Kendal, Dukedom Of
KENDAL, DUKEDOM OF. The English title of duke of Kendal was first bestowed in May 1667 upon Charles (d. 1667), the infant son of the duke of York, afterwards James II. Several persons have been created earl of Kendal, among them being John, duke of Bedford, son of Henry IV.; John Beaufort, duke of Somerset (d. 1444); and Queen Anne's husband, George, prince of Denmark.
In 1719 Ehrengarde Melusina (1667-1743), mistress of the English king George I., was created duchess of Kendal. This lady was the daughter of Gustavus Adolphus, count of Schulenburg (d. 1691), and was born at Emden on the 25th of December 1667. Her father held important positions under the elector of Brandenburg; her brother Matthias John (1661-1747) won great fame as a soldier in Germany and was afterwards commander-in-chief of the army of the republic of Venice. Having entered the household of Sophia, electress of Hanover, Melusina attracted the notice of her son, the future king, whose mistress she became about 1690. When George crossed over to England in 1714, the " Schulenburgin," as Sophia called her, followed him and soon supplanted her principal rival, Charlotte Sophia, Baroness von Kilmannsegge (c. 1673-1725), afterwards countess of Darlington, as his first favourite. In 1716 she was created duchess of Munster; then duchess of Kendal; and in 1723 the emperor Charles VI. made her a princess of the Empire. The duchess was very avaricious and obtained large sums of money by selling public offices and titles; she also sold patent rights, one of these being the privilege of supplying Ireland with a new copper coinage. This she sold to a Wolverhampton iron merchant named William Wood (1671-1730), who flooded the country with coins known as " Wood's halfpence," thus giving occasion for the publication of Swift's famous Drapier's Letters. In political matters she had much influence with the king, and she received 10,000 for procuring the recall of Bolingbroke from exile. After George's death in 1727 she lived at Kendal House, Isleworth, Middlesex, until her death on the loth of May 1743. The duchess was by no means a beautiful woman, and her thin figure caused the populace to refer to her as the " maypole." By the king she had two daughters: Petronilla Melusina (c. 1693-1778), who was created countess of Walsingham in 1722, and who married the great earl of Chesterfield; and Margaret Gertrude, countess of Lippe (1703-1773).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)