Hardwick Manuscripts

Scope and Content

The collection comprises material created and collected by the early Cavendish family members, linked predominantly to the sites of Hardwick, Chatsworth and London. It includes an important series of 16th and 17th-century Cavendish family household financial accounts, inventories, rentals, surveys, memoranda books and court records mostly related to the land owned and or managed by the Cavendishes. It also includes a large collection of scribal manuscripts of a political, literary and utilitarian nature - including important texts by Francis Bacon and a copy of Purchas's Virginia's Verger. It also contains a 17th-century muniment register of the deeds in the Hardwick Evidence Room and a 17th-century catalogue of the library at Hardwick.

There is also an additional series of important inventories and legal documents that clarify the family's ownership of their land and are clearly related to the Hardwick Drawers series which was housed in the same room for centuries.

The financial account books include books that detail daily expenses of Bess of Hardwick (later Elizabeth Talbot, Countess of Shrewsbury and dowager countess) and her second husband, Sir William Cavendish. Also included among the twelve books from the period when Elizabeth was Countess of Shrewsbury and then dowager countess, are building financial accounts of Hardwick Hall and books with details ranging from the employment information of servants to the annual cost of a New Year s gift to Queen Elizabeth I. Many of these volumes are extensively annotated by Bess between the 1550s-1600s.

The financial account books provide an insight into the longstanging single-entry, double receiver financial accounting system of the 17th century which Philip Riden points out is a 'genuine bureacracy, which funtioned independently of the circumstances of the family'. This can be seen in some of the financial accounts which continue to be recorded the same way despite the death of the 1st Earl of Devonshire, then that of the 2nd Earl, and the succession of the 3rd Earl from the guardianship of his mother, Countess Christian, and no matter the location of the family.

Later household financial accounts include the Privy Purse financial accounts of William, 3rd Earl of Devonshire, which record, among other things, payments to Thomas Hobbes.

The brief books in this series provide summaries of the areas of expenditure across all the Cavendish interests including the 1st and 2nd Earls investement in 'adventures at sea'. Greater in-detail examination of the financial account books and memoranda books from this period yield information about investments in the East India Company, Virginia Company, and Somers Isles Company.

This collection provides some insight into the involvement of women in the running of the estates. At the very top of the hierarchy, the countesses represented here in the records are shown to have spent great sums of money on law causes to establish claim to their property and secure it for their offspring as well completing lower-level management of the estates through checking and signing off their own financial account books, just as the earls did. HMS/2/15, which includes copies of decades of indentures, is most representative of Countess Christian's period as head of the family - perhaps because she spent much time and money restoring the finances of the family after the death of her husband, which involved selling certain parts of land to repay his debts. The permission to establish an alms-house at Leicester Abbey is also included in memoranda book HMS/2/15.

The kitchen financial accounts provide evidence of the types of people the earls and the Dowager Countess Christian were entertaining and the sort of lifestyle they lived. An inventory of Sir Henry Cavendish s house at Northaw c. 1540 with annotated notes by his wife Elizabeth Cavendish ("Bess of Hardwick") (HMS/5/1), show her early involvement with the custodianship of Cavendish family possessions and wealth. At the other end of the class spectrum the records capture the roles of female nurses, midwives, nursery maids, gardeners and cooks who were paid wages by and rented land from the Cavendishes.

Detailed analysis of the financial account books and rentals in this collection sheds light on the extent to which lives and generations of families revolved around the estates owned by the Cavendishes. For example, servants often rented properties on the Chatsworth and Hardwick estates, and provisions were bought for the kitchen from the tenant farmers of the Cavendish estates.

The other main part of this collection is the manuscripts. These manuscripts link the early earls to scholars of their day including Bacon, Baldassare Castiglione and Johannes Magirus. They provide some insight into the kind of material the earls may have been exposed to during their education and also allude to individual interests of the family. Much involvement with parliaments as well as investement in overseas adventures could be the reason for some of the types of manuscripts in this collection. It is not known to what extent these manuscripts were commissioned by the earls or other family members or were bought from book dealers or authors in London. The acquisitions of some books are recorded in the Privy Purse and House Steward financial accounts in this collection - again highlighting the financial accounts as a useful axis from which all activities of the household and estates can be identified to some extent.

A catalogue of the library based on a version compiled by Thomas Hobbes (scholar and tutor to the 2nd, 3rd and 4th earls) is also part of this collection (HMS/4/41) and like the 17th-century muniment register in the collection (HMS/5/14) shows how the Cavendishes managed their possessions not just through financial accounts and rentals but through keeping inventories. It also illustrates the vast breadth of information the Cavendishes had access to in the 17th century through their well-stocked library of printed books and manuscripts.

Whilst the additional Hardwick Manuscripts are mostly indentures on large parchment sheets rather than bound volumes like the rest of the collection, they link to this collection through their subject matter, which deals mostly with the way in which land and property were acquired and passed on through the family. This material is most similar to the distinct Hardwick Drawers collection also at Chatsworth, probably owing to the fact that the Drawers collection largely comprises legal documents and deeds, but it has more of a focus on land leases than family members. The muniment register is the item that links that collection to this, as it lists the places and locations of deeds that were in the Hardwick Drawers in the early 17th century.

The court records are perhaps the most eclectic records of the collection, but again, provide insight into the happenings occuring on Cavendish land or give information on land linked to the roles Sir William Cavendish held as courtier and treasurer to the King's Chamber.

The following items that were listed in Eugenie Strong's list HL/1 are missing from the collection:

HM/60 - A sermon preached before the Judges of Assizes for the County of Devon in St Peter's Church in Exon (HMS/4/25),

HM/61 - A discourse on Matthew chaper 28, verse 13, by Mr Lushingon, St Mary (HMS/4/26)

HM/66a - House Steward financial account book of William Cavendish, 3rd Earl of Devonshire, 1663-1667 (HMS/1//36). Although this is listed in Strong's catalogue as a separate item to HM/36 (HMS/1/37) the fact that they are almost identical in description and date span raises the question of whether HM/66a may in fact be HM/36 mistakenly recatalogued.

Administrative / Biographical History

Elizabeth Talbot, Countess of Shrewsbury

Elizabeth [Bess] Talbot [née Hardwick], [called Bess of Hardwick], Countess of Shrewsbury (1527?-1608), noblewoman, was born to John Hardwick (c.1487-1528) of Hardwick, Derbyshire, and his wife, Elizabeth. When her father died in 1528, a significant portion of the 400 acres he had owned in and around Hardwick was seized by the crown, to be administered by the office of wards until his son and heir, James, came of age. Few details are known of Bess's life in these years beyond the fact that her mother married Ralph Leche of Chatsworth, Derbyshire, probably in 1529.

Bess married Robert Barlow (or Barley) of Barlow, Derbyshire. Although the precise date of the marriage is unknown, it seems to have taken place before-or perhaps on-28 May 1543. The marriage produced no children. Upon Barlow's death on 24 December 1544 Bess received a modest inheritance.

On 20 August 1547 Bess married the twice-widowed Sir William Cavendish (1508-1557). It has been suggested that she was, at the time of her marriage, a lady-in-waiting to Frances Grey, Marchioness of Dorset. The wedding took place in the Grey family chapel at Bradgate Manor, Leicestershire. Bess, as a result of her marriage to Cavendish, was now moving in aristocratic and royal circles.

Between 1548 and 1557 Bess gave birth to eight children, six of whom survived into adulthood. Their eldest son was Henry Cavendish. The Dukes of Devonshire are descended from Bess's second son, William Cavendish (1551-1626), and the Dukes of Newcastle (and, indirectly, the dukes of Portland) are descended from her youngest son, Charles.

In June 1549 Cavendish bought the estate of Chatsworth, which until 1547 had belonged to the Leches, to whom Bess was related by marriage. They almost immediately embarked on an ambitious project of rebuilding. In 1550 Bess and Sir William had purchased the manor of Ashford and 8,000 acres of land from the Earl of Westmorland; in 1553 they bought 250 acres in Chatsworth and Baslow; and in 1554 they purchased an additional 70 acres near Chatsworth, as well as part of Edensor, the village which immediately bordered upon Chatsworth. It is difficult not to see these purchases as reflecting a desire on the part of Bess to return to her native Derbyshire in triumph, flaunting her new-found status as Lady Cavendish.

All the Derbyshire properties were held jointly in the names of both Bess and Sir William for both of their lives-a shrewd, if unusual, move. Sir William died in 1557. Bess found herself in a precarious financial situation in the wake of her husband's death, for Sir William died owing £5237 to the crown. This turn of events led Bess to lobby Parliament in 1558 to protest against the proposed bill for the queen's debtors.

At some point after Cavendish's death, but before Elizabeth I's accession, Bess married Sir William St Loe (c.1520-1565?).Unlike Cavendish, St Loe hailed from an ancient and noble family. Bess and St Loe spent much of their married life apart: Bess resided largely at Chatsworth, while St Loe, owing to his duties at court, spent a great deal of his time in London. They had no children, and when St Loe died-probably in 1565-Bess, rather than St Loe's brother Edward, inherited the bulk of the estate.

If marriage to St Loe improved Bess's finances, it also brought her into Queen Elizabeth's inner circle. In 1559 Bess was appointed a gentlewoman of the Queen's Privy Chamber (and it is the fact that she is listed as 'Mrs St Loe' in privy chamber records that suggests that her third marriage must have taken place before Elizabeth I's accession). Bess and the Queen fell out spectacularly over Bess's alleged involvement in the illicit marriage of Katherine Grey and Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford; as a result Bess was dismissed from the Privy Chamber. In the late 1580s, when Bess's marriage to her fourth husband, the Earl of Shrewsbury, had broken down, the Queen intervened on Bess's behalf, asking Shrewsbury to permit his wife to see him.

On 1 November 1567 Bess married George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury (c. 1522-1590. At the time of their marriage Shrewsbury's property included the castles of Tutbury, Pontefract, and Sheffield, as well as a manor house at Sheffield and a lodge at Handsworth, hunting lodges at Tutbury and Worksop, and the converted monastic buildings at Rufford Abbey. Shrewsbury's union with Bess, which brought together two great fortunes, was cemented-at Bess's insistence-by the arranged marriages of four of their children: Gilbert Talbot, who became the 7th Earl, wed Bess's daughter Mary, and Bess's eldest son, Henry Cavendish, wed Shrewsbury's daughter Grace.

In 1568 the queen designated Shrewsbury the keeper of Mary, Queen of Scots, and the following year he and Bess received the Catholic queen at Tutbury. During the period of the Scottish queen's captivity, relations between the Earl and Countess steadily deteriorated. In 1584 Bess separated from her husband and retired to Chatsworth. At the time of their separation Shrewsbury attempted to claim Chatsworth as his under the terms of their marriage settlement. A legal battle ensued, which was finally resolved in 1587 when the courts awarded Bess both Chatsworth and a sizeable income from her husband. In 1584, at which time Chatsworth's fate had been uncertain, Bess had purchased from her brother the family manor house at Hardwick. In 1587, armed with the financial means to realize her plans, she embarked on an ambitious plan for rebuilding, much as she and Cavendish had done earlier at Chatsworth. The majority of the renovations at 'Hardwick Old Hall'-seem to have been completed by 1591.

As a result of her husband's death on 18 November 1590, Bess had inherited one third of the disposable lands that Talbot had owned at the time of their marriage. Almost immediately upon completing the building of Hardwick Old Hall, she turned her attention to building another Hardwick Hall. Owing to the survival of extensive building accounts, a considerable amount is known regarding the construction of Hardwick New Hall. The shell had been completed by the end of 1593, Bess took up residence on 4 October 1597, and the final building work was completed two years later. This extraordinary house became the focal point of-as well as the enduring monument to-Bess's dynastic ambitions.

The interior was, by all accounts, equally majestic and self-referential. An inventory of 1601 reveals that Bess filled Hardwick with a splendid collection of paintings, furniture, silver, tapestries, and embroidery.

In 1601 Bess made her will, in which she bequeathed the contents of the two Hardwicks and also of Oldcotes (another Derbyshire property whose construction she had overseen) to her second and favourite son, William. The contents of Chatsworth she left to her eldest son, Henry. Bess also made provision for her other children, as well as for her grandchildren, her servants, and the residents of the almshouse that she had founded in Derby. On 20 March 1603 she altered her will, disinheriting her granddaughter Arbella and her son Henry, with each of whom she had quarrelled bitterly for decades. Although she could not break the entail of Chatsworth itself on Henry, she left William the house's contents, and the year after her death he bought out his brother's interest in the house itself.

Bess died on 13 February 1608, and her body lay in state at Hardwick until her funeral, on or about 4 May 1608, in All Hallows (now All Saints' Cathedral), Derby. She was at the time of her death one of the richest people in England, and her tomb, designed by Robert Smythson, famously describes her as the 'aedificatrix' of Chatsworth, Hardwick, and Oldcotes. Bess is today viewed not only as the builder of perhaps the most magnificent of the Elizabethan 'prodigy houses', but also as the founder of a great dynasty.

[Primary source: Goldring, Elizabeth, 'Talbot [née Hardwick], Elizabeth [Bess] [called Bess of Hardwick], countess of Shrewsbury (1527?-1608)', (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004). https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/26925. By permission of Oxford University Press.]

Sir William Cavendish

Sir William Cavendish (1508-1557), administrator, was born on 1 May 1508, a younger son of Sir Thomas Cavendish (c.1480-1524) of Cavendish, Suffolk, and his wife, Alice, daughter of John Smith of Padbrook Hall, Cavendish. William followed in his father's footsteps, making his fortune as an auditor. By the early 1530s he was an accepted financial expert. He was one of Cromwell's principal agents in the dissolution of the monasteries, which gave him additional bargaining power at a time when he had recently set up house in Hertfordshire and was starting to acquire leases.

By 1534 Cavendish had married Margaret, daughter of Edward Bostock of Cheshire, with whom he had five children; only two daughters survived infancy. In February 1540 he bought the manor of Northaw, Hertfordshire, formerly leased by him from St Albans Abbey. On 9 June his wife died.

Cavendish enhanced his reputation by his performance as a commissioner in Ireland, where he arrived on 8 September 1540, appointed to investigate the administration of Lord Deputy Grey, along with the vice-treasurer's accounts and the surveys for the dissolution of the Irish monasteries. He won praise for: his painstaking journey and for being a man that 'little feareth the displeasure of any man', in the King's service.

Following his return to England he received licence on 26 October 1541 for a settlement of his estates before his marriage to Elizabeth Parys, widow, the daughter of Thomas Parker of Poslingford, Suffolk. They were married at the London Blackfriars on 3 November 1542, but their three daughters all died young, and Elizabeth was dead by 1547.

Cavendish paid £1,000 for the position of treasurer of the chamber, granted to him on 19 February 1546. A month later he was in trouble with the Privy Council for failing to bring the declaration of his accounts before the chancellor, but he was still knighted on 23 April. His marriage to Elizabeth Barley - 'Bess', née Hardwick (d. 1608), which took place secretly at 2 a.m. on 20 August 1547 seems to have been promoted both by the Greys and the Brandons. In 1547 he sat in Parliament for Thirsk, was a JP for Hertfordshire, and furnished great horses, light horses, and demi-lances for the wars, under an assessment of £100.

Cavendish had also been appointed Treasurer of the Court of General Surveyors, but he lost this position in 1547. The office of Treasurer of the Chamber was losing importance, moreover. In 1555 he also became deputy chamberlain of the exchequer. By 1557 his accounts were under examination. As always with unexpected audits, utter confusion was alleged but not really substantiated. The report on Cavendish's debts submitted to Lord Treasurer Winchester on 12 October 1557 shows an initial assessment of his debt as £5,237 0s. 0½d., but he put forward various counter-claims, including the dishonesty of his clerk Thomas Knot, who ran away leaving him £12,031 1s. 8d. in debt. Cavendish wrote a grovelling appeal for clemency, describing himself as 'a humble pore man standing without her highnes great mercy' (TNA: PRO, E101/424/10), and listing his resources as 500 marks in land and £440 in fees and life annuities. He died on 25 October 1557 and was buried on the 30th.

[Source: Jack, Sybil M., 'Cavendish, Sir William (1508-1557)', (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004). https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/4943. By permission of Oxford University Press.]

William Cavendish, 1st Earl of Devonshire

William Cavendish, 1st Earl of Devonshire (1551-1626), nobleman, was born on 27 December 1551, the second son of Sir William Cavendish (1508-1557) and Elizabeth Cavendish, ('Bess of Hardwick' later Elizabeth St Loe and then Talbot, Countess of Shrewsbury). His godparents were Elizabeth Parr, Marchioness of Northampton, William Paulet, 1st Marquess of Winchester, and William Herbert, 1st Earl of Pembroke. His two brothers were Henry Cavendish (1550-1616), soldier and traveller, and Sir Charles Cavendish (1553-1617), of Welbeck Abbey, Nottinghamshire. However, William Cavendish was his mother's favourite, especially from the 1580s onwards when she was disillusioned with his elder brother.

William's stepfather, and his mother's third husband, William St Loe, had William and Henry Cavendish educated at Eton College from 21 November 1560. William Cavendish matriculated from Clare College, Cambridge, on 29 September 1567. In the marriage settlement for his mother and her fourth husband, George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury, considerable sums were promised to William and Charles Cavendish when they reached the age of twenty-one.

When Cavendish turned twenty-one Shrewsbury, because of the cost of the guardianship of Mary, Queen of Scots, was not in a strong financial position. The Countess of Shrewsbury agreed to absolve her husband from what he had promised to pay her and her children if he would legally return the lands she had originally brought to the marriage and give them to William and Charles Cavendish, with a discretionary life interest in them for herself. On 22 April 1572 Shrewsbury signed the deed of gift, something he was to regret later. During the same year William Cavendish was admitted to study law at Gray's Inn. He was possibly knighted in 1580, but the evidence is ambiguous. On 21 March 1581 he married Anne (d. before 1619), daughter and coheir of Henry Keighley of Keighley, Yorkshire, and his wife, Mary. The couple had three sons, including William Cavendish, 2nd Earl of Devonshire (1590-1628), nobleman, and three daughters. By 1584 the Earl and Countess of Shrewsbury were in conflict, and he claimed the rents from his wife's tenants in Derbyshire and Somerset. He raided Chatsworth, Derbyshire, and Cavendish barred the great doors while his mother fled. Cavendish, armed and surrounded by his loyal servants, faced his stepfather as he prepared to fight for his family's honour and inheritance. Elizabeth I commanded that they call off their feud, and royal officials took Cavendish to London, where he was briefly imprisoned in the Fleet.

On both occasions when Cavendish was returned to Parliament (for Liverpool in 1586 and for Newport in Monmouthshire in 1588), it was from boroughs remote from Derbyshire. Chatsworth was legally entailed to Henry Cavendish and reverted to him at Shrewsbury's death in 1590. He was not on speaking terms with his mother, and she bought lands for William Cavendish valued at £15,900 by 1584. William Cavendish had little interest in life at court, but from 1595 to 1596 he was Sheriff of Derbyshire, his local consequence being based on his status as a great landowner.

Cavendish became more prominent after the accession of James I in 1603. He was elevated to the peerage as Baron Cavendish of Hardwick on 4 May 1605. He inherited the bulk of his mother's land and property when she died on 13 February 1608 and bought Chatsworth from his elder brother in the following year. Cavendish managed his estates very carefully, promoted industrial enterprise, had a thorough understanding of finance, continued to purchase land, and was one of the first investors in Virginia and a co-grantee of the Bermuda Islands, with one of Bermuda's nine parishes named Devonshire after his most senior title. He also invested in the Russia Company, Somers Isles Company, and North-West Passage Company, and very heavily but successfully in the East India Company. His local importance grew. He was named Bailiff of Tutbury Castle, Staffordshire, Custos Rotulorum for Derbyshire in 1615, and, jointly with his heir, Lord Lieutenant of Derbyshire from 1619. Cavendish succeeded his elder brother on 12 October 1616, acquiring more property, and was promoted Earl of Devonshire on 7 August 1618. This title was acquired after some unedifying petitioning of Arbella Stuart and cost Cavendish £10,900 in total. Devonshire married again by 1619, his second wife being Elizabeth (d. c.1642). They had one son. Devonshire died at Hardwick Hall on 3 March 1626 and was buried in the parish church at Edensor. Leaving his heir about 100,000 acres, he had consolidated his own inheritance and laid the foundation for one of the greatest estates of the seventeenth century.

[Source: Levin, Carole, 'Cavendish, William, first earl of Devonshire (1551-1626)', (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004). https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/4944. By permission of Oxford University Press.]

William Cavendish, 2nd Earl of Devonshire

William Cavendish, 2nd Earl of Devonshire (1590-1628), nobleman, was the second son of William Cavendish, 1st Earl of Devonshire (1551-1626), and his first wife, Anne Keighley. He was educated by Thomas Hobbes the philosopher, who resided at Hardwick as his private tutor for many years and accompanied him in a tour through France and Italy before his coming of age. Hobbes states that he was his pupil's friend for twenty years, and eulogizes his learning in the dedication of his translation of Thucydides. Cavendish was admitted to Gray's Inn on 14 May 1602, and it is asserted that he was created MA at Cambridge, incorporated at Oxford on 8 July 1608. He was knighted at Whitehall in 1609. He married, allegedly against his will, on 10 April 1608; his wife was Christian Bruce (1595-1675), daughter of Edward, Lord Bruce of Kinloss, and later a notable royalist. Cavendish was after this a leader of court society, and an intimate friend of James I. He was MP for Bishop's Castle in 1610 and for Derbyshire in 1614, 1621, 1624, 1625, and 1626, and Lord Lieutenant of Derbyshire, jointly with his father in 1619 and alone after the latter's death. In April 1622 he introduced ambassadors from the emperor Ferdinand, Venice, and the United Provinces in an audience with the King.

Devonshire was a leading member of the Virginia and Somers Isles companies, frequently lobbying the crown on their behalf. His role in overseas adventure led, in 1623, to conflict with Robert Rich, Earl of Warwick; a duel was arranged, but prevented by the Privy Council. In 1625 he was present at Charles I's marriage with Henrietta Maria. Styled Lord Cavendish from 1616, early in 1626 he inherited his father's title and his seat in the House of Lords: there he resisted Buckingham's attempt to interpret a speech of Sir Dudley Digges as treasonous (13 May 1626). His lavish hospitality strained his ample resources in his last years, and in 1628 a private Act of Parliament enabled him to sell some of the entailed estates in discharge of his debts. Devonshire's London house was in Bishopsgate, on the site afterwards occupied by Devonshire Square. He died there (from excessive indulgence in good living, it is said) on 20 June 1628, and was buried on 11 July in All Saints' Church, Derby. He and his wife had three sons: William Cavendish, 3rd Earl of Devonshire, Charles Cavendish, army officer, and Henry, who died in youth. His daughter Anne, a well-known patroness of literature, married Robert, Lord Rich, heir of the earl of Warwick.

[Source: Lee, Sidney, revised by Stater, Victor, 'Cavendish, William, second earl of Devonshire', (1590-1628), (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004). https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/4945. By permission of Oxford University Press.]

Christian Cavendish, Countess of Devonshire

Christian [Christiana] Cavendish [née Bruce], Countess of Devonshire (1595-1675), royalist noblewoman, was born on 25 December 1595, the daughter of Edward Bruce, first Lord Bruce of Kinloss (1548/9-1611), master of the rolls, and his wife, Magdalen Clerk, daughter of Alexander Clerk of Balbirnie, Fife. Her birth on Christmas day inspired her name, and as Lord Bruce's only daughter she was destined for a superior match. Her marriage portion, £10,000-part of which was contributed by James VI and I-made her an attractive prospective daughter-in-law for William Cavendish, 1st Earl of Devonshire (1551-1626). Cavendish's son and heir, William Cavendish (1590-1628), was persuaded reluctantly to marry the twelve-year-old girl on 10 April 1608. He promptly departed on an extensive tour of Europe, accompanied by his tutor, Thomas Hobbes. Despite the ill-omened beginning of the marriage, Christian was devoted to him and together they had four children: William Cavendish (1617-1684), Charles Cavendish (1620-1643), Henry, and Anne. In 1626 William became 2nd Earl of Devonshire, but he died on 20 June 1628.

Her husband's death catapulted Lady Devonshire into a very different kind of life, as de facto head of her family. She took great care with her sons' education, keeping Hobbes as their tutor, and sending them on long European tours. More important for the family, however, was her stewardship of the Cavendish estates. The 2nd Earl died deeply indebted and Christian spent years fighting some thirty lawsuits filed by disgruntled creditors. She allegedly won all of them, provoking a wry comment from Charles I: 'Madam, you have all my judges at your disposal, as what courts would not be influenced by such commanding charms to do justice?' (Pomfret, 27-8). She personally lobbied members of parliament and won the passage of an estate bill allowing her to sell land and pay down her husband's debts. Her determination to protect her sons' interests was fierce.

A firm royalist during the civil wars, Lady Devonshire lost her younger son, Charles, killed in a Lincolnshire skirmish in 1643. About 1647 she moved to Ampthill, Bedfordshire, where she lived for three years with her brother, Thomas Bruce, 1st Earl of Elgin. Her home at Roehampton, Surrey, which she bought about 1650, became a centre of surreptitious activity on behalf of the exiled Charles II. She sent the King money, and narrowly avoided arrest by means of a well-placed bribe in the late 1650s.

The Cavendish family fortunes revived following the Restoration and Lady Devonshire presided over an elaborate establishment at Roehampton, welcoming wits, authors, and politicians to her home. John Evelyn was a particular favourite of hers, Edmund Waller dedicated his Epistles to her, and John Donne wrote in her praise. The Italian visitor Lorenzo Magalotti described her in 1667 as living 'in a magnificent house in the style of something more than a great princess' (Lorenzo Magalotti, 117). She died in Southampton Buildings, Middlesex, aged seventy-nine on 16 January 1675 and was buried in All Saints' Church, Derby.

[Source: Stater, Victor, 'Cavendish [née Bruce], Christian [Christiana], countess of Devonshire (1595-1675)', (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/4929. By permission of Oxford University Press.]

William Cavendish, 3rd Earl of Devonshire

William Cavendish, 3rd Earl of Devonshire (1617-1684), politician, was born on 10 October 1617, either at Chatsworth, Derbyshire, or Devonshire House, London, the eldest son of Sir William Cavendish, later 2nd Earl of Devonshire (1590-1628), and Christian Cavendish (1595-1675). Like his father before him and his own sons in later years, William's education was directed by Thomas Hobbes. Hobbes described William as 'the image of your father', whom he praised for his learning and ability (Hobbes's Thucydides, 3-4). He conducted the young earl upon a tour of Europe from 1634 to 1637, in the course of which, at Florence, Devonshire met Galileo. Having inherited his title in June 1628 William returned from the continent to assume his father's social and political position. Charles I named him Lord Lieutenant of Derbyshire upon his coming of age in 1638, an appointment he held to 1642 and again from the Restoration until his death. He married, on 4 March 1639, Elizabeth Cecil (1620-1689), second daughter of William Cecil, 2nd Earl of Salisbury.

In the House of Lords, Devonshire showed himself a friend of the court from early on. In the summer of 1642 he was named to Leicestershire's commission of array, and withdrew from London to the court at York, promising to raise 100 horses for the King's army. In July Parliament expelled him from the Lords and ordered his imprisonment. Although his younger brother Charles Cavendish, a royalist officer, was killed in a skirmish in Lincolnshire, Devonshire did not bear arms for the King, but withdrew to Europe. His estates were sequestrated and he remained on the continent until 1645, when he returned to England and compounded with Parliament, paying a £5,000 fine. On 13 October 1645 Charles stayed overnight with him at his house at Latimers, Buckinghamshire, although the visit seems to have done little to bestir the 3rd Earl on the King's behalf. He spent most of the Interregnum living in retirement with his mother, Christian, the Dowager Countess, to whom he remained very close.

Although he supported the exiled court financially Devonshire seems to have avoided active conspiracy during the Interregnum, claiming in 1659 to be a 'perfect lover of sports' (Bickley, 59) rather than politics. He also cultivated relationships with some of the period's most formidable intellects; he remained Hobbes' patron until the old man died aged 92 at Hardwick in 1679. He befriended John Evelyn and was an original member of the Royal Society.

Following the Restoration, Devonshire returned to his Derbyshire lieutenancy and added the stewardships of Tutbury (1660) and the High Peak (1661) to his responsibilities. But apart from a brief term as a commissioner of trade from 5 March 1668 to 1669, the 3rd Earl was not politically active. He attended the Lords irregularly, preferring to remain in the country, husbanding his estates and entertaining gentlemen such as Sir John Reresby.. He was, for example, absent from the house when it voted on exclusion in 1680. The Earl's apparent political indifference was probably a further source of friction with his heir, William Cavendish, who, in addition to being 'the most dissolute man in London' (Lorenzo Magalotti, 117), was also a strong Whig. Father and son clashed more frequently, however, on financial matters. In 1680 the King encouraged Devonshire to pay his son's debts and allow him a larger income in hopes of returning Lord Cavendish 'to his duty … to the King as well as to his father' (CSP dom., 1680-81, 37). Despite these difficulties, however, when the Earl died aged 67 at Roehampton, Surrey, on 23 November 1684, he left his son an ample income to support his title. He was buried at Edensor, Derbyshire.

[Source: Stater, Victor, 'Cavendish, William, third earl of Devonshire (1617-1684)', (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004). https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/4947. By permission of Oxford University Press.]

William Cavendish, 1st Duke of Devonshire

William Cavendish, 1s Duke of Devonshire (1641-1707), politician, was born on 25 January 1641. He was styled Lord Cavendish until the death of his father, also William Cavendish, 3rd Earl of Devonshire (1617-1684). His father was a royalist supporter but personally reclusive; his mother was Lady Elizabeth Cecil (1620-1689).

Despite significant family sacrifices on behalf of the royalist cause Cavendish himself grew up in an environment largely protected from the upheavals of the English civil wars and the Interregnum. His father, who made his peace with Parliament in 1645, took an active interest in his son's education and first turned for advice to Thomas Hobbes, once his own tutor and still a family retainer. Writing from St Germain in 1648 Hobbes recommended a curriculum focused on the 'latine tonge and the Mathematiques'. The study of men and manners, the nature of government, and history and the poets would then follow. Over the next several years a succession of tutors passed through the household, including Dr Henry Killigrew, Henry Oldenberg and François du Prat, who was engaged to accompany Cavendish on the grand tour. In May 1657 they left for Paris, returning to England in 1661. Cavendish and his tutor were said by the latter to have visited most of Europe. Always regarded by his contemporaries as a person of taste and sophistication, the subsequent rebuilding of Chatsworth alone suggests how important this experience was in terms of shaping Cavendish's appreciation of architecture and the visual arts.

At a ceremony presided over by Charles II, Cavendish and Mary (1646-1710), the second daughter of James Butler, 1st Duke of of Ormond, were betrothed on 5 March 1661. Because of her youth they did not marry until 26 October 1662, at Kilkenny Castle, Ireland. There were five children born to the marriage but two died before their parents: Charles, the first-born son, in 1670 and Henry in 1700. The surviving children included two sons-William [later 2nd Duke of Devonshire] and James-and a daughter, Elizabeth. Cavendish also had other children with his long-term mistress, the actress Mrs Heneage, as well as a daughter born to Anne Campion, an aspiring thespian.

On 23 April 1661 Cavendish served as one of four aristocratic scions chosen to carry the train of Charles II at his coronation, and that same year he was first elected to a seat in the Commons as a member for Derbyshire.

In 1684, on the death of his father he became the 4th Earl of Devonshire, and in 1694 he was made Duke of Devonshire as a mark of his role in bringing about the Revolution of 1688.

By virtue of wealth and class he was almost predetermined to figure prominently in the annals of the period, although he did not emerge as a talent of the first order and indeed lacked the ambition to take on a sustained leadership role. Some contemporary observers, with modern echoes, voiced criticisms of his lifestyle. It is certainly true that he gambled substantial sums on the races and on cockfights at Newmarket. He also had a litigious nature and a quick temper that led to several duels. None the less, the pattern of behaviour is not exceptional for the period, including a habit of extravagance limited only by the caution of his creditors and the strictures of the trust that his father had created to protect the Cavendish estates. What is more to the point, however, is the fact that Devonshire made two truly significant contributions to the development of English civilization. The first was his transformation of Chatsworth into an architectural masterpiece and its furnishing with some superb works of art. Between 1687 and 1706 it was totally reconstructed in several different phases. During the process Devonshire called on the services of architects William Talman (whom he sacked in 1696) and, later, Thomas Archer, while employing leading artists such as the decorative painters Antonio Verrio and Louis Laguerre, and the sculptor Caius Gabriel Cibber, but the vision and energy behind the overall project were his. Defoe makes the point nicely: "The House had indeed received Additions as it did every Year and perhaps would to this Day, had the Duke liv'd, who had a Genius for such Things beyond the reach of the most perfect Masters and was not only capable to design, but to finish."

Devonshire's second and perhaps better known contribution was the part that he played in both bringing about and determining the outcome of the Revolution of 1688. Convinced of the necessity of what he was doing, the Duke was among the handful of aristocratic leaders whose efforts enabled the success of William of Orange. In the epitaph that he composed Devonshire describes himself as a faithful subject to good sovereigns, inimical and hateful to tyrants. It is a turn of phrase that speaks to an age and a conception of state that, in fact, his actions unwittingly helped to end.

[Primary source: Hosford, David, 'Cavendish, William, first duke of Devonshire (1641-1707)', (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008). https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/4948. By permission of the Oxford University Press.]


Arranged in accordance with ISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description, Second Edition, Ottawa 2000 and The Devonshire Collection Cataloguing Guidelines. The archive was arranged very loosely into chronological order by Eugenie Strong and the additional material was then added in 2016 as an additional series.

The collection was assigned new reference numbers as part of the 2021 cataloguing project, in order to enable some hierarchical arrangement of the collection and integration of uncatalogued rental and account books. However, the original HM reference numbers (where they exist) have been entered into the title field as well as the former reference field because of their prolific use in publications over the past century.

The collection is now arranged in the following series:

- HMS/1: Account books (1552-1700)

- HMS/2: Rentals, surveys and memoranda (1597-1703)

- HMS/3: Court records, 14th century-1809

- HMS/4: Manuscripts, [c1584]-17th century

- HMS/5: Additional Hardwick Manuscripts, 1540-1873

Access Information

The collection is open for consultation. Access to the archive at Chatsworth is by appointment only. For more information please visit: https://www.chatsworth.org/art-archives/access-the-collection/archives-and-library/.

Other Finding Aids

A copy of the typescript of the original listing and arrangement of this collection by Eugenie Strong (HL/1) and of the Hardwick Drawers 143-146 by Eugenie Strong (HL/2) can be accessed in the archive office at Chatsworth.

Ben Cowell's appendix one in: A Report on the Manuscripts relating to Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire for the National Trust, (1997-8), provides a list of records relating to Hardwick that can be found in the collections at Chatsworth Archives as well as other locations, arranged by type of material.

Alternative Form Available

A digitised version of HM/4, HM/7 and HM/8 are available for consultation at Chatsworth Archives.

Archivist's Note

Where descriptions include quotes from the material itself or place names and people's names, these have been standardised to their modern equivalent and abbreviations elongated in order to enable easier keyword searching of the catalogue. e.g. Wyllam will be changed to William and High Peake to High Peak.

This catalogue was produced with support from Archives Revealed, funded by The National Archives, The Pilgrim Trust and The Wolfson Foundation.

A number of the creators of records in this collection have different names and titles over their lifetimes. In these cases, the name and title that belonged to the individual at the time the record was started has been used for each record description.

All dated given are based on the Gregorian calendar (for ease of keyword searching) however where years have been written according to the old systems whereby the year changed in March, this has been noted e.g. a written date of February 1576, in today's calendar would be in the year 1577.

Separated Material

Account and rental material that is evidently related to the Hardwick Manuscripts can be found in the AS (Additional Series) and C (Chatsworth) series at Chatsworth Archives. These series are composite collections of material moved to Chatsworth and collected over a period of time from various locations including the Estate Office and do not belong to a particular collection of papers. The item listed below are separated items in AS and C series (dating from 1681-1700) that were likely Hardwick manuscripts. These most likely became separated from the main account run due to either being located elsewhere such as the estate office in the case of the C series or due to being individual sheets rather than bound volumes (for the most part each reference below includes one sheet) and therefore more easily misplaced. The relevant items are as follows:

J. Whildon's Disbursements:

AS/485 summary accounts (1695-1696)

AS/1119 statement of steward accounts (1688-1690) 22 sheets

Chatsworth Subsidiary Accounts:

AS/134 Accounts at Chatsworth rough day copy (1681 - 1682)

Accounts of Robert Stafford (includes entries for husbandry, stables, household charges, building and alterations - some garden work)

AS/399 (1684-1685)

AS/400 (1685-1686)

AS/401 (1686)

Steward Accounts of Joseph Randall

AS/498 (1670)

AS/499 (1673)

AS/504 (1673)

Chatsworth Garden Accounts

AS/502 (1668-1681)

AS/396 (September 1684-March 1685)

AS/397 (September 1684-March 1685)

Chatsworth Granary Accounts

AS/394 (1684-1685)

AS/395 (1685-1686)

Chatsworth Cattle and Sheep Accounts

AS/392 (1685)

AS/393 (1686)

Farm Accounts

AS/134 (1681-1682)

AS/503 (1681-1682)

AS/133 (1682-1683)

Chatsworth Rentals

AS/1009 (1619-1625)

AS/1010 (1628-1634, 1651-1657)

AS/1109 (1629-1630)

AS/1013 (1637 1641)

C/11 (1693-1698)

L/96/12 (1696)

Stables Account

AS/489 (1677-78)

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.

Appraisal Information

The following items were removed from the original listing by Francis Thompson in 1947 and placed with the Thomas Hobbes Papers: "Poems in imitation of Martial" (HM/62); Latin exercises by the third earl with Hobbes (HM/72).

The following items were removed from the original listing in June 2021 and 1960 and placed with the Cork Manuscripts: Transcript of the diary of Richard Boyle (HM/43); a copy of the Earl of Cork's letters and and copy of the Earl's diary (HM/78, HM/79).

The personal account book of the 2nd Duke of Devonshire for 1720-25 (HM/17) was removed and recatalogued with similar papers (DF/32), in June 2021.

Custodial History

The Hardwick Manuscripts are a miscellaneous selection of early modern papers that were once mainly stored in the Evidence Room at Hardwick Hall. The Evidence Room, which was furnished in 1603 by William Cavendish, future 1st Earl of Devonshire, with purpose-built drawers for muniments, also housed a large chest which could have been the location of these manuscripts.

In the early 20th century the medieval deeds and charters were removed from the general collection, as were these literary, political and family papers - leaving behind the 17th and 18th-century estate papers. The medieval papers were grouped together as the 'Hardwick Charters', whilst the literary, political and family papers were grouped under the heading 'The Hardwick Manuscripts'.

The Historical Manuscripts Commission listed most of the items in this collection, in brief, in the 1872 report. Following this, identification and sorting were begun by Chatsworth s Librarian, S. Arthur Strong, in the years 1895-1903. In 1905 a first rearrangement was undertaken by Eugenie (née Sellers) Strong (Arthur s widow, who took over his role as Chatsworth s Librarian), with the assistance of Isaac Herbert Jeayes, of the British Museum (September 1905). Alongside this, Jeayes was arranging and compiling a catalogue of the Hardwick Charters (the medieval deeds) which he then replaced in the Evidence Room in 18 specially made boxes that fitted in the long drawers.

The Hardwick Manuscripts were not arranged in any particular order, but were listed as and when they were found - explaining why family account books are listed alongside 17th-century political tracts and 16th-century estate papers.The typed catalogue by Eugenie Strong was completed in February 1908. It included as well as a listing of the 87 Hardwick Manuscripts (to which she assigned the reference HL/1), some material in the Hardwick Drawers that she identified as significant (HL/2), but did not incorporate into the Hardwick Manuscripts collection. The Hardwick drawers at this time still contained largely 17th and 18th-century estate papers which when relocated to Chatsworth were kept in their original 'drawer order', including those listed by Strong as HL/2. The Hardwick Drawers collection is box-listed according to the way in which the boxes were left by Jeayes after extracting the medieval deeds and is referenced as GB 2495 H.

Tom Askey removed the remaining material in the Evidence Room from the Hardwick drawers in the late 1980s, including two boxes of material labelled 'Bess' and Earls' Micellanea' which were incorporated into the Hardwick Manuscripts collection as the series: 'Additional Hardwick Manuscripts' (HMS/5).

The Hardwick Manuscripts collection was transferred from the Evidence Room at Hardwick to Chatsworth c.1936, by Francis Thompson, then Keeper of the Collections.

Other material probably originally created as part of this collection, was stored at the Estate Office and only made its way to Chatsworth c. 1950, where it was listed as part of a composite collection. The creation of the current catalogue has provided an opportunity to incorporate some of this material into the Hardwick Manuscripts collection or at the very least, cross-refer to it.

Related Material

The following collections at Chatsworth hold very similar material relating to the Hardwick Manuscripts, but are distinct collections with their own catalogues/ lists:

Hardwick Charters (GB 2495 HC) contains medieval deeds relating to the Cavendishes estate arranged by H.I. Jeayes in 1905.

Hardwick Drawers (GB 2495 H) mainly contains later 16th-17th-century deeds of the Cavendish estates but H/143, H/144, H/145 and H/146 include various papers identified by Eugenie Strong as relating to the Cavendish family, including inventories, wills, settlements, accounts and letters (listed by her as HL/2).

Thomas Hobbes Papers (GB 2495 HS)

Rare books collection 16th and 17th-century manuscripts, similar in subject matter to this collection (such as ships; seafaring adventures; French government and the Virginia Company) and with unclear provenance.

Chatsworth Building accounts (GB 2495 CH37) feature the details of the 1st Duke s extensive rebuilding of Chatsworth.

The following collections in other archives relate to the Hardwick Manuscripts:

Sheffield City Archives: Bagshawe collection contains Hardwick and Chatsworth accounts from the 18th century.

The Folger Shakespeare Library:

Account book of Sir William and Lady Cavendish of Chatsworth, 1548 Michaelmas-1550, Folger MS X.d.486.

Papers of the Cavendish-Talbot family [manuscript], 1333-1705 (bulk 1548-1676), Folger MS X.d.428.

Walley s account book: Folger V.b.308.

The University of Nottingham Archives:

MS663 - Microfilms, photocopies and transcriptions of manuscripts dated 1527-1821 (predominantly 16th and early-17th century) relating to the history of Elizabeth Talbot, Countess of Shrewsbury, 'Bess of Hardwick' (1527-1608), collected by David N. Durant. This contains microfilm versions of many items in the Hardwick Manuscripts collection.

Family Names