Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

Who Are All These Kings?: George II

George II was King during the mid 17th century.

He was born in Hanover in 1683, the only son of George I and Sophia Dorothea. He had a serious rift with his father in 1694, over the imprisonment of his mother.

When the Act of Settlement was passed in 1701, making it probable that he would in due course become King of England, George received tutoring in the English language and way of life. He became a naturalised British citizen in 1705, and was thereafter given a number of British titles.

In 1705, when he was 21, George married Caroline of Ansbach.

He fought bravely at the Battle of Oudenaarde in 1708, under the command of the Duke of Marlborough, but this failed to convince his father of his worth.

When George I became king in 1714, George and Caroline accompanied him to England, taking up residence in London. At first George helped with translations, and acting as Regent while his father made frequent trips to Hanover.

But at the end of 1717, the two Georges fell out in a big way. George I wanted the Duke of Newcastle to be godfather for young George`s new son, and young George made a fuss at the christening. After first threatening to imprison his son, George I banished him from St. James`s Palace, and he and Caroline set up what amounted to a rival court at Leicester House, near St. Martin-in-the-Fields.

George I thereafter felt less confident at cabinet meetings, without his son to help, and began to rely on a favourite minister, which is how the position of Prime Minister originated.

On the death of his father in 1727, George II succeeded to the throne. Robert Walpole, the first Prime Minister, was already in position and George decided to continue with him.

His eldest son Frederick, left behind when George and Caroline moved to England, was allowed into the country in 1728 and made Prince of Wales the following year. His parents had never liked him, and it irritated them when he became something of a society favourite.

Frederick and his wife set up a rival court at Leicester House, as his father had done before him.

Caroline died in 1737. George missed her, but was able from then on to live openly with his mistress, Amalia von Walmoden.

War broke out with Spain in 1739 and with France in 1742, in the War of the Austrian Succession. George led his army into the field at the Battle of Dettingen in 1743. It was the last time that an English sovereign commanded an army in battle, and he earned considerable respect from his men by fighting valiantly beside them. Fighting for the other side in this battle was Charles Edward Stuart, the Young Pretender.

Robert Walpole retired from his position of Prime Minister in 1742. He was succeeded for a while by Henry Pelham, then William Pitt the Elder.

Charles Edward Stuart led the Jacobite rebellion in 1745, in another bid to put his father James Edward Stuart on the throne. He led his army into the heart of England, proclaiming James King at Ashbourne, but lost his nerve at Derby and returned to Scotland. In response to this threat, "God Save the King" was first sung, at Drury Lane.

George sent his second son, William Duke of Cumberland, to put down the rebellion. He defeated the Scots at Culloden Moor, but was not content with this and proceed to massacre survivors and viciously hunt down sympathisers. Charles escaped, initially to the Isle of Skye, while William became known either as Sweet William or Stinking Billy, according to point of view.

Cumberland was later involved in some humiliating defeats, including the surrender of the Hanoverian army at Klosterseven, and was relieved by his father of military command.

Frederick, the Prince of Wales, died in 1751, after being hit on the head by a cricket ball. His mother had earlier remarked that it would be better if he were dead (although she obliged before him), and his father spoke of his own satisfaction. Fairly anonymous to history, he received an epitaph referring to "Poor Fred, who was alive and is dead".

In the last few years of George`s reign, Robert Clive had a series of victories in India which led to the establishment of the British Raj. Also General Wolfe (a veteran of Dettingen and Culloden) captured Quebec in 1759, expelling the French from Canada, and territories were added to the British Empire in Africa and the West Indies.

George II died at Kensington Palace in 1760, having suffered a heart attack and fallen off the toilet, and was succeeded by his grandson George III. He was buried in Westminster Abbey.

George II and Caroline had nine children.

Frederick, Prince of Wales, was born in 1707 in Hanover. He married Augusta, daughter of Frederick II, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, in 1736 at St. James`s Palace. She died in 1772 at Carlton House and was buried at Westminster Abbey. The couple had nine children, including George III.

Anne was born in 1709 in Hanover. She married William IV, Prince of Orange in 1734 at St. James`s Palace. She died in 1759 at The Hague. The couple had six children.

Amelia was born in 1711 in Hanover. She died in 1786 at Cavendish Square, and was buried at Westminster Abbey.

Caroline was born in 1713 in Hanover.She died in 1757 at St. James`s Palace, and was buried at Westminster Abbey.

A stillborn son was born in 1716 at St. James`s Palace.

George was born in 1717 at St. James`s Palace. He died in 1718 at Kensington Palace, and was buried at Westminster Abbey.

William, Duke of Cumberland, was born in 1721 at Leicester House. He died in 1765 in Upper Grosvenor Street, and was buried at Westminster Abbey.

Mary was born in 1723 at Leicester House. She married Frederick II, Landgrave of Hesse-Cassel in 1740 at Cassel. She died in 1772 at Hanau. The couple had four children.

Louisa was born in 1724 at Leicester House.She married Frederick V, King of Denmark and Norway, in 1743 at Altona, near Hamburg. She died in 1751 at Copenhagen. The couple had five children.

George II is also believed to have been the father of John, Count von Walmoden-Gimborn, by Amalia von Walmoden.