Originally Posted by Ralf
King George IV (1762-1830) married first to Mary Anne (of the Baronets) Smythe (1756-1837). According to different sources that marriage took place either on December 15 or December 21 in the year 1785. Which date is the correct one?
This marriage ended on June 23, 1794. Does anyone know where/in what city that dissolvement took place?
Mary Anne Smythe was by 1785 the widowed Mrs Maria Fitzherbert. She had been married twice and both husbands had died prematurely.
I've taken another look at my biography of King George IV when Prince of Wales, The Prince of Pleasure: The Prince of Wales and The Making of The Regency by Saul David.
It has footnotes and according to David the marriage between Mrs Fitzherbert and the Prince of Wales took place in the locked drawing room of her house in Park Street Mayfair, in front of several witnesses, in the early evening of 15th December 1785.
The marriage was of course invalid. Mrs Fitzherbert was a devout Roman Catholic and in any case the wedding was in contravention of the Royal Marriages Act.
By 1794 the marriage was on its last legs. The couple were virtually separated and the Prince had several mistresses including Lady Jersey. He was also deeply in debt. Parliament would only discharge these debts when a suitable marriage to a Protestant Princess was contracted.
George realised what he must do, and on June 23rd 1794, he wrote to his wife telling her that he intended to end their relationship and meet no more. Because the marriage was null and void under English law, it was never formally dissolved.
The Prince wrote a long explanation to his wife a few days later (a letter which no longer exists) and later made financial arrangements for her comfort. However, it is clear that he regarded himself as free to marry, which he did, to Caroline of Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel in April 1795. Maria died in March 1837.