In Paris Napoleon was finding that the tide of popular acclaim that had swept to meet him on his journey to Paris was ebbing fast now that he was actually in power. There were threats of civil war in the south and west and his legislative reforms were in chaos, even though all the major public institutions had declared their loyalty to him. To be safe he had to keep the peace internationally while he consolidated at home, so he wrote to the Allied Sovereigns – but none of his letters were accepted. France was, therefore, put on a war footing while Napoleon tinkered with the constitution. The British Mercury commented gloomily that 300,000 French prisoners of war had been returned to France and were doubtless flocking to Napoleon’s banner to fight against Britain.
In London the social scene was buzzing and in the newspapers the “Fashionable Parties” and “Arrivals” columns were long. On Monday it was reported that, “Lady Castlereagh [shown left. She was one of the Patronesses of Almack’s] gave an elegant supper on the Saturday, after the opera, at her house in St. James’s-square to nearly 100 distinguished fashionables: among them were the Russian Ambassador and his lady, Prince and Princess Castelcicala, the Duke of Devonshire etc.”
“Lord Grantley, Sir John and Lady Lubbock, Lady Frances Wright Wilson, Mr. Anson, Mr. Barton Wallop, and a large company of distinguished friends, were entertained on Friday to dinner, by the Earl and Countess of Portsmouth, in Wimpole-street; and her Ladyship had a party in the evening which was a much enlivened by an elegant selection of music.” The magnificently named Mr Barton Wallop appears to have been Major William Barton Wallop (1781-1824) who was at one time in the Nova Scotia Fencibles. There can’t have been many men around with that name!
On Monday a marriage fated to become tragically famous was announced: “On Tuesday last, Colonel Sir William de Lancey to Magdaline, second daughter of Sir James Hall of Dunglass, Bart. and Lady Helen Hall, sister to the Earl of Selkirk.” This was to prove a short-lived marriage, ending at Waterloo where Lady de Lancey nursed her dying husband [left] under terrible conditions.
In Parliament the House of Lords were almost entirely occupied with “The Crisis” while the Commons debated the Paving Bill, considered a number of petitions and gave the Chancellor of the Exchequer a hard time.
Employers everywhere probably shuddered at the report of the indictment of Elizabeth Fenning, for attempting to poison her employers (the household of Orlibar Turner – this seems to be the week for unusual names) with arsenic in their dumplings because she was under notice of dismissal. She had, apparently, taken the arsenic out of a drawer where it was, rather conveniently, labelled “Arsenic, deadly poison.” She was found guilty and sentenced to death.
At Lambeth Street Magistrates’ Office the trial continued of Margaret Moore, accused of attempting to steal the crown from the Tower of London. She maintained that her motive was to relieve those who were in want. Her neighbours appeared to state that she was occasionally deranged.
On Thursday the Queen held the Drawing Room which was “brilliantly attended”. The Morning Post reported that Her Majesty wore “a petticoat of jonquil starsnet covered with a beautiful Indian silver gauze, with draperies of the same gracefully intermerged with superb formed silver fringe, ornamented with handsome cords and tassels; robe to correspond ornamented with diamonds.” A long list of persons were to be presented and a one-way system was set up through the palace in order to manage the crowd. The image shows court dress – despite the fashion for high waists hoops were still compulsory, producing a truly odd silhouette.
6 responses to “The Road to Waterloo – Week Seven. The Allied Sovereigns Snub Napoleon and Mr Barton Wallop Goes to A Ball”
” 300,000 French prisoners of war had been returned to France…” — who had returned them, and from where? Was it a coincidence that this was at the same time that Bonaparte returned, or had they gone back earlier?
They were returned after the peace of 1814, when Napoleon was exiled to Elba and when the Allies were convinced they had secured a lasting peace. The main prisoner of war camps in England were at Norman Cross, just north of Stilton on the Great North Road, and at Dartmoor, although there were others. Both were purpose-built to hold prisoners of war and were far enough inland to discourage escape. By 1815 Dartmoor, at least, was holding prisoners from the American war and there will be something about them in next week’s post, along with an image of Dartmoor prison, built in 1810.
It would have taken some time to get all the prisoners back, but the government would have wanted to get rid of them as soon as possible because they were expensive to feed, beside anything else! They would have been marched back to the nearest ports and then shipped across the Channel.
Wallop is a walloping great surname! The use of Barton is probably because of his great grandmother, Catherine Barton, wife of John Conduit, who was Master Worker of his Majesty’s Mint in the Tower after the death of his wife’s uncle, Sir Isaac Newton (and the magnificently named Barton Wallop, named one of his sons, Newton Barton Wallop). His father, the Rev Barton Wallop, was a brother of the 2nd Earl of Portsmouth, whose son, John Charles Wallop, 3rd Earl of Portsmouth, had briefly been a pupil of Jane Austen’s father.
Thanks for that! What a fabulous web of relationships – and no wonder he got invited to all the best parties. I love these family name first names – I had a gt gt grandfather called Atto, after his godparents (It is a rare Norfolk surname)
You’re welcome – I love finding all those little twists and turns. When you live in a society where it’s who you know, not what you know, then the relationships can be very interesting…