Sue Young Histories

Abbe Campbell 1753 - 1830

January 10, 2009

Abbe Campbell 1753 - 1830 was an Irish Roman Catholic priest based in Naples and a friend of Horatio Nelson and the Countess of Blessington, and he was suspected of marrying the Prince of Wales (George IV) to Maria Anne Fitzherbert when Chaplain to the Nea C’itan Embassy in London.

Abbe Campbell was a friend of Keppel Richard Craven, William Drummond, William Gell, and Frederick Hervey Foster Quin, and he was obviously involved in espionage for the British government.

Abbe Campbell was an intriguing character, ’not known for his sanctity’, his morality, nor with any position of birth, he was nonetheless imbued with a ’sort of mysterious prestige‘.

The Countess of Blessington recalls that the Abbe had to ’be petted, caressed, abundantly fed, and propitiated with good dinners by all new comers of distinction and discretion‘.

The Countess of Blessington describes him as obese, vulgar, animal and cunning, an ’incomparable belligerent in flinging dirt’, ’there was nothing in the shape of an offensive missile too foul or too heavy for his hands’, and as an inveterate drunk who was a ’ferocious hater, savagely sarcastic’, who had to flee from Naples after burning all his manuscripts.

The Countess of Blessington recalls that the Abbe was ’not honorable’, though he was ’received and abused in every great house in Naples‘.

Abbe Campbell was an intimate of Minster Medici, King Ferdinand, (the Duke of Cumberland and future Ernest Augustus I), the King of Sardinia, the Count D’Orsay and Horatio Nelson, and in receipt of a stipend from London for ’some public services of a very private nature‘.

The Abbe Campbell made frequent trips to London, and he stayed at the house of Thomas Field Savory (of Savory and Moore Chemists) and indulged eagerly in the social life of London.

The Abbe Campbell was a collector of antiquities.

The Abbe Campbell an ecclesiastic of the old school was another person of note: rotund in person, purple visaged, snuff smeared, and bull necked; an Irishman, a wit, a lover of good wine, a satirist, who though devoid of the advantages of birth or breeding or culture, could boast of the friendship of kings and princes, and exercised a mysterious influence over the governments of great countries.

Humorous as he was, he was not excelled in that quality by another Hibernian, Frederick Hervey Foster Quin, who had a large practice amongst the English residents and visitors; a man ever ready with repartee, full of humanity, hearty and most hospitable.


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