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.