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The Trials of the King of Hampshire:…

The Trials of the King of Hampshire: Madness, Secrecy and Betrayal in… (2016)

by Elizabeth Foyster

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I really enjoyed learning about the Earl of Portsmouth and his entire life story. My only setback (which was perhaps my fault) was that I was expecting historical fiction written in a more modern form, whereas this was a thorough history in documentary form. I find documentaries a bit long and boring so it was difficult to stick with it at times, but I love that Elizabeth Foyster told this long-hidden story of insanity and debauchery in 1800s England! ( )
  CInacio | Jun 5, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The story of the Earl of Portsmouth, who may or may not have been mentally ill, in a time when George III's madness was in recent memory. The class issues arising was like a bizarre form of Downton Abbey. Throw in actual observations from Jane Austen and Lord Byron, and I'm hooked! ( )
  PensiveCat | Apr 30, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I hadn't heard of this before and I felt sorry for the 3rd Lord of Portsmouth as it was obvious that while he was mentally challenged I came away thinking he wasn't totally mad as his younger brother finally managed to have him labelled. I found the Hanson family to be despicable and deplorable as John Hanson had been the Portsmouth family's solicitor and knowing all the family's secrets used it against them by marrying his daughter, Mary Ann, to Lord Portsmouth. She and her lover were quite cruel to him. In bringing a Commission of Lunacy against Portsmouth, things didn't quite work out as planned for his younger brother, Newton, who had been groomed as the heir to the lordship. It was the most expensive insanity trial ever heard at a guinea a minute and many of the witnesses were discredited because the were either Portsmouth's peers and it was felt that he would behave and be able to pass as sane in their company or members of the lower class who weren't deemed fit to pass judgement on their betters. His family should have at least given him a tombstone to mark his existence and his nephew should have been given credit for what he did for his uncle ( )
  lisa.schureman | Oct 5, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I can't imagine a better source than this for the life of the 3rd Earl of Portsmouth. Ms. Foyster has done an excellent, admirable, and completely thorough job in researching this book, this story, this time, this man. This is an incredibly readable and fascinating story that has changed and enhanced my view of Georgian and early Victorian times. Truly outstanding! ( )
  LauraBrook | May 5, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
What happens when society thinks that you are mentally ill but you may not be? That's the basic premise of this fascinating look at the life of the 3rd Earl of Portsmouth. Standards of mental competence have changed since his day (18 December 1767 – 14 July 1853) but family greed and bitterness played more of a role in his downfall that anything else. What family will assert simply to gain control is flabbergasting. The Earl declared himself the King of Hampshire and thereby unwittingly began his struggle to remain in his home and his place in society. A bad marriage to a frightfully social climbing wife didn't help with this matter.

Well-researched, but perhaps not as thoroughly as this story needs, it's a compelling look at how some members of the aristocracy was willing to put their personal business out for public consumption. How far will some people go to get their greedy hands on the money and title that Portsmouth rightly owned is astounding. Highly recommended to anyone interested in historical non-fiction, the treatment of the mentally ill in Georgian England, and how "the other half" lives and schemes. ( )
  TheFlamingoReads | Apr 9, 2017 |
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The 3rd Earl of Portsmouth voted in the House of Lords, took county positions, invited Jane Austen to his balls, counted William Cobbett as one of his Hampshire neighbors and had Lord Byron as his best man at his second marriage. Then, at the age of fifty-five, his own family launched a case citing him as a danger not only to the peerage but to himself. Historian Elizabeth Foyster invites us into the jury box for the lengthiest, most expensive and vastly controversial lunacy commission ever heard, including accusations of abductions, sodomy, blackmail and domestic violence.… (more)

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