GREAT BRITAIN: Nobody's Children

Though William the Conqueror was touchy about being illegitimate, some of his successors in the centuries when England was abuilding were notoriously careless on the subject. William IV had no fewer than ten illegitimate children, and the present Dukes of Grafton and St. Albans are descended from two of Charles II's twelve bastards. In 1728, Poet Richard Savage, who proclaimed himself to be the illegitimate son of a countess and an earl, eulogized the bastard as "no sickly fruit of faint compliance he," but one "stampt in nature's mint of ecstasy." Yet poor Richard himself died in debtors' prison, for...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!