m. 8 September 1761
Facts and Events
Ernest Augustus I (5 June 1771 – 18 November 1851) was King of Hanover from 20 June 1837 until his death. He was the fifth son and eighth child of George III, who reigned in both the United Kingdom and Hanover. As a fifth son, initially Ernest seemed unlikely to become a monarch, but Salic Law, which barred women from the succession, applied in Hanover and none of his older brothers had legitimate male issue. Therefore, he became King of Hanover when his niece, Victoria, became Queen of the United Kingdom, ending the personal union between Britain and Hanover that had existed since 1714.
Ernest was born in England, but was sent to Hanover in his adolescence for his education and military training. While serving with Hanoverian forces in Wallonia against Revolutionary France, he received a disfiguring facial wound. In 1799, he was created Duke of Cumberland and Teviotdale. Although his 1815 marriage to the twice-widowed Frederica of Mecklenburg-Strelitz met with the disapproval of his mother, Queen Charlotte, it proved a happy relationship. By 1817, King George III had only one legitimate grandchild, Princess Charlotte of Wales, and when she died in childbirth, Ernest was the senior son to be both married and not estranged from his wife. This gave him some prospect of succeeding to the British throne. However, both of his unmarried older brothers quickly married, and King George's fourth son, Edward, Duke of Kent, fathered the eventual British heir, Princess Alexandrina Victoria of Kent, later Queen Victoria.
Ernest was an active member of the House of Lords, where he maintained an extremely conservative voting record. There were persistent allegations (reportedly spread by his political foes) that he had murdered his valet and had fathered a son by his sister, Princess Sophia. Before Victoria succeeded to the British throne, it was rumoured that Ernest intended to murder her and take the throne himself. When King William IV died on 20 June 1837, Ernest ascended the Hanoverian throne. Becoming Hanover's first ruler to reside in the state since George I, he had a generally successful fourteen-year reign, but excited controversy when he dismissed the Göttingen Seven (including the two Brothers Grimm) from their professorial positions for agitating against his policies.