Born in Dungarvan, Co. Waterford on November 22nd, 1761, Irish actress Dorothea Bland, aka Mrs. Jordan was the courtesan, mistress, and companion of the future King William IV of the United Kingdom while he was Duke of Clarence. Together they had ten illegitimate children, all of whom took the surname FitzClarence. Clearly they got on pretty well.
But after 20 years, Dorothea was cast aside for a younger model – oh no! Seemingly the Dukes family preferred he find himself a more suitable (rich) wife. So that’s just what he did, and ended the relationship in 1811. Dorothea was kicked to the kerb, so to speak.
Payment with strings attached
After the relationship ended, good ‘aul William agreed to make a yearly payment to his former love on condition that she give up her theatrical career to care for their daughters. Their sons lived with their father. Poor Dorothea was heartbroken by the end of the relationship and resented William.
So, in 1814 Dorothea resumed her career on the stage to help with family debts. Unfortunately for her, William immediately stopped giving her money and took the girls from her. What a disaster for the Dungarvan-born lass.
Resting place in France
The hard times continued and pursued by her creditors, Dorothea fled to France where she lived in poverty until her death in Saint-Cloud, France, 5th July 1816. She is buried in Cimetière de Saint-Cloud.
Her descendants today include many noble names and a prime minister – this woman was a bit of a legend in our eyes. Not bad for a Waterfordian.
Video on Dorothea’s life
Watch BBC broadcaster, Adam Hart-Davis talk about his connection to Dorathea Jordan