Am I the rightful king of England?
Was King George III the father of Margaret Sheldon's son?
By John Talbot
He was an angry man, believing that he had been cheated out of his inheritance, who landed at Algoa Bay on the morning of 15th May, 1820. He arrived on the Brilliant and was on shore to meet his wife and six children when they arrived in the evening aboard the Aurora. John Stuart Talbot, aged 47, claimed to be the rightful Earl of Shrewsbury. But why was King George IV, who acceded to the throne of England on 25th January 1820, seeking his life?
He had been warned by a friend, William Dundas, to get out of England as quickly as possible, as the king was seeking his life. Being impoverished, the only way he could do it was to register as an 1820 settler. He paid the deposit and succeeded in becoming a member of Sephton's party. His eldest son, John, 17 years old at the time, also paid the deposit and was entitled to an additional allotment. The party was given a settlement at Salem, 19 miles from Grahamstown. John Stuart and his son John, were each awarded an allotment astride the Assegai Bush River.
What is the truth about his claim to being the rightful Earl of Shrewsbury? And why was King George IV seeking his life? The mystery surrounding this man has been the subject of 70 years of research by his descendants. There are now more than 120 researchers contributing to the extensive information on The John Stuart Talbot Research Website.
Here is a brief account of what they have found.
The 14th Earl of Shrewsbury, George Talbot, had three brothers. In order of age these were Thomas, James and Francis. A beautiful young lady, Margaret Sheldon, fell in love with Thomas and became his mistress. She bore him a son whom they named Charles. Subsequently, Margaret Sheldon was introduced to the king, George III, and she became a singer and entertainer in his court. Then she became his mistress and fell pregnant by him. He sent her to Cornwall to have the child, whom they named George. The king gave Thomas Talbot a commission and sent him away to war. Margaret was told that Thomas was killed in battle. The king told Francis that "the boy George" was the son of his older brother Thomas, and he forced Francis to marry Margaret and to care for the boy. He gave Francis lands and money in payment for this service. He also gave lands and money in trust for "the boy George."
Francis, believing that George was the son of his older brother, Thomas, realized that he would have birthright over his own sons. In 1796 he took steps, in the Winchester High Court, to make sure that George would not inherit the title. In 1793, in the Hanover Square Court, he succeeded in having all lands, titles and bonds transferred from George to himself. It is recorded that the king agreed with "troubled heart."
Margaret Sheldon died when George was very young. Francis remarried a woman much younger than himself. His stepmother did not like George and was unkind to him. With the help of an uncle she had him put in the navy at the age of 14. He did not like the navy and deserted several times. For this he was flogged and sent back to the navy. He served in the Royal Navy for a number of years, taking part in the Battle of the Nile, the Battle of Trafalgar, an action off Cadiz, and the Battle of Copenhagen. A captain under whom he served said of him, "He is a lion and with him alone I could win ten battles."
In 1791, in the Hanover Square Court, he changed his name to John Stuart Talbot, in honor of an uncle, John Talbot, and his wife whose maiden name was Jane Stuart. This couple had been kind to him.
John Stuart Talbot married Priscilla Loveridge in 1802. He had six children by her, three boys and three girls. Having been deprived of his inheritance, He worked for a time as a shoemaker in Pimlico, London, where he lived. Later he became a coal merchant and a corn merchant, working in the coal exchange and the corn exchange in Pimlico.
In January 1820 King George III died and his son, George IV, acceded to the throne. The latter discovered, presumably from the royal archives, that John Stuart Talbot was his older half-brother. Fearing that John Stuart Talbot had a better claim to the throne than he, he ordered two of his secret agents to locate him and do away with him. A friend of John Stuart's, William Dundas, was privy to this knowledge. He warned John Stuart that the king was seeking his life and told him to get out of England as quickly as possible. He sailed with his family from Gravesend, on Feb 15th 1820 aboard the Aurora. He gave his occupation as "master mariner." On the way he interfered with the navigation of the ship and the captain had him put in irons. At Cape Town he was put ashore and prevented from coming back on board the Aurora. The Aurora had sailed from Gravesend in the company of another ship, the Brilliant. John Stuart went aboard the Brilliant, which arrived at Algoa Bay on the morning of the 15th May 1820. The Aurora arrived in the evening and John Stuart was there to meet his family as they disembarked.
John Stuart's youngest son Henry met up with some Mormon missionaries and became converted to the Mormon religion. He then emigrated with his wife and children to the United States. There he married a second wife who bore him sixteen children. Consequently, John Stuart Talbot has many descendants in the United States. It is mainly these descendants who have solved the mystery of his origin.
I, John Henry Talbot, born in 1931, and living in Johannesburg, South Africa, am the fifth in line of direct descent from John Stuart Talbot. Some of the researchers believe that I am the rightful king of England. Good luck to them!