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Cambridge, Earls And Dukes Of

CAMBRIDGE, EARLS AND DUKES OF. Under the Norman and early Plantagenet kings of England the earldom of Cambridge was united with that of Huntingdon, which was held among others by David I., king of Scotland, as the husband of earl Waltheof's daughter, Matilda. As a separate dignity the earldom dates from about 1340, when William V., count (afterwards duke) of Juliers, was created earl of Cambridge by King Edward III.; and in 1362 (the year after William's death) Edward created his own son, Edmund of Langley, earl of Cambridge, the title being afterwards merged in that of duke of York, which was bestowed upon Edmund in 1385. Edmund's elder son, Edward, earl of Rutland, who succeeded his father as duke of York and earl of Cambridge in 1402, appears to have resigned the latter dignity in or before 1414, as in this year his younger brother, Richard, was made earl of Cambridge. In the following year Richard was executed for plotting against King Henry V., and his title was forfeited, but it was restored to his son, Richard, who in 1415 became duke of York in succession to his uncle Edward. Subsidiary to the dukedom of York the title was held by Richard, and after his death in 1460 by his son Edward, afterwards King Edward IV., becoming extinct on the fall of the Yorkist dynasty.

In 1619 King James I., anxious to bestow an English title upon James Hamilton, 2nd marquess of Hamilton (d. 1625), created him earl of Cambridge, a title which came to his son and successor James, 3rd marquess and first duke of Hamilton (d. 1649). In 1651 when William, 2nd duke of Hamilton, died, his English title became extinct.

Again bestowed upon a member of the royal house, the title of earl of Cambridge was granted in 1659 by Charles II. to his brother Henry, duke of Gloucester, only to become extinct on Henry's death in the following year. In 1661 Charles, the infant son of James, duke of York, afterwards King James II., was designated as marquess and duke of Cambridge, but the child died before the necessary formalities were completed. However, two of James's sons, James (d. 1667) and Edgar (d. 1671), were actually created in succession dukes of Cambridge, but both died in childhood. After the passing of the Act of Settlement in 1701 it was proposed to grant an English title to George Augustus, electoral prince of Hanover, who, after his grandmother, the electress Sophia, and his father, the elector George Louis, was heir to the throne of England; and to give effect to this proposal George Augustus was created marquess and duke of Cambridge in November 1706. The title lapsed when he became king of Great Britain and Ireland in 1727, but it was revived in 1801 in favour of Adolphus Frederick, the seventh son of George III. He and his son are dealt with below.

Adolphus Frederick, duke of Cambridge (1774-1850), was born in London on the 24th of February 1774. Having studied at the university of Göttingen, Adolphus Frederick served in the Hanoverian and British armies, and, in November 1801, was created earl of Tipperary and duke of Cambridge, becoming a member of the privy council in the following year. The duke is chiefly known for his connexion with Hanover. In 1815, on the conclusion of the war, the electorate of Hanover was raised to the rank of a kingdom, and in the following year the duke was appointed viceroy. He held this position until the separation of Great Britain and Hanover in 1837, and displaying tact and moderation, appears to have ruled the country with great success during a difficult period. Returning to England the duke became very popular, and was active in supporting many learned and benevolent societies. He died in London on the 8th of July 1850. In 1818 he married Augusta (1797-1889), daughter of Frederick, landgrave of Hesse-Cassel. He left three children: his successor, George; Augusta Caroline (b. 1822), who married Frederick William, grand duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz; and Mary Adelaide (1833-1897), who married Francis, duke of Teck.

George William Frederick Charles, duke of Cambridge (1819-1904), was born at Hanover on the 26th of March 1819. He was thus about two months older than his cousin, Queen Victoria, and was for that period in the line of succession to the British throne. He was educated at Hanover by the Rev. J.R. Wood, a canon of Worcester. In November 1837, after he had served for a short time in the Hanoverian army, the rank of colonel in the British army was conferred upon him, and he was attached to the staff at Gibraltar from October 1838 to April 1839. After serving in Ireland with the 12th Royal Lancers, he was appointed in April 1842 colonel of the 17th Light Dragoons (now Lancers). From 1843 to 1845 he was colonel on the staff in the Ionian Islands, and was then promoted major-general. In October 1846 he took command of the Limerick district, and shortly afterwards of the Dublin district. In 1850 his father died, and he succeeded to the dukedom. Being appointed inspector of cavalry in 1852, he held that post until 1854, when, upon the outbreak of the Crimean War, he was placed in command of the 1st division (Guards and Highland brigades) of the British army in the East. In June of the same year he was promoted lieutenant-general. He was present at the battles of the Alma, Balaklava and Inkerman, and at the siege of Sevastopol. On the 15th of July 1856 he was appointed general commanding-in-chief, on the 9th of November 1862 field marshal, and by letters patent, 1887, commander-in-chief. The long period during which he held the command of the army was marked by many changes. The Crimean War brought to light great administrative defects, and led to a regrouping of the departments, which, with the whole personnel of the army, were brought under the authority of the secretary of state for war. The constitutional changes involved did not, however, affect seriously the organization of the military forces. Only in 1870, after the successes of Prussia had created a profound impression, were drastic changes introduced by Cardwell into the entire fabric of the army. The objects of the reformers of 1870 were undoubtedly wise; but some of the methods adopted were open to question, and were strongly resented by the duke of Cambridge, whose views were shared by the majority of officers. Further changes were inaugurated in 1880, and again the duke found much to criticize. His opinions stand recorded in the voluminous evidence taken by the numerous bodies appointed to inquire into the condition of the army. They show a sound military judgment, and, as against innovations as such, a strong attachment to the old regimental system. That this judgment and this attachment were not so rigid as was generally supposed is proved by his published correspondence. Throughout the period of change, while protesting, the duke invariably accepted and loyally endeavoured to carry out the measures on which the government decided. In a memorandum addressed to Mr Childers in 1880 he defined his attitude as follows: - "Should it appear, however, that for reasons of state policy it is necessary that the contemplated changes should be made, I am prepared to carry them out to the best of my ability." This attitude he consistently maintained in all cases in which his training and associations led him, rightly or wrongly, to deprecate changes the need for which was not apparent to him. His judgment was especially vindicated in the case of an ill-advised reduction of the artillery carried out by Mr. Stanhope. Under the order in council of February 1888, the whole responsibility for military duties of every kind was for the first time centred upon the commander-in-chief. This, as pointed out by the Hartington commission in 1890, involved "an excessive centralization" which "must necessarily tend to weaken the sense of responsibility of the other heads of departments, and thus to diminish their efficiency." The duke of Cambridge, whose position entailed many duties apart from those strictly appertaining to a commander-in-chief, could not give personal attention to the vast range of matters for which he was made nominally responsible. On the other hand, the adjutant-general could act in his name, and the secretary of state could obtain military advice from officials charged with no direct responsibility. The effect was to place the duke in a false position in the eyes of the army and of the country. If the administration of the army suffered after 1888, this was due to a system which violated principles. His active control of its training during the whole period of his command was less hampered, and more directly productive of good results.

Throughout his long term of office the duke of Cambridge evinced a warm interest in the welfare of the soldier, and great experience combined with a retentive memory made him a master of detail. He was famous for plain, and strong, language; but while quick to condemn deviations from the letter of regulations, and accustomed to insist upon great precision in drill, he was never a martinet, and his natural kindliness made him ready to bestow praise. Belonging to the older generation of soldiers, he could not easily adapt himself to the new conditions, and in dispensing patronage he was somewhat distrustful of originality, while his position as a member of the royal family tended to narrow his scope for selection. He was thus inclined to be influenced by considerations of pure seniority, and to underrate the claims of special ability. The army, however, always recognized that in the duke of Cambridge it had a commander-in-chief devoted to its interests, and keenly anxious amid many difficulties to promote its well-being. The duke resigned the commandership-in-chief on the 1st of November 1895, and was succeeded by Lord Wolseley, the duties of the office being considerably modified. He was at the same time gazetted honorary colonel-in-chief to the forces. He was made ranger of Hyde Park and St James's Park in 1852, and of Richmond Park in 1857; governor of the Royal Military Academy in 1862, and its president in 1870, and personal aide-de-camp to Queen Victoria in 1882. He died on the 17th of March 1904 at Gloucester House, London. The chief honours conferred upon him were: G.C.H., 1825; K.G., 1835; G.C.M.G., 1845; G.C.B., 1855; K.P., 1861; K.T., 1881. From 1854 he was president of Christ's hospital. The duke of Cambridge was married to Louisa Fairbrother, who took the name of FitzGeorge after her marriage. She died in 1890.

See Rev. E. Sheppard, George, Duke of Cambridge; a Memoir of his Private Life (London, 1906); and Willoughby Verner, Military Life of the Duke of Cambridge (1905).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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