ROYAL PRESENTATION TO THE KING'S DOCTOR: A George III silver tea urn, stand and lamp
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YEAR OF MANUFACTURE: 1813
ORIGIN: London, England
MAKER: Robert Garrard
WEIGHT: 89.41 troy ounces (98.10 ounces or 2,781.00 grams)
STOCK CODE: mdwoa
A fine silver tea urn, plain circular with gadroon border spout and tap, with detachable cover and urn finial, the stand with four paw feet on a shaped plinth with burner, the urn engraved (obverse) with the conjugal arms of the Prince William, Duke of Clarence (later King William IV) and his wife Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen, Duchess of Clarence (later Queen Adelaide); and (reverse) with the impaled marital arms of Knighton, for Sir William Knighton (1776-1836), and Hawker, for his wife Dorothea, Lady Knighton, nee Hawker. Cover and stand also engraved with the crest of Knighton.
Overall height approx: 300mm / 12 inches
From modest beginnings in Devon, Sir William Knighton (1776–1836) rose to be de facto private secretary to King George IV acting, in his own words, as the king’s ‘Confidential Friend in all those secret concerns which a life of pleasure and sensuality had exposed him to'.
After medical training at Guy’s Hospital, in 1797 Knighton had set up in private practice in Devon before moving back to London with his new wife Dorothea Hawker in 1803. From rooms in fashionable Hanover Square, Knighton built a lucrative practice of aristocratic patients, the Marquis of Wellesley (brother of the Duke of Wellington) and the poet Lord Byron among them. As an accoucheur, Knighton also earned the gratitude of his many titled patients for safely delivering their heirs into the world.
In 1810, Wellesley recommended Knighton to the Prince Regent who, admiring his calm manner, soon appointed Knighton as one of his personal physicians. Following the death of the prince’s longstanding private secretary Sir John McMahon in 1817, Knighton assumed a more confidential role in the royal household discreetly dealing with the prince’s many creditors and former mistresses. Five years later, following the accession of the prince to king, Knighton gave up his medical practice to devote himself entirely to the George’s service frequently travelling abroad to deliver sensitive messages to the king’s extended family in Europe. Inevitably, Knighton’s position as George’s ‘dearest friend’ attracted hostility from jealous rivals and the king’s political opponents but, at the expense of his own health, Knighton remained loyal to the end, tending to the king on his deathbed.
Although less intimate with Prince William, Duke of Clarence than he was with George, Knighton nevertheless attended the Duchess of Clarence when she went into premature labour at St James’s Palace in December 1820. Adelaide’s previous two children had been stillborn so there was relief when Knighton safely delivered her of Princess Elizabeth. Sadly, Elizabeth died just 12 weeks later (had she lived she might have been queen) but the Duke and Duchess of Clarence may have presented this silver urn, made by royal goldsmith Robert Garrard, to Knighton in recognition of this and other services.
Heraldic Silver Ltd
By appointment only, London, United Kingdom View map
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Price on application