It all started with forged correspondence between his daughter Elizabeth and the Marquess of Blandford. Was Elizabeth, her garrulous mother, her dissipated father, the sinister Essex Bowen or someone else responsible?
The Apology, published in 1792, gives a first-hand account of Gunning's many seductions (including apparently 2 duchesses, 14 countesses, 4 viscountesses and 7 baronesses) and purports to explain the so-called 'Gunning Mystery' - the story behind the correspondence but fails to do so.
The book also tells how the General, described by Lord Kenyon as 'an hoary, abominable, degraded creature,' betrayed the man who had rescued him from a debtors' prison by seducing his wife.
But is the Apology itself a forgery? Although there are indications that it may be, this memoir displays an extremely good understanding of the Gunnings, perhaps too good to be the work of an outsider.
In this new, annotated and illustrated edition, Gerrish Gray delves into the fascinating world of Georgian society which is both refined and seedy.
Gerrish Gray unearths prosecutions for other forgeries (and capital offences at that) perpetrated by one of the suspects in the Gunning Mystery. These point to the true identity of the culprit in the Gunning Mystery.
Nonetheless, there are plenty of mysteries left: What led Gunning to marry the foolish Susannah Minifie? What was the bond between Gunning and James Duberley,the man who supplied his regiment's uniforms?
Gerrish Gray is a retired historian who prefers to remain pseudonymous.