The sons of Lord Uxbridge cut quite a dash during the Regency.
Their father, a man humbly named Henry Bayly, inherited an ancient barony through the maternal line of his ancestors. To tidy things up, he took their name Paget. Another privilege, the earldom of Uxbridge, descended lockstep with the barony but Bayly couldn’t inherit that bit since it only passed through the male line.
Not to worry–a second creation made our man an earl.
Henry married the daughter of a minister and they had six sons who survived to maturity (among six daughters)–and good-looking ones, too.
“It is not common to see such..handsome young men in one family.” — Lady Stafford to her son Granville Leveson Gower; (from his correspondence edited by Castalia, Countess Granville 1916)
No. 1 — Field Marshall Henry William Paget, 1st Marquess Anglesey, the eldest and particularly famous for his military exploits during the Napoleonic Wars, an endeavor that cost him a limb which went on to have a career of its own (!) Many remarked upon his equanimity during the amputation procedure:
“I’ve had a pretty long run, I have been a beau these forty-seven years, and it would not be fair to cut the young men out any longer.” — One Leg: The Life and Letters of Henry William Paget, First Marquess of Anglesey; ed. 7th Marquis of Anglesey (1961)
After that, he wore an artificial limb which may or may not have caused him to fall down leaving the ballroom at Almack’s. Adding insult to injury, his sister Lady Jane Paget screamed ‘violently,’ sending the whole place into a panic.1
Henry’s amorous maneuvers are worth noting for their instructive value in late Georgian divorce law. On a personal level, his father threatened to cut him off ‘without a farthing’ if he did not return to his wife. Lady Williams Wynn (another fond parent of Regency sons) smugly thanked hers for being such a nice boy, pitying Lord Uxbridge for the conduct of his:
“What a misfortune to his family that he (Henry) did not find in Spain the Tomb of honor which they say he so eagerly sought. For his companion in disgrace, we must in charity remember the heavy degree of insanity (!) which prevails throughout her family…”
— from Lady W. W. to Henry W. W. W. March 14, 1809
No. 2 — Most thought Captain William Paget, a naval officer, the handsomest of all the Paget boys (excepting Lord Granville’s sister, who danced with him at Lady Hume’s ball but preferred his brother Arthur.)2 William’s father was very proud of his naval service and roundly rebuked any who complained his son was too often absent from parliamentary proceedings as MP for Anglesey. Captain Paget was busy capturing French vessels–surely a far greater service to King and County than sitting in the Commons. His death at sea was greatly mourned, its cause poorly understood.**
No. 3 — Sir Arthur Paget was a career diplomat and cut a rather extravagant figure while doing it.3 Serving in various posts throughout Europe, he pursued various females, including the daughter of the Esterhazys, earning him a serious smack-down from Leopoldine’s mother.4 The other notable rebuff came from a Miss Scott who preferred George Canning, future Prime Minister.5
On the other hand, Miss Georgiana Seymour was infatuated with him. This young lady, adopted by the Marquess of Cholmondelay, was rumoured to be the love child of the Prince Regent by noted courtesan and spy Grace Dalrymple Elliott.6
In the end, Arthur ran off with Augusta Fane, wife of the appropriately named Lord Boringdon.
No. 4 -General Sir Edward Paget lost an arm and was captured by the French serving under Wellington. When his father became convinced a young ‘hellkite’ was in love with him, to the point he was paying her a generous stipend, Edward was the only one to bring old Lord Uxbridge to his senses. He told his father quite bluntly:
” ‘What should you think if Sir David Dundas (then aged seventy-five) should seriously tell you that a girl of 20 was seriously and truly in Love with His Person? If you did not laugh at him, should you not be disgusted at the communication?’ ” — Charles Paget writing to his brother, Sir Arthur Paget, circa late 1809 as reprinted in One Leg
No. 5 – Sir Charles Paget, a vice-admiral, commanded HMS Endymion when it gallantly rescued the crew of a French warship that had run aground. He married Elizabeth Monck whose mother had an affair with Jack, the aforementioned Lord Boringdon. Charles was steady on–he counseled and supported his parents in their old age and bailed them out by loaning them a substantial portion of the prize money he won capturing four Spanish treasure ships. He died of a fever on board ship.
No. 6 – Berkeley Thomas Paget concerned himself mainly with politics, both as MP and as a Lord of the Treasury for two prime ministers. He and Lady Williams Wynn’s son were rivals for the hand of the beautiful Sophia Bucknall. Fanny, Lady Williams Wynn’s daughter, wrote to her brother encouraging him to make up to Sophia, an heiress ‘with a fortune of at least £30,000.’ Berkeley won her and her fortune, but was less than faithful.
Another schadenfreude moment for Lady W. W.:
“..Mr. Paget has gone back to live with his poor wife, promising, I suppose, never to do so no more. I am sorry for it, as I fear she can have no further prospect of any permanent comfort in him & therefore will only be subjecting herself to further pangs.” — Lady W. W. to Fanny W. W. January 17, 1819 Correspondence of Charlotte Grenville, et al
Oh, those Paget boys.
*I couldn’t resist quoting from a ‘celebrity accountant‘ commercial that never gets old.
**Some speculated William died from complications due to a wound he sustained ‘years before’ during an assassination attempt in Constantinople, making him a very young teenager at the time of the attack.
+Charles Paget to Sir Arthur, June 17, 1810 written aboard the Revenge, reprinted in The Paget Boys by Sir Arthur Paget, edited by George Jolliff, Baron Hylton (1918). It was an accusation that was particularly troubling to Charles because he and his wife missed each other acutely while he was at sea.
1.From the Journal of Henry Edward Fox, March 27, 1822 by Baron Henry Edward Vassall Fox, ed. by Giles Strangways, Earl of Ilchester (1926)
2. From Lady Charlotte’s Jan. 30th, 1790 letter to her brother, Granville Leveson Gower. She goes on to tell her brother she danced with the oldest Paget boy, Henry, who she said ‘is a great favourite of mine.’ Apparently the brothers were still dancing into the night after she left at four in the morning! Lord Granville Leveson Gower private correspondence, ed. Castalia, Countess Granville (1916) vol. I
3.From the Earl of Dalkeith’s Dec. 31st, 1799 letter to Sir Arthur recommending a breeches maker in Naples, with a sly remark concerning the diplomatic possibilities that awaited there, including Lady Emma Hamilton. The Paget papers; diplomatic and other correspondence of Sir Arthur Paget, 1794-1807. (With two appendices 1808 & 1821 -1829.) ed Sir Augustus Berkeley Paget (1896) Vol. I
4. From Sir Arthur’s Aug. 18th, 1805 letter to his mother, the Countess of Uxbridge, Paget Papers Vol II
5. From George Canning’s August 22nd 1799 letter to Lord Granville Leveson Gower expressing his relief that Paget was out of the running for Miss Scott’s hand, based second-hand on a conversation she supposedly had with someone else, an intelligence conveyed to Canning via the unlikely duo of William Pitt and his fixer, Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville. I say unlikely because one would not suspect these two men to be concerned with the romance of a younger ally (Pitt never married and Dundas cut off his adulterous wife from her fortune and children). Private Correspondence, Lord Granville. Postscript: It must be noted that Dundas was Scott’s guardian but both men were anxious for Canning to secure financial stability in order to pursue a promising career as a Tory politician.
6. J. Talbot’s Mar. 12th, 1803 letter to Sir Arthur in Paget’s Papers, Vol I.