18 February 2024

A Panicky September?

 In the autumn of 1745, things may have looked good, especially in Scotland. Prince Charles Edward Stuart, Prince of Wales and our future King Charles III, bearing a Commission of Regency from his Father King James VIII of Scotland and III of England, was the centre of Edinburgh Society, and had defeated the Georgite general Cope at the Battle of Prestonpans on Saturday 21 September; wags suggested that Cope was the first general to have carried the news of his own defeat when he entered Berwick in fullest flight.

Back in the capital, Charles "received the ladies who came to his drawing room; he then supped in public, and generally there was music at supper and a ball afterwards". "He dines every day in public. All sorts of people are admitted to see him, then. He constantly practises all the arts of condescension and popularity--talks familiarly to the meanest Highlanders, and makes them very fair promises".

As the news spread in London, rumour had it that Smug Herrenhausen was about to foot it back to Hannover and that in London's dockland, ships were being loaded with such goodies as could be salvaged by the usurping dynasty.

But what was happening in Golden Square, in the property we now rejoice to know as the Headquarters of the Ordinariate? And, especially, in the Portuguese embassy which resided in those properties and had established there an Embassy Church?

The Portuguese Minister was Sebastiao Jose De Carvalho e Melo, an 'enlightenment' figure later created Marquis of Pombal. He was to acquire a fearsome reputation as a result of his political conviction that the only good Jesuit was a dead Jesuit. In the following decades, he ruled Portugal with whatever is the Portuguese for an iron rod.

A GLC blue plaque in Golden Square suggests that the property ceased to be the Portuguese Embassy in 1744, but other sources assert that Pombal left London on September 25 1745.

If that is the correct date, we have the interesting coincidence that the Portuguese diplomat left London only three or four days after the Georgite debacle in the Northern Kingdom.

Are we here in the realm of interesting coincidences, or ...

1 comment:

dunstan said...

I like the term "Georgite". It puts the usurpers in their place. "Jacobite" is an impertinence; it suggests that the supporters of the de jure king were the rebels. Is "Georgite" a contemporary use or it your coinage? I can find no reference to it in my "Jacobite" history books. For example, Evelyn Cruickshanks makes no mention of it.

As for de Pombal, whatever his reasons for leaving London when you say, religion was surely not among them. Michael Hodges in his guide to Warwick Street chapel quotes the list of services he drew up for the Portuguese embassy chaplains on his arrival in London on 1739. They suggest he was devout but then perhaps he just wanted to make sure that his chaplains knew who was boss!