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------_." PRINCESS OLIVE:…


PRINCESS OLIVE: THB REMARKABLE CLAIM TO ROYALTY. The ease of Ryves v the Attorney- General has been before the Court of Probate for some days, and is likely to occupy a considerable time. It will be remembered that this is no less than a claim to royal honours and an immense sum of money—the question mainly de- pending on the authenticity of numerous documents bearing the signatures of royal and eminent person- ages. The petitioners are Mrs. Lavinia Janetts Horton Ryves and her son William Henry Ryves, and the prayer of the petition is for a declaration that Olive Serres, the mother of Mrs. Ryves, was the legitimate daughter of Henry Frederick Duke of Cumberland, the brother of George III., and Olive, his wife, and that on the 4th of March, 1767, the duke was lawfully married to his wife, then Olive Wilmot. Mrs. Byves's great grandfather was the Rev. Dr. Wilmot, who held the living of Barton-on- the-Heath, Warwickshire, together with that of Aulcester, near Ragley, where ha became the inti- mate acquaintance of the Earl of Hertford. Dr. Wilmot contracted a private marriage with the daughter of Stanislaus, the last King of Poland. Of this marriage one daughter, Olive, was the issue, who attracted much attention aa she grew up, in consequence of her bea-uty- and accomplishments. The Duke of Cumberland demanded her hand, and it is alleged that they were privately married by D Wilmot, at the house of Lord Beecher, in Grosvenor-square, on the 4th of March, 1767. It is asserted that Dr. Wilmot had previously married (twice over) the Prince of Wales (George III.) to Hannah. Lightfoot, at Kew Chapel and at Peckham in 1759; and that is suggested as the reason for George III. consenting to the marriage of his brother to Miss Wilmot. Olive Wilmot gave birth to a daughter on May 3rd, 1772. The child was entrusted to the care of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Wilmot, who resided at Warwick, and grow up in their charge. In 1791 Dr. Wilmot. brought her to London, and she there married Mr. Serres, a painter, on Sept. 1, 1792, Of this marriage four children were the result. The two eldest died yonng; the third, the petitioner, was born March 16,1797; the -ourth, a daughter, also survives. The petitioner became the wife of Mr. Ryves, and there was issue children. In 1841 she procured a divorce from her and has ever since been dependent on. her own exertions for the maintenance of herself and children. On Wednesday, Mr. Netherclift, an expert, was ex- amined as to the authenticity of the signatures of reerge III. to several documents put in as evidence. He stated that he had compared the signatures of George- III. ia the Treasury warrants which had been .n="=. produced with the signatures appearing upon the documents in question, and'he was of opinion that the latter were genuine. On Thursday, Mr. Netherclift was again called, and said that having compared the signature of the Duke of Cumberland to his will with hie alleged signature to his marriage certincate, he thought the latter genuine. He admitted, however, that in the word "Henry," all the letters were different except the r." The Chief Justice observed that the will was only signed" Henry, Ought not some evidence to be given to show that his Royal Highness signed some- times 41 Henry," and. sometimes "Henry Frederick." The Attbrney-Gbneral: It-is the habit of princes to sign only by one name; and I have here some proceed- ings before tha Privy Council, in which his Royal Highness signs himself Henry only. An incidental discussion here arose as to some evi- dence which Dr. Smith proposed to adduce through Mrs. Ryves^ to the effect that at the time Hannah Lightfoot made her will, which she. signed Hannah Regina," she was the wife of George III., in the course of which The Chief Justice said the court was asked to de- clare, on the authority of two scraps of paper such as he held in his hand, and coming he knew not whence, that the second marriage of George III., while Prince of Wales, was illegal, in consequence of an alleged mar- riage with Hannah Lightfoot, and that all the subse- quent sovereigns; including her Gracious Majesty, were illegitimate, and not entitled to SIt. on the throne they were aaked to do this upon certificates, both of which, upon careful examination with the genuine signatures, he believed to be rank forgeries. The Chief Baron thought it right to express his entire- concurrence in the remarks of the Lord Chief Justice, and to state that any expressions of Hannah Light- foot; if ever siich a person existed, could not be re- ceived on the authority of these documents. The Judge Ordinary also aaid that in his opinion the certificates were nothing more or less. than foolish forgeries. He was' gla.d the case had been brought forward, as- it enabled the court to contradict a num- ber of idle-stories, for which there was no foundation. Mrs. RJves then proceeded to give a sketch of her life, in answer to the questions of her counsel, and the case-'was again adjourned. On Friday the examination of Mrs. Ryves was com- pleted. She wdS then cross-examined at great length by the Attorney-General. It appeared from her evidence that her mother, Mrs. Serres, was an astro- legist and ghost-seer, and a literary lady of no small pretensions. She had issued a manifesto to the people of Poland, stating that she had providentially discovered her descent from the royal family of that: country, and calling upon them to invite her to the throne; In this paper she stated that her legitimacy as the Duchess of Cumberland had been established by a legal tribunal in England. It appeared further that Mrs. Serres had published a book in which she claimed the authorship of Janius for Dr. Wilmot. It was stated that when a girl she had taken the manuscript cut of Dr. Wilmot's library to scribble in, and then, fearing his anger, had secreted the volume, and it had re- mained in her possession forgotten until it was acci. dentally discovered by Mrs. Ryves. She was at the time only M years of age. She preserved the manu- scripts, and a subsequent comparison of the writings with the papers of "Junius," in the hands of Mr. Woodfall, conclusively proved that Dr. Wilmot was alone entitled to the distinction whioh she claimed for him. Among other particulars of the life of the rev. gentleman, it was mentioned that he preached at the request of George III. before Queen Charlotte, that the Princess Poniatowski, sister to the King of Poland, invited him to visit that country, and corres- ponded with him, and that he had been invited to celebrate the marriage between the Duke of Cumber. land and Mrs. Morton. To avoid that painful duty he lived in concealment for a few days, and when in after times he referred to the circumstance, it was always accompanied with the observation that "a mitre was then hovering over his head." In 1817 Mrs. Serres published a pamphlet in reply to the criticisms on her in respect of the authorship, of Junius's Labtera," and in this she informed the world that Dr. Wilmot was never married, and that consequently in his case no conjugal attentions interrupted the progress of learning." This was written in face of the two certi- ficates, Nos. 10 and 12, which were among the papers given up to Mrs* Series by Lord Warwick in 1815, and in which Dr. Wilmot referred to his daughter as Duchess of Cumberland. The witness having specified the certificates, which were read over by the Duke of Kent, her mother, and herself in 1815, the Chief Baron asked if his Royal Highnesa made any remark on learning, through the documents, that the king's, first wife Hannah Lightfoot, was alive when be married the 'Princess Charlotte? — Yes, ha did. He said he believed it was so. In answer to further questions from the Attorney- General, the witness denied that &he or her mother had ever said that it was they who first communicated the contents of the documents to the Duke of Kent, and that he was so alarmed that he extracted a promise from them to keep the matter secret. She admitted that she furnished the materials for a pamphlet in 1858, entitled "An Appeal for Royalty," and declared that the documents were all genuine. They were now produced at the instance of the Attorney-General, and a few of them were read. The following purported to be in the handwriting of the Duke of Kent, and was an appointment of the Princess Olive (Mrs. Serres) as the guardian of her present Majesty, then an infant: I solemnly testify my satisfaction as to the proofs of Prinoess Olive of Cumberland's birth, and declare that my royal parent's sign-manvial to the certificates of my dearest cousin's birth Lre, to the best of my own comprehension and belief, the genuine handwriting of the King, my father; thus, I constitute Olive, Princess of Cumberland, the guardian and the director of my daughter Alexandria's education, and from the age of £ our years and upwards, in casa of my death, and from the Duchess of Kent being so unacquainted with the mode of English education; and in case my wife departs this life in my daughter's minority, 1 constitute and appoint my cousin Olive the sole guardian of my daughter till she is of age, "London, November 1st, 1819." EDWARD. The Attorney-General; Did your mother ever apply to the Duchess of- Kent for the custody of her Majesty in her childhood ?—Witness: I should say not, because the duchess was the proper guardian, and I am sure my mother had never any, wish to give offence. The Attorney-General theR submitted to the wit- ness a., series of letters and memorials, extending from 1809 to 1818, which she admitted to be in her mother's handwriting, and which were addressed either to the Prince of Wales or his secretary. Of these the earlier communications were mostly sup pli- cations for assistance. They contained also political suggestions thrown out with a view of restoring a nation's violated repose," and a few dealt with the subject of astrology. The writer always gave a full account of her life and labours; When she first wrote, she had on hand the rather incongruous task of an edi- tion of the Orations of Pitt, Burke, Fox, o., and an opera; and she estimated her loss in not being able to complete those works (the result of an litieal difference with a gentleman assistant) at 000. She declared that she would be thankful for any situation that would afford her shelter from the storms that surrounded her," and assured the prince that if he sent a seal or ring by way of answer, she would at once return it, and would make 11 no imprudent use of the indulgence." In the latter documents, commencing with 1817, she referred to her connection with the royal family, but always represented herself as the il. legitimate daughter of the Duke of Cumberland. One of these documents was a memorial drawn by the Rev. Mr. Groves, and signed by Olive Wilmot Serres, whom it represented as the daughter of the. Duke of Cumberland, by Mrs. rayne, then the wife of Captain Pavne of the royal navy. It further stated that Mrs. Payne was the sister of Dr. Wilmot; that the memorialist (Olivia Wilm-ot Serres) was born at Warwick Castle; ana tnafc the proofs of her birth only eame into her possession on the death of the Earl of Warwick. In a letter dated "August 28, 1817," she entreated permission to make the Prince of Wales "acquainted with the discovery that had taken place within this last year." In a letter dated 12th September, 1817, she warned him "against the watery elements," premising that she had improved her mind by ooult study, and then proceeded to relate a singular dream, in which the spirit of the Duke of Cumberland recommended her to appeal to his royal brother. She also reminded the prince that she was "his humble landscape painter at Brighton," and asked him "to consider the situation of his late uncle's natural daughter." In a letter of the 31st October, 1817, addressed to the late Sir Robert, then Mr. Peel, she stated that she was the natural daughter of the Duke of Cumberland and the sister of Dr. Wilmot under a promise of marriage; and in a later com- munication of the 16th July, 1818, to the Prince Regent, she repeated the statement of her illegiti- macy, and mentioned that Lord Warwick had been ashamed to produce the proofs sooner ill. consequence .u.; A' A, '10 of his inability to refund a sum of X2 000 which he had received from the Duke of Cumberland for her use, adding that she had advanced in money and jewels dS'2,000 more to Lord Warwick. The witness was asked how it was Mrs; Serres should represent in 1818 that her mother was the sister of Dr. Wilmot, and that she herself was illegitimate, when the-certificates that-came into her possession is 1815 showed that Olive'Wilmot, Mre. Sarres's :mothet, „ was the daughter of Dr. Wilmot, and that her mar- riage with the Duke of Cumberland was not only before the Royal Marriage Act, but that it was alfeO declared legal by the king?—She answered, that anw* the arhfeli sealed packet was opened in 1819, her mother the arhfeli sealed packet was opened in 1819, her mother always believed that Mrs.- Payne was the only Olile Wilmot in the family; that, therefore, Mrs. paylio must have been her aiothor; and that for a longtiaie the Duke of Kent and her mother ware under the W pression -shat the Royal Marriage' Aet affected her legitimacy. The Attorney-General called her attention to fact that certificates 10 and 12 were opened and in 1815; and that in those Mr. Wiimoi apoke of Oli^ Wilmot aa his daughter ?—The witness said she not account for the error in any other manner thfill she had dryno, but she persisted that1 it was misdescription. On Saturday, the crdss-examihation of the petitiohef was resumed by the Attorney- General^ and a meaOrW to George IV. was read; in which Mrs. Serres asanas^ for the first time the title of Prineess of Cumberland- In this document she stated that the marriage of Duke of'Cumberland'with the daughter of Dr.Wilm0'1 had taken place by banns somewhere in Middlesex f Duke of Cumberland with the daughter of Dr. WiliaOt had taken place by, batirs somewhere in Middlesex f that the marriage was solemnised in the presence of Lord Warwick and James Addez, D.D.; that the memorialist wasi ten days after her birth, substituted for a still-born son of Mr. and Mrs; Robert Wilmot; that the Duke of Cumberland had contracted the bigamous marriage with Anne Ltorton, in consequent of the threats of Colonel Lut troll, her brother, to1 shoot him on account of some improper proposals h0, had ni-Ada to her; and that Dr. Wilmot, having no other means of obtaining redress, had, out mf reveng written the letters of "Junius" until George III, signed the certificates which had been produced in tbtt case. She also stated that it was the Earl of Warwick who had first communicated the facts to her, and that when she told the Duke of Kent he appeared exceed- ingly alarmed, and immediately made her promise to keep the matter secre t; that he also persuaded her that her mother's marriage was against the provisions of the Royal Marriage Act. that it was not till November, 1819, that she was informed by the Rev. Mr. Rennie, that that Act did not become law till five years after,1 and that Lord Chatham had ordered the petitioner's mother to be conveyed to France, where she died of 9 broken heart. Witness said that the memorial con- tained some errors. Addez was not a D'D but witness had heard that he was somebody about the Duke of Gloucester. Had never heard before that George III. had not signed the certificates'in the dates which they purported to bear. It was also quite s. mistake that the petitioner's grand mother was con- veyed to France by order of Lord Chatham. These were the errors of Mr. Nugent Bell, the genealogies, counsel, whom witness's mother had consulted. The Duke of Kent had given her the grant of a third ot his lands in Canada, in 1815 and yet, after calling her in that docament Princess of Cumberland," he after- wards told her that he understood she was illegiti- mate. The fact was, his Roy al Highness did not know the exact bearings of the Act, aud he had told her that she waa illegitimate because somebody had ,told him so. The duke had thought her legitimate from 1815 to 1&18,. The Chief Justice: Daring that interval whom did your mother believe to be her mother (-I don't think she knew. The Judge Ordinary: Then how did she know she was legitimate?—By documents. The Chief Baron The Duchess of Cumberland WAS- received everywhere as such, and if she had borne issue it would have been regarded as legitimate; and yet it is suggested that the Duke of Kent thought a prior marriage of his uncle was void under the Royal Marriage Act. The Attorney-General observed that the word "offspring" in the memorial ivaa- rspelt 11 orfopting." Whose error was that P-Mr. Bell's. The Attorney-General: In 1812 Mrs. Serres ad- dressed a congratulatory ode to the Prince Regent on his birthday, in which there are the following lines "Mail valued hour! orfspriag of Heaven's smile, The great and mighty succour of this isie! This eccentric orthography was found in several other autograph papers of Mis. Serres; The Attorney-General called for the originals of several documents printed in Mrs. Ryvea's pamphlet relating to the birth and identification of her mother, snd other matters, but they were not produced.. The learned- counsel read some private and confidential'' communications- addressed by Mr. Bell (Mrs. Serres's' agent) to H. Happel's, Esq., Undersecretary of State. In one of them Mr. Bell stated that he had seen certain papers in Mrs. Serres's possession which he believed to be genuine, and that unless her Majesty declared her to be the Princess of Cumberland within a few hours the papers would be given to the public and a revolution might be brought about. In another bir. Bell said that he had seen several certificates, the first signed by Dr. Wilmot, stating that his late Nlitje6ty George III. was married at Kewto Hannah Lightfoot in 1759; the seoond, signed by J. Dunning" anl, "Chatham," stating that his Jate Majesty was married to Queen Charlotte, after the death of Queen Hannah, in January, 171-5, by Dr. Moore; and the third signed by his late Majesty, declaring William Henry to be his first legitimate son. The witness had heard some rumours about the subject of the second certificate, but she had never seen such a paper. She had heard that Dr. Moore was a friend of Dr. Wilmot. A document was read by the learned counsel, pur- porting to be the last will and testament of the Earl of Warwick, in which it was stated that, from' the injuries his lordship jaad received at the handa of hia eldest son, he was induced to bequeath to OLlve. Princess of Cumberland, all his real and personal estate, upon conditions which he was sure she would observe. The Attorney-General said there was also a letter written by Lord Warwick, purporting to give reasons for making this will, and in which it was stated that the letters of Junius were written by Dr. Wilmot. Mrs. Ryves believed that she could still propound the will. At the close of Mrs. Ryves's evidence, the will and a Post-office frank of Lord Warwick, and the will of the Duke of Kant, were put in as specimens for comparison of handwriting, and this concluded the case for the petitioner. The Court then rose.