Gawler, John Bellenden

SOCIETY FOR CONSTITUTIONAL INFORMATION Capt John Gawler of Horse Guards proposed 16.11.1792 by William Bosville 2nded John Frost
See DNB Bellenden Ker 1764-1842 / Morning Post 3.2.1795 steward of dinner of Friends of Freedom to celebrate outcome of treason trials, J.B.Gawler, Staines / John Bellenden Gawler was prosecuted by Lord Valentia in 1796 for crim con with his wife, see the entry on George Annesley (Lord Valentia) in History of Parliament, and Godwin dined with Gawler at Lady Valentia's on 2/3/1803
CRABB ROBINSON DIARY 2.6.1829 at the Flaxman's Mr & Mrs Bellenden Ker (see comment below -.probably Gawler's son)
(JOHN) BELLENDEN KER (1764-1842)
CURRENT TEXT "French revolution. His attention must,"
SUGGESTED CHANGE <French revolution. *William Godwin*, after their first meeting in 1793, described him as a 'blackleg and sensualist' and recorded his observation that masturbation was more sensually pleasurable than sex with a woman, the pleasure of which lay in outwitting her. In May 1796 George Annesley, Viscount Valentia (1770-1844), obtained £2000 damages from him for adultery with his wife Anne, Lady Valentia (1774-1835), daughter of William, 2nd Viscount Courtenay, and in June 1796 his younger brother Henry Gawler(1765-1852) fought a pistol duel near Hamburg with Lord Valentia. His attention must,>
NOTES Godwin's Supplement to Journal, Bodleian MS Abinger e.33 / George Annesley, History of Parliament / for the duel Oracle 1.6.1796 and other newspaper reports
CURRENT TEXT "died in June 1842"
SUGGESTED CHANGE <died on 11 July 1842>
NOTES brass plaque in Weyhill Church, also gives birth date as 10 May 1764
CURRENT TEXT "one son, Charles Henry Bellenden Ker."
SUGGESTED CHANGE <one son, Charles Henry Bellenden Ker, and with Lady Valentia he seems to have had two sons, Francis John Courtenay (1801-1859), rector from 1831 of North Bovey, Devon, and Frederick Eardley Bellenden Courtenay (1804-1836), cadet in Bengal Army 1823, and three daughters, Caroline (c.1807-1881), Henrietta (c.1810-1887) and Emma (b.c.1816). He may also have been the real father of Lady Valentia's second son William Annesley (1796-1830), rector of North Bovey from 1825, who died at Ramridge.>
NOTES G-E-C Peerage Vol XII Pt 2 p210n / Alumni Cantabridgienses / IGI / will PCC 1831 of Hon William Annesley / Caroline Courtenay married Edward Harrison solicitor of Southampton, Henrietta Courtenay married in 1838 Austin Cooper Sayers, Emma Courtenay unmarried in 1851 / see also Edinburgh Advertiser 8-11.6.1802 and Nat Arch HO 42/30/83 May 1793 (Kennedy, gardener with flower shop called Thatched Cottage, Hammersmith Rd concealing old Gawler the attorney & his son the expelled Capt Gawler)
September 2015 the DNB have adopted some of my suggestions and credited my website in the references. They chose not to mention Godwin's comments (which is understandable) nor the duel fought by his brother Henry, nor any of his children by Lady Valentia. They have only added the exact birth and death dates, and the damages for adultery in May 1796


A word in defence of Capt Gawler's character.
In December 1792 he was required by his Colonel General Felix Buckley, and some of his junior officers, to resign his membership of the Society for Constitutional Information.  When he refused, he found himself dismised the service.  Questions were asked in the House, and he was defended by Fox, but the dismissal was upheld.   
One of the three officers  of the 2nd Lifeguards who refused to support his Colonel's request of Captain Gawler was Lieut Michael Impey, who in June 1792 had married the younger sister of Robert Knight (who was also at dinner with Horne Tooke in March 1793).   In January 1793, Impey transferred from the Lifeguards to the 6th Regt of Foot.
England was not at war with France in December 1792.  There seems no good reason for Gawler to have been dismissed, with no reason given and no opportunity of court martial.  He stuck by his principles, at considerable cost to himself.  Maybe this is more important than his love affair with the lady?

Thanks for your comment, Walter King.
Certainly I have no desire to blacken Gawler's character, but it's interesting that Godwin saw him (in his private notes) as a blackleg and a sensualist. He seems to have stayed with Lady Valentia the rest of his life and it was suggested in court that Lord Valentia was happy with their affair if it brought him an heir.
In order to try and keep the care of her children, Lady V went to the length of signing an affidavit accusing Lord V of homosexual activities with a groom. This was a hanging offence at the time, and though the rich and titled could get away with it, some were effectively forced into exile. It was truly the love which dare not speak its name. The affidavit seems to have been excused as the act of a desperate woman and overlooked. It doesn't seem to have survived in the court records.
Christopher Hull, an SCI member interviewed by the Privy Council on 28.5.1794 (Nat Arch TS 11/963) told them Gawler was "too much of a gentleman to concern himself much" with Horne Tooke, while it seems from Godwin's diary that they were cronies, at least later on.
I have tried quite hard to find out about Gawler's father before he married Caroline Bellenden, all I know is that his sister married a vicar in Herefordshire. There were Gawlers tradesmen in Hereford who left local wills but he wasn't mentioned in any of them. There was another Gawler family of attorneys in London who hailed from Devon but I couldn't connect him to them either. Gawler's brother Henry also has also had a bad press, there is stuff on a website about how he married a lady for her money and then deserted her.
I felt that the DNB article was glossing over interesting and controversial information by just saying he was the "hero of some affairs of gallantry" and concentrating on his botanical interests, which interestingly Lord Valentia shared. I'm just answering you off the top of my head so please ask for references and I may be able to dig them out. My interest is in rescuing characters from obscurity and I'm making no judgements, though my sympathies lie with the radical causes. As you see I've submitted suggestions to the DNB (a month or two ago) but i'll bring our discussion to their attention, they have to run it past the article contributor first and then make editorial decisions which takes some time.

The persons who are the subject of this diary entry are unlikely to include the subject of this page, John Bellenden Ker ("JBK").  You are clearly aware of the state of JBK's matrimonial situation in 1829.  While JBK did still have a wife in 1829, an Italian lady called Anna whom he had marrried before 1785, she had by then an establishment in London (Marylebone) separate from her husband. 
The persons mentioned in the diary are almost certainly the son of JBK, Charles Henry Bellenden Ker, and his wife Elizabeth Ann, nee Clarke.  Elizabeth Ann was the eldest daughter of Edward Clarke, solicitor, and grand-dauhter of the Edward Clarke, Brewer, of Maid-lane, Southwark, to whom you devote another entry on this web page. 

Thanks for the comment. Do you have any more details of JBK's wife? When and where they married &c. Ihad not heard of her