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STATEMENT OF FACTS
Now under the Protection of Her Royal Highness
Soon after the memorable Investigation of 1806-7, it was currently rumoured, for want of evidence on the subject, that the Child which her Royal Highness had adopted, was, in fact, her own son. General as this report was, very considerable doubts arose in the mind of the writer as to its authenticity. In order to remove these doubts, and to obtain satisfactory information relative to this circumstance, he instituted a diligent inquiry concerning the reputed mother; confident that, by these means, he should procure a complete proof of the fact; at least, so far as proof could be obtained, without witnessing the actual birth of the infant. His inquiries were successful; and an interview was had with the mother of the Child, who is still living.
The writer being a perfect stranger to this woman, he introduced himself to her by remarking how fortunate she was to be known to her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales. The mother acquiesced in this observation, and said that her Royal Highness had been so good as to take under her care one of her children, a little boy named William; that her Royal Highness had kept the child in her possession for some years; ever since 1802. He next
inquired the reason of her Royal Highness's taking a fancy to the child; she then detailed some particulars relative to this affair, and he left her; promising, however, to renew his visit, as he wished to put some further questions to her. And this, the writer observed, he was the more anxious to do; having heard it reported, that doubts were entertained as to her being the mother of the child. She wept, and said she had herself heard reports of that nature; but she could not imagine what could be the cause of these doubts; that she was positive as to its being her own child; and could prove this fact by bringing forward several persons who had known the child from the time of its birth.
Some few days after this interview, the writer paid another visit to the mother, at which time he also saw her husband, and conversed with them both. He then signified a desire to see the child; but was informed that it was at Dr. Burney's school at Greenwich, and that the mother saw the child only when it was with her Royal Highness at Blackheath or Kensington; and that she never had it at home with her, since the Princess first took it under her protection. She thought, however, that the writer might see the child at Greenwich, as he constantly attended church on Sundays with the other boys.
The writer afterwards, frequently saw MRS. AUSTIN (the mother of the child) and conv rsed with her respecting her son. Feeling great anxiety to behold the Child, he went to Greenwich expressly for this purpose, but was, the first time, dis ppointed -William being on that day, with her Royal Highness at Kensington. He however repeated his visit to this place, and actu. ally saw the Child; and walked by his side, from the church to Dr. Burney's school. When he inquired for
Master Austin, of one of the young gentlemen, as they were returning from church; when two little boys walking together in regular procession, were pointed out to him. Having desired the boy not to say which was young Austin, the writer instantly discovered this lad by the strong likeness which he bore to the mother:-the similarity of countenance is, indeed, strikingly marked. He spoke to the boy, and asked, if his name was AusTIN; to which he answered, "Yes." From this moment, the writer's doubts completely vanished, and he was fully and satisfactorily convinced that this Child is no other than the child of SOPHIA AUSTIN.
On a subsequent occasion, when he saw Mrs. Austin, the writer expressed his entire satisfaction in having beheld and conversed with her son at Greenwich ;-he also added, that he was perfectly convinced she was the mother of the child then, and now, under the protection of her Royal Highness. Any person, indeed, endowed with the blessing of sight, must, on seeing the mother and the child, be instantly struck with the marked resemblance between them, and feel, forcibly, the conviction of the writer on this subject. Mrs. Austin appeared quite elated with his expressions of satisfaction on this point; and said, if he would be at the trouble of committing them to paper, she would detail the whole particulars of her Royal Highness's taking the child; and added" that she thought it due to her Royal Highness, that the public mind should be satisfied as to this point." He, accordingly, wrote down from her own mouth, the following interesting facts, relative both to the child, and to Mrs. Austin and her husband.
SAMUEL AUSTIN, the father of WILLIAM (the child now under the protection of her Royal Highness,
and the subject of this narrative,) was born at Wellington in the county of Somerset ; and is the son of Peter and Lydia Austin, poor, but industrious people of that
When very young, he was initiated into his father's business, which was that of a Woolcomber; but he left Wellington at an early age, and went to reside at Wilton, in the county of Wilts. Here, after living some years, and working at his trade, he married, at the age of twenty-one, Sophia, the daughter of Daniel and Arabella Whitmarsh, also poor, industrious people of the same town. This event took place on the 1st of April, 1796, SOPHIA being then in her twenty-first year.
SAMUEL and SOPHIA AUSTIN continued at Wilton until they had two children, Daniel and William, which latter died at the age of nine months.
Soon after the breaking out of the war on the Continent, the clothing business became very slack, and AUSTIN determined to remove to London, at which place he arrived in the month of February, 1798;— leaving his wife and two children with her friends in the country. Here, he engaged himself as a porter, with a Mr. Young, a broker, in Lombard-court, Seven Dials. Shortly afterwards, his wife followed him, leaving the youngest child with her friends at Wilton. Upon her arrival in town, finding that her husband could scarcely earn a sufficiency to maintain himself, she resolved to go into service; and, accordingly, engaged herself with a Mr. Cooper, a coal merchant, of Villiers-street, in the Strand; leaving the child she brought with her to the care of a relation. Sophia remained in this place about twelve months.
AUSTIN, being much afflicted with the rheumatism, was incapable of continuing long in Mr. Young's em
ploy. He was, afterwards, with a Cheesemonger in Chandos-street, but was soon obliged to leave this situation also, on the same account. He next entered into the service of Mr. Cunningham, a hatter, in Piccadilly; but having, soon after he had taken this engagement, a severe attack of his old complaint, he was obliged to leave Mr. Cunningham. Austin then lived as footman with the DUCHESS OF CUMBERLAND, where he stayed but for a short period, owing to a return of his rheumatic affection.
Mrs. AUSTIN, after quitting Mr. Cooper's service, filled the office of nurse in several families. During the greater part of this time, she and her husband lived separately from each other.
On the 12th of March, 1800, Mrs. Austin had another son, who was named Samuel. Of this child she lay in at the Brownlow-street Hospital; having been recommended thither by a Mr. Ashlin, of Belton-street.
In the ensuing August, Mrs. AUSTIN was employed to take care of a house for Mr. Woodford, her husband's uncle, at Deptford; with whom she remained about twelvemonths. During some part of this time, her husband lived chiefly in London, in various places of service; soon after his wife's removal to Deptford, Austin went to live with her at that place, and at a subsequent period, obtained employment in His MAJESTY'S DOCK YARD, as a labourer at 12s. per week, and an allowance of 1s. 6d. for chip money. Having continued in this situation about fifteen months, he was discharged with many others, at the time of the general peace in 1802.
Being now out of employ, Austin and his wife were in much distress; and on one occasion, some little difference arising between them, he proposed that she and her children should become chargeable to the parish. This she refused, as long as she was able to work, and could get her