Regency Promenade – Henry Paget From Scandal to Hero by Nancy Mayer
Nancy Mayer looks at the life of Henry Paget in today’s Regency Promenade.
From Scandal to Hero.
Lord Paget, Earl of Uxbridge, Marquess of Anglesey.
When Henry was born, his father had the surname of Bayly and was Lord Paget.
The father adopted Paget as a surname when he was created the Earl of Uxbridge in 1784 . At that time, Henry became Lord Paget by which name he was known until 1812.
Henry, Lord Paget married Lady Caroline Villiers, daughter of the 4th Earl of Jersey in 1795, and had eight children with her.
Lord Paget was a member of parliament from 1790 to 1804 as well as between 1806 to 1810. Though he was elected to a seat in Parliament, Paget was also an active military officer.
Wikipedia says: Paget raised the regiment of Staffordshire volunteers and was given the temporary rank of lieutenant-colonel in 1793. He rose rapidly in rank after he had some experience.
In 1802 he was promoted major-general, and six years later lieutenant-general. He commanded the cavalry for Sir John Moore’s army during the 1809 Corunna campaign, wherein his troopers provided excellent rear-guard defence during the long retreat.
The British cavalry showed a distinct superiority over their French counterparts at the action of Sahagun and routed the Chasseurs a Cheval of the Imperial Guard at Benevente. Paget had the ability to lead cavalry which many officers, trained in the infantry, lacked.
Unfortunately, in 1808 he fell in love with Lady Charlotte Wellesley, mother of four children and wife of Henry Wellesley, the younger brother of Sir Arthur Wellesley. Though both were married, they went off together in 1809.
Sir Arthur refused to have Lord Paget under his command after that despite his undoubted talent in leading cavalry. Henry Wellesley obtained a parliamentary divorce from Lady Charlotte but Paget was still marred. To add to the scandal, another Paget brother also ran off with a married woman whom he married after her divorce.
In 1810, Lord Paget and Lady Charlotte had a daughter born to them and went off to Scotland where they rented a house and lived together. Lady Charlotte was always veiled when she left the house and was never addressed by name in public.
Lady Paget came to Scotland and filed for divorce there where a wife could divorce a husband for adultery. After the divorce was granted, she married the Duke of Argyl while Lord Paget married Lady Charlotte. Some stories say that the she and the Pagets all honeymooned together.
Lord Paget returned to the House of Commons until 1812 when his father died and he became the Earl of Uxbridge.
In 1815, he rejoined the army and was placed in charge of the cavalry for the battle of Waterloo where he lost a leg. He was created Marquess of Anglesey in July of 1815 in recognition of his services.
He and Charlotte had another ten children though four of these died as infants.
When Paget’s oldest daughter married the heir to the Duke of Richmond, Jane Austen thought that the Duchess of Richmond was foolish to allow her son to ally himself with such a family.
“What can be expected from a Paget, born & brought up in the centre of conjugal Infidelity & Divorces ?
…I abhor all the race of Pagets.”
Few others thought this way for all the eighteen children married well, and the Marquess went on to hold many positions in government and the army.
Regency Promenade is written every month by Nancy Mayer, Regency researcher extraordinaire.