52 Facts About William IV


William IV was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and King of Hanover from 26 June 1830 until his death in 1837.

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William IV served in the Royal Navy in his youth, spending time in North America and the Caribbean, and was later nicknamed the "Sailor King".

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William IV's reign saw several reforms: the Poor Law was updated, child labour restricted, slavery abolished in nearly all of the British Empire, and the electoral system refashioned by the Reform Acts of 1832.

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William IV granted his German kingdom a short-lived liberal constitution.

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At the time of his death, William IV had no surviving legitimate children, but he was survived by eight of the ten illegitimate children he had by the actress Dorothea Jordan, with whom he cohabited for twenty years.

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William IV had two elder brothers, George, Prince of Wales, and Prince Frederick, and was not expected to inherit the Crown.

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William IV spent most of his early life in Richmond and at Kew Palace, where he was educated by private tutors.

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William IV was present at the Battle of Cape St Vincent in 1780, when the San Julian struck her colours to his ship.

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William IV did his share of the cooking and got arrested with his shipmates after a drunken brawl in Gibraltar; he was hastily released from custody after his identity became known.

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William IV served in New York during the American War of Independence, making him the only member of the British royal family to visit America up to and through the American Revolution.

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Plot did not come to fruition; the British heard of it and assigned guards to William IV, who had until then walked around New York unescorted.

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William IV sought to be made a duke like his elder brothers, and to receive a similar parliamentary grant, but his father was reluctant.

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William IV ceased his active service in the Royal Navy in 1790.

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William IV did not lose hope of being appointed to an active post.

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Instead of serving at sea, William IV spent time in the House of Lords, where he spoke in opposition to the abolition of slavery, which still existed in the British colonies.

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William IV had travelled widely and, in his eyes, the living standard among freemen in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland was worse than that among slaves in the West Indies.

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William IV opposed efforts to bar those found guilty of adultery from remarriage.

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From 1791, William IV lived with an Irish actress, Dorothea Bland, better known by her stage name, Mrs Jordan, the title "Mrs " being assumed at the start of her stage career to explain an inconvenient pregnancy and "Jordan" because she had "crossed the water" from Ireland to Britain.

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William IV appeared to enjoy the domesticity of his life with Mrs Jordan, remarking to a friend: "Mrs Jordan is a very good creature, very domestic and careful of her children.

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William IV used Bushy as his principal residence until he became king.

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When she resumed acting in an effort to repay debts incurred by the husband of one of her daughters from a previous relationship, William IV took custody of the daughters and stopped paying the £1, 500 designated for their maintenance.

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Deeply in debt, William IV made multiple attempts at marrying a wealthy heiress such as Catherine Tylney-Long, but his suits were unsuccessful.

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William IV had great advantages in this race—his two older brothers were both childless and estranged from their wives, who were both beyond childbearing age anyway, and William IV was the healthiest of the three.

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William IV's debts were soon on the way to being paid, especially since Parliament had voted him an increased allowance, which he reluctantly accepted after his requests to have it increased further were refused.

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William IV is not known to have had mistresses after his marriage.

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William IV abolished the cat o' nine tails for most offences other than mutiny, attempted to improve the standard of naval gunnery, and required regular reports of the condition and preparedness of each ship.

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William IV commissioned the first steam warship and advocated the construction of more.

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William IV spent much of his remaining time during his brother's reign in the House of Lords.

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William IV dismissed his brother's French chefs and German band, replacing them with English ones to public approval.

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George had begun an extensive renovation of Buckingham Palace; William IV refused to reside there, and twice tried to give the palace away, once to the Army as a barracks, and once to Parliament after the Houses of Parliament burned down in 1834.

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At first, William IV hesitated to exercise his prerogative to dissolve Parliament because elections had just been held the year before and the country was in a state of high excitement which might boil over into violence.

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William IV was, however, irritated by the conduct of the Opposition, which announced its intention to move the passage of an Address, or resolution, in the House of Lords, against dissolution.

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William IV hastily put on the crown, entered the Chamber, and dissolved Parliament.

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At first, William IV wished to dispense with the coronation entirely, feeling that his wearing the crown while proroguing Parliament answered any need.

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William IV refused, however, to celebrate the coronation in the expensive way his brother had—the 1821 coronation had cost £240, 000, of which £16, 000 was merely to hire the jewels.

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William IV reluctantly agreed to the creation of the number of peers sufficient "to secure the success of the bill".

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William IV distrusted foreigners, particularly anyone French, which he acknowledged as a "prejudice".

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William IV felt strongly that Britain should not interfere in the internal affairs of other nations, which brought him into conflict with the interventionist Foreign Secretary, Lord Palmerston.

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William IV supported Belgian independence and, after unacceptable Dutch and French candidates were put forward, favoured Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, the widower of his niece, Charlotte, as a candidate for the newly created Belgian throne.

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William IV foresaw that the potential construction of a canal at Suez would make good relations with Egypt vital to Britain.

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In 1833, William IV signed a new constitution for Hanover, which empowered the middle class, gave limited power to the lower classes, and expanded the role of the parliament.

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Remainder of his reign, William IV interfered actively in politics only once, in 1834, when he became the last British sovereign to choose a prime minister contrary to the will of Parliament.

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William IV claimed that the ministry had been weakened beyond repair and used the removal of Lord Althorp—who had previously indicated that he would retire from politics upon becoming a peer—as the pretext for the dismissal of the entire ministry.

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The King and Prime Minister eventually found a modus vivendi; Melbourne applying tact and firmness when called for; while William IV realised that his First Minister was far less radical in his politics than the King had feared.

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William IV survived, though mortally ill, to the month after Victoria's coming of age.

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William IV was "very much shaken and affected" by the death of his eldest daughter, Sophia, Lady de L'Isle and Dudley, in childbirth in April 1837.

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William IV's hopes were not fulfilled and Munster, still thinking he had not been given sufficient money or patronage, remained bitter to the end.

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William IV died in the early hours of the morning of 20 June 1837 at Windsor Castle, where he was buried at St George's Chapel.

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None of William IV's successors has attempted to remove a government or to appoint another against the wishes of Parliament.

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William IV understood that as a constitutional monarch he had no power to act against the opinion of Parliament.

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William IV said, "I have my view of things, and I tell them to my ministers.

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William IV attracted criticism both from reformers, who felt that reform did not go far enough, and from reactionaries, who felt that reform went too far.

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