George Hanger, Gerard Lake and John Willet Payne
The tailoring accounts that I have so far transcribed (most of 1786-8) show that the Prince of Wales quite often ordered clothes from Louis for other people. Some of them were well known as his friends (who, it goes without saying, were also granted posts in his household). George liked men who were (a) active in the military (to which he himself also aspired) and (b) of questionable morals. Most writers agree that George Hanger (later Lord Coleraine) was one of the more dissolute. The Prince ordered ‘a green cloth Brighton uniform coat engraved butt’s & all materials for Major Hanger’ in July 1786. On 25th July, 1788, there was ‘a Princes uniform lapelled frock suit lin’d buff cassimere new feather & crown buttons & all materials for the Honbl Major Hanger’. Entries in January 1788 comprise ‘Making a striped long hair beaver frock and all materials for Major Hanger’ and ‘Making a vest all materials for ditto.’
Another friend who benefited from George’s generosity (at the public expense of course) was Col. Gerard Lake, First Equerry and Commissioner of the Stables. In 1786 the Prince commissioned for him a Brighthelmstone (Brighton) uniform frock, which was made of ‘cloth grain cloth’ and ‘dark colour stripe silk cloth’ with a black velvet collar and cuff flaps and ‘28 engraved Brighthelmstone buttons’. This was followed on the 14th December by an order for a ‘striped blue velvet dress coat and breeches & white sattin vest both richly embroid’d in silks for Col’l. Lake’ for the princely sum of £64/11/9. Another expensive outfit on 2nd June 1787 was ‘a dress suit for Coll. Lake’ at £57/16/9.
Lieutenant Colonel George Leigh of the 10th, or Prince’s Own, Dragoons was appointed equerry to the Prince of Wales on 29th January 1800 but was his friend before then. On 12th December 1786 the Prince ordered a ‘hunting frock for Mr. Leigh’ and on 18th April Louis was charged with ‘Altering a domino for Mr. Leigh’.
John Willet Payne was a highly-regarded naval officer, who commanded the squadron of ships sent to collect Princess Caroline of Hanover in March 1795. The weather was frightful and it took several weeks to deliver her safely, and the strain of this adventure markedly affected Payne’s far-from-robust health. In 1796 he returned to sea, taking Louis’s twelve-year-old son Joseph with him as a volunteer on the frigate Impetueux, so helped to start the boy on his career as a naval officer. On 25th January 1788, Louis supplied ‘a black and pink striped velvet embroidered shape for Capt Payne’ for £30. (A shape was the front parts of a waistcoat which could be bought ready-embroidered and then made up). On the same day he provided ‘a black & pink spot rich do. for Do.’ at £37/16/-.
These four officers were highly disciplined and competent in the field or at sea but when they were home their derring-do was of a less savoury sort.
Other orders included ‘A set of rich enamel buttons for His Royal Highness the Duke of York’. Some clothes were ordered for people whose names are not familiar, but they were probably pages or servants of the Prince, e.g., ‘12 white dimity waistcoats with sleeves as usual for Mr. Peck at 31/6 each’, ‘a blue frock for Mr. Mills’, ‘blue & yellow striped silk cloth frock & all materials for Mr. Hicks (own cloth)’ and ‘a rich embroid’d vest shape for Mr. Trevis’
An allegorical and self-deprecating engraving from George Hanger’s autobiography