Julie, Part 7 to the Life & Works of
Prince Edward, Duke of Kent
She had one of those very long names, which the French used, seemingly to give in one utterance a connection of the whole genealogy of the family together with a geographic location: Her full name was Alphonsine Therese Bernadine Julie de Montgenet de St. Laurent, Baronne de Fortisson. Governor Wentworth described her as "an elegant, well bred, pleasing, sensible woman, far beyond most ... I never yet saw a woman of such intrepid fortitude yet possessing the finest temper and refined manners."36 The year of her birth is not exactly known, likely late 1760s, in France, Normandy, at St. Laurent-sur-mer, a name it seems she adopted for later use. Mollie Gillen was of the view that there was seven years difference in the ages of Prince Edward and her, with Julie being the older of the two.37 She was a person whose education shone through; she was kind, charming and amiable. She could speak and write in perfect English and French. She always treated Edward with the greatest of respect; and he did the same towards her. "With Madame he was always gentle and considerate, treatment earned by her own conduct. Always she behaved with a perfect and natural propriety that never embarrassed their relationship or fell short of his expectations."38 "Her friendships with women in Quebec," Mollie Gillen observed, and this comment would equally apply to her times at Halifax, England and Gibraltar, "were probably always private. She presided at the Prince's table among guests who were almost always male. The prince never attempted to insist on her public reception anywhere, and those ladies who refused to countenance a situation not open to social recognition were spared the embarrassment consequent upon her presence."39
In Halifax there were those who were critical of the Duke's arrangement that he openly had with Madame St. Laurent. One was John Crosskill who was the captain of the government vessel, the Earl of Moira. She was a 2-masted vessel, a snow, which mounted 14 guns. She was used to transport important government officials and messages within the province and made runs to Boston; often she was employed in running down American privateers. Crosskill forbade his wife to attend any functions where Madame St. Laurent was to be in attendance. The story40 is that Crosskill's feeling in respect to the relationship that the Duke had with Madame St. Laurent was one that led to him being dismissed as the captain of the Earl of Moira in 1796. Ostensibly this was due to him not being a commissioned officer in the Royal Navy, and, so this the Duke explained, was the reason that Crosskill was replaced with a military officer, Captain James Fawson.
Another in Halifax society who took exception to the Duke's domestic arrangements was Chief Justice Strange. To use Mollie Gillen's words he "spurned Madame. When an invitation to dine at Government House came to Mr Strange, he made it clear that he would only accept the invitation if the lady in question was not present. She accordingly absented herself and the good natured Duke apparently bore the nice-minded Chief Judge no ill feeling."41
It is thought by some42 that Edward had children and put them out to foster homes. Others43 thought not as there is no existing evidence of children; to which those who suppose that there were children, respond that the evidence of these children, was all carefully destroyed by the crown on instructions from Queen Victoria.
A number of the writers assert that Julie was married when the Duke first met her. She had married Jean Charles Andre de Mestre, Baron de Fortisson and had a child by him, Melanie. Tough to know when Edward first bedded Julie, probably after she was "smuggled" out of France together with her child and husband at the Prince's request to Gibraltar. While at Gibraltar their love affair developed under the nose of Monsieur de Mestre. He apparently had enough in Gibraltar to keep him busy and took no exception to the affair that blossomed between the Prince and Madame de Mestre. He, however, did not follow the couple to Quebec; his wife and Edward, with little Melanie, departed for Quebec and Jean Charles Andre de Mestre dropped out of the picture.44
That Julie St. Laurent was ever married to anyone, however, maybe just another one of those myths that have sprung up about this mysterious and beautiful consort to the Duke of Kent.
"None of the stories are true. She did not retire to a convent in France, in Belgium ... She did not die ... in Quebec at the age 106. She was never married. She had no children at all, though she had at least three lovers. And by the last of these, though he left her to marry another, she was beloved until the day of his death."45
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