Scandal: Lady Diana Spencer's Son
Diana's son: More scandalous than his mother
Lady Diana Spencer's life was scandalous enough but what many people don't know is that her son superseded her tenfold when it came to a scandalous life. Some will say that this was inevitable and mainly the fault of his upbringing but I'm not convinced that this was the case.
Of course, it was a strange childhood, there's no doubt about that. Diana was trapped in an unhappy marriage with a husband whose affairs were well known, at least in the society circles in which they moved.
She did her duty and provided her husband with two male heirs so who could blame her if she then decided to stray? Her husband's affairs were no secret, after all.
When she took a lover, it was really of no surprise to anyone who knew the truth about the marriage but to me, that doesn't excuse the behaviour of her eldest son when he grew to adulthood.
Here we have a story of a baker's dozen of illegitimate children, a bigamous marriage and even incest. Wow.
Images are copyright free from Wikimedia Commons. The chart below was created by me using Wikimedia images.
It is rather confusing so the best way to explain about the people I am referring to is with the chart that you can see above.
When Diana married, she had two sons, the eldest being George St John. Rather scandalously, she had further children by her then lover whilst still married. However, she married her lover after a messy divorce and they had a total of four children.
One of these was Mary Beauclerk
In 1783 George was twenty one. He married Charlotte Collins, the daughter of a respectable man of the cloth. They had three children and seemingly, there was no indication of the scandal that was to ensue (although Charlotte might have known otherwise!)
Just a few years of possible wedded bliss came to an end in 1787.
George's half-sister, Mary Beauclerk, paid a visit to the young family but she was a less-than-perfect houseguest as she embarked upon a relationship with her host, her half-brother George.
As children, the two sets of offspring didn't have a great deal of contact. George and Mary soon made up for this by enjoying the most intimate of contact on a regular basis.
Note that the image you see here is NOT Mary. It is simply here to illustrate the story. Ditto the images below.
An inevitable result
Mary was soon pregnant with her half-brother's child.
I can't possibly imagine how George managed it - he must have had considerable charm - but he persuaded his wife that she should accompany Mary to Paris. There, he explained, the child could be born in secret avoiding any scandal.
So silver-tongued was he that he even persuaded Charlotte that they should pass the child off as their own. I don't know about you but I would have kicked him right in the dangly bits and told him exactly what he could do with his idea but Charlotte agreed to the deception. It worked but not for long.
Mary became pregnant again almost immediately. Once again, a visit to Paris was in order.
Mary too must have had considerable charms. Either that or George realised that popping over to Paris on a regular basis wasn't practical. (I also hope that by now Charlotte was getting rather tired of taking on her husband's illegitimate offspring.)
George crossed the Channel again to France but this time, he abandoned Charlotte and her legitimate children and took with him Mary and her two sons.
Read about British scandals
I'm addicted. You only have to look at the related links lower down this page or the ones on the right to know that I love drop of juicy scandal.You'll see more further reading suggestions further down the page but this book is the cream of the crop.
Mary should have known better
George and Mary had a further two sons whilst living in Paris under an assumed name. The way that George had deserted his wife and children should have been something of a wakeup call though.
George's roving eye had spotted a member of the Belgian aristocracy, the somewhat wonderfully-named Isabella Hompesch. She was seventeen years old.
Leaving Charlotte and her children had been easy enough so it was the work of a moment to abandon his half-sister and mistress, Mary, and her four children and took off with Isabella.
George brought his charm to bear again and convinced Isabella to marry him. His wife Charlotte was still alive back in England so of course, the marriage was invalid.
The bigamous marriage took place in secret and it's said that George threw some of Isabella's clothing into a river in an attempt to fake her death. He also intercepted any letters she wrote to her family.
Essentially, Isabella has disappeared from her home country and to enhance this, George took her to England. Another series of illegitimate children began, the first being born in London.
However, things must have been becoming pretty hot as George decided that they should move to live in a remote spot in Wales. This too became unsafe so they booked a passage to America.
In 1804, the real Mrs St John, Charlotte, died and George was now free to marry Isabella, the mother of his growing brood.
Where history disappoints us though is that there is no record of how George achieved this. After all, as far as Isabella was concerned, she was already married to him. But George employed what must have been enormous charm and eventually, the couple were legally married. They had even more children, this time, legitimate. Now they were free to return to England.
George seemed to have met his match in Isabella. It's said that at last, he became a doting husband and father. About time, I reckon.
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© 2014 Jackie Jackson