Papers of Lord John Spencer Cavendish (1875-1914)

Scope and Content

This small collection primarily consists of the correspondence of Lord John Cavendish. There are letters sent to him by his mother and father, Lord and Lady Edward Cavendish. There are also letters he received from others between 1886 and 1914, which include, but are not limited to, letters from family members; letters of sympathy sent to John on the death of his father in 1891; and military telegraphs.

In addition to correspondence, the collection includes a small series of official papers, including: John Cavendish's birth and baptism certificates; a military medical certificate and a military certificate of appointment; and his death certificate.

There is also a small grouping of other papers, including a Vanity Fair cartoon of John Cavendish's brother, Lord Richard Cavendish, and other news cuttings; and a list of property of the Lord John Cavendish sent from Hyde Park Barracks after his death.

Administrative / Biographical History

Lord John Spencer Cavendish (1875-1914), soldier, was born on 25 March 1875, the 3rd son of Lord Edward Cavendish and Emma Elizabeth Lascelles. He was nephew of the 8th Duke of Devonshire, and the 9th Duke was his older brother. In November 1908 he was granted the rank of a Duke's younger son.

He joined the 1st Life Guards, a cavalry regiment, from the Militia in February 1897, becoming Lieutenant in April 1898. He served in the Boer War, as Divisional and Brigade Signalling Officer, from October 1899 to October 1900. He was present at the relief of Ladysmith, and at the actions at Colenso, Spion Kop and Vaal Kranz; operations on the Tugela Heights and action at Pieter's Hill; in the Orange Free State and at the action at Zand River; in the Transvaal and near Johannesburg, Pretoria and Diamond Hill; in the Transvaal, west of Pretoria, including actions at Elands River, and in the Orange River Colony, including actions at Bethlehem and Wittebergen. He was mentioned in Despatches (London Gazette, 1 February 1901); received the Queen's Medal with six clasps; and was created a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order (London Gazette, 19 April 1901) for services during operations in South Africa.

He was promoted to Captain in August 1902, and from June 1907 to September 1910 was with the West African Frontier Force. There are a number of unlisted letters in the Devonshire Archives from him to his mother, written between 1900 and 1908, including some from the Boer War (1900), from Aden, Mombassa and Javeta (Mozambique) (1904), and from Nigeria (1907-10).

He was promoted to Major in April 1911, served in the First World War and was killed in action, aged 39, on 20 October 1914. He is buried in Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez, Pas de Calais, (Plot XX1, Row C, Grave 26).

Principal source for Lord John Cavendish's military career: O'Moore Creagh & EM Humphris, The V.C and D.S.O. Book, Distinguished Service Order, 1886-1915 (Naval and Military Press, 2001), p.134.


The material has been arranged into three series, as follows:

  • DF26/1: Correspondence (1886-1914)
  • DF26/2: Official papers (1894-1908)
  • DF26/3: Other papers (1900)

Access Information

The collection is open for consultation. Access to the archive at Chatsworth is by appointment only. For more information please visit the website .

Acquisition Information

The material was extant in The Devonshire Collection prior to 1 August 2011.

Conditions Governing Use

Copies of material in the archive can be supplied for private study and personal research purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

Most of the material remains in the copyright of Chatsworth House Trust, but some may also be subject to third-party copyright. It is the responsibility of researchers to obtain permission both from Chatsworth House Trust, and from the any other rights holders before reproducing material for purposes other than research or private study.

Appraisal Information

Some material from the collection was transferred to other collections at the point of cataloguing, namely: a photograph [portrait of John Cavendish?] removed to Devonshire Archives' photographic collections; letters sent to Lady Edward Cavendish by John Cavendish removed to GB 2495 DF22, the Papers of Lady Edward Cavendish; and letters sent to Lord Richard Cavendish by his father, Lord Edward Cavendish, have been transferred to FB 2495 DF18, the Papers of Lord Edward Cavendish.

Custodial History

Most of the material in the collection was created or accumulated by Lord John Cavendish. Its exact archival history is unknown.

Related Material

For letters sent by John Cavendish to his family members see the following collections in the Devonshire Archives: GB 2495 DF22 (Papers of Lady Emma Cavendish, his mother); GB 2495 DF7 (Papers of his brother Victor Cavendish, 9th Duke of Devonshire) and GB 2495 CS9 (Correspondence series of Victor Cavendish).