Questions for Classroom Discussion
Prepared by Jack Bareilles
History Teacher, McKinleyville High School, McKinleyville, CA
David Dundas and the Regency Crisis of 1789: Background
Who was David Dundas? FYI: an "apothecary" is a term for pharmacist of French
origins and is still used in Europe.
Who is "that person" Dundas writes his brother about in January 1789?
In what condition was King George III while under the care of Dundas?
What disease did King George suffer from?
How many other times did George III lapse into "madness" during his sixty-year reign?
What is interesting or new to us today about these sixty-one letters written by David
Dundas and his wife?
Why do Dundas and his wife's letters offer important insight into the goings-on during
the Regency Crisis and George's health crisis in 1789?
When King George III started to act strangely what did the English press do?
What were some of George III's symptoms?
What did the King's supporters attempt to do to prevent more information about the
King's condition from becoming known?
Dundas became so frustrated that he started to wonder whether the entire episode was a
"varnum insomnium" (a dream or delusion of his own). Finally, Dundas writes that only
who knows when the King's condition will improve?
The persistency of the King's condition led Charles Fox, the leader of the Whig Party
(the opposition party) to try to transfer power to whom?
Who fought against this proposed transfer of power and for what reason did he work to
prevent the transfer of power?
What name is given to this attempt to transfer power from George III?
The whole issue of whether or not power would be transferred from the King hinged
Who did the Queen and Prime Minister Pitt bring in to treat the King? What effect did
this have on David Dundas' time watching the King?
How did Willis go about trying to cure the King?
The Royal Physicians, who didn't like Willis, didn't agree with treatment of the King and
also claimed Willis was trying to make things seem better than they actually were. How
did Willis describe the King's behavior during Christmas 1788?
What behavior did the Royal Physicians claim that David Dundas witnessed?
As it turned out, by late January 1789 King George's episode of porphyria-induced
madness was ending. However, what bill or proposed law was still working its way
through the English Parliament and even passed the House of Commons?
What forced Parliament to drop this bill or law?
Who did George III and many others credit for the King's recovery?
In retrospect, is there any reason to think that anything either Willis or the Royal
Physicians did helped the King recover?
Despite the fact that George III hated doctors, how does he treat David Dundas, his