Eccentrics of the Regency Period Series: Colonel George Hanger

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George Hanger, 4th Baron Coleraine (13 October 1751–31 March 1824) was a British solidier, author and eccentric.

He was born into a prosperous family in Gloucestershire,  being the third son of seven children. His father, was Gabriel Hanger,  a Parliamentarian, who in 1762 was created Baron Coleraine.

Colonel George Hanger was a member of Prince George’s inner circle. A gambler and a rake, Hanger gained true notoriety by marrying a beautiful gypsy girl, who unfortunately ran off with a bandy-legged tinker. His wife was christened “the lovely Aegypta of Norwood” by Hanger’s fellow officers.

George Hanger’s education was geared towards entering the army. He was sent to Reading School and then Eton before going to the University of Gottingen.  After joining the army of Frederick the Great, he returned to England  and purchased an Ensigncy  in the 1st Regiment of Footguards in 1771. About this time, he married his first wife, a gypsy,  who soon ran off with a tinker.

In the army he gained the reputation of being a womaniser, to the detriment of his military duties. He purchased a lieutenantcy  in 1776, but retired in disgust after a more junior officer purchased promotion over him. He then purchased a captaincy  in the Hessian Jagers. He served throughout the American Revolutionary War, transferring to Sir Banastre Tarleton’s British Legion as a major and commander of its light dragoons, eventually rising to the rank of lieutenant-colonel in 1793. In the 1780 Battle of Charlotte,   Hanger commanded the legion due to Tarleton’s illness, ordering it to ride into Charlotte, North Carolina  without taking precautions to guard against surprise attacks. As a consequence, the legion’s cavalry was badly mauled by Patriot militia that had set up an ambush in the town centre. Hanger was wounded in the battle, which he termed a “trifling insignificant skirmish”. He shortly thereafter fell ill, likely with yellow fever,  and was shipped to the Bahamas to recuperate.

He also became involved in a minor literary feud, in 1789, publishing An Address to the Army; In Reply To ‘Strictures’, by Roderick M’Kenzie (Late Lieutenant in the 71st Regiment) On Tarleton’s History of the Campaigns of 1780 and 1781. The full title of M’Kenzie’s book was Strictures on Colonel Banaster Tarleton’s History of the Southern Campaigns of 1780 and 1781 and was itself critical of Tarleton’s 1787 account of the southern campaigns called A History of the Campaigns of 1780 and 1781 in the Southern Provinces of North America. Discussion of this apparently continues to this day.

After returning to England, he became a companion of the Prince Regent (later King George IV). They became great friends, the prince apparently loving both his humour and his exploits in both the army and with women, and appointing him Equerry  in 1791. The only surviving painting of Hanger comes from this period. Commissioned by the prince, it remains in the Royal Collection. Hanger was also the butt of caricaturists and many prints of him survive. The National Portrait Gallery in London has a collection of twenty prints by James Gillray satirising him. In 1795 he purchased the Lieutenant-Colonelcy of the 125th Foot. Six months later he exchanged into the 1st Battalion of the 82nd Foot. 

In 1814, he declined a seat in the House of Commons (even though his father and two of his brothers had done so before him). Instead, he took a place in the House of Lords when he succeeded to the family title. In need of money, he sold his lieutenant-colonel’s commission in 1796 and purchased an ensigncy in the 70th Foot and was appointed captain-commissary in the Royal Artillery in 1806. He died in London  in 1824, at the age of 74.

 

About reginajeffers

Regina Jeffers is the award-winning author of Austenesque, Regency and contemporary novels.
This entry was posted in British history, Jane Austen, Living in the Regency, real life tales, Regency era, Victorian era and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Eccentrics of the Regency Period Series: Colonel George Hanger

  1. Monja Blue says:

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  2. ladysusanpdx says:

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  3. Suzi Love says:

    Regina,
    Lovely to read about your new novellas. Can’t wait to read them. And, as you know, I love learning about Regency Personalities. suzi(at)suzilove(dot)com

  4. Great post about Hanger. I tweeted.

  5. Rachel Munrey says:

    I am really enjoying reading about the eccentrics of the regency. Your blog is so informative and entertaining. Looking forward to future installments. Thanks.

  6. Lisa S says:

    Man, George IV had quite the group of ‘friends’ didn’t he? Colonel Hanger doesn’t seem as insane as John Lade though. He definitely fit in with the depraved moral set though. Isn’t it nice he could make the prince laugh telling stories of all his womanizing. How sweet. 🙂 LOL! Thanks again Regina. Off to read post 3.
    -Lisa (slapshinyhappy at yahoo dot com)

    • Small minds are easily amused, Lisa. At least, that is what my late mother always said. I am pleased you enjoyed this little Regency tidbit. Such stories explain why the daughter of a minister would not wish to dedicate her book to the Prince Regent, does it not?

  7. Monica P says:

    I’m always sort of intrigued by the idea of a soldier purchasing his promotions. And I think I read somewhere (maybe at AuAu) that it was illegal to consort with gypsies in any way at that time. Not that having a bit of money can’t make laws bend, of course.

    monicaperry00 at gmail.com

    • There are gypsies in “The Mysterious Death of Mr. Darcy,” Monica.
      Darcy purchased a commission for Mr. Wickham. Most experts seem to think it would have cost him 400 pounds to do so.

  8. Lúthien84 says:

    Hanger’s story is less outlandish compared to Lade but it is still interesting. I wonder what made him marry a gypsy.

    • Gypsies play a part in “The Mysterious Death of Mr. Darcy.” This post came from another tangent of my research. I wanted to know about real-life connections between members of the aristocracy and gypsies.

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