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|Letter 30 :Mrs Jordan
Written by JulieW
(9/16/2007 11:25 a.m.)
I thought you might like to know a little more about her and her life ,for she was one of JA's favourite actresses.
Her real name was Dorothy Phillips was born on 22 November ,1761 in London, in the neighbourhood of Leicester Square and Covent Garden, one of reputedly nine children of Francis Bland and Grace Phillips.
She most famously became the mistress of the Duke of Clarence( Prince William Henry son of George III) from circa 1790, and is now mostly remembered for so being.
But in fact she was very famous in her day. And very rich( for a while).
The duke appears to have found Mrs Jordan an admirably domesticated companion and a woman whom he could love, protestations of which he regularly made in his letters.
Mrs Jordan was allowed an annuity of £1200 and an equipage, and provision was made for her children, whatever their paternity.
However, even with this guaranteed income from the Duke, Mrs Jordan continued to work .She appeared at Drury Lane and also at Covent Garden and a vast number of provincial theatres on tours of lengthy duration, sharing her salary with the duke . This was the subject of much comment:
As Jordan's high and mighty squire
The Duke of Clarence was appointed ,in January 1797, ranger of Bushy Park, a position which included the use of Bushy House, to which he and Dorothy Jordan repaired.
Here is John Cary's 1812 map of the Environs of London, which shows the position and considerable extent of Bush Park on the banks of the river Thames:
Eventually , as the mother of ten of the duke's children, all surnamed FitzClarence, (among them George Augustus Frederick FitzClarence and Adolphus FitzClarence) Mrs Jordan possessed the attributes and the status of a wife; visiting Bushy, Horace Walpole was surprised to find her acting as hostess there.
Scurrilous cartoons appeared in newspapers as a comment on the couple's affair ; many of these featured a huge chamber pot, or ‘jordan’, on which the Duke of Clarence was figured.
On 2 October 1811 Jordan was appearing at the Cheltenham theatre when she received a letter from Clarence asking her to meet him at Maidenhead; there he stipulated that they must part. His debts were mounting, and his immediate need was to find an eligibly rich woman whom he might marry. He began to negotiate for the hand of the weal;thy Catherine Tylney-Long, the target of every fortune-hunter in London. Although the plan fell through and the duke did not marry until 1818, his separation from Dorothea Jordan was final.
Popular opinion, however, was against the break:
Return to Mistress J....n's arms
In a deed of settlement drawn up in November, Mrs Jordan was to receive £4400; she would look after the duke's daughters, to whom he was to have free access, until they reached the age of thirteen. Should the morals of the children be endangered by Jordan's return to the stage, that part of her allowance relating to them (£2200) would be stopped.
For the next four years mrs Jordan lived at Cadogan Street, Chelsea; in spite of poor health and fatigue she performed in London and the provinces, and finally made her farewell to the stage at the Margate theatre in July 1815. When she retired from the stage, Jordan sold her London house and sailed to Boulogne, where, as Mrs James or Mrs Johnson, she lived in premises just outside the town at Marquetra. Biographers offer two reasons for her self-imposed exile: her worsening health may have necessitated it; and she had very little money left after lending large sums to her eldest daughter, Frances, and her son-in-law, Thomas Alsop, who had defrauded her.
When her bank account was closed on her death, it contained only £10 14s. 1d.
Mrs Jordan made two further moves, to Versailles and then to St Cloud, near Paris.
There, on 5 July 1816, she died alone and was buried beneath an acacia in the town cemetery. Mr and Mrs Henry Woodgate, two English visitors, paid for a memorial stone for which the Reverend John Genest composed a Latin epitaph.
A cautionary tale, indeed ;-(
Below is a link to the Twickenham Museum which contains picture of Mrs Jordan and the Duke.
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