Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Devonshire Progeny: Little G


After many years of miscarriages, Georgiana was finally round with a nine-month pregnancy. Her sister Harriet had given birth to her second boy a week before and Georgiana was hoping for the same thing, or at least for a healthy delivery. The Duke was less than optimistic and had already convinced himself that the much-awaited for child would be a girl. His premonition proved to be correct and on July 12, 1783 a healthy baby girl was born to the couple. The labour was stressful for both, and while the Duke watched, Georgiana was in near hysterics after thinking she had delivered a dead baby. Georgiana Dorothy Cavendish was born to her mother's cries of, "only let it be alive!" Despite Little G, as she was to be called, not being the heir that both parents wished for, they both doted on her, especially Georgiana. At first, a wet nurse had been hired but when she came to work after a bender and puked and fell down the stairs, Georgiana thought it best if she breastfed her child herself, something extremely unusual among the aristocracy.

Little G may have been her mother's namesake but she never seemed to inherit her mother's outgoing nature. She was more introverted like her father and this seemed to translate into quiet shyness. Her mother's exile after the affair with Charles Grey also seemed to have a damaging impact on Little G. Georgiana returned to find her even more reserved and now insecure; she followed Georgiana wherever she went, worried that she would disappear again if left out of her sight. She had also developed a crippling fear of being sinful. Despite these reserves she was a clever girl and a bibliophile. She was probably her mother's favourite child of her three/four.

After Little G's coming out, she had two notable admirers, The Duke of Bedford and the young Lord Morpeth. The 35 year old Bedford was a Whig, which recommended him to Georgiana, but he already had a slew of illegitimate children and kept two mistresses, one being Lady Melbourne. Morpeth, at 27, was a fine choice, but Georgiana had a difficult time envisioning her favourite child married off to a Tory. In the end, the Tory won the heart and hand of Little G and she became the Countess of Carlisle. As it turned out, Little G spent her marriage in much different way than her mother: having lots of children and avoiding the spotlight. One of her daughters even married a son of Charles Grey....kind of weird.

Georgiana's death in 1806 devastated her daughter, who seemed to have codependency issues and also saw her mother as her best friend. In her portrait above she holds a miniature of her beloved mother and looks to her in the heavens.

23 comments:

Elizabeth Kerri Mahon said...

It's interesting that little G repeated the co-dependency that her mother had with her mother, Lady Spencer. But Georgiana's granddaughter marrying a son of Charles Grey is no weirder than Harryo marrying her aunt's lover and raising her children!

sara said...

Thanks for this post! I had been wanting to know more about Georgiana's first daughter. I still have to go see the movie, though!

Heather Carroll said...

I feel like I should do a six degrees of separation post because there were so many marriages like that in the Devonshire House set! I actually was just reading of another one although I can't remember the specifics now!

I'm glad you enjoyed the post! Even if Little G does come off as...well, somewhat boring :)

Polonaise said...

Haha! Yes, all those folks seem to be related five times over. I finally saw the movie last night (though I won't get on that soapbox now) and I recall Grey saying he was marrying a Ponsonby, by which I assume he meant into the Bessborough clan. Oh, what a tangled web!

Heather Carroll said...

Haha yes, gotta keep those genes intact!

Lauren said...

The hats are sooo fun! Thanks for the comment and it's nice to "meet" you. I love reading your blog, by the way :-)

Heather Carroll said...

Oh thank you! I have pictures of my hat somewhere on the site. I'm no seamstress but I did make a successful picture hat!

katie t said...

history and issues just keep repeating themselves. it makes perfect sense why she would be so insecure and worried about her mother leaving her again. a child needs their mother thats for sure.

how funny...the families keep mixing around and around. i'm just glad that they all turned out "normal, healthy, and attractive"! :)

Suzanne said...

Such a timely post...I am just at the spot in the book that pertains to Little G's debut and marriage and was wondering why there were no portraits of her as a grown up in the book! Thanks for saving me some internet research!

Heather Carroll said...

Oh that is perfect timing! In Georgiana's World (there is a link on the widget to the right) there are all sorts of awesome portraits that are left out of the biography. A handy book to have for more visual people!

Jennifer said...

What a lovely blog.

Bearded Lady said...

I got this book, but have yet to read it. Would you say that there are many fashion references in it? Because I got it purely to research 18th century fashion...which btw your blog has been a HUGE help.

Heather Carroll said...

Thank you Jennifer!

Hmm fashion references. I wouldn't say there are many in that book since it's an abbreviated version of the biography, I mainly use it for my never-ceasing hunger for images. However, I can't stop recommending Queen of Fashion (I have it in the sidebar) which is full of awesome fashion info and you just zoom right through it because it is so engrossing. I'm glad the blog has been of some help to you, I feel like I don't have enough fashion posts! I must amend that.

Polonaise said...

For some of us there are never enough fashion posts! I am insatiable. If anyone is looking for books with fashion images I recommend "Fashion in Detail" by Avril Hart; "Dangerous Liaisons" from the Met; "Revolution in Fashion" published by the Kyoto Costume Institute and the two-volume "Fashion" also from the Kyoto Costume Institute. Those are for images of extant garments, though. If you're looking for depictions of dress in art I enjoy Aileen Ribeiro's "Dress in Art" and "Dress in Eighteenth Century Europe." She has several other books, all of which I go back to. So many wonderful books, I get quite carried away! If anyone has more books to recommend, please let me know.

Heather Carroll said...

I think you said them all actually! :)
Aileen Ribeiro is one of my all-time art historian crushes

Polonaise said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Polonaise said...

So sorry, Heather, I think I made an oopsie. (That deleted post was me.It's not easy being low-tech.) ANYway...

I'm with you there. She has a new book coming out in December. Yay! Even though so many fashion books have images of the same garments I still have to buy them. (I see that pink Francaise gown from the Met in many places book but I get excited every time--like I've never seen it before. No wonder I like the Learned Pig.)

Heather Carroll said...

Hahaha! I didn't know about the book coming out in December! Now I am really excited!

Laura Ingalls Gunn said...

This is a brilliant post!

Heather Carroll said...

Why, thank you!

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Madeleine said...

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Anonymous said...

I love the Duchess film. Watching it again for the 3rd time this year. Could easily watch it again over the weekend.