Papers of Lord William George Frederick Cavendish-Bentinck (1802-1848), soldier and politician, in the Portland (Welbeck) Collection

Scope and Content

The correspondence reflects Lord George's political life, his military career and keen interest in horse racing. Letters concerning the dispute with Captain Ker feature strongly in the collection. On the political side, there are many papers arising from Lord George's interest in Protectionism, particularly series of correspondence with merchants and businessmen, as well as papers reflecting more general political issues of the day.

Administrative / Biographical History

Lord William George Frederick Cavendish-Bentinck (1802-1848), son of William Henry Cavendish-Scott-Bentinck, 4th Duke of Portland, initially embarked upon a military career, but after a dispute with his superior officer, Captain Ker, changed direction. He became private secretary to his uncle, George Canning, when Canning was Foreign Secretary and leader of the House of Commons. Lord George later entered politics himself and was M.P. for Lynn from 1828 until his death.Initially a Whig, he joined the Conservative opposition during the 1830's. He was twice offered governmental office and on each occasion refused. In 1845, however, he took on a more public role when he became an active Protectionist. This led him into a close alliance with Disraeli, who advised Lord George on matters of party tactics. In 1846 Lord George was a central figure in organising the Protectionists as a third political party, and he ultimately, if reluctantly, came to lead the party. His leadership was influential, but in 1847 he announced his resignation, owing to several differences with the party on religious matters. Despite this, he remained a prominent upholder of the Protectionist cause.Politics aside, the main passion in Lord George Bentinck's life was for the turf. He had inherited a taste for horse racing and appeared several times as a jockey, right up until 1845. He ran a successful stud. In 1844 he had 40 horses running in public, and around 100 in total. He was a heavy, though seemingly successful, gambler and experienced considerable success with his horses. He also worked hard to improve horse racing practices.Lord George did not marry, and died young in 1848, apparently from a heart attack suffered while out walking from Welbeck Abbey.


The letters are arranged alphabetically by correspondent, in chronological sequence. Unless stated otherwise, all letters are to Lord George. The 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, 23 pp At the National Register of Archives, London:Typescript Catalogue, 23 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

Letters to his father William, 4th Duke of Portland (Reference GB 159 Pw H 89-227

Bodleian Library, Oxford

British Library

National Archives

Other collections listed through the National Register of Archives


M. Seth-Smith, 'Lord Paramount of the Turf: Lord George Bentinck 1802-1848' (London, 1971)B. Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield, 'Lord George Bentinck: A Political Biography' (London, 1858)