Tag Archives: Marquis of Hartington

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 Derbyshire Militia – facing Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745

blue plaque derbyI’ve hopped away from the English Civil War for a couple of days. I’m currently trying to find out what I can about the Derbyshire Blues. This was the regiment of militia raised by William Cavendish, the Third Duke of Devonshire, in 1745 in response to the arrival of Bonnie Prince Charlie and his prospective invasion of England.


There had been an act to permit the raising of militia at the beginning of the eighteenth century which required regular renewal but this had lapsed when it was not renewed in 1735. In theory this meant that all the Lord Lieutenants of counties who raised regiments against the Jacobites were in breach of the law not that this stopped King George II’s ministers from approving the need for them on the 5th September 1745. George II was in Hanover and so Parliament could not sit until he returned so even though letters were sent out to Lords Lieutenant on the 13th they weren’t acting entirely within the bounds of legality. As a consequence the Militia Act of 1745 passed through parliament into law in one day. The Act stated that at any time up to the 30 November 1746, the militia could be called for active service, with each soldier to be provided with a month’s pay, advanced locally and repaid within six months. Any regiment of militia would be liable to serve throughout the country – although in Derbyshire there was a stipulation that none of its militia should be expected to march more than ten miles outside the county boundaries. So essentially, think of the militia as a proto-type home guard.


The problem seems to have been that the militia despite their pay and in many cases their new uniforms were not the kind of men that the Lords Lieutenant might have hoped for. In Carlisle men deserted in droves when they are required to defend the walls and in Lancashire despite their new coats, hats and shoes the militia took itself off to Liverpool before decamping in the direction of Warrington to destroy bridges. Beckett reveals that the militia were so ineffective that the Jacobites gave them the code name “small beer” although he does note that they were much more effective during the Jacobite retreat in that they harried stragglers and sought to slow the Highlanders by felling trees across various roads.


In Derbyshire the Duke of Devonshire, a Whig supporter of the Hanoverians was also the Lord Lieutenant of the county. He had just returned from duties in Ireland where he had been Lord Lieutenant for six years. It was his job to raise the militia. On the 28th September there was a meeting in the George Inn on Irongate in Derby:

“to consider of such measures as are fit to be taken for the support of the Royal Person and government of H. M. King George, and our happy constitution in Church and State, at a time when rebellion is carrying on in favour of a Popish Pretender.”

As a result of the discussion a regiment of five hundred men was formed. One hundred and twenty of them had been paid for by the duke himself. Overall command of the regiment was to be given to the Duke of Devonshire with the Marquis of Hartington and Sir Nathaniel Curzon taking charge of one company each with the two county MPs taking the jobs of colonels of the regiment. The minutes of the meeting revealed the initial idea was that the men should be divided amongst Derbyshire’s market towns – Ashbourne was to have fifty men as was Bakewell whilst Chesterfield and Derby were to have a hundred men each.   Sir Nathaniel Curzon, Sir Robert Burdett, Sir Henry Harpur, Littleton Poyntz Meynell, William Cotton, German Pole, Edward Munday, Richard Harpur, Philip Gell were signatories to the document and in excess of £6000 was raised by subscription for the formation of the militia.

George InnA second meeting at the George, or the King’s Head as it became as the Jacobites drew closer was also recorded in the Derby Mercury.  It turns out that the Duke not only summoned the gentry of the county to discuss the need for a militia but that he wined and dined them as well.  Even so when commissions were sent out it was reported that some  were turned down.

The Derbyshire Blues were a nattily dressed bunch in blue serge coats, white breeches, black buckled shoes and tricorn hats sporting an orange cockade. In London it was arranged for armaments to be sent from The Tower to Derbyshire in two waggons.

On the 19th November, by which time the Jacobites had captured Carlisle, Lord Lonsdale, the Lord Lieutenant of Cumberland, wrote to the Due of Devonshire saying that he had heard from Penrith to the effect that the Jacobites were coming with an army of 8,000 men and where was the English army under the command of Sir John Ligionier? Lonsdale was concerned that his message had got lost en route and hoped that the duke could correspond with the army based at Lichfield more effectively. Ligionier was unwell and he was about to be replaced by George II’s son, the Duke of Cumberland.


As December approached the panic seems to have grown, trees were felled to form a blockade on the road between Buxton and Ashbourne; letters were written about the dangers of local Catholics who found themselves unable to own a horse worth more than £5.00 and forbidden to travel far from their own doorsteps. By the 3rd of December folk who could leave Derby did so.


The militia paraded, moved into position to guard Swarkestone Bridge and then at ten in the evening scarpered to Mansfield via Nottingham before deciding that it was still too close to the Jacobites having sent a scout to find out if they had yet left Derby and decamping to Retford – which is not exactly on a direct route to London but was much closer to Marshall Wade who was then in Doncaster! Part of the reason for their reluctance to encounter the Jacobites was that they believed that the prince’s army was considerably larger than it really was. Rumour suggested somewhere in the region of 9,000 men when actually the army was closer to 4,000. Even if they had known the true number it is hard to imagine what five hundred part-time soldiers could possibly have done against the highlanders in an unwalled city aside from getting themselves slaughtered.


After the whole affair was over a satire purporting to be a chronicle of the “mighty acts of Devonshire” was published – presumably by a Jacobite sympathiser or by a forerunner of Jimmy Perry.  Very sensibly the author chose a pseudonym “Nathan Ben Shaddai.” He wrote it in the manner of an Old Testament reading.  The militia are seen arguing about where is safest for them and then go to Nottingham via the village of Borrows-Ash where “they make war on the poultry” and drank “much strong drink” before departing “forgetting to pay.” During the course of their flight a certain Captain Lowe does not emerge particularly heroically and having consumed rather a lot of intoxicating liquor the regiment confuses a herd of cows with the Jacobites. The chronicle descends into farce when one of the drummers leaves his drum on the road in the confusion and a Lieutenant accidentally rode his horse over it causing even more chaos not to mention a soiling of the aforementioned  white breeches.


Beckett, Fredrick, William. (1991)The Amateur Military Tradition, 1558-1945. Manchester: Manchester University Press

Lord, Evelyn and  Money, David. (2004) The Stuarts Secret Army: English Jacobites 1689-1752. London: Pearson

Riding, Jacqueline. A New History of the ’45 Rebellion.  London: Bloomsbury

Stone, Brian. (2015). Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Highland Army in Derby. Cromford: Scarthin Books.


Image of the Duke of Devonshire from the National Portrait Gallery Collection.






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Filed under Jacobites, The Georgians, The Stuarts, Uncategorized