Papers of William Henry C. Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland (1738-1809), statesman, in the Portland (Welbeck) Collection

Scope and Content

The correspondence with leading political figures touches on all the major issues of his time, including the American War of Independence and the Irish Act of Union. Many relatives, friends and even strangers sought his support and patronage and their letters help to demonstrate the network of influence he controlled. Correspondence with political figures reflects his Whig connections and there is much concerning his acrimonious dispute with Sir James Lowther in Cumberland.There is a considerable quantity of correspondence relating to the running of the various estates owned by the duke and his mother, Margaret, the 2nd Duchess. It reflects their difficult financial situation, and developments in agricultural and horticultural practices. He maintained a close relationship with family members including his mother and father, sisters (Elizabeth Thynne, Marchioness of Bath, and Henrietta Grey, Countess of Stamford), his younger brother (Lord Edward Bentinck), his wife (Lady Dorothy Cavendish) and various members of the Dutch Bentinck family. Correspondence with friends, notably George Byng (4th Viscount Torrington), Sir Richard Kaye and Baron Beaumont Hotham, is also present.The miscellaneous papers include some correspondence and estate papers. Election matters are well represented, especially the Cumberland dispute with Sir James Lowther. There are also papers relating to the affairs of the East India Company and letters on foreign intelligence. Included in the miscellaneous section is the large collection of letters in French from Countess Charlotte Sophie Bentinck (1715-1800) to her grand-daughter, Lady Sophie Hawkins Whitshed, which cover both Bentinck family matters and the political and diplomatic developments in Europe in the years leading up to and during the French Revolution.

Administrative / Biographical History

William Henry Cavendish Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland (1738-1809) was a leading politician and statesman throughout the second half of the 18th century, whose life was entirely dominated by his political career. He was elected M.P. for Weobly, Herefordshire in 1761, but took his seat in the House of Lords when he inherited the title from his father in 1762. From then until his resignation as Prime Minister in 1809 he held enormous political influence. He was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, 1783, Home Secretary, 1794-1801 and served twice as Prime Minister.


The letters are arranged alphabetically by correspondent, in chronological sequence. Unless stated otherwise, all letters are to the 3rd Duke. Other miscellaneous papers are to be found at the end, arranged in the order in which they were removed from Welbeck.

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, 341 pp At the National Register of Archives, London:Typescript catalogue, 341 pp On the World Wide Web:Catalogue accessible from the website for Manuscripts and Special Collections, Manuscripts Online Catalogue.The old typescript catalogue has now been considerably upgraded and the Manuscripts Online Catalogue should be consulted for the full version.

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 form a sub-group of the Portland (Welbeck) Collection (Pw) and were part of the first deposit received from Welbeck Abbey in 1949 from the 7th Duke of Portland.

Related Material

Papers of William Henry Cavendish-Scott-Bentinck, 4th Duke of Portland (1768-1854) in the Portland (Welbeck) Collection GB 159 Pw H

Papers of Dorothy Bentinck, Duchess of Portland (1750-1794) in the Portland (Welbeck) Collection GB 159 Pw G

Correspondence in the Portland (London) Collection, and Papers of W.H.C. Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland, 1664-1809 Gb 159 Pl C

National Archives

British Library

Other collections listed through the National Register of Archives


Mrs Aubrey Le Blond Charlotte Sophie, 'Countess Bentinck, her Life and Times', 2 vols (Hutchinson; 1912)

Personal Names

Corporate Names