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REPORT of the Commissioners
Letter from the Princess of Wales to bis,
Lord Caancellor, dated Aug. 17, 1806
Note from the Lord Chancellor to the
No. 2. Deposition of Charlotte Lady Dou.
Princess of Wales, dated Aug. 29, 1806
Rubert Bıdgood.... ib.
Letler from the Princess of Wales to his
Robert Stikeman ih,
No. 17. Deposition of Elizabeth Gosdeu ib.
No. 28. Letter from Sir Francis Mill. No. 4. First Examination of William Cole 120
102 No. 5. Second Examination of Wm. Cole 121
PROCEEDINGS AND CORRESPONDENCE UPON THE SUBJECT OF THE INQUIRY
INTO THE CONDUCT OF
Her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales,
UNDER A COMMISSION APPOINTED BY TIIE KING IN 1806.
REPORT OF THE COMMISSIONERS.
May it please your Majesty,
Your Majesty having been graciously pleased, by an instrument under your Majesty's Royal Sign Mavual, a copy of which is annexed to this Report, to “authorize, empower, and direct us to inquire irito the truth of certain written declarations, touching the conduct of her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales, an abstract of which had been laid before your Majesty, and to examine upon oath such persons as we should see fit, touching and concerning the same, and to report to your Majesty the result of such éraminations.” We have, in dutiful obedience to your Majesty's commands, proceeded to examine the several witnesses, the copies of whose depositions we have hereunto annexed; and, in further execution of the said commands we now most respectfully submit to your Majesty the report of these examivations as it has appeared to us: But we beg leave at the same time humbly to refer your Majesty, for more complete information, to the examinations themselves, in order to correct any error of judgment, into which we may have unintentionally faller, with respect to any part of this business. 0.!. reference to the above-mentioned declarations, as the necessary foundation of all our proceedings, we found that they consisted in certain statements, which had been laid before bis Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, respecting the conduct of her Royal Highness the Princess. That these statements, not only imputed to her Royal Highness great impropriety and indecency of behaviour, but expressly asserted, partly on the ground of certain alleged declarations from the Princess's own mouth, and partly on the personal observation of the informants, the following most important facts, viz. That her Royal Highness had been pregnant in the year 1802, in consequence of an illicit intercourse, and that she had in the same year been secretly delivered of a male child, which child had cver since that period been brought up by her Royal Highness in her own house, and under her immediate inspection.
These allegations thús måde, had, as we found, been followed by declarations from other persons, who had not indeed spoken to the important facts of the pregnancy or đelivery of her Royal Highness, but had related other particulars, in themselves ex tremely suspicious, and still more so when connected with the assertions already men. tioned.
In the painful situation in which his Royal Highness was placed, by these communications, we learnt that his Royal Highness had adopted the only course wbich could, in our judgment, with propriety be followed. When informations such as these, had heen thus confidently alleged, and particularly detailed, and had been in some degree supported by collateral evidence, applying to other points of the same nature (though going to a far less extent), one line only could be pursued.
Every sentiment of duty to your Majesty, and of concern for the public welfare, required that these particulars should not be withheld from your Majesty, to whom more particularly belonged the cognizance of a matter of state, so vearly touching the honour of your Majesty's Royal Family, and by possibility, affecting the succession of your '
Majesty's crown. Your Majesty had been pleased, on your part, to view the subject in the same light. Considering it as a matter which, on every account, demanded the most immediate investigation, your Majesty had thought fit to commit into our hands the duty of ascertaining, in the first instance, what degree of credit was due to the informations, and thereby enabling your Majesty to decide what further conduct to adopt concerning them.
On this review, therefore, of the matters thus alleged, and of the course-hitherto pursued upon them, we deemed it proper, in the first place, to examine those persons in whose declarations the occasion for this Inquiry had originated. Because if they, on being examined upon oath, had retracted or varied their assertions, all necessity for further investigation might possibly have been precluded.
We accordingly first examined on oath the principal informants, Sir John Douglas, and Charlotte his wife: who both positively swore, the former to his having observed the fact of the pregnancy of her Royal Highness, and the latter to all the important particulars contained in her former declaration, and above referred to. Their examinations are annexed to this Report, and are circumstantial and positive.
The most material of those allegations, into the truth of which we had been directed to iuquire, being thus far supported by the oath of the parties from whom they had proceeded, we then felt it our duty to follow up the Inquiry by the examination of such other persons as we judged best able to afford us information, as to the facts in question.
We thought it beyond all doubt that, in this course of inquiry, many particulars must be learnt which would be necessarily conclusive on the trutlı or falsehood of these declarations. So many persons must have been witnesses to the appearances of an actually existing pregnancy; so many circumstances must have been attendant upon a. real delivery; and difficulties so numerous and insurmountable must have been involved in any attempt to account for the infant in question, as the child of another woman, if it had been in fact the child of the Princess; that we entertained a full and confident expectation of arriving at complete proof, either in the affirmative or negative, on this part of the subject.
This expectation was not disappointed. We are happy to declare to your Majesty our perfect conviction that there is no foundation whatever for believing that the child now with the Princess is the child of her Royal Highuess, or that she was delivered of any child in the year 1802; nor has any thing appeared to us which would warrant the belief that she was pregnant in that year, or at any other period within the compass of our inquiries.
The indentity of the child, now with the Princess, its parentage, the place and the dlate of its birth, the time and the circumstances of its being first taken under her Royal Highness's protection, are all established by such a concurrence both of positive and circumstantial evidence, as can, in our judgment, leave no question on this part of the subject. The child was, beyond all doubt, born in the Brownlow-street Hospital, on the 11th day of July, 1802, of the body of Sophia Austin, and was first brought to the Princess's house in the month of November following. Neither should we be more warranted in expressing any doubt respecting the alleged pregnancy of the Princess, as stated in the original declarations ;-a fact so fully contradicted, and by so many
witnesses, to whom, if true, it must, in various ways have been known, that we cannot think it entitled to the smallest credit. The testimonies on these two points are coultained in the annexed depositions and letters. We have not partially abstracted them in this-Report, lest, by any unintentional omission, we might weaken their effect; but we humbly offer to your Majesty this our clear and unanimous judgment upon them, formed on full deliberation, and pronounced without hesitation, on the result of the whole Inquiry.
We do not, however, feel ourselves at liberty, much as we should wish it, to close our Report here. Besides the allegations of the pregnancy and delivery of the Priucess, those declarations, on the whole of which your Majesty has been pleased to command us to inquire and report, contain, as we have already remarked, other particulars respecting the conduct of her Royal Highness, such as must, especially considering her exalted rank and station, necessarily give occasion to very unfavourable interpretations.
From the various depositions and proofs annexed to this Report, particularly from the examinations of Robert Bidgood, William Cole, Frances Lloyd, and Mrs. Lisle, your Majesty will perceive that several strong circumstances of this description have been positively sworn to by witnesses, who caunot, in our judgment, be suspected of any unfavourable bias, and whose veracity, in this respect, we have seen no ground to question.
On the precise bearing and effect of the facts thus appearing, it is not for us to decide ; these we submit to your Majesty's wisdom; but we couceive it to be our duty to report on this part of the Inquiry as distinctly as ou the former facts: that as, on the one hand, the facts of pregnancy and delivery are to our minds satisfactorily disproved, 80 on the other hand we think, that the circumstances to which we now refer, parti. cularly those stated to have passed between her Royal Highness and Captain Manby, must be credited until they shall receive some decisive contradiction; and, if true, are justly entitled to the most serious consideration.
We cannot close this Report without humbly assuring your Majesty that it was, on every account, our anxious wish to have executed this delicate trust with as little publicity as the nature of the case would possibly allow; and we entreat your Majesty's permission to express our full persuasion, that if this wish has been disappointed, the failure is not imputable to any thing unnecessarily said or done by us. All which is most humbly submitted to your Majesty.
(Signed) ERSKINE, SPENCER, GRENVILLE, July 14th, 1806.
ELLENBOROUGH. (A true copy.) J. BECKET.
The Depositions which accompanied this Report will be found in Appendix (A.) numbered from'i to 29.
Blackheath, August 12, 1806. With the deepest feelings of gratitude to your Majesty, I take the first of porturity to ac. knowledge baving received, as yesterday only, the Report from the Lords Coinmisai ners, which was dated from ihe 14th of July. It was brought by Lord Erskine's Footman, directed to the Princess of Wales ; besiles a note enclosed, the contents of wbich were, that Lord Erskine sent the Evidences and Reports by commands of bis Majesty. I had reason to flatter mystif That the Lords Commissioners would not have given in the Report, before ib-y had been properly informed of various circumstances, which must for a feeling and delicate minded woman, le very unpleasant to have spread, without having the means to exculpate herself. But I can in the face of the Almighty assure your Majesty that your Daugter-in-law is innocent, and her