Papers of the Cavendish Family,1563-1707, in the Portland (Welbeck) Collection

Scope and Content

The collection consists primarily of correspondence to, and occasionally between, Cavendish family members, but includes a significant number of incidental estate and official papers.The correspondents include the Cavendishes of Chatsworth, the daughters of the first Duke and their husbands, the children of the second Duke and the families into which they married, and the Pierrepont family of the second Duchess. There are a few estate papers and a number of letters to the first Duke's steward, Anthony Clayton. Some financial accounts are present, particularly of the 1st Duke, and documents relating to the various family households. Miscellaneous items include a pedigree of the Cavendishes in the hand of Sir William Dugdale. Apart from a translation into Latin of part of her 'Life of William Cavendish', there is little in the collection of or by Margaret Lucas.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Cavendish family members featured in this Collection were descended from Sir Charles Cavendish (1552-1617) of Welbeck Abbey, the third son of Sir William Cavendish and Elizabeth ('Bess') of Hardwick.William Cavendish, Earl, Marquess and 1st Duke of Newcastle upon Tyne, was the eldest son of Sir Charles Cavendish. He was appointed governor to Prince Charles in 1638 and remained a staunch royalist during the civil war, becoming general of the king's forces north of the River Trent. Following defeat at the battle of Marston Moor, Cavendish fled into exile where he remained until the Restoration. His interests in art and science were wide-ranging. He was a patron of significance and himself wrote poetry and drama. Particularly noted for his horsemanship, one of his notable activities in exile was the establishment of a riding school in Antwerp. After his return to England with Charles II he continued to be an important patron of literature and the arts.His second wife, Margaret Lucas (1617-1673), established a literary reputation in her own right.The 1st Duke's eldest son, Charles Cavendish, Viscount Mansfield went into exile with his father, returning to England shortly before him. He died in 1659 at the age of 32.Henry Cavendish, 2nd Duke of Newcastle upon Tyne, also accompanied his father into exile. Immediately after the Restoration he became M.P. for Derbyshire, and later for Northumberland. He was Master of the Robes from 1660 to 1662 and a gentleman of the bedchamber until the death of Charles II. He was also a privy councillor, and governor of both Newcastle upon Tyne and Berwick. At the accession of William and Mary the Duke resigned all of his appointments, refused to take the oaths to the new sovereigns, and lived in retirement at Welbeck.Frances Cavendish, wife of the 2nd Duke of Newcastle upon Tyne, was the daughter of William Pierrepont and sister of Grace, who married Gilbert Holles, 3rd Earl of Clare (1633-1689).The Cavendish inheritance descended in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries through the female line, passing first from Henry Cavendish, 2nd Duke of Newcastle upon Tyne (1630-1691) to his daughter, Margaret (1661-1716) who married John Holles, 4th Earl of Clare (1662-1711). Their daughter, Lady Henrietta Cavendish Holles (1694-1755), inherited the bulk of the Cavendish estates after litigation. She married Edward Harley, 2nd Earl of Oxford (1689-1741). When their daughter, Lady Margaret Cavendish Harley, was married in 1743 to William Bentinck, 2nd Duke of Portland (1709-1762), a considerable quantity of the Cavendish papers passed into the Portland Collection.


The collection has been divided into two broad categories; correspondence and miscellaneous papers. The letters are listed in a single numerical sequence, within which they are arranged alphabetically by correspondent, in chronological order. The miscellaneous papers follow an order given to them when housed at 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, 39 pp At the National Register of Archives, London:Typescript Catalogue, 39 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 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

Further genealogical records and personal and literary papers, particularly of William Cavendish, 1st Duke of Newcastle upon Tyne (1593-1676), GB 159 Pw V

British Library