Papers of George Augustus Henry Cavendish, 1st Earl of Burlington of the 2nd creation (1754-1834), Lady Elizabeth Cavendish, Countess of Burlington (1760-1835), and members of the Compton Family

Scope and Content

The collection contains the personal papers of George Cavendish, 1st Earl of Burlington of the 2nd creation (son of William Cavendish, 4th Duke of Devonshire) and his wife, Elizabeth Cavendish (née Compton). There are also some papers created by Lady Elizabeth's ancestors, Lady Elizabeth Compton and Hon. Charles Compton.

The papers of Elizabeth Cavendish, Countess of Burlington, comprise 12 of her pocket diaries, and two notebooks. The diaries contain short entries about a variety of subjects including the health of Lady Elizabeth and her family, her appointments and engagements, places that she visited, and notes marking the dates when her husband, George Cavendish, was away. The two pocket notebooks concern expenditure, including payments made for her wedding day.

There are also papers of two of Countess Elizabeth's ancestors. The Papers of Lady Elizabeth Compton, daughter of George Compton, 4th Earl of Northampton (d. 1747), comprise letters received by Lady Elizabeth – primarily from her brother Charles Compton and his wife Mary, but also including letters from her sister, Ann Rushout, and another of her brothers, James Compton, 5th Earl of Northampton, and his wife Lady Elizabeth Compton.

The letters from Charles Compton include those he sent home from various locations whilst on his Grand Tour of the Continent during 1717-20. There is also a series of letters sent to his sister from Lisbon during his time as Consul there, including references to their social circle in Lisbon, relations between Spain and Portugal and Spain and the UK, the war [probably the War of Jenkins' Ear], privateers, and men leaving to go to the West Indies.

The Papers of Charles Compton, son of George Compton, 4th Earl of Northampton (and grandfather of Lady Elizabeth) consist of a copy letter book containing copies of his outgoing correspondence during the first three years of his time as Consul at Lisbon (1727-30), and therefore complement the letters he sent to his sister.

Finally, the collection contains a small number of personal papers of George Augustus Henry Cavendish, 1st Earl of Burlington of the 2nd creation. These comprise: letters he received concerning the memorial to painter [George] Romney in St Mary's Church, Dalton-in-Furness, Lancashire [now Cumbria]; a list of the stakes won by George Cavendish's horses between 1820 and 1829; and an obituary/memorial for George Augustus Henry Cavendish. There is also a bill for the expenses of Henry Cavendish's funeral. Henry Cavendish (1731-1810), grandson of the 2nd Duke of Devonshire, was a noted scientist and natural philosopher and George Cavendish acted as his executor.

Administrative / Biographical History

George Augustus Henry Cavendish, 1st Earl of Burlington, nobleman and politician, was born on 21 March 1754. He was the third son of William Cavendish, 4th Duke of Devonshire, and Charlotte Elizabeth Boyle, Baroness Clifford; his eldest brother William became 5th Duke of Devonshire.

Styled Lord George Cavendish for most of his life, he attended Trinity College Cambridge, and subsequently became an MP. He was MP for Knaresborough from 1775-1780; for Derby from 1780 to 1796; and for Derbyshire from 1797 to 1831.

His title was a revival of that held by his grandfather, Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington and 4th Earl of Cork.

The Earl married Lady Elizabeth Compton, daughter of Charles Compton, 7th Earl of Northampton and Lady Ann Somerset, on 27 February 1782 at Trinity Chapel, Compton Street, St. George Hanover Square, London. They had six children: Caroline (d. 1867); William (1783-1812); George Henry Compton (1784-1809); Anne (1787-1871); Henry Frederick Compton (1789-1873); and Charles Compton (1793-1863).

The 1st Earl of Burlington died on 4 May 1834 at age 80 at Burlington House, Piccadilly, London. He had purchased this property from his nephew, the 6th Duke of Devonshire, in 1815, and with the assistance of architect Samuel Ware made a number of significant modifications to the house, including the building of Burlington Arcade along the side of the property.

George Cavendish was buried at All Saints Church in Derby. His will was probated in June 1834. His grandson, William Cavendish became the 7th Duke of Devonshire.

The Earl's wife, Lady Elizabeth, was born on 25 June 1760 and died on 7 April 1835 at Compton Place in Eastbourne, Sussex – a property she brought to the marriage, having inherited it from her father. As a result of her marriage, Lady Elizabeth Compton was styled as Countess of Burlington from 10 September 1831.

Two other members of the Compton family are represented in the collection:

Lady Elizabeth Compton was the daughter of George Compton, 4th Earl of Northampton. She lived at 20 Golden Square, London between 1728-1742. She died, unmarried in 1742.

Charles Compton (1698-1755) was the 3rd son of George Compton, 4th Earl of Northampton, by his 1st wife Jane Fox, daughter of Sir Stephen Fox of Farley. He was educated at Eton, 1706-7 and graduated from Christ Church, Oxford, in 1714. He took the Grand Tour in France and Italy in 1718-20. He married Mary Lucy on 14 August 1727. He held the Offices of: Consul at Lisbon, 1727-42; envoy extraordinary, 1742-5; and paymaster of pensions 1745-until his death.

In December 1754, when his brother George succeeded to the peerage, he was returned on the family interest at Northampton, holding the constituency from 9 December 1754 - 20 November 1755.


The collection has been arranged into four sections, as follows:

  • DF31/1: Papers of Elizabeth Cavendish, Countess of Burlington (1774-1807)
  • DF31/2: Papers of Lady Elizabeth Compton (1717-43; 1834)
  • DF31/3: Papers of Hon. Charles Compton (1727-30)
  • DF31/4: Papers of George Augustus Henry Cavendish, 1st Earl of Burlington of the 2nd creation (1813-c.1834)

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 papers were created or accumulated by Lord George Augustus Henry Cavendish and his wife Elizabeth Compton. It is assumed that Countess Elizabeth came into possession of the papers of her ancestors Elizabeth and Charles Compton, although there is no evidence for this. The exact archival history of the collection is unknown.

Geographical Names