CAVENDISH, WILLIAM, first Duke Of Devonshire (1640-1707), eldest son of William Cavendish, third earl; styled Lord Cavendish (of Hardwicke) till 1684; educated abroad; M.P. for Derby, 1661; in Ireland, 1662; hon. M.A. Oxford, 1663; served in the fleet, 1666; envoy to France, 1669; provoked a fracas at the opera in Paris; imprisoned in the Tower for instigating a duel, 1675; a leader of the anti-court and anti-Romanist party in the Commons, 1666-78; active in the 'popish plot' proceedings, 1678-9; advocated exclusion of the Duke of York from the succession, 1680-1: made his peace with Charles II, October, 1681; succeeded to earldom, 1684; fined 30,0001. for brawling at court, 1685; built Chatsworth, 1687-1706; joined in inviting William of Orange to England, 1687 and 1688; arranged with the Earl of Danby to raise the north in favour of William of Orange; seized Derby and Nottingham, 1688; raised regiment of horse; escorted Princess Anne to Oxford; moved an address of welcome to the Prince of Orange, December, 1688 ; argued for James II's deposition, 1689; lord-lieutenant of Derbyshire, 1689; lord high steward at coronation, 1689; with William III in Flanders, 1690-2; created Duke of Devonshire, 1694; lord high steward at Anne's coronation, 1702; advocated toleration of nonconformists and the union with Scotland; of profligate private life; a patron of horse-racing.
---Dictionary of National Biography: Index and Epitome, 1903
Cavendish (William), the first duke of Devonshire, and one of the most distinguished patriots in the British annals, was born in 1640. In 1677, being then member for Derby, he vigorously opposed the venal measures of the court; and, the following year, was one of the committee appointed to draw up articles of impeachment against the lord treasurer Danby. In 1679, being re-elected to serve for Derby in a new parliament, Charles II. thought fit to make him a privy counsellor; but he soon withdrew from the board, with his friend lord Russel, when he found that popish interest prevailed. He carried up the articles of impeachment to the house of lords, against lord chief, justice Scroggs, for his arbitrary and illegal proceedings in the court of king's bench; and when the king declared his resolution not to sign the bill for excluding the Duke of York (afterwards James II.), he moved the house of commons, that a bill might be brought in for the association of all his majesty's protestant subjects. He also openly named the king's evil counsellors, and voted for an address to remove them from his presence and councils for ever. He nobly appeared at lord Russel's trial, in defence of that great man, at a time when it was scarce more criminal to be an accomplice than a witness for him. The fame fortitude, activity, and love of his country, animated this illustrious patriot to oppose tlve arbitrary proceedings of James II.; and when he saw there was no other method of saving the nation from impending slavery, he was the foremost in the association for inviting over the prince of Orange, and the first nobleman who appeared in arms to receive him at his landing. He was created Duke of Devonshire in 1694, by William and Mary. His last public service was in the union with Scotland, for concluding of which he was appointed a commissioner by queen Anne. He died in 1707, and ordered the following inscription to be put on his monument.
Willielmus Dux Devon,
Bonorum Principum Fidelis Subditus,
Inimicas et Invisus Tyrammis.
William Duke of Devonshire,
Of good Princes the faithful Subject,
The Enemy and Aversion of Tyrants,
Besides being thus, estimable for public virtues, his grace was distinguished by his literary accomplishments. He had a poetical genius, which showed itself particularly in two pieces, written with equal spirit, dignity, and delicacy: these are, an ode on the death of queen Mary; and an allusion to the archbishop of Cambray's supplement to Homer. He had great knowledge in the languages, was a true judge in history, and a critic in poetry; he had a fine hand in music, an elegant taste in painting, and in architecture had a skill equal to any person of the age in which he lived. His predecessor, Sir John Cavendish, was the person who killed the famous Watt Tyler in 1381.
---Encyclopedia Britannica. 3rd ed., 1797.
Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.