Twenty years ago when I started researching for this book I never imagined that I would find out so much about an almost unknown ancestor that I would end up with a 380-page biography. But over those years some extraordinary finds elevated the work from perhaps a monograph, of interest mainly to my family, to a biography which tells us a great deal more about George, Prince of Wales than has ever been published before. Through his extensive dealings with his tailor of 32 years, Louis Bazalgette, we see in great detail what clothes he ordered, when and where he more many of them, and how much they cost the nation. Unbelievable quantities of clothes of great richness were ordered. The huge debts that Prinny ran up with his tailor led to financial crises, the most important of which was in 1795, when the Prince was forced because of it to marry his cousin Caroline of Brunswick – well-documented as a disastrous match. This occurrence can be attributed in considerable part to his spending on clothes, making Louis Bazalgette a very wealthy man in the process.
Louis’s tailors made the livery and uniforms for the Prince’s household, as well as for many of his friends, and for public figures such as William Pitt the Prime Minister and Richard Brinsley Sheridan, both of whom had suits made for them by Louis, who must have learned a great deal from his intimate contact with these men. Being a very punctilious man who kept detailed records it is hard to imagine that he did not keep a diary. Unfortunately none is known to exist, which is a great shame because it would have been a most illuminating source. Families have an annoying habit of destroying such things.
As his fortune grew, Louis invested in securities but also in the ‘West India’ and ‘East India’ trades, as well as in shipping cotton from America. Her also accumulated property by lending large sums for which property was mortgaged to him as security. Some of these loans were defaulted and property therefore passed to Louis as a result. Except that because of other claims he or his estate had great difficulty in getting possession of it, resulting in lengthy legal cases.
The book also contains a great deal of information about gentlemens’ tailoring in those times, as well as being a microcosm of Georgian and regency life. As such is should be on the bookshelf of any historical researcher and writer concerned with this fascinating period.
About the Author
Charles Bazalgette was born in a pacifist commune in Ashburton, Devonshire, towards the end of the second world war. His father Deryck Bazalgette was a conscientious objector who devoted his life to horticulture. His mother, Margaret Bonham, was a successful writer of short stories. He went first to Knowles Hill School in Newton Abbot. His parents divorced and his father remarried and moved the family to Surrey, where Charles went to a junior school in Virginia Water and then to the aptly-named Wallop School in Weybridge. For his secondary education he was lucky enough to get a grant to go to Dartington Hall School, back in Devonshire, where he was an indifferent student, preferring to play jazz and fish for trout in the nearby River Dart. On leaving school he worked at an art college and then in several public libraries, even going to library school in London before switching to a more lucrative job in computer programming. He has worked in the IT industry in a variety of roles for over forty years, discovering on the way a talent for intuitive technical problem solving, and still works from home for a major software company. He now lives near Salmo, a village in British Columbia, Canada, with his second wife Trish, who runs a bookstore and frames pictures. His interests are mainly in the past - research into family and social history but also the restoration of old buildings, furniture and clocks. He has always enjoyed writing (except essays at school) but has not done a great deal of it. He is fascinated by biography as a genre, and is currently researching the career of Louis’ son Joseph William Bazalgette, who served as an officer in the British Navy for eighteen years during the Napoleonic Wars.
Written content of this post copyright © Charles Bazalgette, 2015.