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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 8.djvu/31

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1788-1805.]
5
BIRTH OF BYRON.

The wreck of their fortunes compelled Mrs. Byron Gordon and her husband to retire to France. At the beginning of 1788 she had returned to London, and on January 22, 1788, at 16, Holles Street (since numbered 24, and now destroyed), in the back drawing-room of the first floor, gave birth to her only child, George Gordon, afterwards sixth Lord Byron. Hanson gives the names of the nurse, Mrs. Mills, the man-midwife, Mr. Combe, the doctor, Dr. Denman, who attended Mrs. Byron at her confinement. Dallas was, therefore, mistaken in his supposition that the poet was born at Dover. The child was baptized in London on February 29, 1788, as is proved by the register of the parish of Marylebone.

Shortly after the birth of her son, Mrs. Byron settled in Aberdeen, where she lived for upwards of eight years. During her stay there, in the summer of 1791, her husband died at Valenciennes. In the year 1794, by the death of his cousin William John Byron (1772-94) from a wound received at the siege of Calvi, in Corsica, her son became the heir to his great-uncle, the "wicked Lord Byron" (William, fifth Lord Byron, 1722-98), and a solicitor named Hanson was appointed to protect the boy's interests. From Aberdeen Mrs. Byron kept up a correspondence with her sister-in-law, Frances Leigh (née Byron), wife of General Charles Leigh, to whom, in a letter, dated March 27, 1791, she speaks of her son as "very well, and really a charming boy." Writing again to Mrs. Leigh, December 8, 1794, she says, "I think myself much obliged to you for being so interested for George; you may be sure I would do anything I could for my son, but I really don't see what can be done for him in that case. You say you are afraid Lord B. will dispose of the estates that are left, if he can; if he has it in his power, nobody can prevent him from