|Duke of St Albans
Charles Beauclerk, 2nd Duke of St Albans
Charles Beauclerk (1670-1726) was one of the many illegitimate children fathered by King Charles II.
It seems the boy went unnamed for some time. Grange's story is that in an effort to goad the king into action, Nell was heard to call her oldest, "you little bastard," in front of the king. When the king asked why she called him this, Nell answered, "Indeed, I have no better name to give him." The king, according to legend, named him. Apparently the exact circumstances and dates that the king did name and title the boy are unclear. One author contends that Charles II created Charles Baron Headington and Earl of Burford at birth, and Duke of St. Albans in his 14th year. According to Lewis Melville, on December 27, 1676, the king officially conferred the name, Charles Beauclerk and the titles Baron Heddington and Earle of Burford, and then on January 10, 1684, (just after the death of Henry Jermyn, 1st Earl of St Albans) conferred the Duke of St. Albans. It seems his brother, James, became James Beauclerk by inference. There is also the less believable story that Nell held the boy out a window and threatened to drop him, unless he was named.
As the only surviving child of Nell Gwyn, mistress of King Charles II, the 17-year-old Charles Beauclerk inherited upon his mother's death, her estate of £5,000 a year and Burford House. He was also given hereditary offices: Master Falconer of England and Registrar of the Court of Chancery, worth £1,500 a year.
As a favorite of William III, Charles later served in the House of Lords and had a distinguished career in the Imperial Army. In 1688, he fought against the Turks, in 1693, he was involved in the Campaign of Landon, and in 1697, he went as a volunteer to Flanders.
In 1718, George made him a Knight of the Garter.
According to Melville, King Charles II arranged the marriage to Lady Diana de Vere while Charles was still a child. One month before his 24th birthday, Charles Beauclerk married on April 13, 1694 to Lady Diana de Vere, an heiress and a celebrated beauty of the realm. She provided him with nine sons and three daughters. All but one of the sons survived to adulthood, and the eldest succeeded his father as Duke of St. Albans upon Charles's death in 1726.
Children of Charles and Diana:
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