Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Queen Victoria's illegitimate sister

Long before the birth of Queen Victoria her father Prince Edward, Duke of Kent (1767-1820) fathered another daughter.

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Prince Edward, Duke of Kent
In 1788 Prince Edward was sent to Geneva in Switzerland with his tutor Baron Wangenheim to finish his education. The Prince was a great lover of music and the theatre, and it was there that he met Adelaide Dubus. Adelaide Dubus (1761-89) was a musician and actress in Geneva, along with her sister Victoire and their father Denis. Edward's tutor Baron Wagenheim tried to end the relationship, even involving the Swiss authorities in an attempt to have Adelaide deported back to France.

On the 15th of December 1789 Adelaide gave birth to the couple's child; a daughter named Adelaide Victoire Auguste Dubus. Adelaide died in childbirth.

The General Evening Post newspaper in 1790 wrote of the event that "An incident of a pathetic nature operated in a degree to induce him to leave Geneva: a young lady, of French birth, is said to have engaged a share of his attachment, and after an intimacy of some duration, she appeared in a state of pregnancy. Her death happened a short time since, she died in childbed, and left a charming little girl behind her. During her indisposition, the unremitted care and solicitude shewn by her admirer, demonstrated a heart rich in the finest feelings of nature."

The baby was placed into the care of Adelaide's sister Victoire.
Prince Edward arranged for a pension of 50 guineas a year to be paid to Victoire and Denis Dubus for the remainder of their lifetimes, regardless of whether the Prince himself or the child died. This may indicate that Adelaide had been the success of the family and was therefore the main source of income. This pension came with three conditions;
1) The child was forbidden to become an actress
2) The child would be raised in the Protestant faith
3) The child was to be given back to Edward if he requested it

In 1790 Prince Edward was sent to Gibraltar to serve in the military. The Prince appears to have been deeply grieved by the death of Adelaide, and so in July 1790 Victoire Dubus took the baby on a ship from Marseille in France to Gibraltar to visit Edward. However, during this sea voyage the baby died.

According to some historians, when Victoire arrived in Gibraltar Prince Edward wanted her to become his mistress, perhaps to replace her sister, however she refused him and returned to Geneva. It was later in 1790 that Prince Edward met Madame Julie de Saint-Laurent who would become his mistress and would remain with him for over twenty years.

The final indication of the life of Adelaide Victoire Auguste Dubus, was the record of payment of 50 guineas to Victoire Barthelemy in 1832 in Geneva from Coutts bankers. It may have been that Victoire died after this payment as she would have been in her seventies by this time.

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