Papers of William Cavendish, 3rd Duke of Devonshire (1698 - 1755)

Scope and Content

This collection contains a small quantity of personal papers of William Cavendish, 3rd Duke of Devonshire, and should be viewed in conjunction with two other collections held in the Devonshire Archives: the First Series of Correspondence (GB 2495 CS1) which contains the majority of the 3rd Duke's correspondence; and the Papers of William Cavendish, 4th Duke of Devonshire (GB 2495 DF2), which contains further accounts of the 3rd Duke.

The present collection contains a volume of correspondence maintained by the Private Secretary of the 3rd Duke, Sir Robert Wilmot. Primarily dating from 1734-1759, the letters relate to the affairs of the Dukes of Devonshire and to those of Derbyshire, and include many letters sent and received by the 3rd Duke and his son the 4th Duke. There is also a loose letter from Henry Bourne enclosing a letter from a Mr N. Thornhill relating to a living offered by the 3rd Duke; and three copy letters to the 3rd Duke from Colonel Bagshawe.

The other component of the collection is an account book dating from 1737-1753, recording the 3rd Duke's account with Thomas Snow and John Paltock, and including payments received for farm rents, payments of steward's wages, and other payments and receipts.

Administrative / Biographical History

William Cavendish, 3rd Duke of Devonshire (1698-1755), Whig politician, was the son of William Cavendish, 2nd Duke of Devonshire, and Rachel Russell.

He was educated at New College, Oxford, and then entered politics. He was a Whig MP for Lostwithiel (1721-1724), Grampound (1724-1727), and Hungtingdonshire (1727-1729), until his father's death sent him to the House of Lords as Duke of Devonshire in 1729.

Other offices held by the 3rd Duke included: Lord Steward of the Household (1723-1737 and 1745-1749); Privy Counsellor (from 1731); Lord Privy Seal (1731-1733); and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (1737-1744). He was appointed a Knight of the Garter in 1733. In the same year Devonshire House, the London residence of the Dukes of Devonshire, was destroyed by fire, and the 3rd Duke commissioned the architect and designer William Kent to rebuild and furnish the house in the Palladian style.

In 1718, the 3rd Duke married Catherine Hoskins (c.1700-1777), the daughter of a City businessman. They had seven children: Lady Caroline; William, later 4th Duke of Devonshire; Lord George Augustus; Lady Elizabeth; Field Marshal Lord Frederick; Lord John; and Lady Rachel. The Duke and Duchess had a temporary separation in 1748-9 due to the Duchess's disapproval of the bride chosen by their son and heir, William, Marquess of Hartington. This was the 16-year-old Lady Charlotte Boyle, sole heiress of her father, 3rd Earl of Burlington. Whilst the Duke and Duchess overcame their differences, the Duchess refused ever to be reconciled with her daughter-in-law. Lady Charlotte and William had four children, but Charlotte never became Duchess of Devonshire herself: in 1754 she contracted smallpox and died at the age of only 23. The vast Burlington inheritance – comprising several large estates and London properties, with all their contents – thereby passed into the Cavendish family.

The 3rd Duke died on 5 December 1755.


The collection is arranged in two series, as follows:

  • DF1/1: Correspondence of William Cavendish, 3rd Duke of Devonshire (1713-1759)
  • DF1/2: Accounts of William Cavendish, 3rd Duke of Devonshire (1737-1753)

Access Information

The collection is open for consultation. Access to the archive at Chatsworth is by appointment only. For more information please visit the website.

Acquisition Information

The material was extant in The Devonshire Collection prior to 1 August 2011.

Other Finding Aids

An item-level catalogue of the collection in PDF format can be found on the Chatsworth website.

Conditions Governing Use

Copies of material in the archive can be supplied for private study and personal research purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

Much of the material remains in the copyright of Chatsworth House Trust, but some is also subject to third-party copyright. It is the responsibility of researchers to obtain permission both from Chatsworth House Trust, and from the any other rights holders before reproducing material for purposes other than research or private study.

Custodial History

The material in the collection was created or accumulated by William Cavendish, 3rd Duke of Devonshire. Its exact archival history is unknown.

Related Material

The majority of the 3rd Duke's correspondence is held in the First Correspondence Series (GB 2495 CS1); and there is a further volume of the 3rd Duke's accounts dating from 1753-1755 in the Papers of the 4th Duke of Devonshire (see GB 2495 DF2/1/1).