Papers of the Holles Family, 1571-1728, in the Portland (Welbeck) Collection

Scope and Content

The papers of John Holles, 4th Earl of Clare and 3rd Duke of Newcastle upon Tyne are mostly in the form of correspondence, supplemented by series of miscellaneous records which includes a number of estate papers. Almost seventy letters to his wife, Margaret Cavendish Holles are present. The estate records include some reference to the Cavendish Northumberland estates, together with correspondence of Ralph Gowland, the Northumberland agent. The few Nottinghamshire estate references include several documents concerning forest rights and bounds.The Collection also contains papers of other earlier family members, including John Holles, 1st Earl of Clare, Denzel Holles, younger brother of the 2nd Earl and Gilbert Holles, 3rd Earl of Clare. These in part reflect the Holles associations with London, including for instance a petition of the tenants of Clare Market. Other miscellaneous items include references to pictures and other household furnishings.

Administrative / Biographical History

The presence of the Holles papers in the Portland of Welbeck Collection is the result of a series of marriages and inheritances in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. John Holles, 4th Earl of Clare (1662-1711), married his cousin Margaret Cavendish (1661-1716), daughter of the 2nd Duke of Newcastle upon Tyne, through whom much of the Cavendish inheritance descended. The 2nd Duke died without male heirs and in 1691 Holles became the 3rd Duke of Newcastle upon Tyne. Their daughter, Lady Henrietta Cavendish Holles (1694-1755), who inherited the bulk of the Cavendish estates after litigation, married Edward Harley, 2nd Earl of Oxford (1689-1741). When, in 1734 their daughter, Lady Margaret Cavendish Harley (1715-1785) was married to William Bentinck, 2nd Duke of Portland (1709-1762) the Holles papers passed into the Portland Collection.The papers particularly reflect the activities and contacts of John Holles, the 3rd Duke of Newcastle upon Tyne and his wife, Margaret Cavendish. He was an able politician, whose local influence and properties gave him considerable power during elections. In 1705 he was appointed Lord Privy Seal, and was an influential figure in the discussions which ultimately led to the Treaty of Union (with Scotland) in 1707.


The Collection is arranged in two sections; correspondence and miscellaneous records. The correspondence is listed chronologically within an alphabetical sequence by correspondent. Many of the miscellaneous papers, which in fact include several series of letters, are undated.

Access Information

Accessible to all registered readers. Access to the collection is currently restricted whilst the catalogue descriptions are improved. Please contact staff at Manuscripts and Special Collections if you would like to view an item within Pw M. Hard copy catalogues are available on the open shelves in the Reading Room, Kings Meadow Campus.

Other Finding Aids

Copyright in all Finding Aids belongs to the University of Nottingham. In the Reading Room, King's Meadow Campus:Typescript Catalogue, 32 pp At the National Register of Archives, London:Typescript Catalogue, 32 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

Photocopies and photographic copies can be supplied for educational use and private study purposes only, depending on access status and 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. 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

Correspondence with Francis Molyneux, GB 159 Molt

Also within the Portland of Welbck Collection, but located in the Literary Papers, are personal copy letters, commonplace books and literary works of Denzil Holles, John Holles, and Gervase Holles, GB 159 Pw V

Papers of Henry Walter of Haughton, Agent to the Earls of Clare in Nottinghamshire, 1666-1696, GB 159 NS

The Newcastle (Clumber) Collection at Nottingham includes a number of significant Holles materials, particularly records of Holles property holding in London and Nottinghamshire, GB 159 Ne A-X

Within the Correspondence and Political Papers of the Dukes of Newcastle are two letter books of John Holles, 1st Earl of Clare (c.1565-1637) and a commonplace book of John Holles, 2nd Earl of Clare (1595-1666), GB 159 Ne C

Several collections of Holles papers are held by Nottinghamshire Archives