Papers of Margaret Bentinck, Duchess of Portland (1715-1785) in the Portland (Welbeck) Collection

Scope and Content

The correspondence concerns family and social news, as well as reflecting the duchess's interest in botany. Most of the miscellaneous papers relate to plants and fungi, although there are a few papers concerning history and works of art. The correspondents include several contemporary women of note, including the 'blue stocking' Elizabeth Montagu (1720-1800) and Elizabeth Elstob (1683-1756), who became governess at Welbeck.

Administrative / Biographical History

Margaret Bentinck, Duchess of Portland (1715-1785), (daughter of Edward Harley, 2nd Earl of Oxford (1689-1741) and his wife Lady Henrietta (née Cavendish Holles, 1694-1755) married William, 2nd Duke of Portland (1709-1762) in 1734. By the terms of her mother's will she inherited the Cavendish estates, and so brought the Welbeck estate into the Bentinck family. The duchess fell into dispute with her son, the 3rd Duke, over the running of the estates, and also disapproved of his politics. She was a close friend of Lady Bute, and consequently became an intimate of the royal family. The duchess had an avid interest in botany.


The Collection is divided into two series, reflecting its arrangement on acquisition from Welbeck. The first consists of correspondence, primarily to the Duchess, and the second series contains miscellaneous papers..

Access Information

Accessible to all registered readers.

Other Finding Aids

Copyright in all Finding Aids belongs to the University of Nottingham. In the Reading Room, King's Meadow Campus:Typescript Catalogue, 4 pp At the National Register of Archives, London:Typescript Catalogue, 4 pp On the World Wide Web:Catalogue accessible from the website for Manuscripts and Special Collections, Manuscripts Online Catalogue.Catalogue also available online through The National Archives Access to Archives (A2A) web site.

Conditions Governing Use

Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult. Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in advance in writing from the Keeper of Manuscripts and Special Collections (email and photographic copies can be supplied for educational use and private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

Custodial History

These papers constitute part of the Portland (Welbeck) Collection (GB 0159 Pw) and were received from the 7th Duke of Portland in the first deposit from Welbeck Abbey in 1949. By the Duke's express wish the family archives were divided between The University of Nottingham (political and family correspondence); Nottinghamshire Archives Office (Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Northumberland estate papers); British Library (Harley family papers); Hampshire Record Office (papers relating to the Dukes' Hampshire estate) and the Bodleian Library (Civil War papers of Reverend John Nalson). The entire Portland archive from Welbeck was accepted by the state in lieu of estate duty in 1986.

Related Material

Letters to her son William, 3rd Duke of Portland: Reference GB 159 Pw F

Hampshire Record Office

British Library