A Blupete Biography Page

The Prince and The Lady, Part 5 to the Life & Works of
Sir John Wentworth

Prince William Henry11 was the third child and third son of George III. He figures into the story of the Wentworths, and indeed for a short period into the history of Halifax. At the tender age of 13 he was sent off to the Royal Navy to be enrolled as a midshipman. The story is, incidently, that when his shipmates realized who was in their midst and did not know how to address him, a brave one among them was to ask, and the young Prince piped up, "My father's name is Guelph and therefore if you please, you may call me William Guelph for I am nothing more than a sailor like yourselves." Fulford12 was to observe that while that was "the voice of the Prince but the words were surely the words of George III."13 Undoubtedly the young Prince was given the best of training aboard His Majesty's ships and was soon an accomplished sailor. By 1786, Prince William Henry had arrived at officer status and was spending his time in the service at Portsmouth where the twenty-year old fell in love with the pretty young daughter of the Naval Commissioner. The Prince proposed marriage to the girl and she accepted. The intentions of the couple were found out by the king at Windsor and he soon wrote the commander at Portsmouth suggesting that William be shipped out. To soothe the Prince somewhat, he was given his first command though but only 21 years of age. He was made the captain of the 28-gun frigate Pegasus and that summer was ordered to make sail for Halifax.14 After Halifax the Prince sailed for the West Indies so to put into English Harbour, Antigua, to spend the winter. As it happened, Captain Horatio Nelson, then himself but 29, was in command at that station. The Prince and Nelson hit it off quite well. Indeed, the Prince was Captain Nelson's best man when, that winter, Nelson took the widow Nisbet as his wife. Fulford then writes of how things unfolded next and how the Prince was to once again come to Halifax:
"... when Nelson was recalled in the autumn of 1787 the Prince took exception to his successor, and withdrew his ship from Antigua and sailed away to Halifax. The government then ordered him to spend the winter in Quebec as a punishment for gross disobedience. This naturally only aroused him still further, and, disregarding the dangers of the Atlantic in mid winter, he sailed for England."15
On arriving in England, he was obliged to face the wrath of his father, the king, for disobeying the orders of his superiors. That problem soon passed and the Prince settled down to a naval life at Plymouth. Soon, however, the prince's romantic inclinations were to get him into, what was for him, a familiar difficulty. He once again got entangled with a young lady, and once again the king wrote suggesting the Prince be given another command and be ordered to sea. Prince William Henry was given the command of the Andromeda, and after cruising the channel for a period of time, she carried over to Halifax arriving there in August16. After a stay in Halifax she then made a run for Jamaica. In January of 1789, the Andromeda sailed, yet again, for Halifax. During the first week of April, the Prince made his way to England. That was the last Prince William Henry was to see of Halifax though his younger brother, Prince Edward Augustus, was later to come to Halifax and there to play a significant role in the social and military life of Nova Scotia. But that is a tale for our larger history.

It is necessary to tell of Prince William Henry's connection with Halifax: During his various stays, which at times lasted for weeks and at other times for months, during the years of 1786-89, he was to be a fair and feted guest of those who made up the high society of colonial Halifax. We might conclude in these years that there was only two places to which a British warship might put in for repairs and supplies, either in the West Indies in the south or Halifax to the north. Halifax was an appropriate port for his ship and a place where her young captain might amuse himself. And amuse himself he did.

Shortly after being introduced to Prince William Henry, Frances Wentworth was to become his mistress. She was then 41 years of age, but still very much an attraction to a virile male. Apparently she paid very careful attention to her dress. Cuthbertson writes, "At one ball she appeared in a gown richly interwoven with gold and silver, and trimmed with Italian flowers and the finest silk lace; the gown's train was four yards long, and in her hair and on her wrists was a profusion of diamonds. At the many balls and assemblies she was always the most 'observed' lady present."17 Though Prince William was but in his twenties and Frances Wentworth in her forties, the biological facts of sexual attraction worked on the two and soon they were cavorting about in the Wentworth bedroom. For Prince William it was no more than a sexual romp with yet another woman. Though the couple never appeared together in public, their liaison was well known, even John Wentworth was to become aware of what went on during his many absences as the Surveyor General. He made nothing of it.18



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Peter Landry

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