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At the time of George Louis' ascension to the throne of the Kingdom of Great Britain, neither England, Scotland, nor Great Britain had ever had a king called "George". There were earlier George's in the royal families (at least two—George, Duke of Bedford and George, Duke of Clarence), but the most recent "George" associated in any way with England was Anne's husband, George of Denmark.

Therefore, is George Louis known to have considered using a different regnal name in his new kingdom that would have aligned him more with English and Scottish traditions?

There was some (historic) precedence for this in Scotland:

When John, Earl of Carrick ascended the Scottish throne in 1390, it was deemed imprudent for him to take the regnal name of "John II", as recent kings named John had turned out badly: in England as well as in Scotland. Furthermore, royal propaganda of the time held that John Balliol had not been a legitimate king of Scotland, making the new king's regnal number also a tricky issue. To avoid these problems, John took the regnal name of Robert III, honouring his father and great-grandfather.

Admittedly, George's descent would have suggested 'Charles' to him (if the above logic had been continued) which wouldn't have been very good, but 'James' and 'Henry' should also have been available options.

With regards to using different regnal names in different places, it seems to have been possible—though perhaps not common—with Wikipedia noting Otto III of Bavaria who ruled in Hungary as Béla V.

  • The subject of choosing regnal names and also the numbering on accession is something I personally find quite interesting. As regards George I, I think note must be taken of the Welf dynasty's and in particular the Hanoverian branch's naming practices: family members tended to be named after important predecessors in the family, hence the reason why there's been a Ernest Augustus/Ernst August pretty much every generation. So I'm guessing that the precedent in the dynasty was more important than any national considerations. – Generalissimo Jun 10 at 9:21
  • @Generalissimo: That's fair enough. He may have ruled in Hanover with one name and in Great Britain with another. In any case, I'm curious as to whether he himself expressed his opinion on this topic (or perhaps one of his courtiers?) and I'm hoping someone here knows. – gktscrk Jun 10 at 9:31
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    Charles might have been an OK name but James definitely would not have been as the last one was deposed and was the reason George was in line for the throne and was also the name of the pretender to the throne. – mmmmmm Jun 10 at 14:54
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Short answer

It's hard to prove an absence of evidence, but there are good reasons why George I might not have considered changing his name: it was a common given name in George's family, and then there is the obvious link to St. George, patron saint of England. Further, there was no precedence (in England at least) at the time for a monarch changing name, and George was already a popular name in England.


Details

The name George (as noted by Generalissimo in his comment above) was a popular name for the House of Welf (or Guelf or Guelph). This, along with the link to St. George, is noted by Tim Blanning in his chapter in The Hanoverian Succession:

It was also a happy accident that the favourite first name of the Guelphs was ‘George’, allowing the pamphleteers and cartoonists to cross-refer to St George slaying the Catholic dragon. The author of ‘The Welcome’ (to George I), for example, revelled in the terror struck into the hearts of papists by the realisation that:

Their Popish Dragon now must lose his Sting,
Because St George our Champion is, and King.

Source: Tim Blanning, 'The Hanoverian Monarchy and the Culture of Representation'. In Andreas Gestrich and Michael Schaich (eds.), 'The Hanoverian Succession: Dynastic Politics and Monarchical Culture' (2015)

Perhaps a further point to consider is that there appears to be no precedent for an English monarch to change his or her name upon ascending the throne. You cite the Scottish example of Robert III but, as you pointed out, he had good reason not to use his birth name. Note also that the English monarchs who did not use their first given name as their regnal name (Alexandrina Victoria, Albert Edward VII and Albert Frederick Arthur George VI) did use another of their given names. George I's only other given name was Louis or Ludwig; why use one of these when George was already a popular name in England?

There is a commonly held view that George was little used in Britain until George I ascended the throne in the 1714. This, however, is simply not the case. In fact, George ranked within the top 10 most popular boys' names in England from the early 1500s at least, as we can see from Smith-Bannister's rankings

According to these rankings of most popular boys' names, George ranked between 6th and 10th for every decade between 1538 and 1700, and it's popularity continued until the 1930s.

As for options, you mention James. However, this would have been inappropriate given the divisions caused by James II's Catholicism and the emphasis on a Protestant succession to Anne. Henry would have been better, but Henry VIII's six wives would not have been seen as ideal (and all the Henrys before him were Catholics). More promising would be Edward, given Edward VI's impeccable Protestant credentials, or perhaps William, but I can find no evidence that these were considered.

Whatever the name, though, I can find no evidence that George (or anyone else) ever considered anything other than George. There is also no mention of George considering a name change in Ragnhild Hatton's comprehensive Yale English Monarchs title George I (of which I have a copy).


Other source:

Hannah Smith, Hannah Richardson, 'Georgian Monarchy: Politics and Culture, 1714-1760' (2006)

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  • Is that quote missing a '"and will be" Both the rhyme and grammar are much better with it than without. – Pieter Geerkens Jun 10 at 13:33
  • Yes, the "absence of evidence" I'd say could be refuted if all available documents by George don't mention it, then it didn't really feature in considerable depth (that we could prove). I noted the Scottish precedent above though he might not have known of it. A good find with the quote! The link to St George was, however, very fortuitous! – gktscrk Jun 10 at 13:42
  • @PieterGeerkens Yes, it does make you stop and re-read, but I checked the book again and there's nothing left out. Unfortunately, I can't find the original 1714 source other than behind a paywall, but it's also cited in Smith & Richardson. – Lars Bosteen Jun 10 at 14:39
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    @gktscrk I did see some documents from both before and after 1714 but don't remember seeing that (but then I wasn't focused on that). One from 1709 simply referred to him as 'the Elector of Hanover' throughout. – Lars Bosteen Jun 11 at 23:12
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    @PieterGeerkens "Because St George our Champion is, and King I read this as a statement of (present) fact, not a future conditional. George is King, by law and title, not will be. – TheHonRose Jun 12 at 8:20

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