Lady Augusta Catherine Gordon-Lennox – Lady, Countess and Princess

princess edward dornburg
(public domain)

Lady Augusta Catherine Gordon-Lennox was born on 14 January 1827 at Goodwood House as the daughter of Charles Gordon-Lennox, 5th Duke of Richmond and Lady Caroline Paget. Through her father, she was a descendant of King Charles II of England and Louise de Kérouaille, Duchess of Portsmouth.

On 27 November 1851, Lady Auguste Catherine married Prince Edward of Saxe-Weimar. He had been born in 1823 at Bushy House in London as the son of Prince Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach and his wife Princess Ida of Saxe-Meiningen, who was the sister of Queen Adelaide – consort of King William IV. Bushy Park was the residence of Queen Adelaide and King William (who were then still known as the Duke and Duchess of Clarence), and Princess Ida and her children were frequent visitors to England and Edward – their fourth child – was practically an Englishman. He served in the British Army, served as a Privy Councilor, and was a Field Marshall and Colonel of the First Life Guards.

The marriage between the two was considered to be morganatic, and she was known as the Countess of Dornburg in Germany. Their wedding was described by Edward Stanley, 2nd Baron Stanley of Alderley in a letter to his wife Henrietta Maria, “The marriage of LY. A. Lennox & Prince Ed. of Saxe Weimar came off this morning & I have seen Bessborough who was there who says there were an enormous number of people. The trousseau said to be most gorgeous, but they are only to have 2500 a year & she is to be called Ly. Augusta, not to go to Court, not recognised by the Family & the children are to be outcasts without a name.”1

The couple did not have any children together. Augusta Catherine appears several times in Memoirs of an ex-minister; an autobiography by James Harris, 3rd Earl of Malmesbury.2 In August 1861, he went to visit her after going to church, where he saw that seven babies were due to be christened. He related this to her, to which she replied with much amusement, “the clergyman ought to have used a watering-pot to sprinkle them.” They met again two weeks later when he wrote of opening a ball with her. On 6 September, he saw her again with her, “looking extremely disgusted at the rain, which was coming down in torrents.” In December, she was apparently at Court when Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert died. On 18 December, he wrote, “I got a letter from Princess Edward, giving a good account of the poor Queen, who bears her affliction most nobly.” On the 20th, he wrote, “The Princess says she [the Queen] has signed some papers, and seen Lord Granville.”

The Duke of Cambridge – the son of Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge, who was the seventh son of King George III and Queen Charlotte, and Princess Augusta of Hesse-Kassel – also wrote of her.3 In March 1881, he wrote, “The Princess was looking very well and happy. It is wonderful how well she and the Prince get on at Portsmouth.” In March 1885, he wrote of staying with the Princess and her husband in Portsmouth. In 1887, they were present at a large dinner following Queen Victoria’s Jubilee.

In 1885, Queen Victoria granted her official permission to share her husband’s princely title, and she was then known as Her Serene Highness Princess Edward of Saxe-Weimar. This title was only valid in England, and she remained known as the Countess of Dornburg in Germany. Some time in or before 1893, they were granted the style of Highness as they were then consistently referred to in the London Gazette.4 They were regularly invited to family events of the Royal Family, and they were present, for example, at the wedding of the future King George V and Queen Mary5 and the future Haakon VII of Norway and Queen Maud6. The couple lived at Portland Place in London.

The Princess was widowed on 16 November 1902. Edward had suffered from appendicitis and eventually succumbed to “congestion of the kidneys.”7 He was 79 years old. The Duke of Cambridge had visited the couple earlier in the year and had written, “Lunched with Princess Edward and afterwards went upstairs to the Prince’s room and was delighted to see him so much better, walking about his bedroom fairly, and evidently in better spirits. We had a nice talk together, and he seemed as pleased to see me, as I was to see him.”8 After her husband’s death, he wrote, ” To Portland Place to see poor dear Princess Edward, who was very calm and resigned, though overwhelmed with grief and sorrow at her great loss.” 9 Unfortunately, the Duke died shortly before Augusta Catherine.

Augusta Catherine survived her husband for about a year and a half. She died of pneumonia on 3 April 1904 at Portland Place.10 Her funeral took place “quietly” at Chichester Cathedral. The Prince of Wales (the future King George V) represented the King, and wreaths were sent by the King, the Queen, the Prince and Princess of Wales and many others. At the same time, a memorial service was held at St. Paul’s Church, Great Portland Street.11

  1. The Stanleys of Alderley: their letters between the years 1851-1865 by Nancy Mitford p.24
  2. Memoirs of an ex-minister; an autobiography by James Harris, 3rd Earl of Malmesbury
  3. George, Duke of Cambridge; a memoir of his private life based on the journals and correspondence of His Royal Highness
  4. The London Gazette
  5. The London Gazette
  6. The London Gazette
  7. The New York Times
  8. George, Duke of Cambridge; a memoir of his private life based on the journals and correspondence of His Royal Highness p.292
  9. George, Duke of Cambridge; a memoir of his private life based on the journals and correspondence of His Royal Highness p.297
  10. The New York Times
  11. King Edward VII the peacemaker by James Gildea p.291

About Moniek Bloks 2730 Articles
My name is Moniek and I am from the Netherlands. I began this website in 2013 because I wanted to share these women's amazing stories.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.