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The Duke of Devonshire
Godfrey Kneller (1646-1723) - William Cavendish (1640–1707), 1st Duke of Devonshire, KG, PC - 1129210 - National Trust.jpg
Portrait by Godfrey Kneller
Lord Steward of the Household
In office
Preceded byThe Duke of Ormond
Succeeded byWilliam Cavendish, 2nd Duke of Devonshire
Lord High Steward
for the Coronation of Queen Anne
In office
22 April 1702 – 23 April 1702
Preceded byThe Baron Somers
Succeeded byThe Duke of Grafton
Personal details
Born(1640-01-25)25 January 1640
Died18 August 1707(1707-08-18) (aged 67)
SpouseLady Mary Butler
ChildrenLady Elizabeth Cavendish
William Cavendish, 2nd Duke of Devonshire
Lord Henry Cavendish
Lord James Cavendish
Parent(s)William Cavendish, 3rd Earl of Devonshire
Elizabeth Cavendish, Countess of Devonshire

William Cavendish, 1st Duke of Devonshire, KG, PC, FRS (25 January 1640 – 18 August 1707) was an English soldier, nobleman, and Whig politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1661 to 1684 when he inherited his father's peerage as Earl of Devonshire. He was part of the "Immortal Seven" group that invited William III, Prince of Orange to depose James II of England as monarch during the Glorious Revolution, and was rewarded with the elevation to Duke of Devonshire in 1694.


Cavendish was the son of William Cavendish, 3rd Earl of Devonshire, and his wife Lady Elizabeth Cecil. After completing his education he made the customary tour of Europe,[1] and then in 1661, he was elected Member of Parliament for Derbyshire in the Cavalier Parliament.[2] He was a Whig under Charles II of England and James II of England and was leader of the anti-court and anti-Catholic party in the House of Commons, where he served as Lord Cavendish. In 1678 he was one of the committee appointed to draw up articles of impeachment against the Lord Treasurer Lord Danby.[1]

He was re-elected MP for Derbyshire in the two elections of 1679 and in 1681. He was made a privy councillor by Charles II, but he soon withdrew with his friend Lord Russell, when he found that the Roman Catholic interest uniformly prevailed. In January 1681 he carried up to the House of Lords the articles of impeachment against Lord Chief Justice William Scroggs, for his arbitrary and illegal proceedings in the court of King's bench, and later when the king declared his resolution not to sign the bill for excluding the duke of York (afterwards James II), he moved in the House of Commons that a bill might be brought in for the association of all his majesty's Protestant subjects. He also openly denounced the king's counsellors, and voted for an address to remove them. He appeared in defence of Lord Russell at his trial, and after the condemnation he gave the utmost possible proof of his attachment by offering to exchange clothes with Lord Russell in the prison, remain in his place, and so allow him to effect his escape.[1]

Chatsworth House, seat of the Dukes of Devonshire

The famed political philosopher Thomas Hobbes spent the last four or five years of his living at Chatsworth House, owned by the Cavendish family, and died at another Cavendish estate, Hardwick Hall in December 1679. He had been a friend of the family since 1608 when he first tutored an earlier William Cavendish.[3][4]

In 1684 he succeeded to the peerage as Earl of Devonshire on the death of his father and then sat in the House of Lords.[2] He opposed the arbitrary acts of James II until his enemies found an excuse to neutralize him; after an imagined insult by a Colonel Colepepper, Cavendish struck his opponent and was immediately fined the enormous sum of £30,000. He was unable to pay and was briefly imprisoned until he signed a bond (which was eventually cancelled by King William). The earl went for a time to Chatsworth House, where he occupied himself with the erection of a new mansion, designed by William Talman, with decorations by Antonio Verrio, James Thornhill, and Grinling Gibbons.[1]

Cavendish was a strong supporter of the "Glorious Revolution" of 1688 which brought William III of Orange to the throne, signing as one of the Immortal Seven the invitation to William. On the occasion of the coronation he was awarded the Order of the Garter.[1] After the revolution, Cavendish was a leading Whig, serving as William's Lord Steward, and was created the Duke of Devonshire (1694) and also Marquess of Hartington in recognition for his services. His last public service was assisting to conclude the union with Scotland, for negotiating which he and his eldest son, the marquis of Hartington, had been appointed among the commissioners by Queen Anne.[1]

Cavendish was given an honorary M.A. by the University of Cambridge in 1705.[5] The year before he had ended the successful career of the singer and dancer Mary Campion. She is thought to have given her last performance on 14 March 1704 (and she may have been the daughter of one of his servants). Cavendish installed her as his mistress at Bolton Street in Westminster despite already having several mistresses already, a number of children by them and of course Lady Mary Butler, his wife.[6] They had a child named Mary Anne Cavendish before Mary Campion died of a fever on 19 May 1706. Cavendish surprised many by having her buried in the family church in an extravagant tomb. He did not attend her funeral and he died, some say in repentance, the following year.[6]


Cavendish married Lady Mary Butler (1646–1710), daughter of James Butler, 1st Duke of Ormonde and his wife, Lady Elizabeth Preston, on 26 October 1662. They had four children:

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f Chisholm 1911, p. 130.
  2. ^ a b History of Parliament Online - Cavendish, William, Lord Cavendish
  3. ^ "Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679)". BBC. Retrieved 14 April 2021.
  4. ^ Malcolm, Noel (2003). Aspects of Hobbes. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 80. ISBN 0199247145.
  5. ^ "Cavendish, William (CVNS705W)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  6. ^ a b "Campion, Mary Anne (c. 1687–1706), singer and dancer". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. 2004. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/70104. Retrieved 30 March 2020. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)

2 Annotations

Bill  •  Link

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

Bill  •  Link

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.

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.