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In 1819 the friends of the Duke of Kent endeavoured to obtain the sanction of Government for the sale of His Royal Highness' private estate at Ealing. This however not being granted, a Committee of gentlemen who have been entrusted with the entire management of his asfairs during the last four years, submitted to the public a detailed statement of His Royal Highness' case, from which a summary of his pecuniary privations, public losses, and consequent debts, will now be given. During the period His Royal Highness was in Germany he was lodged in one of His Majesty's palaces, and his table and equipage were furnished from His Majesty's Hanoverian establishment; but the only pecuniary allowance he had was 10001. per annum, of which his Governor had the sole disposal, excepting of the small sum of a guinea and a half per week, which was allowed him for pocket-money. While at Geneva, the same conduct was observed towards His Royal Highness, with respect to pecuniary matters, as during his residence in the Hanoverian dominions; his pocket allowance not being in the least degree increased during the whole of that time, although, before leaving Geneva, His Royal Highness had completed his twenty-second year. The consequence of this was, that, from not having any of those indulgences allowed him which other young Englishmen of his own age, with whom he was in the habit of living, enjoyed, and who were the sons of private gentlemen, the Duke incurred debts by borrowing money to procure them.
On proceeding to Gibraltar in 1790 the Duke of Kent was obliged to provide his first outfit for housekeeping at an enormous extra expense, His Royal Highness not being before possessed of a single article of any sort or kind necessary for the purpose. For this his first outfit no allowance whatever was ever made him, nor indeed was it until the month of May 1791, when the Duke was ordered to Canada, that His Royal Highness knew what his annual allowance was to be, which he then found was only 5000l. per annum, viz. 10001. a year less than his Governor received to keep his establishment when at Geneva. Thus at the time of his leaving Gibraltar for Canada, in addition to the debts he had incurred between 1785 and 1790 from the causes before explained, a fresh one had accrued, arising from the heavy expense of his first outfit, and from the excess of his expenditure, while at Gibraltar, above the income allowed him, and which be had conceived could not be less than the one allotted for his use when at Geneva.
To meet the most pressing part of the debts due at Ginraltar, the Duke of Kent upon embarking for Canada sold off every thing he had there, and of course, on arriving at Quebec, had all to provide anew. This was again done at a very heavy expense, as he was obliged to procure every thing upon credit, no allowance having been made him for this second outfit any more than for the first ; and thus in December 1793, when His Royal Highness was ordered to the West Indies to join the army under the late Lord Grey, his debts were further augmented by the amount of the Canada outfit, and the loss sustained by his being obliged to sell off again upon leaving Quebec to meet the more urgent demands of his equipment for the West Indies, for which his THIRD outfit no allowance was made him, any more than for the two former.
In travelling to the West Indies with his suite, through the United States of America, a very considerable fresh expense was of course incurred, as also from His Royal Highness being obliged to keep a table for himself and staff when in the West Indies, where every thing is well known to be at an enormous advance of price; so that the debts kept constantly increasing without its being in the Duke's power, from the smallness of his income, to prevent it.
At the close of the campaign of 1794, the Duke of Kent, pursuant to His Majesty's commands, returned to North America, where he was placed on the staff, and of course obliged to incur the expense of a fourth outfit, for which he never received reimbursement any more than for the preceding THREE. From that time, as already shewn, His Royal Highness served at Halifax until October 1798, first as Major General to 1796, and then as Lieutenant General the rest of the time; during the whole of which period, except the amount of staff pay allowed respectively to the rank of Major General and Lieutenant General, (there being at that time no allowance
of bat and forage money to the troops in North America, as has since been granted,) he never enjoyed any allowance but the 50001. as fixed for him in 1790, (and out of which he was obliged to pay annually 1000l, the amount of interest on his debts, and of course he was unavoidably compelled year after year to exceed his income to a considerable extent.
Thus in October 1798, when the Duke of Kent was compelled to leave Halifax, and return to England, besides the old debt of 1790 there was a much larger one contracted from the various causes above explained.
But, in addition to those heavy expenses to which the Duke of Kent was exposed when employed on foreign service, he suffered a most serious privation in being kept as before stated until 1799, when he was thirty-two years of age, out of that Parliamentary income which his two elder brothers, the Dukes of York and Clarence had successively got, the one at twentyone years of age, the other at twenty-four, and which was granted to the Duke of Cumberland, his younger brother by four years, on the same day with himself; while it is clear that the very circumstance of his having been employed ou foreign service from January 1790 to November 1798, without interruption, successively at Gibraltar, in Canada, the West Indies, and Nova Scotia, was the cause of this serious injury to him, as he was thereby precluded from personally urging his claim with the Minister, to obtain bis Parliamentary establishment at that time of life when he was unquestionably entitled thereto.
About a month after the Duke got his Parliamentary establishment, viz. in May 1799, he was promoted to the rank of General, and appointed Commander in Chief in North America. In consequence, His Royal Highness ordered his equipment upon a scale commensurate with that rank, and the respectability of the situation. Having lost no time in getting ready, he proceeded to North America in the month of July following, with the expectation of remaining there some years, and, after clearing off the expense of this fresh equipment (for which, however, he only received an allowance of 2,0001. from Government), of being able gradually to liquidate all the debts he had incurred from his four former ones before he returned home. Unfortunately however, as already explained, the trany port was wrecked as it came upon the coast of North America, and totally lost.
In 1800 the Duke's losses came, in course of some little time, under the consideration of Mr. Pitt; and a very short time before His Majesty's unfortunate malady, which took place in February 1800, at an interview the Duke had with Mr. Pitt in Downing Street, through the intervention of Lord Rosslyn; His Royal Highness received the fullest assurance, not only that his losses would be completely made good to him, but also that due retrospect should be had to the circumstance of his having received his Parliamentary establishment so much later in life than any of his brothers, and that if he were not completely placed on a footing of equality in that respect with the Duke of Clarence (the justice of which Mr. Pitt admitted), and which would have given him an arrear of eight years, he should at least be placed upon the same as the Duke of Cumberland, which insured him an arrear of four.
Upon His Majesty's recovery the administration changed, and the moment not appearing favourable to urge his suit, his claims were suffered to lie dormant until the next year, when, upon his appointment to the Government of Gibraltar in March 1802, he confined himself to memorializing the Treasury for remuneration for his losses only, upon which, however, all he ever obtained, with the exception of 2,0001. which was granted several years after, was the sum of 2,000l. paid in 1803 or 4: both of which certainly do not, in point of fact, cover even an eighth part of the actual loss to His Royal Highness, exclusive of the interest he was then and is still paying in part to this time (1819) for the debts incurred by that outfit, not one particle of which he was ever benefitted by.
Having gone to Gibraltar in May 1802, the Duke of Kent, in consequence of various communications he had prior to his departure with Lord Sidmouth, then at the head of His Majesty's Councils, (and which, it is presumed, his Lordship cannot possibly forgotten,) proceeded, as we have shown, to put a stop to those sources of drunkenness in the garrison, which, from its first establishment, had also been the source of the
greatest part of the civil emoluments of the Governor's situation; and from the reduction in the number of wine-houses, and the checks upon the heretofore uncontrolled liberty the soldiers had of drinking in these, it is a matter of notoriety that when his predecessor had received some years from 10,000l. to 20,0001. per annum in fees, the Duke of Kent did not nett a sixth part of that sum. Yet, relying on the full assurance he had received, that he should not be a loser by the sacrifice he made for the good of the service, he never conplained.
At the period of the Duke's return from Gibraltar, viz.in May, 1803, the allowance to the Officer resident in the command of the garrison of Gibraltar, in place of the fees, (which were ordered to be taken from the Governor, and carried to the credit of the revenue of the garrison,) was fixed at 3,500l. per annum ; but no consideration was had either of the Duke of Kent's loss during the year he held the command, when the fees were so reduced, nor has it to this hour, although that allowance to the Lieutenant-Governor was established as being the average moiety of these fees, which were taken at 7,0001. per annum, and though during the absence of the Governor, the other moiety is unquestionably his right.
Upon the return of Mr. Pitt to office in 1804, the Duke of Kent again took occasion to renew his claims, and received the most unqualified assurance from him that he would fulfil all the expectations he had held out to His Royal Highness in 1800; but Mr. Pitt observed, that much important public business must be got over, and that probably the Duke's concerns could not be thought of until after the close of the session. Under this assurance the Duke of Kent was enabled to satisfy all his creditors ; but the whole session of 1804, and a great part of the subsequent one of 1805, having passed without the fulfilment of Mr. Pitt's promise, the Duke of Kent being very strongly pressed by the old original creditors, whose bonds had become due early in that year, obtained another interview with Mr. Pitt in July, when he intimated the intention of His Majesty to grant 20,000l. from the Droits of the Admiralty to each of his younger sons immediately, which he said he hoped would prove a matter of temporary accommodation to the Duke R. M. Cal.