[This page is still in development: see Page History below.]
Many of the items on this page have been contributed by North American members of the Courtenay Society who have generously agreed to share findings from their research. Items that are
struck throughwill be amended asap.
- Bulleted items are texts from the time, most of them from newspapers and magazines with some letters and diary entries. The newspaper and magazine items are listed by date of publication which in some cases is several weeks after the event reported.
There are plenty of false rumours reported here, as well as exaggerations and errors!
1810 Mr Yard, apothecary at Chudleigh (Devon), as recorded in Joseph Farington’s diary, 10 October:
- Mr. Yard called in the evening and spoke of reports respecting Lord Courtenay which are daily becoming more particular. Many of the neighbouring gentlemen refuse to hold intercourse with him; but several respectable families still continue to visit Him.
1811 London daily newspaper, Morning Chronicle, 10 January | The Mirror of Fashion:
- Lord Viscount Courtenay embarked on board his Yacht,
and set sail, as some people think for America. The rumour of his being returned is doubtful.
[This item appeared on March 9 in the US daily newspaper, New York Evening Post: Foreign News, Selected from London papers to the 12th of January, received at the Office of the N. Y. Evening Post.]
1811 London daily newspaper, The Star, 11 January:
- Lord Viscount Courtenay embarked on board his yacht a few days ago, and set sail, it is supposed, for America.
1811 Charles Skinner Matthews in a letter to lord Byron in Malta, Cambridge (England) 13 January:
- Such is the depraved state of our island. Nay, I am even informed, and yr Lordship will hear with horror, that even the women rival our sex in irregularity of passion & that there are many among them, in the higher classes, who find in their own gender all that they wish for. A Lady of very high rank is mentioned to be very strongly thus addicted. By the way I should mention a report current this last day or two that Ld. Courtenay has set sail on his Yacht for America. His Devonshire exploits have become so notorious that the magistrates have intimated to him that he is in considerable danger.
London daily newspaper, Morning Chronicle, 15 January | The Mirror of Fashion:
- Lord Courtenay’s motto is: “Ubi lapsus ? Quid feci ?”
1811 London daily newspaper, Morning Post, 17 January:
- Lord Courtney’s estates in England and Ireland, produce a clear rental to his Lordship, of fifty-two thousand pounds per annum.
1811 London daily newspaper, Morning Post, 18 January:
- Plymouth, January 15. — Arrived, the Lord Hobart packet, with mail and passengers from New York: she has had a tempestuous passage.
1811 Welsh weekly newspaper, The Cambrian, 19 January |London, Saturday, January 12:
- Lord Viscount Courtenay, it is said, has sailed for America.
1811 January 21: William signs an Indenture of Appointment and Grant.
1811 January/February: William and his suite sail in the American ship Jane from Liverpool to New York; they probably arrive in March 1811.
1811 English weekly newspaper, Lancaster Gazette, 2 February:
- Lord Courtenay, who has suddenly embarked for the Continent, is the subject of general conversation. He is in lineal descent the most illustrious of the British Peerage. He is the 17th in lineal succession from Hugh Courtenay, Earl of Devonshire, and Margaret, his wife, grand-daughter of Edward I.; and the 22d in descent from Reginald de Courtenay, who came into England with Henry II. There have been several Kings of Jerusalem in this family, as well as Latin Emperors. They derive their original descent from Pharamond, founder of the French monarchy, being descended from Louis VI. King of France, surnamed Le Gros, and hence this family is allied to the Blood Royal of France.
1811 February 5: the Prince of Wales becomes Prince Regent of UK until January 1820.
1811 London daily newspaper, Morning Chronicle, 25 February:
- It is understood that Lord Viscount C. whose precipitate retreat from this country has been the subject of such general conversation, took shipping at Liverpool, with the intention of visiting, as it is said, the Brazils. As Lord C. has declined appearing to answer the charges laid before the Magistrate, a bill of indictment will, it is said, be preferred against him at the ensuing Assizes for the county of Devon. [William Beckford made a cutting of this item for one of his scrapbooks: see page 20 of this article by Rictor Norton.]
1811 US daily newspaper, New York Evening Post | Foreign News, Selected from London papers to the 12th of January, received at the Office of the N. Y. Evening Post, March 9:
- London, Jan. 7 | Lord Viscount Courtenay embarked on board his Yacht, and set sail, as some people think for America. The rumour of his being returned is doubtful. [see item in Morning Chronicle 10 January]
1811 English weekly newspaper, Bury and Norwich Post, 13 March:
- Lord Courtenay’s elegant mansion in Portman-square, was on Friday [8 March] disposed of by private contract to the Princess Sophia of Gloucester. [A niece of King George III: “She lived at New Lodge in Winkfield, near Windsor in Berkshire and held the office of Ranger of Greenwich Park.”]
1811 March 18: Sheriff of Devon commanded to arrest William (and William Fryer) to face charge of buggery.
1811 March 27: William’s heir presumptive, his second cousin William Courtenay, announces that he is prepared to serve as one of the members of the UK parliament for Exeter; elected 6 October 1812.
1811 English weekly newspaper, Exeter Flying Post, 28 March and 4 April:
- To be sold by auction at the Globe Inn, Topsham, on Saturday the 6th day of April next, between the hours of three and five in the afternoon, The handsome fast-sailing, copper-fastened and copper-bottomed BRIG DOLPHIN, Nearly new, 160 tons [163 metric tonnes] register, pierced for 14 guns; Has only been employed part of two summers as a Nobleman’s Yacht. / She is built and rigged with the best materials , and her accommodation fitted in the first style of elegance, the furniture of which will be sold with her. Any gentleman in want of such a vessel as a yacht, will find her worth his attention; or she would make a desirable vessel for a packet, the fruit trade, or any employ where great dispatch is required. / To be viewed three days previous to the sale, on obtaining a written order from Mr. John Pidsley, solicitor, Exeter, or Mr. Good, of Bridport, the builder, of whom further particulars may be known. / Dimensions as under : — / Length on deck, from fore part of stern to back of stern port 76ft. 0in. [23m] / Extreme breadth 23ft. 2in. [7m] / Depth in hold, from ceiling to upper deck 12ft. 9in. [3.9m] / Height in the cabin 7ft. 4in. [2.2m]
1811 London daily newspaper, The Globe, 27 April:
- Advice has been received at Powderham Castle, in Devonshire, from America, of the arrival of Lord Courtenay, with his yacht, in Blandford river, in Virginia.
[An item with almost identical wording appeared the next day in another London newspaper, The National Register, and in the Caledonian Mercury, a Scottish thrice-weekly newspaper, on 6 May.]
1811 Dr Jonathan Parker Fisher, Sub-dean of Exeter cathedral, recorded in Joseph Farington’s diary, 17 May:
- Dr. Fisher of Exeter, Brother to the Bishop of Salisbury called.– He told me Mr. Morton of Exeter, an excellent magistrate, was alone the person who by His determined conduct brought the proceedings against Lord Courtney to a point which obliged Him to secure His safety by leaving the Kingdom. Mr. Morton had solicited other magistrates to concur with Him in His exertion for this purpose but they on one pretence or other declined it. He took the Depositions against His Lordship, one of them was to a fact,–the other to an attempt,– Lord Courtney had affected to disregard any proceedings against Him, saying that should He be accused before the Lords they most of whom he said were like Himself would not decide against Him. Thus shameless was He in His mind; but when He was informed that the Officers of Justice were ordered to pursue Him, He lost all resolution,– wept like a child, and was willingly taken on board a Vessel, the first that could be found, an American Ship, and passed there under a feigned name. After He had been on board sometime He asked whether He might not be called by His own name, but was told it would be dangerous on acct. of the Sailors whose prejudice against [sic] might have bad effects.–He had made a Will & bequeathed His vast property. One of his Sisters, an unmarried Lady, resided with Him. To Her He bequeaths £1600 a year provided she does not marry, a strong trait of His disposition & mind.
1811 English weekly newspaper, Bath Chronicle & Weekly Gazette, 23 May (page 2):
- Lord Courtenay was at New York on the 6th ult. [6 April 1811] but his society was shunned by all classes of people.
[An item with almost identical wording appeared in The Cambrian, a Welsh weekly newspaper, on 25 May, and the news was also reported in Evans and Ruffy’s Farmer’s Journal, a London weekly newspaper, on 27 May.
1811 English weekly newspaper, Exeter Flying Post, 6 June | Plymouth, June 4:
- Monday. Wind variable. The Jane, Clark, which arrived here yesterday [Sunday 2 June 1811] carried out to New-York, from Liverpool, about five months since, the Right Hon. Lord Viscount Courtenay and his suite, passengers. His lordship has purchased a large estate, and suitable mansion, on Long Island. The Jane brought home several packets of letters sealed with the Courtenay arms and crest, directed for Lord C. Somerset [one of William’s brothers-in-law], his lordship’s sisters, his solicitor in London, his steward, &c. &c. He lives quite a secluded life.
1811 English weekly newspaper, Bath Chronicle & Weekly Gazette, 6 June | Letter from Plymouth to the Printer June 3:
- Arrived, the Jane, Clark, from New-York, with a carriage of sundries for orders; the Jane was the ship that carried out five months since, from Liverpool to New-York, Lord Courtenay and suite. His Lordship has purchased an estate on Long Island, with a superb mansion attached to it, where he now resides.
[Similar but shorter reports appeared on: 8 June in the Lancaster Gazette, an English weekly newspaper; 13 June in The Freeman’s Journal, an Irish daily newspaper, and 15 June in the St James Chronicle & Evening Post, a London newspaper.]
1811 London daily newspaper, The Globe, 17 June:
- On Saturday [15 June] concluded the sale of the costly plate and magnificent jewels belonging to Lord Courtenay, which have attracted so much attention from the rank and fashion of the West end of the town. During the exhibition of the plate, &c. as well as during the several days of sale, the rooms were crowded. Amongst the Nobility and Gentry, who were buyers, were the Marquis of Hertford, Earls Grosvenor, Falmouth, Besborough, and Lords Conyngham, Waterpark; Messrs. Latouche, Gordon, Ogden, Lister, Lowther, &c. The several valuable articles of plate produced unprecedented prices; much of the massive and beautifully wrought plate producing from 10s. to 50s. [£0.50 to £2.50] per ounce ! The immensely large silver font, weighing 2000 ounces [125 pounds; 56.7 kilograms], was sold to Mr. Dick for nearly 1000 guineas [£1,050] !!
[‘Mr. Dick‘ may have been Quintin Dick. This item also appeared in two English weekly newspapers, the Oxford Journal on 22 June and the Hampshire Chronicle on 24 June, as well as in a US daily newspaper, the Alexandria Daily Gazette on August 7. A shortened version, omitting the names of buyers, appeared in another English weekly newspaper Bath Chronicle & Weekly Gazette on 20 June and in the Irish daily newspaper, Saunders’s News-letter, on 29 June.]
1811 July 14: marriage at Bloomingdale reformed church (New York) between Eliza Bashwod and William How, two of William’s servants.
1811 Scottish twice-weekly newspaper, Edinburgh Advertiser, 12 July (page 17):
[…] Lord Viscount Courtenay. He scorns a […]
1811 London monthly magazine, The European Magazine, September:
- New York Papers to the 4th ultimo [4 August 1811], have been received […].Other American Papers state, […] Lord Courtenay has taken some ground about six miles from New York, on which he is erecting a splendid mansion. He has launched a grand carriage with a suitable equipage, but sees no company.
1811 September: Edward Carte is appointed as agent of William’s Irish estates in place of William Thomas Locke.
1811 Irish daily newspaper, The Freeman’s Journal, November 4:
- Lord Courtenay, it would appear, intends to sojourn constantly in America, as he is finishing a house on a large scale, and is improving the grounds adjacent; he lives quite secluded; his principal companion is an elderly foreigner, who went with him from this country.
1812 January 3: William’s sister Caroline marries Charles Morland in London; she is the tenth and last of the Courtenay siblings to marry.
1812 March: William’s sister Frances, dowager lady Honywood, completes her Memorial.
1812 copy of letter from William at Bloomingdale (New York) to his bankers in US, 20 April:
- Gent.n, I fancy the Letters by the March Packet having come before those of the Feb.ry, have caused some mistake in regard to the alteration of the Monthly payment of my Income – two Letters I have received from Mr Courtenay in response to two sent to him from me on this business – by the Feb.ry Packet – He says he has sent directions to have 500 £ a month paid to me, but by the March He says He has desired 2000 ££ may be paid Monthly in order to meet my express wishes – I conclude you must have this direction and beg to say that this letter made I should prefer being more certain – I shall be happy to shew you both the letters to 1st April. I have the Honor to be, Gent.n, Your Ob.t Hum.ble Ser.t, Courtenay
1812 June 19: US declares war on UK. July 7: State Department in Washington orders all British subjects to register with US marshal of the district where they reside.
1812 British aliens living in or near New York City, as recorded in return by Federal marshal to Department of State July 20-25, with note by US Navy Department from 1813:
- Courtney, Lord Vincent [Viscount], age 43, 1 year & 4 mos. in U.S., Claremont, gentleman;
- [1813, US Navy note] 5 ft. 7½ in. [1.71 metres], age 44, fair complex., grey hair, fair eyes, Bloomingdale, gentleman.
[British Aliens in the United States during the War of 1812, compiled by Kenneth Scott and published at Baltimore (Maryland) in 1979 | page 93.]
1813 US daily newspaper, New York Evening Post, April 23:
- For Sale–The house and improved grounds at Bloomingdale, owned by the subscriber and lately occupied by Lord Courtenay. | The Grounds consist of five acres in fee, and seven acres on Lease, of which eighteen years are unexpired. The situation is healthy and beautiful–there is a very good garden with abundance of fruit on the place; also a number of fine young forest trees, which form very agreeable shady walks in the summer season. | The House and out Houses have been built within a few years and are spacious and convenient.–The distance from the city by the present road is four miles and a half, but by a new road intended to be made by the corporation next summer it will be reduced nearly one mile.–For further particulars apply to the subscriber No. 7 Beaver-st. New York. | John Wilkes.
1813 US daily newspaper, New York Evening Post, May 15:
- For Sale, or To Let, the House and improved Grounds of the subscriber at Bloomingdale lately occupied by Lord Viscount Courtenay. | For further partiulars [sic] apply at No. 7 Beaver-street | Ap 30 John Wilkes.
1813 July 9: William (‘Courtney, Lord, of NYC’) removed from Claremont in New York city to interior of New York state.
[British Aliens in the United States during the War of 1812, compiled by Kenneth Scott and published at Baltimore (Maryland) in 1979 | page 384.]
1813 Irish daily newspaper, The Freeman’s Journal, October 1:
- Lord Courtenay is represented, by our letters from America, to have married a young Lady of that country about twelve months since, by whom he has already a son and heir.
1814 February 6: William, his cousin Edward Robert Clack and Ann Armstrong are sponsors at the baptism at St. Michael’s Anglican church in Bloomingdale (New York City) of William George Woods, born on 13 December 1813 the son of Hester and George Woods.
[Record in register confirmed 16 March 2020 by Jeannie Terepka, Archivist of St. Michael’s Anglican Church in New York City.]
1814 copy of letter (136) from William at Poughkeepsie (New York state) to US Department of State in Philadelphia, March 19:
- I conclude as soon as you get your answer from Washington that you will have the goodness to inform me of it, not that I expect to hear anything favorable but I hope you will excuse the liberty I take in just hinting to you my earnest wish that you would apply for permission for myself and family to leave this Country by the first Vessel that parts as a Cartel from any Port, of which I sometimes see notice in the News Papers, especially from Boston or Newhaven – I feel that they have no more right to refuse my going from the U:S: than Mr. Jefferies and in my Opinion not so much as he arrived in this Country since the declaration of war – I also think that the Marshal has no authority to prevent my going to Claremont [William’s house on the Hudson] sometimes in order to look after my property there, which I would very much wish to do in the Course of next Month, in order to give directions about taking down all the furniture and arranging matters there to leave the house in a state of safety before I bring my family from thence to this place, where I perhaps may be compelled to remain during this war if it lasts, or untill it suits the Caprice of this Gov.t to let me depart – I have therefore to hope you will have the goodness to attend to these things for me and you will confer great favor on your most Obedient & Obliged Humble Ser.t, Courtenay
1814 April 6: William’s brother-in-law lord Charles Somerset appointed Governor of the Cape Colony (South Africa) by the UK government.
June 10: news of Napoléon’s first abdication (April 6) reaches New York; May 4: Napoléon lands at Elba.
1814 July 12: William’s aunt Charlotte imposed by prince Regent on his 18 year-old daughter, princess Charlotte, as her lady-in-waiting.
1814 summer and autumn: volunteers work on line of fortifications to defend New York from British forces, with the last working party on the defences at Harlem on 12 November 1814. Claremont, William’s house on the Hudson, remains outside the defences.
1814 October 26: William and his suite sail from New York on Swedish ship Gustav Adolph, bound for France and Gottenburg.
1814 US daily newspaper, Boston Daily Advertiser, October 27:
- The Swedish ship Gustav Adolph, for France and Gottenburgh, with between 60 and 70 passengers including Lord Courtenay and suite, sailed, about 2 o’clock, yesterday afternoon.
Com. Adv. [?Connecticut Journal and Weekly Advertiser]
1814 US weekly newspaper, Allegany Freeman, November [
12 or 14]:
- New-York, Oct. 24. | Yesterday afternoon, the ship Fingal sailed, as a flag, for Havre de Grace. We understand Mr. Purviance, bearer of Despatches for our Commissioners at Ghent, Mr. John Richardson and family, and others, went passengers. | The Swedish ship Gustaf Adolph, for France and Gottenburg is hauled off, and will sail this day. Lord Courtenay goes to France in this vessel.
1815 February 23: William’s friend Robert Fulton dies in New York.
1815 February 26: Napoléon escapes from Elba; March 19: king Louis XVIII flees for Ghent from Paris where Napoléon arrives the next day.
1815 A Young Traveller, Flying Sketches of the Battle of Waterloo, Brussels, Holland, &c in June 1815, printed at London in 1852 for private circulation but ‘written on the spot’ at Ghent, June 11:
- We were fortunately early enough to join the promenade of company in the great square, and which consisted of a mixed assemblage of princes and peasants, generals and soldiers, with their female companions—all indiscriminately enjoying their evening lounge. Among the most conspicuous were the Duke of Felton [corrected in margin by author to Feltré], accompanied by a son of Victor, Duke of Belluno, and the Marshal de Bournville; Lord Hill, and several English officers, and Lord Courtenay, attended by a young lad, whom he was leading by the hand.
- The lime trees which were planted round this large square shed a delightful fragrance; and as the gay coffee-houses were lighted up behind them, the scene became very agreeable and interesting.
1815 June 18: William’s brother-in-law lord Edward Somerset commands the British Household Cavalry Brigade at the battle of Waterloo.
1815 June 22: Napoléon’s second abdication; July 8: king Louis XVIII returns from Ghent to Paris.
1815 September 11: William’s sister Elizabeth dies at the Cape of Good Hope.
1815 US daily newspaper, Alexandria Daily Gazette, October 7:
- King Joseph Bonaparte having returned from a short and rapid jaunt to the southward, has taken the seat owned and formerly occupied by Milord Courtenay, on the banks of the Hudson. | We understand, from an official source, that King Joseph sent a gentleman out in the ship Tontine, which sailed yesterday for Bordeaux, to accompany his wife and family to his [sic] country. | [New York paper
1815 Welsh weekly newspaper, North Wales Gazette, November 30:
- Joseph Bonaparte has taken the seat formerly occupied by Lord Courtenay on the banks of the Hudson.
1816 US daily newspaper, New York Evening Post, May 6:
- To Let, or For Sale | The House, Out-Houses, and improved Grounds, at Bloomingdale, belonging to the subscriber, formerly occupied by Lord Courtenay.
1816 US daily newspaper, New York Evening Post, December 31:
- To Let, Claremont, the seat of Lord Courtenay. Apply to Le Roy, Bayard & Co. Dec 38.
1817 March 23: William’s sister Sophia widowed.
1817 Irish twice-weekly newspaper, Belfast Newsletter, November 18 & December 12:
auction of some of William’s freehold estates in Ireland to be held at Dublin on 17-18 December 1817]
1818 US magazine, Niles’ Weekly Register, Foreign Articles, February 28:
- Lord Courtenay has sold his estates in Ireland for 650,000 pounds. !
1818 US daily newspaper, New York Evening Post, September 10:
- For Sale, | Or exchange for property in New-York, The House and Lot in Market street, at the entrance of the village of Poughkeepsie, lately occupied by Lord Courtney and since by the subscriber. The house is large and commodious, two stories high, well finished and faithfully built of the best materials, and has every accommodation requisite for a genteel family. The lot comprises nearly one acre–The garden is well laid out, with a choice collection of fruit and ornamental trees, and is justly considered one of the most desirable places in that delightful village. It will be sold or exchanged for property in this city, on advantageous terms, and possession may be had immediately. For further information, apply to Isaac L. Kip, Esq. in New-York, or the subscriber, at Poughkeepsie, by whom an indisputable title will be given. | Henry A. Livingston. | aug 28 dlm
1818 September: Alexander Hoskins is appointed as agent of William’s Irish estates in place of Edward Carte.
1820 January 29: Prince Regent becomes king George IV of UK.
1820 February 14: duc de Berry is assassinated in Paris.
1821 February 12: Joel Post purchases Claremont.
1821 March: William’s sister Frances writes to king George IV of UK from Paris (6 rue de Verneuil, Faubourg St. Germain), asking him to recommend her for the post of English governess to the infant daughter of the widowed duchesse de Berry.
1821 May 6: William purchases château at Draveil with its park and farm from Daniel Parker.
1821 July 19: queen Caroline is excluded from the coronation at Westminster Abbey of her husband, king George IV of UK ; August 8: queen Caroline dies in London.
October: Alfred Furlong is appointed as agent of William’s Irish estates in place of Alexander Hoskins.
1821 madame Henriette Campan, half joking in a letter to Hortense duchesse de Saint-Leu from Mantes (France) 22 November:
- […] le vilain lord qui as acheté Draveil […] sa grille est fermée pour tout le monde.
the scurvy English lord who has bought Draveil […] his gate is closed to everybody.
1821 December 17: William’s sister Lucy dies at the Château d’Epine, France.
1812 letter from Bloomingdale: New-York Historical Society 1814 letter from Poughkeepsie: in the collections of the Pennsylvania Historical Society in Philadelphia.
Images (from the top)
- William John Huggins, hand-coloured print of 1826. The text at the foot of the print reads:
‘To James Weddell, Esqr R.N The Officers & Seamen under his Command | This Plate representing the brig Jane and cutter Beaufoy on 20th February 1823, bearing up in 74o 15′ | (Being the highest Southern Latitude ever reached) | is most respectfully dedicated by their very Obedient Humble Servant | W. J. Huggins’
James Weddell was captain of “the 160-ton brig “Jane“, an American-built ship taken during the War of 1812 and re-fitted for sealing.”
- Sweden’s National Martime Museum, drawing for model of the ship Kronprins Gustaf Adolf, built at Karlskrona and launched in 1782.
- First published online 13 September 2019
- Last update: 19 April 2020.
- Reviewed 1 April 2020: several corrections to extract from Joseph Farington’s diary for 17 May 1811.
- 19 April 2020: 6 February 1814 item added (baptism of William George Woods).
- 29 November 2020: 19 March 1814 item amended to include addressee.