The Maclise Portrait-Gallery/Earl of Munster


XIV.— EARL OF MUNSTER.

A reference to that bulky volume which has been called the Englishman's Bible,—Burke's Peerage,—will show that this gentleman was the eldest illegitimate son of King William IV., when Duke of Clarence, by Mrs. Jordan, the celebrated actress. He distinguished himself in many engagements in the Peninsular war, especially at Fuentes d'Onore, where he was wounded, and again at Toulouse; acquiring by his conduct and military abilities the friendship of the Duke of Wellington, by whom he was much esteemed.

In 1830, he was elevated to the peerage, under the title of Earl of Munster. Viscount Fitzclarence, and Baron Tewkesbury, in the peerage of the United Kingdom; with special remainder, in default of male issue, to his three brothers, primogeniturely, and their male descendants. This creation of the peerage of Munster gave rise to no small amount of clamour and discord in its day; unlike the treaty known by the same appellation, which gave religious peace to the Empire in 1648.

"Campaigning with the Tenth," says the authority before me, "at the close of the Peninsular war, he was dismissed with the other officers of that regiment, for having committed an unprecedented breach of etiquette in that corps,—by fighting! Quentin knew far better what was the duty
The Author of A Journey from India to England.png

Author of "A Journey from India to England."


of a dandy regiment, and kept a prudent position in the rear. Fitzclarence had the impertinence to charge and break the enemy's line; for which he was broken himself, and sent to India." There he prepared himself by hard and honest work, for honourable mention in some future supplement to Walpole's Royal and Noble Authors. His Journey Overland from India has been pronounced "a masterpiece in its way"; and Miss Landon spoke of it as "one of the most interesting and able works of the time." This was prepared for the press by William Jerdan, and probably owes much of its finish and condensation to his practised hand. The Earl of Munster was also a contributor to the United Service Journal.

His studies in Oriental strategy, and the interest which he took in all matters connected with the East, led him to exert himself in the formation of the Royal Asiatic Society, of which he was one of the original members; he became in due course a member of Council; and was raised to the Presidency in 1841.

In 1842, he was unfortunately attacked by a cerebral disorder, and destroyed himself in a fit of insanity, on March 20th of that year, in the forty-ninth year of his age. At the time of this melancholy occurrence he was preparing for the press an Account of the Free Bands of Military Adventurers in the Middle Ages, and Memoirs of the Turkish Empire; an idea of the merits of which may be gained from his observations on "The Employment of Mahomedan Mercenaries in the Christian Armies," published at Paris, in February, 1827, in the 56th cahier of the Journal Asiatique.

I conclude with the distich, light-heartedly penned, with no foreboding of the future, by the exhibitor of the "Gallery,"—

"To one who can right well pen, sword, or gun stir—
Colonel Fitz-Clarence, Earl of song-famed Munster."[1]


  1. "Monomia, sweet dwelling of song." See Fraser's Magazine, June, 1831, p. 556.