Correspondence in the Portland (London) Collection, and Papers of W.H.C. Cavendish Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland, 1664-1809

Scope and Content

Correspondence of or associated with the 3rd Duke of Portland is closely related in content to the Duke's political papers in the main Portland Collection at Nottingham. In its political content, it ranges over matters of foreign policy, personal political influence, patronage, and business associated with different offices. There are many administrative and official papers from his time in government which refer in particular to colonial matters, especially to India, but also referring to Africa, Canada, New South Wales and also to events in former French colonies. Papers concerning Privy Council business include reference to trade.The collection includes references to the controversy over the 1768 Cumberland election and the Duke's feud with Sir James Lowther. Papers concerning the Duke's role as Chancellor of Oxford University are also present. A number of personal petitions show application to the duke for particular favours.Estate papers from the period of the 3rd Duke are extensive, and refer to properties in Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire, Buckinghamshire, Cheshire and Hampshire. The correspondence inevitably refers in part to the Duke's overall financial arrangements, but issues affecting estate management and agricultural improvement are also present.The Harley correspondence concerns the management of the Wimpole (Cambridgeshire), Welbeck (Nottinghamshire) and Northumberland estates held by the 2nd Earl of Oxford and Mortimer, which passed to the 2nd Duke of Portland on the death of the Dowager Countess of Oxford and Mortimer in 1755. Letter books used by the London Stewards of the 2nd Earl of Oxford and of the 2nd and 3rd Dukes of Portland are also present (1739-1770).The small series of letters relating to the affairs of John Holles, 3rd Duke of Newcastle upon Tyne refer particularly to the London estates. Financial papers include documents concerning purchase and sale of South Sea stock.Correspondence to John Achard (1743-1764), almost entirely in French, comes from friends in Europe and in England. The principal correspondents are P. Grandey, mainly at Rufford Abbey and resident with the Saville family, and Dr William Burton. Subjects include household and personal news, medical treatments, and scientific experiment.

Administrative / Biographical History

This sub-group of the Portland (London) Collection (Pl) comprises a substantial series of correspondence which in its creation was clearly distinct from the rest of the legal and financial archive in which it now survives. It is uncertain why such a diverse and personal collection should have been found in the offices of the Portlands' London solicitors, Messrs Baileys Shaw and Gillett. A more logical location would have been Welbeck Abbey, Nottinghamshire, which housed complementary series of correspondence, now part of the University's Portland (Welbeck) Collection (Pw). Whatever the reason for their custody by the solicitors, their location in the firm's premises during the Second World War meant that they suffered extensive physical damage through enemy action and subsequent salvage measures.The Collection includes correspondence of a number of individuals, but the bulk of the material concerns the politician and statesman William Henry Cavendish Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland (1738-1809). First elected as M.P. for Weobley in 1761, from then until his resignation as Prime Minister in 1809 his life and interests lay largely in the political sphere, where he built up enormous political influence. He was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, 1783, Home Secretary, 1794-1801 and served twice as Prime Minister.Correspondence of the Harleys is also present. The Harley papers came to be included in the Cavendish-Bentinck Portland Collection following the marriage of Lady Margaret Cavendish Harley (1715-1785). She was the daughter of Edward Harley, 2nd Earl of Oxford and Mortimer (1689-1741) and his wife, Lady Henrietta Cavendish Holles (1694-1755). In 1734 Lady Margaret married William Bentinck, 2nd Duke of Portland (1709-1762). The presence of a small series of correspondence relating to the estates and financial affairs of John Holles, 4th Earl of Clare and 3rd Duke of Newcastle upon Tyne is also explained by this descent through Lady Margaret, his granddaughter.Of other series in the collection, the most substantial is the correspondence of John Achard, a Swiss gentleman and scholar from Lausanne. He was tutor to the 2nd Duke of Portland, and part of the Cavendish-Bentinck household for many years.

Arrangement

The series was given an initial arrangement and some processing before preservation attention allowed the handling of all papers. It has been catalogued in 67 sections, with much material overlapping between sections. The correspondence in Pl C 1-36 is not generally in any particular sequence; the material in Pl C 37-67 is arranged chronologically within sections.

Conditions Governing Access

Accessible to all registered readers, with some items restricted pending conservation. Although many items have been conserved, the extent of earlier damage has affected legibility in some cases.

Other Finding Aids

Copyright in all Finding Aids belongs to the University of Nottingham. On the World Wide Web:Catalogue accessible from the website for Manuscripts and Special Collections, Manuscripts Online Catalogue.

Conditions Governing Use

Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult. Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in advance in writing from the Keeper of Manuscripts and Special Collections (email mss-library@nottingham.ac.uk).

Photocopies and photographic copies can be supplied for educational use and private study purposes only, depending on access status and the condition of the documents.

Custodial History

These papers, which form a sub-group within the Portland (London) Collection (GB 159 Pl), were given to the University in 1947 by the 7th Duke of Portland.

Related Material

Papers of W.H. Cavendish Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland. Reference Pw F.

Copy letters of W.H. Cavendish Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland in the Portland Literary Collection. Reference Pw V 107-115.

Papers of John Achard, scholar Pw C.

British Library

National Archives

Genre/Form

Geographical Names