William IV, Prince of Orange

William IV

Portrait of William IV (1751), attributed to Johann Valentin Tischbein
Stadtholder of the United Provinces
Reign 4 May 1747 – 22 October 1751
Predecessor William III
Successor William V
Prince of Orange
Reign 1 September 1711 –
22 October 1751
Predecessor John William Friso
Successor William V
Born 1 September 1711
Leeuwarden, Dutch Republic
Died 22 October 1751(1751-10-22) (aged 40)
Huis ten Bosch, The Hague, Dutch Republic
Spouse Anne of Great Britain
Carolina, Princess of Nassau-Weilburg
Princess Anna of Orange-Nassau
William V, Prince of Orange
House Orange-Nassau
Father John William Friso, Prince of Orange
Mother Landgravine Marie Louise of Hesse-Kassel

William IV, Prince of Orange-Nassau (Willem Karel Hendrik Friso; 1 September 1711 – 22 October 1751) was the first hereditary Stadtholder of all the United Provinces.[1]

Early life

William was born in Leeuwarden, Netherlands, the son of John William Friso, Prince of Orange, head of the Frisian branch of the House of Orange-Nassau, and of his wife Landgravine Marie Louise of Hesse-Kassel (or Hesse-Cassel). He was born six weeks after the death of his father.

William succeeded his father as Stadtholder of Friesland and also, under the regency of his mother until 1731, as Stadtholder of Groningen. In 1722 he was elected Stadtholder of Guelders.

Marriage and children

In 1720 William was named the 549th Knight of the Order of the Garter. On 25 March 1734 he married at St. James' Palace Anne, Princess Royal, eldest daughter of King George II of Great Britain and Caroline of Ansbach. William and Anne had five children:

Later life

Portrait of William, 1751

In 1739 William inherited the estates formerly owned by the Nassau-Dillenburg branch of his family, and in 1743 he inherited those formerly owned by the Nassau-Siegen branch of his family.

In April 1747 the French army entered Flanders, threatening the Netherlands, which was weakened by internal division. The Dutch decided that their country needed a single strong executive, and turned to the House of Orange. William and his family moved from Leeuwarden to The Hague. On 4 May 1747, the States General of the Netherlands named William General Stadtholder of all seven of the United Provinces of the Netherlands, and made the position hereditary for the first time. William first met Duke Louis Ernest of Brunswick-Lüneburg in 1747, and two years later appointed him field marshal of the Dutch States Army, which later led to Louis Ernest serving as one of the regents for William's heir.

William IV was considered an attractive, educated, and accomplished prince in his prime. Although he had little experience in state affairs, William was at first popular with the people. He stopped the practice of indirect taxation by which independent contractors managed to make large sums for themselves. Nevertheless, he was also a Director-General of the Dutch East India Company, and his alliance with the business class deepened while the disparity between rich and poor grew.

William served as General Stadtholder of all the Netherlands until his death in 1751 at The Hague.

The county of Orange, Virginia, and the city of Orangeburg, South Carolina, are named after him.



  1. Suzanna van Dijk; Jo Nesbitt (1 January 2004). I Have Heard about You: Foreign Women's Writing Crossing the Dutch Border : from Sappho to Selma Lagerlöf. Uitgeverij Verloren. p. 168. ISBN 90-6550-752-3.
William IV, Prince of Orange
Cadet branch of the House of Nassau
Born: 1 September 1711 Died: 22 October 1751
Dutch nobility
Preceded by
John William Friso
Prince of Orange
Title next held by
William V
Regnal titles
Preceded by
John William Friso
Prince of Orange-Nassau
Baron of Breda

Succeeded by
William V
Preceded by
Francis Alexander
Prince of Nassau-Hadamar
Preceded by
Prince of Nassau-Dillenburg
Preceded by
Frederick William II
Prince of Nassau-Siegen
Political offices
Preceded by
John William Friso
Stadtholder of
Friesland and Groningen

Titles obsolete
merger of all stadtholderships
Title last held by
William III
Stadtholder of Guelders
Stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland,
Utrecht, and Overijssel

New title General Stadtholder
of the United Provinces

Succeeded by
William V
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