William Henry, Duke of Clarence|
George's third son William, born in 1765, was sent to sea
at the age of 13 to become a Midshipman. William took
to Navy life. He was involved in the capture of a Spanish
convoy in 1779, was thrown in the brig for brawling in
Gibraltar and visited New York in 1781 at the height of
the War of Independence.
He became a friend of Nelson and gave away the bride at
Nelson's wedding in 1787. He was the first of the six brothers
to be made a Mason in 1786, joining Prince George Lodge
No. 86 in Plymouth. This Lodge, which was comprised of
naval and army officers, was erased in 1828. As with his broth
ers, he was made a Past Grand Master. He took a keen interest
in Freemasonry, joining the Prince of Wales's Lodge,
of which he became Master in 1827.
In 1790 he started a relationship with an actress, Dorothy
Jordan, and fathered ten children by her, all with the
surname Fitzclarence. His naval career petered out during
the Napoleonic wars, and in 1818 he settled down to marry
Princess Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen. They had two
daughters but neither survived.
On the death of George IV in 1830, William became
King William IV. He reigned for only seven years, but
presided over some major changes to the British political
system including the Reform Bills of 1831 and 1832, which
led to the demise of rotten or pocket boroughs.
William gave up Freemasonry when he became king.
Prince of Wales's Lodge members were given permission
to line their aprons with garter blue to mark his accession,
and his brother Augustus Frederick succeeded him as Master
of the Lodge.
Part II will appear in the next issue of MQ.
Bust of the Duke of York
Bust of William IV
Both currently in Freemasons' Hall
Web site created by Mark Griffin