Detailed Pedia

William Cavendish, 1st Duke of Devonshire

The Duke of Devonshire

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)
Spouse(s)Lady Mary Butler
ChildrenLady Elizabeth Cavendish
William Cavendish, 2nd Duke of Devonshire
Lord Henry Cavendish
Lord James Cavendish
ParentsWilliam Cavendish, 3rd Earl of Devonshire
Elizabeth Cavendish, Countess of Devonshire
Quartered arms of William Cavendish, 1st Duke of Devonshire, KG, PC, FRS

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]

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.)
Parliament of England
Preceded by
Viscount Mansfield
John Ferrers
Member of Parliament for Derbyshire
With: John Frescheville 1661–1665
John Milward 1665–1670
William Sacheverell 1670–1684
Succeeded by
Sir Robert Coke, 2nd Baronet
Sir Gilbert Clarke
Political offices
Preceded by
The Duke of Ormonde
Lord Steward
Succeeded by
The Duke of Devonshire
Honorary titles
Preceded by
The Earl of Huntingdon
Lord Lieutenant of Derbyshire
Succeeded by
The Duke of Devonshire
Preceded by
The Duke of Newcastle
Custos Rotulorum of Derbyshire
Preceded by
The Viscount Fitzhardinge
Lord Lieutenant of Somerset
Served alongside: The Marquess of Carmarthen
The Earl of Dorset
Succeeded by
The Duke of Ormonde
Title last held by
The Earl of Kingston-upon-Hull
Lord Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire
Succeeded by
The Duke of Newcastle
Legal offices
Preceded by
The Earl of Kingston
Justice in Eyre
north of the Trent

Succeeded by
The Duke of Devonshire
Peerage of England
New creation Duke of Devonshire
Succeeded by
William Cavendish
Preceded by
William Cavendish
Earl of Devonshire

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