William Henry was born on the 21st August 1765 at Buckingham Palace, to parents King George III and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.
Aged thirteen he joined the Royal Navy and saw service:
In 1780 was at the “Battle of Cape St.Vincent,” served in New York during the American War of Independence. A plot had been sanctioned by George Washington, to kidnap him during his frequent walks around the city unescorted. Once news got out he was assigned a guard.
In 1785 became Lieutenant of the HMS Pegasus, and promoted to captain in 1786, and later that year stationed in the West Indies under Horatio Nelson. In 1788 commanded the HMS Andromeda and was promoted to Rear-Admiral in 1789, commanding the HMS Valiant. In 1798 he made admiral, and in 1811 promoted to Admiral of the Fleet.
In 1789 William became the Duke of Clarence, and lived with his mistress Dorothy Jordan. She bore him ten illegitimate children, bearing the Fitzclarence surname.
George Fitzclarence, Earl of Munster
Sophia Sidney, Baroness De L’Isle and Dudley
Lady Mary Fox
Lord Frederick Fitzclarence
Elizabeth Hay, Countess of Erroll
Lord Adolphus Fitzclarence
Lady Augusta Gordon
Lord Augustus Fitzclarence
Amelia Cary, Viscountess Falkland
Deeply in debt, William was forced to leave his mistress in 1811, and seek out an heiress to solve his financial issues.
William married Princess Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen at Kew Palace on the 11th July 181, but she bore him no children who lived passed infancy.
Clarence house was built by John Nash between 1825 and 1827 as their home, one which he would live in, after he became King.
William’s brother’s died before him, without producing a legitimate heir to the English throne. Princess Charlotte the daughter of George IV died in 1817, Frederick the Duke of York died in 1827, which made William heir to the English throne, something he had never expected.
On the 26th June 1830 William ascended to the English throne, and on the 8th September 1831, he was crowned King William IV of England, and King of Hanover.
William would never visit Hanover as its King, and appointed the task to his brother, Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge, acting as his Viceroy.
In August of 1830, the Duke of Wellington’s Tory Government lost the general election, and the Whigs, led by Lord Grey came to power. The general election of 1831, gave the Whigs a majority in the Commons.
The Reform Act of 1832, which abolished abuses of the electoral system, was pushed through when King William created new Whig peers, getting the bill through the House of Lords. It also meant, more people could vote, and a fair redistribution of Parliamentary seats.
In 1833, following years of campaigning by the Quakers and William Wilberforce, slavery was abolished throughout the British Empire.
The Factory Act of 1833 made it illegal for children under nine, to work in factories and reduced the number of hours worked by women and older children.
In 1834, the Poor Law Act was passed, creating workhouses for the poor.
In 1836 it became a compulsory act of law, that all births, deaths and marriages had to be registered.
Queen Adelaide attended to her husband day and night in his last ten days of life.
On the morning of the 20th June 1837 King William IV died at Windsor Castle and was buried at St.George’s Chapel, Windsor on the 8th July. With no legitimate children, he was succeeded to the throne by his niece; Victoria who would become Queen of England and Ireland, and the post of King of Hanover went to his brother; Ernst, Duke of Cumberland.