On Poodle Byng. #regency #amwriting

Frederick Gerald Finch Byng (AKA Poodle) makes an appearance in two books I’m working on. I’m searching for a publisher for, The art of deception, and the other, A formulaic romance, is nearing a complete first draft.

It’s sort of fun to search for historical information about him. There are three different stories about how he got the sobriquet Poodle. The most likely one is that Georgiana the Duchess of Devonshire gave it to him when he was courting her. Given what I can find about his character, he probably was a very dogged suitor and sat there like an expectant puppy. He treated the name with good humour and went everywhere with a dog. Unfortunately the dog’s name is lost to history, and the one drawing I’ve found doesn’t look like a poodle.

He worked for the foreign office, and after the deaths of his daughters became very interested in sewers. (He was actually a member of the Westminster Commission of Sewers.) My guess is that they died from a water-borne illness.

He seduced, made pregnant, and then (after she survived childbirth) married Catherine Neville. Catherine was his mother’s maid. She was not liked by London society. In fact, it was referred to as his great sacrifice. This makes it very difficult to find much about her. Although apparently she and Poodle were a good match. Both were prone to say inappropriate things at awkward times. It’s just that as a nobleman he was forgiven.

It was only London “high” society that shunned her. There are references to her and him visiting Paris and being entertained by French nobility. (Of course you can never tell with these foreigners ;-> ) They gave small dinner parties for friends, most of whom were members of society. Thomas Creevey says in his memoir that he could not give countenance to “such tits”, but went along for the company.

Occasionally you’ll find a reference to “a daughter who died soon after they were married.” Actually there were two, Elizabeth (1817-1827) and Frederica (1819-1831).

Author: rharrisonauthor

International man of mystery. Well not really, although I can mangle several languages and even read the occasional hieroglyphic. A computer scientist, an author and one of the very few people who has both an NIH grant and had a book contract. An ex- booktrope author and a photographer.

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