Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex (1773-1843)
Childhood asthma prevented the Prince entering the army or navy. Unlike his brothers he spent many years abroad and studied at Göttingen University from 1786. He enraged his father with his illicit marriage to Lady Augusta Murray (1768-1830) whom he had met during his travels in Italy. Despite two ceremonies being conducted, one in Rome in April 1793 and the second on the couple's return to London in December, the marriage was annulled. They continued to live as husband and wife until 1801. His advocacy of liberal measures brought him into conflict with his father and later, his brother, George IV. He supported Catholic emancipation, the abolition of slavery and opposed discriminatory legislation against Jews and Non-Conformists. As a result, he was the only Royal Duke excluded from any form of lucrative employment, and was strictly limited to his parliamentary allowance.
He had a great interest in the arts and sciences and served as president of both the Society of Arts and the Royal Society. He was a noted collector and bibliophile, his library containing some fifty thousand volumes. On his death in 1843 his executors sold his collections at auction to settle his considerable debts. The sale of his silver, held at Christie's over four days comprised 695 lots and nearly forty thousand ounces of plate, including the present lot and the following lot in this catalogue.
John Emes, the maker of the present lot, is noted for high quality work in the neo-classical style, often less massive than Storr and Rundell but no less refined. A coffee-service of 1806 was in a very similar style and with Royal arms was sold Christie's, New York 14 April 1994, lot 352. Another service by Emes of 1805 and 1806, the gift of Lady Augusta Murray, styled as the Duchess of Sussex, to her legal advisor Joseph Hill, was sold Christie's, London, 11 February 1959, lot 125.