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Erin D. Somerville

Equestrian and man of letters, favourite of the Duchess of Queensberry and contemporary of Ignatius Sancho and Olaudah Equiano. Born on the Caribbean island of St Kitts, he was brought to England at the age of 10 and given to the Duchess of Queensberry as a gift. Under the Duchess's direction Soubise became an accomplished fencer and equestrian, serving as assistant to the Italian fencing master Dominico Angelo Malevolti Tremamondo.

Soubise is best remembered as a fop in London high society. Claiming to be an African prince, he was known for entertaining audiences in fashionable London clubs with comic songs and amateur theatre. He often escorted aristocratic women to the opera and was rumoured to be sexually engaged with the Duchess—a relationship depicted in an engraving by William Austin of the pair fencing (1773).

While Soubise regarded himself as a talented letter writer and poet of ...