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King George I Hanover of England
(1660-1727)
Sophia Dorothea of Celle
(1666-1726)
King George II Hanover of Great Britain and Ireland
(1683-1760)
Caroline of Ansbach
(1684-1737)

Frederick Hanover Prince of Wales
(1708-1751)

 

Family Links

Spouses/Children:
Augusta of Saxe-Gotha

Frederick Hanover Prince of Wales

  • Born: 1 Feb 1708
  • Marriage: Augusta of Saxe-Gotha
  • Died: 31 Mar 1751, Leicester House, London, England at age 43
  • Buried: Westminster Abbey, Middlesex, England

  General Notes:

The Prince Frederick, Prince of Wales (Frederick Louis) was a member of the British Royal Family, the eldest son of George II. He was born into the House of Hanover and, under the Act of Settlement passed by the English Parliament in 1701, Frederick was in the direct line of succession to the British throne. He moved to England following the accession of his father, and became the Prince of Wales. He predeceased his father however, and the throne, upon the death of George II on 25 October 1760, passed to Prince Frederick's eldest son, George, Prince of Wales, who reigned as King George III from 1760 until 1820.

Frederick served as the tenth Chancellor of Trinity College, Dublin, from 1728 to 1751.

Prince Frederick was famous for having a hostile relationship with his parents.

Early life

Prince Frederick Louis (slightly-less commonly rendered Lewis), the grandson of the then Elector of Hanover (later George I) and Sophia Dorothea of Celle, was born in Hanover, Germany as Duke Friedrich Ludwig of Hanover. His parents, Prince George (later George II) and Princess Caroline of Ansbach, were called upon to leave the country when their eldest son was only seven years old, and they did not see him again until he arrived in England in 1728 as a grown man. By then, they had several younger children, and they rejected Frederick both as their son and as a person, referring to him as a "foundling" and nicknaming him "Griff", short for the mythical beast known as a griffin.

His grandfather created him Duke of Edinburgh, Marquess of the Isle of Ely, Earl of Eltham in the county of Kent, Viscount Launceston in the county of Cornwall and Baron Snowdon in the county of Carnarvon, on 26 July 1726.

Prince of Wales

The motives for the ill-feeling between Frederick and his parents may include the fact that he had been set up by his grandfather, even as a small child, as the representative of the house of Hanover, and was used to presiding over official occasions in the absence of his parents. He was not permitted to go to England until his father took the throne as George II on 11 June 1727. In fact, Frederick continued to be known as Prince Friedrich Ludwig of Hanover (with his British HRH style) even after his father had been created Prince of Wales. Frederick was created Prince of Wales on 8 January 1729.

He had a will of his own and sponsored a court of 'opposition' politicians at his residence, Leicester House. Frederick and his group supported the Opera of the Nobility in Lincoln's Inn Fields as a rival to Handel's royally-sponsored opera at the King's Theatre in Drury Lane. Frederick was a genuine lover of music who played the cello; he is depicted as a cellist in an oil portrait by Philip Mercier of Frederick and his sisters, now part of the National Portrait Gallery collection. He enjoyed the natural sciences and the arts, and became a thorn in the side of his parents, thwarting their every ambition and making a point of opposing them in everything, according to the court gossip Lord Hervey. At court, the favourite was Frederick's younger brother, Prince William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, to the extent that the king looked into ways of passing over Frederick in the succession.

A permanent result of Frederick's patronage of the arts is "Rule Britannia", one of the best-known British patriotic songs. It was written by the Scottish poet and playwright James Thomson as part of the masque Alfred which was first performed in 1745 at Cliveden, the country home of the Prince and Princess of Wales.

A masque linking the Prince with both the ancient hero-king Alfred the Great's victories over the Vikings and with the contemporary issue of building up the British sea power obviously went well with Frederick's political plans and aspirations.

Later the words, set to music by Thomas Arne - another of Frederick's favorite artists - got a permanent life of their own regardless of the masque. Thomson, who supported the Prince of Wales politically, also dedicated to him an earlier major work, Liberty (1734).

Patron of the arts

Unlike the king, Frederick was a knowledgeable amateur of painting, who patronized immigrant artists like Amigoni (illustration above right) and Jean Baptiste Vanloo, who painted the portraits of the prince and his consort for Frederick's champion William Pulteney, 1st Earl of Bath. The list of other artists he employed\emdash Philip Mercier, John Wootton, Phillips and the French engraver Joseph Goupy\emdash represents some of the principal figures of the English Rococo. William Kent's neo-Palladian state barge of 1732 is still preserved, though Sir William Chambers' palace at Kew for his widow Augusta (1757) was demolished in 1802.

Cricket

By the time Frederick arrived in England, cricket had developed into the country's most popular team sport and it thrived on gambling. Perhaps because he wished to "anglicise" and so fit in with his new society, Frederick developed an academic interest in cricket that soon became a genuine enthusiasm. He began to make wagers and then to patronise and play the sport, even forming his own team on several occasions.

The earliest mention of Frederick in cricket annals is in a contemporary report reproduced by H T Waghorn in his The Dawn of Cricket. This concerns a major match on Tuesday 28 September 1731 between Surrey and London, played on Kennington Common. No post-match report was found despite advance promotion as "likely to be the best performance of this kind that has been seen for some time". It is interesting that "for the convenience of the gamesters, the ground is to be staked and roped out" which was a new practice in 1731 and could have been done partly for the benefit of a royal visitor. The advertisement refers to "the whole county of Surrey" as London's opponents and states that the Prince of Wales is "expected to attend".

In August 1732, the Whitehall Evening Post reported that Frederick attended "a great cricket match" at Kew on Thursday 27 July.

By the 1733 season, he was really getting involved. We read of him giving a guinea to each player in a Surrey v Middlesex game at Moulsey Hurst. Then he awarded a silver cup to a combined Surrey & Middlesex team which had just beaten Kent, arguably the best county team at the time, at Moulsey Hurst on Wed 1 August. This is the first reference in cricket history to any kind of trophy (other than hard cash) being contested. On Friday 31 August, the Prince of Wales' XI played Sir William Gage's XI on Moulsey Hurst. The result is unknown but the teams were said to be of county standard, so presumably it was in effect a Surrey v Sussex match.

In the years following 1733, there are frequent references to the Prince of Wales as a patron of cricket and as an occasional player, though it is doubtful if he was actually any good as a player.

When he died on 31 March 1751, cricket suffered a double impact for his death closely followed that of Charles Lennox, 2nd Duke of Richmond, who was the game's greatest patron. The loss of these patrons had an adverse impact on the game's finances and the number of top-class matches reduced for some years to come, although economic difficulties arising from the wars of the period certainly inhibited many potential investors.

Indeed, it has frequently been said that the Prince of Wales died as a result of being struck on the head by a cricket ball. He may well have been hit on the head but that did not kill him; the cause of death was a burst abscess in a lung. Cricket has had its share of fatalities in its time, but Prince Frederick Louis was not one of them.

Domestic life

Quickly accumulating large debts, Frederick relied for an income on his wealthy friend, George Bubb Dodington. The prince's father refused to make him the financial allowance that the prince considered should have been his, and Parliament was obliged to intervene, resulting in further bad feeling between the two.

Although in his youth he was undoubtedly a spendthrift and womaniser, Frederick settled down, on his marriage, in 1736, to the sixteen year old Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, and soon became a devoted family man, taking his wife and eight children (his youngest daughter was born posthumously) to live in the countryside at Cliveden, since he was effectively banished from court.

Later life

His political ambitions remained unfulfilled, because he died prematurely at the age of forty-four. The cause of death has been commonly attributed to an abscess created by a blow by a cricket ball or a tennis ball, but a burst abscess in the lung was given as the cause of death. Frederick died at Leicester House in London and he was buried at Westminster Abbey.

Frederick married Augusta of Saxe-Gotha. (Augusta of Saxe-Gotha was born on 30 Nov 1719 and died on 8 Feb 1772.)



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