Papers of William John Cavendish Bentinck Scott, 5th Duke of Portland (1800-1879) in the Portland (Welbeck) Collection

Scope and Content

The correspondence of the 5th Duke is unusual in its extensive coverage of matters concerning his estates, houses and other properties. Its volume was undoubtedly related to his reclusive habits, and preference for written instructions and reports rather than communication in person. The correspondence is largely from the duke's various agents and solicitors, dealing with estate matters and with his special projects. He took a very detailed and informed interest in the carrying out of his various building enterprises.By comparison with the archives of other members of his family, there is relatively little of national political significance in the papers. He did not actively pursue his political interests. It was however virtually impossible for a figure of his position to be immune from contemporary concerns, and he numbered Canning, Disraeli and Palmerston among his correspondents.There is inevitably a significant amount of correspondence with family, aristocrats and clergy. The miscellaneous section contains correspondence, bills, lists, testimonials, and many papers relating to the Welbeck miniatures.

Administrative / Biographical History

William John Cavendish Bentinck-Scott, 5th Duke of Portland (1800-1879), lived a reclusive life at Welbeck Abbey, Nottinghamshire. Although he was M.P. for King's Lynn from 1824-1826 he took no active part in politics, allowing three years to pass between his succeeding to the dukedom and first taking his seat in the House of Lords. He did, however, have a wide-ranging network of family and friends with whom he maintained an extensive correspondence. He undertook major developments at Welbeck, and was actively involved in the management of the Portland estates, both of which activities are reflected in his papers.


The Collection is divided into two series, reflecting its arrangement on acquisition from Welbeck. The first consists of letters to the Duke, 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, 147 pp At the National Register of Archives, London:Typescript Catalogue, 147 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 (Pw) and were received from the 7th Duke of Portland in the first deposit from Welbeck Abbey in 1949. A second deposit was received in 1968. 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 6th and 7th Viscounts Galway: Reference Ga

Letters to his father William, 4th Duke of Portland: Reference Pw H

Letters to his sister Charlotte Denison, Viscountess Ossington (Reference Pw N 1-32)

Northumberland Record Office

Durham University Library