the mob arrived at the Hall on Saturday 16 July, they helped to pack all of the lady’s belongings before setting fire. Her cousin, Sir Robert Lawley, the local M.P., came to help and took her to his house north of Sutton Coldfield. He had a pile at Canwell near the village of Hints, Staffordshire which, probably coincidentally but who knows, was the birthplace of Edward Dickenson the long serving Beadle of Moseley. Interestingly also, Simon Luttrell had owned Four Oaks Hall from 1751 to 1778 during which time he remodelled and modernised the house in Palladian style and acquired about 50 acres of Sutton Chase as a deer park by Act of Parliament.

I read of these two events quite separately in the course of research and it was only when I also read that Lady Carhampton was said to be a relative of George III that I dug a little deeper. How were these two events connected? It transpires that HRH Duchess of Cumberland was born Anne Luttrell and was the daughter of the Earl and Countess Carhampton. When I first discovered this, I daydreamed about a cosy fireside chat between mother and daughter discussing who should be the royal chaplain along the lines ‘I know just the person, my dear, who is the Curate here in Moseley…’ but this would not fit because Revd. Edward Palmer had not even arrived in the village by then. The likely reason for his choice is that the English part of the Luttrell family owned Dunster Castle and were the patrons of the living at Stoke Goursey just down the road where Edward Palmer was Vicar. The village of Carhampton is also in the vicinity.

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Henry,
Duke of Cumberland

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Anne,
Duchess of Cumberland

Something more needs to be said about Anne Luttrell. By the time of her marriage to the Duke of Cumberland in 1771, she was already a widow at the age of 25, having previously married Mr Christopher Horton. She was described as having “the most amorous eyes in the world and eyelashes a yard long; coquette beyond measure, artful as Cleopatra and completely mistress of her passions”, in other words in the eyes of the writer Horace Walpole, a gold digger. Lady Louisa Stuart called her vulgar, noisy, indelicate and intrepid.

When he came to learn of the marriage, George III did not approve as Anne was not only a commoner but had also been previously married and he considered the marriage a disgrace to the royal family as he wrote in a letter to another of his brothers William, Duke of Gloucester. However, it transpired that Gloucester himself had also contracted a secret marriage in 1766 to Maria Walpole, the Dowager Countess of Waldegrave, and an illegitimate granddaughter of Sir Robert Walpole. Because of George's strong disapproval of these matches, he had a law passed that no descendant of George II (his grandfather) could get married without the approval of the current monarch. This is the Royal Marriages Act 1772 and has continued to this day.

Just a final word about Anne. On becoming a widow for the second time, her gold digging came up trumps because she was granted an annual income of £4,000 which is equivalent to about half million pounds a year in today’s prices. Anne died 28 Dec 1808 at Gorizia near Trieste, Italy aged 65, without issue.