Dollond Telescope Owned by Robert Fulke Greville, Equerry to King George III

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Vendor: Jason Clarke Antiques

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For sale a late eighteenth century three draw achromatic telescope by Dollond, engraved to the owner, The Honorable Robert Fulke Greville, Equerry and later Groom of The Bedchamber to King George III.

The leather bound telescope has a one and a half inch objective lens and measures 23.5 cms closed and 72.5cms fully extended. The eyepiece has original dustslide and is engraved to Dollond London.

The objective end is further engraved to, “The Honble Robert Fulke Greville”

Greville was born in 1751, the son of Francis Greville, 1st Earl of Warwick who was restored to the Earldom in 1760 by George III. After leaving Edinburgh University, Greville obtained a commission in 1768 as Cornet in the 10th Dragoons, was Lieutenant in 1772, Captain in the 1st Foot Guards by 1775 and later Lieutentant Colonel in 1777. His army career was somewhat inactive but in 1781 he became Equerry to King George III. As such, Greville was a first hand witness to the King’s first bout of madness that lasted between 1788 & 1789 and he wrote a very detailed diary account that now resides in The Royal Collection. The contents of the diary were not published until 1930 over concerns of damage to The Royal Family and The House of Hanover.

After the King’s return to health Greville continued in his role until 1797 with his leaving occasioned by his marriage to Louise Murray, Countess of Mansfield. In the final years of service as an equerry, Greville documented a trip to Weymouth with The King and his entourage. He also became a Fellow of the Royal Society in the same year 1794 and two years later became the Member of Parliament for New Windsor.

Having left the King on good terms, Greville was offered the role of Groom of the Bedchamber by George III in 1800 and he remained in that position until 1818 whereupon the size of The Royal Household was greatly reduced. George III died in 1820 and Greville died just four years later in 1824 at the age of 73.

As an interesting aside, Emma Hamilton, Lord Nelson’s lover was also (somewhat earlier) romantically involved with Greville’s brother Charles and Robert Fulke Greville was called upon by her for financial assistance after Nelson’s death.

The Dollond Company was set up in Hatton Garden in 1750 by Peter Dollond with his father John joining him shortly after. John Dollond’s invention of the achromatic lens led to his award of the Copley Medal by The Royal Society in 1758 and following this success, Dollond moved to The Strand where the company was appointed optician to George III and the Duke of York in 1761.

Following the deaths of John and Peter Dollond, the name continued to be associated with royalty and went on to win a Great Exhibition Medal. The final Dollond family member to run the company was William Dollond who sold out to a JR Chant in 1871. He continued to use the company name until was acquired by James Aitchison in 1927 whereafter it became Dollond & Aitchison. In 2009 it became part of Boots the Opticians.

Given the association with George III and Dollond’s immense popularity during the Eighteenth Century it is not unusual that Greville would own a telescope from this famous company. Whether it was a gift or was a private purchase by Greville himself remains unknown.

A significant piece of history owned by a man who was intimately involved with George III and his household for most of his adult life.

A copy of the book, “The Diaries of Robert Fulke Greville” is included within the purchase price.

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