This collection primarily consists of the personal papers of William Cavendish and his wife Louisa Cavendish (née O'Callaghan), parents of William Cavendish, 7th Duke of Devonshire; there are also some papers of their children, George Henry Cavendish (1810-1880) and Richard Cavendish (1812-1873).
The largest portion of the collection consists of correspondence, extending to just over 200 letters. These were largely sent to Louisa Cavendish with just one sent to her husband. The letters are primarily from her daughter-in-law, Lady Blanche Cavendish, but there are also letters from Louisa's sons, including William, the future 7th Duke of Devonshire. The letters from William report on his activities, progress and academic achievements at school and subsequently Cambridge University; there are several detailed accounts of the trip he made to Russia in 1826 with the 6th Duke of Devonshire to attend the Coronation of Tsar Nicholas I. Subsequent letters report on the birth and development of William and Blanche's children; family news; the developments undertaken by the 6th Duke of Devonshire at Chatsworth House; the first case of cholera in Britain; local and national politics; and the couple's travels – including visits to Italy.
There are also nine letters from Louisa's son, George Cavendish; three letters from her son Richard Cavendish; and three letters from one of her grandsons [possibly Spencer Compton Cavendish, later 8th Duke of Devonshire].
There are also letters sent to Louisa by William Cavendish's tutors at Eton School and Cambridge University and other correspondents sending congratulations to Louisa on William's results at Cambridge.
There is a single cash account book of William Cavendish, containing details of his private expenditure during 1811-12. Other papers of William Cavendish comprise two diaries/commonplace books dating from 1803 and 1806-11; and two annotated lists of pupils at Eton College dating from 1797 and 1800 (attributed to William Cavendish based on date).
There is a small quantity of personal papers of William and Louisa's children, George H. Cavendish (1810-1880) and his wife Louisa (née Lascelles). George Cavendish's papers comprise a list of members of the Bakewell Rifle Company and a drawing album. There is just one item of Louisa Cavendish's: a commemorative volume she was presented with containing signatures of subscribers to a portrait of George Cavendish.
There is also a single sketchbook tentatively attributed to William and Louisa Cavendish's son Richard, dating from 1821. Finally there are some locks of hair of William Cavendish which were kept by his wife after his death in 1812.