Jactitation of Marriage

  • Matthew J. Kinservik
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


If Augustus Hervey had gotten his way in 1768, Elizabeth would have been subjected to the usual three-step process that people in their position used to dissolve a marriage: a “crim. con.” suit, a judicial separation by the church courts, and a parliamentary divorce. By the mid-1760s, Hervey was back in England, serving as a member of parliament from St. Edmundsbury, a seat controlled by the Hervey family. The war had ended in 1763, and Hervey, now a wealthy man in his own right, distinguished himself as a vocal advocate in Commons for the naval officers who were reduced to “half-pay” during peacetime. Because of his efforts, their peacetime pay was increased by 50 percent. He was made a groom of the bedchamber to George III, and the king is said to have liked him personally. And in 1766, when the Earl of Bristol was made lord lieutenant of Ireland, Augustus became his secretary. To the earl’s dismay, he resigned this post after ten months because he was in opposition to the Grafton ministry, which the earl supported. But Augustus was always one to speak his mind, and at least in matters of politics, he seems to have been someone who stuck to his principles. When his naval patron, Admiral John Byng, was court-martialed for cowardice in 1756, Hervey stoutly defended the admiral under oath, earning him the enmity of many powerful people. (In the event, Byng was executed for failing to engage the French in the Battle of Minorca.)


Vocal Advocate Powerful People Divorce Process Judicial Separation False Register 
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Chapter 6

  1. 1.
    M. R. J. Holmes, Augustus Hervey: A Naval Casanova (Edinburgh: Pentland Press, 1996), 237.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Lewis Melville [pseud.], Trial of the Duchess of Kingston (Edinburgh and London: William Hodge and Company, Ltd., 1927), 246.Google Scholar
  3. 12.
    Quoted in Claire Gervat, Elizabeth: The Scandalous Life of the Duchess of Kingston (London: Century, 2003), 85.Google Scholar
  4. 34.
    Thomas Whitehead, Original Anecdotes of the Late Duke of Kingston (Bath, 1792), 12–14.Google Scholar

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© Matthew J. Kinservik 2007

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