REVIEWS

Genealogists' Magazine, Volume 29, Number 5, March 2008

The words 'royal bastard' have great resonance in the genealogical world as this individual proves to be a gateway ancestor into a firm, lengthy, and prestigious lineage for many ordinary researchers. Descendants of royal bastards, especially of the medieval period, are in fact much more common than people realize. The problem lies not with openly recognized bastards, but with those very few in the period covered by this work who were only privately acknowledges or not acknowledged at all. This has led to a large number of claims by self-publicists and self-deceivers inventing imagined royal laisions and elleged royal bastards. If a lie is repeated often enough, it becomes the truth, and many responsible authors even today have been fooled or have been just plain careless in their research into repeating stories of royal mistresses and their issue when these have lang seen been debunked. Mr Camp seeks yet again with much scholarly acumen to review all the evidence for and against various individuals from the Hanoverian dynasty onwards and render definitive verdicts on their origins. In fact, his work should have been subtitled Fiction and Fact since fiction is the dominant feature in his discussion of royal bastardy.

The work is divided into twenty nine sections listing the lovers and alleged children of various kings, queens, princes, and princesses. His definition of a lover is remarkably wide. A source only has to indicate that the king admired an individual for her to be put in. Each alleged relationship is analysed in detail. This may create some initial confusion in the mind of the reader since the factual and fictional relationships are intermingled and only a thorough reading of the text discloses which are which. This is a rigorous  scholarly approach but perhaps it would have been clearer to separate out fact from fiction at the outset. For example, under the monogamous George III, fourteen relationships are details of which only one, to his wife Charlotte, was factually consummated, possibly three (Lady Sarah Lennox, Lady Bridget Tollemache, and the Countess of Pembroke) were platonic, and all the rest were wholly imagined by later generations. He ably disposes of the Hannah Lightfoot myth, pointing out again and with much more detail than before that she was married to another and her alleged son george Rex was in fact the wholly legitimate son of the respectable Mr John Rex.

This work is distinguished by the amount of genealogical detail that the author has found on the families of the alleged claimants. There is much more information on the Garth family to which the alleged son of Princess Sophia belonged and on the obscure William Francis Du Pasquier who was passed off as the son of George IV until this deception was uncovered. The author ably disposes of most of the alleged relationships and casts doubt on some, such as Lady Macdonald the alleged daughter of the Duke of Gloucester, which have come to be accepted. He proves once again that family legends cannot be considered evidence of fact. However, it is impossible to kill a good story. Princess Sophia is quoted as personally denying that the rumour about her having a child was true, but, as she ruefully remarked, it did not quell the gossip. Thomas Garth was presumably the bastard of General Garth by an unknown woman, not the Princess. Indeed, so potent is the legend, although the Garth family died out with an unmarried female, the author should be aware that there is a family claiming descent from the virginal Miss Garth.

This judicious outline of a fascinating byway of royal genealogy and public imagination should remain the definitive account of royal bastards for many years to come.

M.L. Bierbrier.

The Genealogist, March 2008
[Australian Institute of Genealogical Studies Inc.]

On the printed front there has been a major contribution by Anthony Camp. For many years he has been researching the illegitimate offspring of the Royal Family and he has now published 'Royal Mistresses and Bastards, Fact and Fiction 1714-1936'. He has conducted exhaustive research and put together a very detailed account of the likely and not so likely connections to the Royal Family.There are Australian connections too, so some local families might be interested to see how they appear in print. There is no shortage of families who have a rumoured link to the Royal Family and now they have an authoritative source to check. The rest of us can just enjoy dipping into this vast lake of facts about people who might appear in the course of our research, or about whom we are smply curious.

Peter Bennett.

The European Royal History Journal, February 2008

Anthony Camp is well-known to genealogists, having spent the whole of his working life at the Society of Genealogists, first as Director of Research, and then as Director of the Society from 1979 until his retirement.

This  book is the result of more than 50 years' accumulation of material. Anthony Camp has corresponded over the years with many people claiming descent from various royals. Beginning with George I and ending with Edward VIII, he has recorded details of the affairs and illegitimate children attributed to 29 major members of the Royal family. Yet this is far more than just a dull list of names and dates. Biographical details of the royal mistresses are given (some in immense detail), followed by a discussion of the evidence for the claim of a child's descent from royalty.Starting with the premise that descent does not exist he traced the family of the child as one would any other family. The source of every factual statement is given and the result is that many supposedly factual statements have been disproved or corrected and many old legends dating back years are shown to be false.

This is an amazing work of reference using a vast range of contemporary records from both Britain and abroad. The entry for Edward VII, to take just one example, runs to 29 A4 pages. There are detailed studies of the families of Edward, Duke of Kent's many ladies and the relatives of Julie de St Laurent, masses on the FitzGeorges aand a detailed study of all those many romances from which people think they descended. He looks in detail at Henry Locock, the supposed son of Princess Louise Duchess of Argyll, and at Lily Langtry's daughter Jeanne-Marie. He investigates the suggestion that Olga de Meyer was a daughter of Edward VII, that Thomas Garth was the son of Princess Sophia and that Lord Furness and David Chisholm were the sons of Edward VIII. A particularly interesting section is that on Hannah Lightfoot, the beautiful Quaker allegedly married secretly to George III, which includes much new material.

In this age of so-called "celebrity culture", which has resulted in a glut of z-list celebrity books and memoirs, I can only lament that this marvellous book failed to find a mainstream publisher. Anyone keen on royalty will find something of interest in here.

Coryne Hall.

Descent: the Journal of the Society of Australian Genealogists, June 2008

The author, well-known genealogist and past Director of the London Society of Genealogists, has produced the definitive companion to Burke's and Debrett's for those seeking Royal connections, but the even-handed counterpoint of the title warns of believing too readily in colourful tales.

The book has been reviewed in the Genealogists' Magazine, Vol. 29, No. 5, March 2008, pages 199-200. It is arranged in the manner of volumes on the Peerage and Gentry, but the meticulously researched detail is enlived by information on the lives and nature of those recorded, with succinct contemporary quotations about them or from them. Take for example, Edwardina Kent, a foundling, supposed to be a child of Princess Caroline of Brunswick (1768-1821), (pp.208-210), who first married 'after an acquaintance of two hours' at Brunswick, 1814, Captain de Normann, 'a very good sale of a very bad piece of goods' (p.209), and secondly married John Turner Flinn, who was transported to Van Diemen's Land in 1840 for forgery and fraud (p.210).

Other families with Australian connections are: Robert Lathrop Murray; John jennings Smith; Francois Louis Laporte; John George Nathaniel Gibbes of Yarralumla homestead 1859; John Molloy founder of Augusta and Busselton, WA; Prosper de Mestre; Elizabeth Preisig; Mary Ann Bennett and Mollee Little Chisholm. It is noteworthy that the author quotes, inter alia, Mollie Gillen (1970 and 1976) and that these Australian mistresses and bastards are researched in such detail from local primary and secondary sources (The book took fifty years to research).

As the London reviewer, M.L. Bierbrier says, 'If a lie is repeated often enough, it becomes the truth' until 'Mr Camp seeks with scholarly acumen to review all the evidence (p.199). While 'family legends cannot be considered evidence of fact - it is impossible to kill a good story' (p.120).

For those interested in the antecedents of H.R.H. Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall (p.375), the Royal relationshops of the Keppel family, descended from the first Earl of Albemarle, Arbold Joost Van Keppel, who came to England with William of Orange in 1688, are detailed (as indexed), and the facts of King Edward VII's death are given on page 374.

The last entry on page 400 should not be overlooked, it encapsulates the detached humour and satirical delights of biographical genealogy when it is so well written.

E.C. Best.

Royal Book News, vol. 17, issue 3, November-December 2008 

Now here's a book to keep you fascinated! Noted genealogist Anthony Camp has written an utterly delightful book, Royal Mistresses and Bastards: Fact and Fiction 1714-1936. No gossip, just the facts - and the fiction. Camp has done a lot of research about the lovers and children of British monarchs from George I through Edward VIII. He also includes the children of George, Duke of Cambridge. He sifts through the facts and the fiction, and dismisses many of the claims, including the Locock claim.

The idea for the book came about when Camp worked for the Society of Genealogists between 1957-1997. He received hundreds of letters from people who claimed to be descendants of British royals. Some information already appeared in print, but Camp decided to put all of his research into one massive book. A great idea.

Good research and scholarship. Camp, a distinguished genealogist, sifts through the evidence (or lack of evidence, apart from family legends) and provides numerous conclusions to all those family stories. This book is a must have for serious genealogists or anyone interested in seeing how facts win out!

Marlene Eilers Koenig.

 

The Spectator, 21 November 2009

Christmas Books II: a further selection of the best and worst books of the year chosen by our regular contributors

Royal Mistresses and Bastards by Anthony Camp. The mistresses and illegitimate children of kings are the subject of so much scurrilous rumour that it is often impossible to disentangle fact from fiction. Camp is a distinguished genealogist who has researched the claim of every alleged mistress or bastard from 1714 until Edward VIII. Each mistress is given a full pedigree, and every alleged illegitimate child is tested against the evidence. The result is definitive. Edward VII, for example, was not known as Edward the Caresser for nothing. He had over 50 mistresses, and most of them stand up to Camp's analysis, but the book shows that, in spite of claims of paternity, he produced remarkably few illegitimate children. Never before has the bed-hopping of monarchs been subjected to such scholarly scrutiny. Indispensable.

Jane Ridley.

Family Tree Magazine, vol. 26, no. 5 (March 2010) page 59

In this major reference work, Royal Mistresses and Bastards, Anthony J. Camp, former Director of the Society of Genealogists, uses genealogical skills and sources to analyse the accuracy of claims to royalty via the illegitimate lines of descent.

Over Anthony's 40 years working at the Society of Genealogists he received many letters from people claiming to be descended from members of the royal family, and during these decades he gradually put together an extensive collection of notes and references. In his book, Anthony looks at 29 members of the royal family, between the reigns of George I and Edward VIII, with regard to claims that have already been published, and - taking a strictly genealogical approach - he has analysed the available sources (biographies, memoirs, newspapers, satirical prints, diaries, probate records and other contemporary records) to see the likelihood of each purported royal affair and whether each claim of royal parentage holds up.

The 11-page Contents clearly outlines the 29 royal figures, and their lovers and subsequent offspring, which are covered in the book. The relationships include the well-known, such as Edward VIII's Lillie Langtry, to the obscure, such as Queen Caroline's 'Irishman'. For each liaison and illegitimate child, the places, dates, and circumstances of the affair are given, as well as brief details to give an insight to the nature of each relationship. The author's sources, used as evidence for or against a claim to royalty are included in the text throughout, leading to an extremely authoritative, methodical work on the subject, a subject that is often the stuff of just surmise or rumour.

This methodical work runs to well over 400 relationships being considered, and 2,500 surnames (Abbot to Zweibrucken) being indexed, and will be of interest both to those with a possible royal connection as well as to those, like Anthony, who are interested in using genealogy to prove or disprove such claims.

About the author: Anthony Camp has been interested in genealogy since a child, and, after many years as Director of the Society of Genealogists, was awarded the Membership of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for services to the Society in 1999. As far as he is aware, Anthony has no relation to any person in the book.

Helen Tovey.