This collection consists of the personal papers of the 6th Duke of Devonshire. It should be viewed alongside the Sixth Duke's correspondence series (GB 2495 CS6) and it includes letters that were not listed when that collection was listed.
The collection contains both incoming and outgoing letters of the 6th Duke of Devonshire (DF4/1) covering topics including, but not limited to, matters of a social, financial, family, estate or collection nature, such as: the death of Blanche Cavendish, the 6th Duke's favourite niece, in 1840; horticulture; local politics; the financial affairs of the 6th Duke's mother, Duchess Georgiana; and – in the correspondence with George Colman – issues relating to the licensing of plays dating from the periods when the 6th Duke served as Lord Chamberlain. There are also numerous letters to the 6th Duke from people requesting financial assistance, charity, patronage and friendship.
Some of the correspondents represented in the collection by one or more letters include: George Colman (1762-1836), playwright and theatre manager; Emily Eden (1797-1869), writer; Caroline Norton (1808-77), author and law reform campaigner; John Payne Collier (1789-1883), literary editor and forger, who also served as the 6th Duke's Librarian for a time; Blanche Cavendish, Countess of Burlington (1812-1840); Sir Jeffry Wyatville (1766-1840), architect; and Decimus Burton (1800-1881), architect. There are also some letters sent by the 6th Duke to Joseph Paxton.
As well as loose correspondence, there are scrapbooks of letters put together by the 6th Duke of Devonshire. The scrapbooks are arranged by topic, such as sculpture, or by the place where the 6th Duke of Devonshire received the letters, such as Brighton. One notable volume includes letters sent to the 6th Duke in response to receiving a lithographic print of the Duke's portrait by Charles Baugniet: there are letters from Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Edwin Landseer, and William Makepeace Thackeray amongst others.
In addition, there are petitions received by the 6th Duke in his role as England's Ambassador to Moscow, for the coronation of Tsar Nicholas I in 1826.
There are diaries kept by the 6th Duke during the periods 1821-1852, 1854 and 1856 (DF4/2/1), as well as date books kept by the Duke which show his whereabouts on different dates during each year (DF4/2/4). Alongside these are journals that were kept by the Duke, mostly covering the topic of travel (DF4/2/2), and address books noting friends and acquaintances in London, Brighton and Russia (DF4/2/3); amongst these are also examples of the Duke's personal calling card.
There is a series of guestbooks, scrapbooks and notes, which includes: guestbooks kept for the 6th Duke of Devonshire's properties at Chatsworth, Lismore, Chiswick and Kemp Town (DF4/3/1); scrapbooks of material collated by the 6th Duke of Devonshire and others, concerning people, places and events, such as Queen Victoria's visit to Chatsworth in 1843 (DF4/3/2); and a collection of ephemera, consisting of items such as lists and diagrams kept by the Duke (DF4/3/3).
In addition, there is a series of personal account books and papers kept by the 6th Duke of Devonshire and his solicitors (DF4/4). The format of these account records ranges from single summary sheets to volumes recording the Duke's private accounts. The Duke's passport (DF4/5) is a testament to his love of travel.
A series of manuscripts and publications (DF4/6) contains material of multiple authorship, including: plays by the playwright George Colman (DF4/6/1); poems, short stories and other creative works such as a joke book, music book and historical notes, authored by the 6th Duke of Devonshire and others (DF4/6/2); and material relating to the 6th Duke of Devonshire's Handbook to Chatsworth and Hardwick, published in 1844 (DF4/6/3).
There is also a series comprising papers of individuals associated with the 6th Duke of Devonshire that were found together with his own papers. These include a journal of Mrs (Robert) Arkwright (née Frances Kemble), actress, and two journals thought to have been authored by W.H. Frederick Cavendish.
Finally there are papers of the executors of the 6th Duke of Devonshire, including material relating to his estate, legacies, annuities, and so on.
The date range of material in the collection extends to before the Duke's birth, c.1780, as some material collected by the Duke was published at this time.