Tag Archives: James III

The Cavendish Connection Part three – The first five Dukes of Devonshire.

The arbitrary number of Dukes reflects the course of the Eighteenth Century rather than an erroneous number of “lords a leaping.”

(c) National Trust, Hardwick Hall; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

(c) National Trust, Hardwick Hall; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

I actually dealt with the First Duke of Devonshire in my previous post as he was also the fourth earl.  Having invited William and Mary to take the Crown in the Glorious Revolution of 1688 he conveniently died in 1707 having helped to negotiated the union of the kingdoms of England and Scotland.  Despite his reputation for brawling and womanising he clearly did evolve into a serious political figure.  This happened following his return from his Grand Tour when he entered the houses of Parliament principally because he was anti-Charles II and anti-Catholic. There was also the small matter of Colonel Culpepper as described in yesterday’s post. In addition to becoming a duke he was also made Lord High Steward by King William in grateful recognition of his services.

The First Duke was unusual in his family in that he was a Whig, i.e. he wanted parliamentary government rather than a government dominated by the monarchy.  Presumably his uncle the Duke of Newcastle and his father the Third Earl must have been spinning in their graves.  Roy Hattersley explains that the Whig attitude  was that men of birth were endowed with a duty to protect the interest of the nation (of course, it helped if they prospered at the same time.)  The basic caveat was that the men of birth should have land because the soil was the physical embodiment of their duties and responsibilities.  Johnson described the first Whig as being the Devil! This description came about because these powerful men not only believed that they had a duty to protect the nation but that they could do what they wanted when they wanted irrespective of the law – which may be a bit of a swinging statement  but you get the gist. Suffice it to say Horace Walpole described the first duke as “a patriot amongst the men and a gallant among the ladies – ” a stamens which had nothing to do with Cavendish’s manners.

2nd duke of devonshire.jpgOn which note let us proceed to the Second Duke – unsurprisingly called William.  William had gained the title Marquis of Hartington on his father’s elevation to a dukedom in 1594. This is the title by which the heir of the current duke is still known.  This William was not a chip off the old block.  He did not become involved in drunken brawls or debauchery.  His marriage, arranged by his father to show his political loyalties, was to Lady Rachael Russell the daughter of William Russell who was executed in 1683 after attempting to have the Catholic Duke of York excluded from the succession.  Charles responded by dissolving parliament thus removing the Whig voice.  Russell was ultimately implicated in the Rye House Plot to assassinate Charles II – He hadn’t actually been involved in the actual plot, it was enough that he was a leading Whig – at worst his crime was misprision of treason which wasn’t a capital offence, which basically means that he knew something treasonous was about to happen but he didn’t tell the authorities. The political union between William and Rachael evolved into a love match rather to the first duke’s irritation.

William’s education followed the pattern of his father and grandfather.  He was sent on a Grand Tour and then he entered into local politics and administration. He sat for Derbyshire but then lost his seat -again to his father’s irritation.  However, this proved to be to his advantage as he then gained  a seat in South Yorkshire.  His corresponding member was Robert Walpole. The pair became firm friends and, let’s face it, it’s always handy to know a prime minister. In 1707 William became the Second Duke of Devonshire.

His arch enemy in political terms in Derbyshire was the Tory, Henry Sacheverell. The rise of Henry reflected the rise of the Tories in national government and William found himself out of his job as a privy councillor. Instead of sulking he had an amendment added to the Act of Settlement identifying the Elector of Hanover’s eldest son as an additional heir to the Crown.  It reflected William’s protestantism as averse to the Tory High Church view of the world that came perilously close to Catholicism in William’s mind.  It should be noted that not only did William support the established church but spoke out for dissenters as well.  When Queen Anne died on August 1 1714 William rose once more with the role of Lord Steward of George I’s household.

There was an interlude whilst James III’s son, the so-called Old Pretender, made a bid for the throne getting so far as Preston before being beaten. Bills were passed against Catholics. Later he opposed the South Sea Bubble scheme which he argued would have horrible effects on the economy. He even managed to be friends with both George I and the Prince of Wales – a fairly unusual state of affairs.

3rd duke of devonshire.jpgThe third duke is, completely unsurprisingly, also a William.  He became duke in 1729 following his Oxford education and stint in parliament representing various counties.    Dr Johnson who we have already seen was not keen on Whigs made an exception for the Third Duke of Devonshire.  He described him as “a man faithful to his word” – though not necessarily of “superior abilities.”  He was also described as a man of untidy dress, plain habits and noted on on account of the astonishing amount that he could drink.

catherine hoskyns.jpgIn 1718  William, then Marquis of Hartington, married Katherine Hoskins.  It was not a match arranged by the second duke.  The marquis had fallen in love with a merchant’s daughter – fortunately the merchant was wealthy.  Hugh Walpole described Katherine as “delightfully vulgar.”  The pair had seven children upon whom their father doted (I’m warming to this Cavendish).

In 1737 he became the Viceroy, General Governor and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, his mother after all was the daughter of the First Duke of Ormonde.  The Duke remained in post for the next seven years returning to England just in time for the next round of Jacobite plotting.

Arriving home in January 1745 the third duke became Lord Steward of the Royal Household – not that it stopped the Duke from spending his time in Derbyshire.  By September England was in uproar over the arrival of Bonnie Prince Charlie in Scotland.  On September 28th 1745 there was a meeting at the George Inn in Derby for the purpose of raising a militia.  I’ve posted recently about the inglorious activities of the Derbyshire Blues who headed in the direction of Nottingham as soon as they realised that Derby was the next stopping point for the Jacobite army.  The duke not known for his martial tendencies had expressed concern about his valuables. It was this duke and his wife who are the direct ancestors of both Prince Charles and Princess Diana. The third duke died in December 1755. His wife survived him by twenty-two years.

4th duke of devonshire.jpgWhich brings us to the Fourth Duke – yes his name is William.  He was born in 1720.  and like his forefathers became an MP and served in Government – briefly becoming Prime Minister. He married aristocratically to Elizabeth Boyle, the 6th Baroness Clifford which is why the Cavendishs own Bolton Abbey.  In addition to which she brought huge quantities of London property and other assets into the Cavendish fold.  All I really want to add about duke number four is that he arranged for Capability Brown to landscape Chatsworth and he was the chap who had the rather grand stable built.

william-cavendish-5th-duke-of-devonshire-1768-chatsworth-house-derbyshire-by-pompeo-batoni-1434193609_b.jpgFinally we arrive at the Fifth Duke of Devonshire and the nineteenth century.  Yes, his name was William Cavendish – there does seem to be a bit of a pattern emerging. Like his father the fifth duke was Lord Lieutenant of Derbyshire handheld administrative posts in Ireland but unlike his father who must have held the office of Prime Ministers for one of the shortest periods of time ever he declined cabinet positions. The Fifth Duke is more famous for his marriages, firstly to Lady Diana Spencer and secondly to his long term mistress Lady Elizabeth Hervey but that’s a post for another time as is the development of Buxton as a fashionable eighteenth century spa town.

And that is as far as I propose to go down the line of Cavendish dukes. The Sixth duke (another William ) is known to history as “the Bachelor Duke” and when he died the title passed to the descendants of the third son of the fourth duke.

Hattersley, Roy. (2014) The Devonshires: The Story of a Family and a Nation. London:Vintage Books

Pearson, John. (1984) The Serpent and the Stag. New York: Holt Reinhart



Filed under Eighteenth Century, The Georgians, The Stuarts

The Cavendish Connection part two – the earls of Devonshire.

bessofhardwickBess of Hardwick disowned her eldest son Henry but he had still inherited Chatsworth despite the fact that Bess entailed what she could to William and his heirs.  Due to his debts Henry sold Chatsworth to his brother William.

William was not what might be called dynamic.  He was still living at home  in Hardwick with his mum when he was a middle aged man with a family.  Nor was he interested in a London based career as a courtier.  Instead he concentrated on the role of administration traditionally allotted to the gentry.  He was for example the Lord Lieutenant of Derbyshire.

William_Cavendish,_1st_Earl_of_DevonshireIn 1605 thanks to the auspices of his niece Arbella Stuart he became a baronet.  In 1618 with the aid of £10,000 paid to James I he became an earl.  In addition to his land holdings in Derbyshire he was also investing in foreign trade – the East India Company, the Muscovy Company, the Bermuda Company and also in the settlements in Virginia.

The first earl was Anne Keithley of Yorkshire with whom he had three children.  Two of them died young.  His daughter Frances married the first baron Maynard.  His second wife was also from Yorkshire and this marriage produced one son, John, who was knighted in 1618 when Prince Charles became Prince of Wales.  He died soon afterwards.

William’s eldest son was another William, called Wylkyn within the family.  It was intended that he should marry Christian Bruce of Kinross when he was eighteen.  She was only twelve but the matter had been arranged to King James’ approval.  The dowry was a very lucrative £10,000.  The problem was that young William didn’t want a wealthy bride of the kind that his father and grandmother Bess might have approved nor was he unduly concerned about the first earl’s political aspirations.  No, what William wanted was his mistress Margaret Chatterton who had been one of Bess’s ladies.  It didn’t help that Christian was still a child to William’s eighteen years. Despite Wylkyn’s dislike of the marriage he was wed to Christian Bruce.  The Devonshires would not be known for their love matches.

Lord-Cavendish-Later-Second-Earl-of-Devonshire-and-His-Son-G_58_4_1-827x1024By the time he was in his twenties young William was a polished courtier (pictured left).  He also had a reputation of brawling, drinking and womanising.  He also spent money as though it was water.  This Cavendish was behaving as though he was a member of the aristocracy.

Perhaps in a bid to curtail his son’s rather un-Cavendish habits William senior appointed him a new tutor in the form of Thomas Hobbes.  The reason for this was that married men could not attend university and William senior saw that his son required a layer of culture to add to his fashionable persona.  The pair were sent on a tour of Europe.  These days we tend to think of the Grand Tour as an eighteenth century phenomenon but despite the on-going religious wars the English were keen to visit foreign climes – especially when Prince Charles (to be Charles I) made it a fashionable thing to do.

In addition to all the gallivanting he found time to become the MP for Derbyshire and on account of the Cavendish investments was also Governor of the Bermuda Company.  However he had managed to get himself into a huge amount of debt and ultimately an act of parliament would have to be sought to break Bess’s entail on part of the estate so that land could be sold to save the rest of the estate.

The second earl died in 1628 in London of “excessive indulgence.”  His heir, another William, was a minor so for a while at least the Cavendish lands were in the hands of Christian Bruce who was by now thirty-two-years old and a canny woman managing to secure full wardship for her son.  An economy drive was instituted and Thomas Hobbes was given the boot, only returning when finances recovered and there was further need for a tutor.  William was knighted at Charles I’s coronation in 1625.  His royalist credentials are evidenced by the fact that he spoke against the attainder on the Earl of Strafford in 1641. The network of family ties was strengthened with a marriage to Elizabeth Cecil, daughter of the Earl of Salisbury in 1639.

William_Cavendish,_3rd_Earl_of_Devonshire.jpgWhich brings us to the English Civil War.  Christian Bruce was a friend of Henrietta Maria.  The Cavendishs were Royalists.  In 1642 the 3rd Earl presented himself in York with his younger brother Charles who joined with Prince Rupert and his cavalry, took part in the Battle of Edgehill and ultimately became the Royalist commander for Derbyshire and Lincolnshire prior to his death at the Battle of Gainsborough.  Meanwhile the earl, no doubt on his mother’s advice, took himself off to Europe until 1645 when he compounded for his Royalist sympathies – paid a fine of £5000 and returned to live in England at Leicester Abbey where his mother had her residence (it had been purchased by the first earl in 1613) and from there he went to Latimer Place in Buckinghamshire until the Restoration when he returned to Chatsworth.

The third earl laid the foundations for Chatsworth’s library, was a fellow of the Royal Society and a friend of the diarist John Evelyn.  He does not seem much like his father, or indeed his son.


(c) National Trust, Hardwick Hall; Supplied by The Public Catalogue FoundationBorn in 1641, yet another William became the fourth earl upon his father’s death in 1684.  There had been an older brother but he died in his infancy. The third earl had preserved the Cavendish estates largely by keeping his head down and letting his cousin (William Earl, Marquis and the Duke of Newcastle) of and younger brother get on with Royalist soldiering.  The fourth earl was described by Bishop Burnet as being of “nice honour in everything except the paying of his tradesmen.”  Like his father he had been sent on the Grand Tour and like his Uncle William (Newcastle) he fancied himself as  a bit of a poet. It is easy to see how this particular Cavendish fitted into the court of King Charles II who was also known for his late payments.  Like his monarch Cavendish also had a reputation for womanising. He had several children by a mistress called Mrs Heneage. Apparently Charles II had told Nell Gwynn not to have anything to do with him – re-arrange the words pot, kettle and black into a sentence of your choice.  It could be that Charles took against William Cavendish because he publicly snubbed the Duke of York (James) at Newmarket on account of his catholicism.  Aside from seduction the fourth earl also seems to have spent a lot of time picking fights and duelling.

In 1661 the fourth earl entered Parliament and the following year married Lady Mary Butler the daughter of the Duke of Ormonde.  Ormonde had been at the forefront of the Irish campaign against Oliver Cromwell and had been with Charles II in exile. Upon the Restoration he became a key political figure.  In this instance the Cavendish alliance was for political advancement.

Somehow or other the brawling, womanising, verse-writing earl became a serious politician.  By the 1670s he was using his position to wage war on behalf of Parliament against James III.  This particular Cavendish was not a die-hard royalist like his father or uncles).  The Fourth earl was a Whig – he was anti-court and anti-Catholic and, of course alongside that, he was first and foremost a Cavendish.


Part of the reason for his being involved in the Glorious Revolution, to depose James III in favour of his daughter Mary and her husband William of Orange, was because of a dispute over land.  Colonel Culpepper, a supporter of James III, had made a claim to some Devonshire lands stating that they should have come to him as part of his wife’s dowry.  The pair had a brawl when Culpepper called Cavendish’s loyalty to the Crown into question and Cavendish called Culpepper a liar.Culpepper ended up in the Marshalsea Prison was released and the pair met again.  Culpepper having been imprisoned  for fighting refused a further confrontation so the earl grabbed him by the nose and dragged him from the room before beating him about the head with his cane. It was the earl’s turn to be imprisoned unless he paid a £30,000 fine.  The earl had no intention of paying so he simply walked out of the prison gates and headed for Derbyshire. A warrant for his arrest was issued but in the short term everything was smoothed out with a letter of apology and an I.O.U. – which the earl clearly had no intention of paying.

It was a short step from that event to conspiracy in Whittington and a letter inviting William of Orange to come to England – William Cavendish was able to stand up for Protestantism and get one over on Colonel Culpepper. It also made him one of the so-called “Immortal Seven” having signed the letter inviting William to come and take the crown. The new king was very grateful to the fourth earl who would shortly become the First Duke of Devonshire.  The two times great grandson of Bess of Hardwick had moved the family further up the social hierarchy.


Hattersley, Roy. (2014) The Devonshires: The Story of a Family and a Nation. London:Vintage Books

Pearson, John. (1984) The Serpent and the Stag. New York: Holt Reinhart




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Filed under Seventeenth Century, Sixteenth Century, The Stuarts, The Tudors, Uncategorized

22 December in History


Where would I be without Layton and Legh – today on the 22 December 1535 the dastardly pair  of monastic visitors were beginning their northern visitation at Lichfield (yes – I know its the Midlands but to Thomas Cromwell it was the north).  Layton paused en route at Chicksand in Bedfordshire where the Gilbertine nuns  “refused to admit him as visitor.” (I bet that went down well).  He found two of the nuns were “not barren;  one of them impregnavit supprior domus, another a serving-man.”  How he discovered this if the Gilbertine prioress refused him admittance is open to speculation.  He must have taken himself off to the local tavern and listened to the gossip. Rumour had it that one of the nuns was bricked up alive – its always good to go with the stereotype and offers us our festive ghost story- not that this prevented the prioress receiving a pension when the priory was finally suppressed in 1538.

‘Henry VIII: December 1535, 21-25’, in Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 9, August-December 1535, ed. James Gairdner (London, 1886), pp. 340-350. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/letters-papers-hen8/vol9/pp340-350 [accessed 6 December 2016].

old pretender.jpgJumping forward two hundred years James III of England also known as the ‘Old Pretender’ landed at Petershead.  The Jacobites had been up in arms since September on account of George I not giving governmental position to nobles who felt that they deserved posts.  However, the jacobites were disorganised and poorly led meaning that by the time James landed it was all over bar the shouting. By February it was all over and James was back in France. The National Library of Scotland has a useful time line which may be accessed here.

king-stephenThere’s one last event for the 22nd which requires slipping back in time to 22 December 1135.  Stephen of Blois, grandson of William the Conqueror, was crowned king of England in Westminster Abbey.  Stephen’s uncle Henry I had intended his daughter Matilda to rule but his barons, forced to swear their support for her, felt that a woman was unfit to rule so crowned Stephen in her stead.  It didn’t help that she was married to Geoffrey of Anjou – a chap who the barons weren’t terribly keen to welcome as the king – given that a woman, no matter who she was, would by necessity be required to be subservient to her husband.

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Filed under December, Kings of England, On this day..., The Tudors