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Picture of Georgian volumes in the Royal Archives

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George I

Portrait of George I

George I by Sir Geoffrey Kneller ©

The papers of George I in the Royal Archives

THE KING being arrived at Greenwich, and the Day fixed for His MAJESTY's ROYAL ENTRY, Publick Notice thereof is to be given by the LORD MARSHAL of the Times and Places, where the Nobility, the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, and Citizens of London, &c. are to meet, in order to attend His MAJESTY…

This Ceremonial (GEO/ADD/1/17) details the coronation procession, which would accompany Georg Ludwig, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, to Westminster Abbey where he would begin his new life as George I of Great Britain. The Coronation Account (GEO/ADD/1/1) gives us a fragmentary glimpse of the show: with £1,782 being paid to the embroider Stephen Toulouze, the grandeur and ultimate spectacle can only be imagined! The previous coronation had taken place just 12 years earlier, when Queen Anne acceded to the throne, but this coronation marked the start of a new era, the beginning of the reign of the House of Hanover.

One of the key characteristics of the Hanoverian dynasty was the typically poor relationship between father and eldest son. Relations between George I and his eldest son, George Augustus, Prince of Wales, deteriorated to an all-time low following the baptism of George I's newest grandchild, George William. George I had appointed the Duke of Newcastle to be godparent to the infant, an act resented by his son who disliked the duke. At the christening, Newcastle was verbally insulted by the Prince of Wales and mistakenly believed that he had been challenged to a duel. Outraged by his son's behaviour, George I barred him from the palace and confiscated his children! But this act prompted the question: who should be responsible for the maintenance, education and marriages of the heirs of the realm?

The matter was discussed by 12 judges at the start of 1718 (GEO/MAIN/53014-53074) with 10 of the judges ultimately deciding in favour of the monarch over the father. This judgment was later to have a huge impact on the marriages of subsequent generations as it laid the way for the Royal Marriages Act 1772. This act prevented the descendants of George II marrying without the permission of the king or the Privy Council. Not that it prevented the brothers or the sons of George III marrying in secret.

Document from a volume of papers collated by Lord Macclesfield

Extract from papers relating to the judgement concerning responsibility for the education and care of George II's grandchildren, GEO/MAIN/53037 Royal Archives /© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

Find out more…

Regrettably, very few papers dating from the reign of George I survive in the Royal Archives. The majority of records concerning the monarch's official business for 1714-27 can be found either at The National Archives or on State Papers Online (subscription required). Of the documents held at the Royal Archives, barely any could be considered personal papers. This reinforces the view that these documents were preserved by George I's successors for business purposes and perhaps strictly speaking should be considered to be part of George II's or more likely George III's archive.

The papers of George I can be divided as follows: documents found at Apsley House and part of the GEO/MAIN collection; additional documents acquired subsequent to the principal deposit (GEO/ADD/1); and financial papers relating to George I and George II and Establishment Books (due for publication in early 2018) concerning the payment of staff.