Frederick Augustus, Duke Of York
George III’s second son, Frederick Augustus, Duke of York, enjoys a modest measure of immortality because he inspired a nursery rhyme:
The grand old Duke of York
He had ten thousand men,
He marched them up to the top of a hill,
And he marched them down again.
After an undistinguished military career he became Commander-in-Chief of the army, and was involved in unsavoury scandal when his mistress, Mrs Mary Anne Clarke, was accused of taking bribes to procure—through the Duke—promotions for senior army officers. He was eventually exonerated, but relieved of his command for two years. Nevertheless, he did much to improve the army’s standards of efficiency.
He visited Bath in 1795, when he attended the opening of the new Pump Room, and was presented with the Freedom of the city. In the following year he stayed at 1 Royal Crescent; the Bath Chronicle announced that ‘the Duke of York has engaged the first house in the Crescent, late Mr Sandford’s, as his residence’.
On subsequent visits the Duke lodged at 16 Royal Crescent, now part of the Royal Crescent Hotel, where a suite has been named after him. Like his brother the Prince Regent, later George IV, he was a man who loved the good things of life, and he would certainly have enjoyed the luxury of the modern accommodation that bears his name. His coat-of-arms can be seen over the archway at the east end of Northumberland Place.