Friday, June 18, 2010

The Hervey Files: John 2nd Baron Hervey

"When God created the human race he created men, women, and Herveys"
- Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

Upon first glance, John Hervey was your run of the mill Georgian aristocrat. He gambled, drank, and could be found both at the horse races and in between the sheets of a young lady's bed. He was a fop, or macaroni, who wore the most extreme and effeminate fashions, even opting to whiten his face as was fashionable for ladies to do. To complicate the normally complicated practice of sleeping with many women, Hervey's appetite called for more, so men tended to also be on the menu.

Yes, Hervey's appetite knew no bounds. His own marriage was the result of a secret courtship followed by a secret ceremony. He was said to have affairs with both Lady Mary Wortly Montagu and the king's own daughter, Princess Caroline. When Hervey died, Caroline retreated from society and was so depressed she wanted to die. But slimy Hervey was not averse to keeping his affairs in the family; it is also rumored that he slept with Caroline's own brother, Frederick Prince of Wales. That is what should have put her in a depression! Hervey didn't stop there with his family affairs! He had a relationship with Henry Fox (yes, Charles James' father) and then tossed him aside for his older brother, Stephen whom he had a long-standing relationship with. He even signed his letters to Stephen, "your wife."

Alexander Pope hated Hervey (perhaps because he was in love with Lady Hervey at one point) and his nickname for him was "Sporus," whom was the youth Emperor Nero castrated so that he could marry him. Pope went as far as writing a poetic dedication to his enemy:
...Amphibious Thing! that acting either Part,
The trifling Head, or the corrupting Heart!
Fop at the Toilet, Flatt'rer at the Board,
Now trips a Lady, and now struts a Lord.
Apparently, Hervey's wooings couldn't attract everyone.


  1. Had no idea that he was involved with Henry Fox, knew about the whole Stephen Fox situation. The Hervey's are still causing a commotion. Lady Victoria Hervey is a tabloid staple in the UK.

  2. Whoa, he certainly got around. I'm going to have to find out more information about him.

  3. Bess was one too, it's in their blood I think!

  4. God created men, women and Herveys. Bless.

  5. The Herveys are still a scourge today, as Elizabeth says. There was a Channel 4 documentary on them about a year ago. Plus ça change!

  6. Interesting, tho checking Lady V it seems she doesn't have the wit of her forbear...except she makes very funny remarks that are more oblivious than cynical. Like the one that the homeless should all go to the Caribbean for the winter.