Dorothea Jordan

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Dorothea Bland

Also Known As: "Dorothea Bland", "Mrs. Jordan", "Mrs FitzClarence", "Dorothea Francis", "Dorothea Phillips", "Dora Jordan", "Madame James"
Birthplace: near Waterford, Munster, Ireland
Death: July 03, 1816 (54)
Saint Cloud, near Paris, Île-de-France, France
Place of Burial: Saint Cloud
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Francis Christopher Bland and Grace Phillips
Wife of William Henry von Hannover
Partner of Richard Daly; William IV of the United Kingdom and Sir Richard Ford
Mother of Sophia Sidney; Frances Fanny Daly; George FitzClarence, 1st Earl of Munster; Capt Henry FitzClarence; Lady Sophia FitzClarence and 10 others
Sister of Frances Jane Hewson

Occupation: Actress and courtesan.
Managed by: Väino Jõud
Last Updated:

About Dorothea Jordan

Dorothea Bland (21 November 1761 – 5 July 1816), also known as Mrs Jordan, Mrs FitzClarence, was an Anglo-Irish actress, courtesan and the mistress known professionally as Dorothea Francis and Dorothea Jordan. She was a long-time companion of Prince William, Duke of Clarence, later William IV, and the mother ten illegitimate children by him whom took the surname FitzClarence.

Dorothea had a daughter by her first manager in Dublin, 3 children by Richard Ford, whose name she bore for some years, and 10 children by the duke of Clarence (later William IV). The children by the duke were ennobled under the name of FitzClarence; the eldest was created the earl of Munster. When she and the duke separated by mutual consent in 1811, she received a handsome allowance. In 1815 she went to France and died there the following year, although there is a legend that she returned to England and lived for several more years. She was the subject of portraits by Sir Joshua Reynolds, Thomas Gainsborough, and George Romney.

Early life

She was born Dorothea (sometimes called Dorothy or Dora) Bland near Waterford, Ireland, the daughter of Francis Bland (d. 1778) and his mistress, Grace Phillips. She was the paternal granddaughter of Nathaneal Bland (d. 1760), Vicar General of Ardfert and Aghada, and Judge of the Prerogative Court of Dublin, Ireland, and his wife Lucy (née Heaton).

In 1774, when she was 13, Dorothea's father, who worked as a stagehand, abandoned the family to marry an Irish actress. Though he continued to support the family by sending them meagre sums of money, they were poor and Dorothea had to go to work to help support her four siblings. Her mother, an actress by profession, saw potential in Dorothea and put her on the stage.

Stage life and early relationships

She became a famous actress of the day and was said to have the most beautiful legs ever seen on the stage. Audiences enjoyed her performances in breeches roles. She assumed the name "Mrs. Jordan", because it was slightly more respectable for a married woman to be on the stage. In fact, there was no "Mr. Jordan" and Dorothea Bland never married. Some sources state that the name and title were taken to conceal an early pregnancy. She had an affair with her first boss, Richard Daly, the manager of the Theatre Royal, Cork, who was married, and had an illegitimate daughter, Frances (b. 1782 Dublin), at age 20.

In England, she had a short lived affair with an army Lieutenant, Charles Doyne, who proposed marriage. But she turned him down and went to work for the theatre company operated by Tate Wilkinson. It was at this point she adopted the name "Mrs. Jordan" – a reference to her escape across the Irish Sea, likened to the River Jordan.

Shortly after her affair with Wilkinson was over, she began an affair with George Inchbald, the male lead in the Wilkinson company. According to Claire Tomalin, Dorothea's biographer, Dorothea would have married Inchbald, so greatly was she in love with him, but that he never asked. Broken-hearted, she left him in 1786 to begin an affair with Sir Richard Ford, a police magistrate and a lawyer. She moved in with Ford when he promised to marry her. They had three children, a short lived son and two daughters. She left him to begin her affair with the Duke of Clarence, once she realised that Ford was never going to marry her.

Relationship with William IV

Pretty, witty and intelligent, Jordan soon came to the attention of wealthy men. She became the mistress of William, Duke of Clarence, later King William IV, in 1791, living with him at Bushy House, and seemed to have not bothered herself with politics or the political intrigues that often went on behind the scenes in royal courts. She continued her acting career, and made public appearances with the Duke when necessary. Together they had at least ten illegitimate children, all of whom took the surname FitzClarence:

George FitzClarence, 1st Earl of Munster (1794–1842), created Earl of Munster in 1831.

Henry Edward (27 March 1795 – September 1817) (no issue)

Sophia Sidney, Baroness De L'Isle and Dudley (August 1796 – 10 April 1837) married Philip Sidney, 1st Baron De L'Isle and Dudley.

Lady Mary Fox (19 December 1798 – 13 July 1864), married General Charles Richard Fox (no issue)

Lieutenant General Lord Frederick FitzClarence GCH (9 December 1799 – 30 October 1854), officer in the British Army

Elizabeth Hay, Countess of Erroll (17 January 1801 – 16 January 1856) married William Hay, 18th Earl of Erroll

Rear-Admiral Lord Adolphus FitzClarence GCH, ADC, RN (18 February 1802 – 17 May 1856) (no issue)

Lady Augusta Hallyburton (17 November 1803 – 8 December 1865) married, firstly, Hon. John Kennedy-Erskine, 5 July 1827, married secondly, Admiral Lord Hallyburton

Lord Augustus FitzClarence (1 March 1805 – 14 June 1854); rector at Mapledurham in Oxfordshire. Married Sarah Gordon and had issue.

Amelia Cary, Viscountess Falkland (21 March 1807 – 2 July 1858) married Lucius Bentinck Cary, 10th Viscount Falkland

Later life

In 1811, when she and the Duke separated, she was given a yearly stipend by him and custody of their daughters while he retained custody of their sons. Part of her stipend included money for the care of the children with a stipulation stating that in order to continue receiving that money, and retain custody, Dorothea must not return to the stage. In 1814, when a son-in-law became heavily in debt, Dorothea returned to the stage to help pay off that debt. Once the Duke received word of this, he removed their remaining daughters from her care, and took back her yearly stipend. To avoid creditors, she fled to France in 1815 and died at Saint-Cloud, near Paris, in poverty just a year later.

Notable descendants


Dorothea Bland was born on 22 November 1761. She was the daughter of Francis Bland and Grace Phillips. She died on 5 July 1816 at age 54.

Dorothea Bland was also known as Dorothy (or Dora) Bland . She used the stage-name of Mrs. Jordan. She was one of the greatest actresses of her day, appearing in numerous tragic and comic roles in London and the provinces. Dorothea Bland was the mistress of Sir Richard Ford by whom she had three daughters. She and William IV Hanover, King of the United Kingdom were associated between 1790 and 1810. With him she had 10 children. She also had a son and two daughters by Sir Richard Ford, and a daughter by Richard Daly.

Dorothy Jordan the actress.

Had 11 FitzClarence children by King William IV, the Duke of Clarence

view all 21

Dorothea Jordan's Timeline

November 22, 1761
near Waterford, Munster, Ireland
Dublin, County Dublin, Ireland
January 29, 1794
Somerset Street, London, England
March 8, 1795
Petersham, London, England (United Kingdom)
August 1796
Somerset Street, London, England
August 1796
Somerset Street, London
December 19, 1798
December 9, 1799
January 17, 1801
Teddington, Middlesex, England