George and Owen FitzGeorge
Since the publication of Royal Mistresses and Bastards in 2007 I have had correspondence with Paul Fitz-George about an ancestor George Fitz-George, gentleman, who married at St Anne, Limehouse, in 1859, and died at 144 Stanhope Street, Regents Park, London, in 1870, aged 30. This George Fitz-George had a brother Owen Fitz-George, an insurance agent, who married at St Pancras, London, in 1867 and died at Chinnor House, Sandgate, Kent, in 1894. The brothers, who were born in 1839 and 1841 respectively, described their father as George Fitz-George, gentleman. Owen said in the 1871 and 1891 censuses that he was born in France and the Crew List of the ship on which he served in 1856-7 says that he was born at Paris.
In 1888 various newspapers, in reports about a case of champagne delivered in error to his address, described Owen Fitz-George as "a son of the Duke of Cambridge". Reynolds's Newspaper of 12 February 1888 called him a son of the Duke of Cambridge; Lloyd's Weekly of 5 February had its report under the heading "A Duke's Son Sued for £3" and that of 12 February under the heading "The Action Against a Duke's Son"; The Ipswich Journal of 6 February 1888 had a similar note under the heading "The Duke's Son and the Champagne".
The existence of these two children, ostensibly sons of George, Duke of Cambridge, was quite unknown to the present day descendants of the Duke's illegal marriage to Sarah Fairbrother, and is not mentioned in the standard book about him, Giles St Aubyn's The Royal George (1963).
Paul Fitz-George has two letters written in English by the boys' father, signing himself 'George Fitz-George', one written to their mother Anne ('Madame Fitz-George') at 5 rue de la Coupe, Boulogne-sur-Mer, France, from 'London' on 26 May 1843, and one written from 'Paris' to the eldest boy on 20 January 1847. The 1843 letter followed a hurried and furtive visit to Boulogne and the receipt of a 'cruel' and 'unkind' letter from Anne. That George Fitz-George was not married to Anne is clear from the letter. She had been born at Biggleswade, Bedfordshire, in 1815, and eventually came back to England, describing herself as a widow 'supported by friend' in 1871, and dying, also at 144 Stanhope Street, in 1873. The French census returns show her maiden name as Edwards.
Although it seemed possible that the newspaper reporters in 1888 were jumping to conclusions from the surname FitzGeorge alone, it seemed nevertheless also possible that 'George Fitz-George' was indeed Prince George of Cambridge. However, having studied some entries in his diary for 1850 (kindly obtained through the good offices of Miss Diana FitzGeorge-Balfour and her brother Robin FitzGeorge-Balfour) and compared these with the handwriting of the 1843 letter, it is clear that they were not written by the same man. The capital letters, the tales of 'y's' and 'g's', etc., are in many instances quite differently formed. The Registrar at the Royal Archives has agreed that the handwriting "does not look to us like the examples we have of the Prince's hand" and was unable to find anything in her records to confirm that they were written by Prince George. The Registrar has a letter from the Prince dated from St James's Palace, 1 January 1847, in which he says that he intends 'starting from London about Wednesday or Thursday next' for Dublin, but there is no evidence that he was in Paris in January 1847 (or, indeed, in Boulogne in 1843). Unfortunately his diaries from 1833 to 1849 have been destroyed.
However, a further letter to Anne in Boulogne, produced by a family relative, postmarked Oxford and dated 5 July 1854, is fair evidence that it was not written by Prince George (now, since 1850, Duke of Cambridge) as he had gone to Paris and left there for Vienna on 18 April 1854 to take up his divisional command in the Crimea, only returning to England on 30 January 1855 [St Aubyn (1963) 63, 93].
And so it seems clear that this 'George Fitz-George' was not Prince George but some other person and over the years, as the following text has been developed, I have been left with the distinct impression that the family had no connection with the Duke of Cambridge though some of its members, especially Owen Fitz-George, promoted that idea as it was to their social and financial advantage. Extensive searches in England for possible records of the births or baptisms of the children and for a death or burial, or indeed a will, of their father, have not produced anything.
A George FitzGeorge, son of George and Anne, was born 30 December 1808 and baptised at Old St Pancras, 1 February 1809, but the entry gives no additional details of street or occupation. The National Burial Index shows that a George FitzGeorge (probably this child) was buried at St Mary Magdalen, Great Burstead, as of Billericay, Essex, 28 January 1819, aged 10 [Registers, Page 22, Entry 174], apparently with a tombstone inscription [not seen]. The marriage of the couple has not been traced, they did not die there and their deaths do not appear in the GRO indexes after 1837.
The only remaining possibility for the birth or baptism of the first George seems to be the baptism of George James FitzGeorge at St Leonard, Shoreditch, son of John & Frances FitzGeorge, of Hoxton, on 11 September 1798, he having been born 15 August [Registers, no page or entry number], but his subsequent history has not been found. This George was one of the younger children of John Fitz-George who had been named by Mrs Hatsell and baptised at the Foundling Hospital, Saint Pancras, on 25 February 1760 [TNA RG4/4396, Number 15724]. John had married Frances Allerton, of Haworth, at St Peter, Bradford (now the Cathedral), Yorkshire, on 9 April 1781 [Registers] and the couple moved to London, having a first child John Holerton Fitzgeorge baptised at St Paul, Covent Garden, in 1783, a second child William Miles Fitsgeorge [sic] in the City of London in 1785, a third child Edward baptised at St Luke, Old Street, in 1789 and then further children (perhaps ten in total) at St Leonard, Shoreditch, until 1802. John's wife Frances died from Aske Terrace, Shoreditch, in 1828, aged 65, and John himself died and was buried at Shoreditch from Cross Street, Hoxton, in 1836 aged 77.
John Fitzgeorge was described as a hairdresser in 1789 and several members of his family later followed that trade. However, he took the King of Prussia Public House at Hoxton about 1797 and ran it for nineteen years. It is apparent from the life of his daughter Frances Fitzgeorge, who was examined as to her place of settlement in 1835, when these details were given [Shoreditch Settlement Papers, 1835], that the family had several connections with Italians in London. In 1835 Frances was pregnant by Joseph Rivolta who was employed by Peter Lucina, a looking glass maker, of 16 Leather Lane, and in 1861 the census shows her visiting Charles Morelli, an artist. Her brother, William Fitzgeorge (the second child with that forename) who died in 1878, had married secondly at Islington in 1830, Mary Ann Morelli. It is possible that their brother George James Fitz-George, born in 1798, went to France and married there (? the suspicious Lisette mentioned in his letter of 1843), had children by an English mistress in Boulogne in 1839 and 1841 (and perhaps later), and died in France between 1851 and 1861. Owen Fitzgeorge was admitted to Lorne Lodge at Sutton, Surrey, on the same day in 1871 as James Camille Soldi (died 1907), a dealer in silk plush, and Soldi (whose father Giovanni Battista Ludovico Gaspardo Soldi - also known as John Baptist Soldi - died at Boulogne in 1870) witnessed Owen's will either in 1874 or 1894 (the date is not clear). As entioned below he had travelled regularly between Folkestone and Boulogne.
However, conclusive proof that these are the ancestors of George and Owen remains lacking. The known details of their father and his family are as follows:
George Fitz-George. He was of London, 26 May 1843, and of Paris, 20 January 1847 [letters to Anne Fitz-George]; living 5 July 1854 [letter to Anne, postmarked Oxford] and 9 September 1856 [letter to son Owen]; perhaps died 1856 [Anne described as 'veuve', 1856 Census of Boulogne-sur-Mer]; dead by 1861 [Census entry of Anne]; said to be 'late of East Cowes, Isle of Wight', 1879 [Freedom of City of London application by son Owen]; no PPR W/A 1858-90. From at least August 1838 to 1854 he had a relationship with (but seems not to have married), Anne Edwards [Census of Boulogne, 1846, 1851, 1856]. She was born at Biggleswade, Bedfordshire [1871 Census], 20 March 1815 [M.I.]; perhaps the Ann Edwards baptised at Langford, near Biggleswade, 8 October 1815 [daughter of William & Sarah Edwards]. In Paris, July 1841 [birth of son Owen]; of 5 rue de la Coupe, Boulogne-sur-Mer, France, calling herself Anne Fitz-George, May 1843 [letter from George Fitz-George; not there in 1841 census]; of rue de la Coupe, Boulogne (section 4), aged 30, femme mariee, 1846 [Census, page 177]; of 5 rue de Coupe, January 1847 [letter from George Fitz-George]; of rue de la Coupe, Boulogne (section 4), aged 37, rentiere, femme mariee, Anglais, Anglican, 1851 [Census, Page 325]; of 5 rue de la Coupe, Boulogne, 5 July 1854 [letter from George Fitz-George]; of rue de la Coupe, Boulogne (section 4), aged 40, rentiere, veuve, Anglais, 1861 [Census, Page 193]; presumably at Boulogne when her granddaughter Sydney Fitz-George stayed there, December 1869 [letter from latter's father]; with Ann Campbell, conductor's wife, at 50 George Street, Marylebone, visitor, widow, aged 55, "Supptd by Friend", 1871 [RG10/221-32-58]. She died at 144 Stanhope Street, Pancras, 14 February 1873, aged 58 [GRO Death Certificate, 'Ann Fitzgeorge, widow of George Fitzgeorge, gentleman'; informant Jane Brown, 5 Sherborne Street, Marylebone]; buried at All Souls' Cemetery, Kensal Green. M.I. [Grave 22094]; no PPR W/A 1873-7. She had (perhaps with other) issue by George Fitz-George:
1a. George Fitz-George, born 13 May 1839 [M.I.; age at death]. Of Boulogne, aged 7, 1846 [Census]; of Boulogne, aged 12, 1851 [Census]; of Boulogne, aged 17, 1856 [Census]; passport applications, 3 January and 18 June 1859 [TNA FO610/19 Nos 20583 and 29381 (recommended by Mr Foster, F.O.)]; of Homburg, gentleman, 1861; of 10 Berners Street, St Marylebone, 1864 [baptism of daughter]; made declaration re brother's birth, 16 September 1867; of Pelham Club, esq., initiated in London Lodge No 125, 8 February 1868 [folio 238]; passed, 2 March 1868; raised, 25 April 1868; certificate, 15 May 1868; paid fees, 1867-9; of Pelham Club, Hanover Square, 23 December 1869 [letter to daughter]. He died of typhus fever at 144 Stanhope Street, Regents Park, Middlesex, 28 March 1870, aged 30 [GRO Death Certificate as 'George Fitz-George'; M.I.]; buried at All Souls' Cemetery, Kensal Green, Middlesex, 4 April 1870 [Registers, Page 114, No 50069, as 'George Fitz George'; Grave 22094 purchased by brother Owen, 31 March 1870]. His administration (with will witnessed at the Pelham Club, not naming an executor, dated 13 February 1868) granted (to brother Owen Fitz-George) 4 May 1870 [PPR folio 334, Under £600]. As of St Anne Limehouse, gentleman, he had married by licence at St Anne Limehouse, Middlesex, 13 January 1859, Emma Forrest, minor, daughter of Thomas Holmes Forrest, gentleman [Registers, Page 32, Entry 63; named in will of daughter 1882] or daughter of Henry Forrest [of Ramsgate, income derived from land, houses and dividends, named in 1871 Census RG10/994-115-12]. She died at 14 Regent Square, Grays Inn Road, Middlesex, 30 May 1882 [PPR Calendar], aged 39 [GRO Death Index]. Her will dated 29 May 1882 proved (by friend Thomas Edghill Coles, merchant; her mother Emma sole legatee) 21 June 1882 [PPR folio 463, £709-18-10]. They had issue:
1b. Sydney Anne Fitz-George, born at Hesse Homburg, 22 May 1861 [Consular Returns, Frankfort on the Main, registered 28 October 1861]. With Forrest grandparents at 4 Wellington Crescent, Ramsgate, Kent, aged 9, 1871 [RG10/994-115-12]; aged 28, 1891; aged 38, 1901; of 59 Kennington Park Road, as Sydney Anne Tidey, with son Forrest S. L. Fitzgeorge, 1945 [Electoral Register]. She died as Sydney A. Tidey at Redhill, Surrey, 24 December 1953, aged 92 [GRO Death Index, 5g 740]. As of St George, Ramsgate, she had married by licence at Ramsgate, Kent, 25 March 1882, Robert Charles Snell, of St George Bloomsbury, store worker's clerk, son of George Blagrave Saxon Snell, shorthand writer [GRO Marriage Certificate]. He was born in Clerkenwell, Middlesex, 7 February 1862. Of 32 Bedford Place, Bloomsbury, stock broker's clerk, 1881 [RG11/320-99-20, with his mother Emily, boarding house keeper]; of Ramsgate, Kent, 1882 [birth of son]; of Thornton Heath, Surrey, 1884-5 [birth of son]; of The Warren, Greenhithe, Kent, stock jobber agent, 1891 [RG12/642-93-8]; of 61-62 Chancery Lane, Holborn, stock exchange clerk, 1901 [RG13/246-144-9]. He committed suicide at Penzance, Cornwall, 18 September 1906, aged 45 [GRO Death Certificate]. She lived with but did not marry (although she subsequently took his surname), Ernest B. Tidey. He died from The Croft, Purlieu, near Hythe, Kent, in New Forest RD, 24 January 1914, aged 52 [PPR Calendar; GRO Death Index, 2b 1039]. His will proved (by Sydney Anne Snell, widow), 21 February 1914 [PPR, Effects £261-14-0]. She had (with other) issue by Robert Charles Snell:
1c. Forrest 'Saxon' Lloyd Snell, born at 4 Wellington Crescent, Ramsgate, 21 May 1882 [GRO Birth Certificate]. Aged 8, 1891 [Census]; 2nd Lieutenant, South African Engineers; M.C. 1918; adopted surname Fitz-George (before 1919); Bishops' College, Cheshunt, 1920; deacon, 1922; priest (Southwark), 1923; Curate of St Margaret, Streatham Hill, 1922-4; Limpsfield, 1924-7; Vicar of St Laurence, Catford, 1927-39; Rector of Newington, 1939-45; Vicar of St Matthew, Redhill, 1945-51; Surr. 1939; Canon & Vice-Provost of Southwark Cathedral, 1943-; Rural Dean of Newington and Southwark, 1945; of Reigate, 1949-51; Vicar of Tandridge, Surrey, 1951- [Crockford's Clerical Directory, 1957/8]; of 98 Heene Road, Worthing [PPR Calendar]. He died 8 May 1958 [PPR Calendar]. His will proved (by widow) 26 June 1958 [PPR, £1,257-11-8]. He had married by banns at St Peter, Stoke Goldington, Buckinghamshire, 7 June 1919, Aye-Aye Cottrell Walker, daughter of Frederick William Walker, Rector of Stoke Goldington. Executrix to husband 1958. They had issue.
2b. Florence Isabel Fitz-George, born at 10 Berners Street, St Marylebone, 28 January 1864, and baptised at St Marylebone, Middlesex, 8 February 1864 [Registers, Entry 69, Page 9]. She died in Marylebone RD, March Quarter 1864 [GRO Death Index, 1a 401].
2a. Owen Fitz-George, born at Paris, France [Crew List, 1856], 6 July 1841 [M.I.]. Of Boulogne, aged 5, 1846 [Census]; of Boulogne, aged 10, 1851 [Census]; Midshipman on board 'Bombay', 9 September 1856 [letter from father]; joined Bombay as Midshipman, aged 15, London, 16 July 1856, proceeded to Bombay, December 1856, discharged, London, 1 June 1857 [Crew List of Bombay]; said to have been Lieutenant, Indian Navy [PPR Calendar 1894]; of St Pancras, Middlesex, insurance broker, 1867 [marriage entry]; of Liverpool Street and 61 Threadneedle Street, London, 1868 [sole legatee named in will of brother George Fitz-George]; of 144 Stanhope Street, Regents Park, Middlesex, gentleman, administrator to brother George Fitz-George, 1870; of London, merchant, aged 32, initiated in Lorne Lodge, Sutton, Surrey, No 1347, 10 October 1871 [same day as James Camille Soldi, importer and dealer in silk plush, a witness to Owen's will; Soldi's father John Baptist Soldi had been naturalised in 1845, went regularly from Boulogne to Folkestone in 1839-57, and died at Boulogne in 1870]; passed 16 November 1871; raised, 29 January 1872; certificate 11 April 1872; paid fees, 1872-3 [folio 216]; of 144 Stanhope Street, St Pancras, insurance agent, aged 29, 1871 [RG10/201-50-7]; of 23 Park Village East, 1874-90 [London Directories]; as of London, merchant, joined St John's Lodge, Maidenhead, No 795 (from No 1347), 8 August 1876; paid fees, 1876-80 [folio 141]; of 36 Cornhill, City of London, manager of an insurance company, Free of Company of Fanmakers by Redemption, 24 February 1879; Free of City of London by redemption, 25 March 1879; as of London, merchant, joined The Carnarvon Lodge, Hampton Court, No 708 (from No 795), 14 July 1880 (paid fees 1880-83) [folio 145]; manager of La Confiance Fire Insurance Company, 36 Cornhill EC, 1880 [London PO Directory]; of 23 Park Village East, St Pancras, 1881, insurance manager, aged 39, born Paris, 1881 [RG11/178-85-9]; of Regent's Park, defendant in action at Clerkenwell County Court, February 1888 [Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper, 5 & 12 February 1888]; one of directors of projected London Panorama Company, 1889 [London Daily News, 11 May 1889] but company liquidated February 1891 following court action and irregular dealings [The Era, 27 December 1890]; Secretary (pro tem) for projected Merchants' Fire Office Ltd [The Times, 28 June 1889, 14c] but shares not taken up and The Sketch, 22 July 1896, page 40, said venture was 'Better left alone'; of 23 Park Village East, St Pancras, executor to Sarah Baley, 12 May 1891; there, living on own means, aged 49, 1891 [RG12/117-7-8]; as of Park Village East, no profession, joined Grafton Lodge, No 2347 (from No 708); paid fees 1891-2; resigned, 31 August 1892; in London, insurance agent [The Times, 12 November 1891, page 3]. He died from 23 Park Village East, Regent's Park, at Chinnor House, Sandgate, Kent, 17 June 1894 [PPR Calendar; M.I.], aged 52 [GRO Death Index, 2a 552]; buried at All Souls' Cemetery, Kensal Green [M.I. Grave 22094]. His will dated 5 February 1874 (sic) proved (by his widow Sarah) 3 July 1894 [PPR folio 766, £1,390-11-8]. He had married by banns at St Pancras Old Church, Middlesex, 5 April 1867, Sarah Baley, minor, father deceased [Registers, Page 250, Entry 499]. She was baptised Sarah Wilshire at St Paul, Bedford, 18 April 1849, daughter of Eliza Wilshire [Registers; 1871, 1881, 1891 Census]; apparently (as his second wife's niece) adopted by George Baley, of 1 Liverpool Street, St Pancras, coach dealer and builder [1851 Census; 1861 Census, RG9/107-32-59]. As 'Sarah Baley' she was with George Baley, aged 12, niece, 1861 [Census]; aged 22, 1871 [Census]; aged 30, visitor with George Crompton, iron master, at Abbey Road, Great Malvern, Worcestershire, 1881 [RG11/2919-110-45, 'Dorothy']; aged 37, 1891 [Census, 'Dorothy']; executrix to husband, 1894; of 1 Park Village West, St Pancras, aged 34, 1901 [RG13/131-171-89, 'Dorothy']; of Vasterival, The Cliffe, Ringwould, Dover, Kent, aged 47, widow, 1911 [Census, 'Dorothy']. She died at Vasterival, Kingsdown, Kent, 18 October 1932, aged 80 [PPR Calendar; GRO Death Index, 2a 1387, 'Dorothy S. FitzGeorge'] and was buried (as Dorothy Sarah Fitzgeorge) at Kingsdown Next Deal, Kent, 22 October 1932, aged 88 [BTs]; her will (as Dorothy FitzGeorge) proved (by Dorothy Jones, spinster), 19 December 1932 [PPR Calendar]. They had no issue [her statement "married 29 years, no issue" in 1911 Census].
Anthony Camp, 22 September 2009, 22 October 2009, 30 September 2011; 24 August 2012; 17 & 22 February 2019; 24-25 March 2019, 23-24 September 2020.