Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Devonshire Progeny: Hart

Many children scampered through the halls of Devonshire House during the days of Georgiana. These consisted of her own, her husband's (with mistresses), her sister's, or Bess'. Their personalities and histories are as diverse as their genetic makeup.

William was the much awaited son and heir of William and Georgiana. He was born after 16 years of marriage and miscarriages. Upon his birth he was given the title of Marquess of Hartington which earned him the nickname of Hart. An appropriate nickname also because the heads of three harts adorn the Devonshire coat of arms.

The journey leading up to his birth was not an easy one. He was born in Paris during the Revolution. Georgiana was told to seek warmer climates due to her history with miscarriages. Maybe she should have tried Spain? When news arrived that a healthy baby boy had been delivered the bells in Derbyshire tolled all day. As you can imagine, Hart's father was ecstatic. A few months later, when Georgiana went to attend to her sick sister in Bath, the Duke rented two homes: one for Hart and his nurse and one for everyone else. Sadly, when Hart was barely speaking his mother was sent away due to her affair with Charles Grey. The one year old repeatedly screamed, "Mama gone, Mama gone!" and couldn't be consoled. When Georgiana was finally allowed to return to her beloved children two years later, Hart did not recognize her and screamed whenever she touched him. It nearly broke her heart. It also did not help that Hart had lost most of his hearing to an infection, although this would not be discovered until later.

Eventually Hart grew into a handsome boy and in his mother's final years the two became very close. He fell in love with his cousin, Harriet's daughter, Caroline. But she, being a tease, went on to marry William Lamb (much to both mothers' disappointment)...and we all know how that worked out. Hart was devastated by the rejection. Then he wanted to marry Princess Mary, who was much older than him, but she married Prince William Henry instead (at the tender age of 40, too!). After this second rejection Hart was like, "screw this!" and lived the rest of his life as a swinging single. That is how he became known as the Bachelor Duke. He kept his mistresses, but never married, causing the Dukedom to go to his cousin upon his death in 1858. It is thought that Hart's deafness may have been the cause for him being introverted and lacking confidence with the ladies.

Hart is not only remembered for being a sexy bachelor but also for his improvements on Chatsworth inside and out. He also did well in clearing up both of his parents debts after their deaths. Actually, he was a pretty good businessman. It was left in his hands to get rid of Bess, who wanted money and titles, after his father's death and he was able to do so gracefully. Bess, on the other hand, was being very un-classy. Although his disability prevented him from entering politics as his mother wished, Hart had many colorful friends such as Czar Nicholas and Charles Dickens. These friends would hang out with Hart in his beloved country estate so he would never feel lonely and they would always be entertained. He definately took after his mother!


  1. Hart sounds fascinating, and just like the son that Georgiana would have. I'm glad that the two of them became close. Now I wish that they had included a scene of Hart screaming "Mama Gone, Mama Gone" or him pulling away from her in the movie. I would have wept even more buckets than I did in the scene where she had to give up Eliza.

  2. Oh I know! We didn't get to see Hart at all, did we? It almost seemed as if Gee resented him and was a daughters-only sort of mom. But you are right, I wouldn't be able to control myself if they showed that scene! Poor little Hart.

  3. Looking at that 2nd portrait of Hart with his head turned to his right, it reminds me very much of the current Prince William...don't you agree?

  4. I do agree now that you mention it! Then again, Wills does have the same blood running through his veins as Hart!

  5. Caro was not a tease to poor Hart! She adored him like a baby brother, whilst she dearly loved William (her mother forced her to wait several years to marry Lamb until he was next in line for his father's title). It was exactly that reason why she couldn't marry Hart. And she was so eaten up by the guilt that she broke down in tears at her own wedding. Still, she was very close to Hart until her dying day.

    And before you question her love for William, remember her own words to him late in their marriage, "I never loved but you." They both cheated on each other, hurt each other, but in the end they were soul-mates.

  6. I am interested in "the mistresses". If I understand what little information I have, it would appear that he had a daughter to the head of his household. If that's true, then that's my great grandmother's mother (or grandmother - I'll have to add it all up).