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REPORT of the Commissioners ........
Majesty, dated August 12, 1806................
List of the Documents stated in the Appendixes.
Mary Ann Wilson.. 93
No. 13. Letter from Earl Spencer to Lord
Princess of Wales, dated Sept. 2, 1806 ib.
No. 15. Letter from Lady Willoughby to
Majesty, Feb. 12, 1807
Letter from the Princess of Wales to his
Letter from the Princess of Wales to his
Letter from the Princess of Wales to his.
Majesty, March 5, 1807 ....
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 nearly 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 inquire, 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 trutli 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 Highness, 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 otlier period within the compass of our inquiries.
The indentity of the child, now with the Princess, its parentage, the place and the date 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 contained 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 cannot, 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 conceive it to be our duty to report on this part of the Inquiry as distinctly as on the former facts: that as, on the one hand, the facts of pregnancy and delivery are to our minds satisfactorily disproved, so on the other hand we think, that the circumstances to which we now refer, particularly those stated to have passed between her Royal Highness and Captain Manby, must be credited until they shall receive some decisive contradiction; and, 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."
ERSKINE, SPENCER, GRENVILLE,
The Depositions which accompanied this Report will be found in Appendix (A.) numbered from 1 to 29.
Blackheath, August 12, 1806.
With the deepest feelings of gratitude to your Majesty, I take the first opportunity to ac. knowledge having received, as yesterday only, the Report from the Lords Commissioners, which was dated from the 14th of July. It was brought by Lord Erskine's Footman, directed to the Princess of Wales; besides a note enclosed, the contents of which were, that Lord Erskine sent the Evidences and Reports by commands of his Majesty. I had reason to flatter myself that the Lords Commissioners wou'd not have given in the Report, before they had been properly informed of various circumstances which must for a feeling, and delicate minded woman, be 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
conduct unquestionable; free from all the indecorums, and improprieties, which are imputed
Sire, your Majesty's most dutiful, submissive, and humble Daughter-in-law and Subject,
To the King.
Montague-House, Aug. 17th 1866.
The Princess of Wales desires the Lord Chancellor to present her humble duty to the King, and to lay before his Majesty the accom; anying letter aud papers. The Princess makes this communication by his Lordship's hands, because it relates to the papers with which she has been furnished through his Lordship, by his Majesty's commands.
To the Lord Chancellor.
Aug. 17th, 1806. Upon receiving the copy of the Report, made to your Majesty, by the Commissioners appointed to inquire into certain charges against my conduct, I lost no time, in returning to your Majesty my heartfelt thanks for your Majesty's goodness in commanding that copy to be communicated to me.
I wanted no adviser, but my own heart, to express my gratitude for the kindness and protection which I have uniformly received from your Majesty. I needed no caution or reserve, in expressing my confident reliance, that that kindness and protection would not be with drawn from me, on this trying occasion; and that your Majesty's justice would not suffer your mind to be affected, to my disadvantge, by any part of a Report, founded upon partial evidence, taken in my absence, upon charges not yet communicated to me, until your Majesty had heard what might be alleged in my behalf, in answer to it. But your Majesty will not be surprised nor displeased, that I, a woman, a stranger to the laws and usages of your Majesty's kingdom, under charges, aimed, originally at my life and honour, should hesitate to determine in what manner I ought to act, even under the present circumstances, with respect to such accusations, without the assistance of advice in which I could confide. And I have had submitted to me the following observations, respecting the copies of the papers with which I have been furnished. And I humbly solicit from your Majesty's gracious condescen sion and justice, a compliance with the requests, which arise out of them,
In the first place, it has been observed to me, that these copies of the Report, and of the accompanying papers, have come unauthenticated by the signature of any person, high or low, whose veracity, or even accuracy, is pledged for their correctness, or to whom resort might be had, if it should be necessary, hereafter, to establish, that these papers are correct copies of the originals. I am far from insinuating that the want of such attestations was intentional. No doubt it was omitted through inadvertence; but its importance is particu.
Jarly confirmed by the state in which, the copy of Mrs. Lisle's examination has been transmitted to me. For in the third page of that examination there have been two erasures; on one of which, some words have been subsequently introduced, apparently in a different handwriting from the body of the examination; and the passage as it stands, is probably incorrect, because the phrase is unintelligible. And this occurs in an important part of her examination.
The humble, but earnest request, which I have to make to your Majesty, which is suggested by this observation, is, that your Majesty would be graciously pleased to direct, that the Report, and the papers which accompany it, and which, for that purpose, I venture to trans. mit to your Majesty with this letter, may be examined, and then returned to me, authenti cated as correct, under the signature of some person, who, having attested their accuracy, may be able to prove it.
In the second place, it has been observed to me, that the Report proceeds by reference, to certain written declarations, which the Commissioners describe as the necessary foundation of all their proceedings, and which contain, as I presume, the charge or information against my conduct. Yet copies of these written declarations have not been given to me. They are described indeed, in the Report, as consisting in certain statements, respecting my conduct, imputing not only gross impropriety of behaviour, but expressly asserting facts of the most confirmed and abandoned criminality, for which, if true, my life might be forfeited. These are stated to have been followed by declarations from other persons, who, though not speaking to the same facts, had related other particulars, in themselves extremely suspicious, and stiil more so, as connected with the assertions already mentioned.
On this, it is observed to me, that it is most important that I should know the extent, and the particulars of the charges or informations against me, and by what accusers they have been made; whether I am answering the assertions of one set of accusers, or more. Whether the authors of the original declarations, who may be collected from the Report to be Sir John and Lady Douglas, are my only accusers; and the declarations which are said to have followed, are the declarations of persons adduced as witnesses by Sir John and Lady Douglas to confirm their accusation; or whether such declarations are the charges of persons, who have made themselves also the authors of distinct accusations against me.
The requests, which I humbly hope your Majesty will think reasonable and just to grånt, and which are suggested by these farther observations are,
First, That your Majesty would be graciously pleased to direct that I should be furnished with copies of these declarations; and, if they are rightly described in the Report, as the necessary foundation of all the proceedings of the Commsisioners, your Majesty could not, I am persuaded, but have graciously intended, in directing that I should be furnished with a copy of the Report, that I should also see this essential part of the proceeding, the foundation on which it rests.
Secondly, That I may be informed whether I have one or more, and how many accusers; and who they are; as the weight and credit of the accusation cannot but be much affected by the quarter from whence it originates.
Thirdly, That I may be informed of the time when the declarations were made. For the weight and credit of the accusation must also be much affected by the length of time which my accusers may have been contented to have been the silent depositories of those heavy matters of guilt and charge, and,
Lastly, That your Majesty's goodness will secure to me a speedy return of these papers, accompanied, I trust, with the further information which I have solicited; but at all events a speedy return of them. And your Majesty will see, that it is not without reason, that I make this last request, when your Majesty is informed that, though the Report appears to bave been made upon the 14th of July, yet it was not sent to me till the 11th of the present month, A similar delay, I should of all things deplore. For it is with reluctance that I yield to these suggestions, which have induced me to lay these my humble requests before your Majesty, since they must, at all events, in some degree delay the arrival of that moment, to which I look forward with so earnest and eager an impatience; when I confidently feel I shall completely satisfy your Majesty that the whole of these charges are alike unfounded, and are all