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Duke of Devonshire

Dukedom of Devonshire
Sable, three buck's heads cabossed argent (Cavendish)[1]
Creation date (1694-05-12)12 May 1694
Monarch William and Mary
Peerage Peerage of England
First holder William Cavendish, 1st Duke of Devonshire
Present holder Peregrine Cavendish, 12th Duke
Heir apparent William Cavendish, Earl of Burlington
Remainder to the 1st Duke's heirs male of the body lawfully begotten
Subsidiary titles Marquess of Hartington;
Earl of Devonshire;
Earl of Burlington (from 1858);
Baron Clifford (1764-1858);
Baron Cavendish;
Baron Cavendish of Keighley (from 1858)
Seat(s) Chatsworth House, Bolton Abbey, Lismore Castle
Former seat(s) Londesborough Hall, Hardwick Hall, Chiswick House, Devonshire House, Burlington House


  • Notes 1
  • History 2
    • Cavendish knights, and the 1st Earl of Devonshire 2.1
    • The 2nd Earl of Devonshire and the first five Dukes of Devonshire 2.2
    • The sixth, seventh and eighth Dukes 2.3
    • The ninth, tenth and eleventh Dukes 2.4
    • Other notable members of the Cavendish family 2.5
    • Courtesy titles; family seats 2.6
  • Earls of Devonshire (1618) 3
  • Dukes of Devonshire (1694) 4
  • Family tree 5
  • Line of succession 6
  • Earls of Devon 7
  • In fiction 8
  • See also 9
  • Further reading 10
  • Notes 11
  • References 12
  • External links 13


Duke of Devonshire is a title in the Peerage of England held by members of the Cavendish family. This branch of the Cavendish family has been one of the richest and most influential aristocratic families in England since the 16th century, and has been rivalled in political influence perhaps only by the Marquesses of Salisbury and the Earls of Derby.


Although in modern usage the county of Devon is now rarely called 'Devonshire', the title remained 'Duke of Devonshire'. Despite the title of the dukedom and the subsidiary title, the earldom of Devonshire, the family estates are centred in Derbyshire. It should not be confused with the earlier title, Earl of Devon.

Cavendish knights, and the 1st Earl of Devonshire

William Cavendish, 4th Duke of Devonshire briefly Prime Minister between 1756 and 1757.

The Cavendish family descends from Sir William Cavendish. Sir William gained great wealth from his position in the Exchequer and also, as it was alleged, from unfairly taking advantage of the Dissolution of the Monasteries. He married as his third wife the famous Bess of Hardwick, with whom he had eight children. One of their sons, Sir Charles Cavendish (1553–1617), was the father of William Cavendish, 1st Duke of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (see the Duke of Newcastle-upon-Tyne for more information on this branch of the family), while another son, Henry Cavendish, was the ancestor of the Barons Waterpark. Yet another son, William Cavendish, was a politician and a supporter of the colonialization of Virginia. In 1605 he was raised to the peerage as Baron Cavendish, of Hardwicke in the County of Derby, and in 1618 he was further honoured when he was made Earl of Devonshire. Both titles are in the Peerage of England.

The 2nd Earl of Devonshire and the first five Dukes of Devonshire

He was succeeded by his eldest son, the second Earl. He served as Lord-Lieutenant of Derbyshire and was a patron of the philosopher Thomas Hobbes. On his early death the titles passed to his son, the third Earl. He was also Lord-Lieutenant of Derbyshire. He was succeeded by his son, the fourth Earl. He was a strong supporter of the Glorious Revolution and later served under William III and Mary II as Lord Steward of the Household. In 1694 he was created Marquess of Hartington and Duke of Devonshire in the Peerage of England. He was succeeded by his eldest son, the second Duke. He held political office as Lord President of the Council and Lord Privy Seal and was also Lord-Lieutenant of Devonshire. His eldest son, the third Duke, served as Lord Privy Seal, as Lord Steward of the Household and as Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland.

On his death the titles passed to his eldest son, the Lady Georgiana Spencer, the celebrated beauty and society hostess.

The sixth, seventh and eighth Dukes

Victor Cavendish, 9th Duke of Devonshire

Their only son, the sixth Duke, served as Lord Chamberlain of the Household from 1827 to 1828 and from 1830 to 1834. Known as the "Bachelor Duke", he never married and on his death in 1858 the barony of Clifford fell into abeyance between his sisters. He was succeeded in the other titles by his first cousin once removed, the second Earl of Burlington, who became the seventh Duke (see the Earl of Burlington for earlier history of this branch of the family). He was the son of William Cavendish, eldest son of the aforementioned first Earl of Burlington, youngest son of the fourth Duke. He was Lord-Lieutenant of Lancashire and Derbyshire and Chancellor of the University of London and of the University of Cambridge. He was succeeded by his second but eldest surviving son, the eighth Duke. He was a noted statesman and the most famous member of the Cavendish family. Known under his courtesy title of Marquess of Hartington until 1891, he held political office for a period spanning 40 years, notably as Secretary of State for India and as Secretary of State for War, and three times declined to become Prime Minister. He married Louise, Dowager Duchess of Manchester, who became known as the "Double Duchess".

The ninth, tenth and eleventh Dukes

Devonshire died childless and was succeeded by his nephew, the ninth Duke. He was the eldest son of Lord Edward Cavendish, third son of the seventh Duke. He was a Conservative politician and served as Governor General of Canada from 1916 to 1921 and as Secretary of State for the Colonies from 1922 to 1924.

His eldest son, the tenth Duke, was also a Conservative politician and served as Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, as Under-Secretary of State for India and Burma and as Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies. He married Lady Mary Gascoyne-Cecil, who was Mistress of the Robes to Queen Elizabeth II 1953-66.[2] Their eldest son and heir apparent William Cavendish, Marquess of Hartington, married Kathleen Kennedy, daughter of Joseph Kennedy and sister of the future President of the United States, John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Lord Hartington was killed in the Second World War in 1944 shortly after the marriage. The couple had no children.

Devonshire was therefore succeeded by his second but eldest surviving son, the eleventh Duke. He sat on the Conservative benches in the House of Lords and held political office under his uncle Harold Macmillan and later Sir Alec Douglas-Home from 1960 to 1964. Devonshire married the Hon. Deborah Mitford, the youngest of the famous Mitford sisters. As of 2009 the titles are held by their second and only surviving son, the twelfth Duke, who succeeded in 2004.

Other notable members of the Cavendish family

Numerous other members of the Cavendish family have also gained distinction. Comptroller of the Household from 1761 to 1762. Lord Frederick Cavendish, third son of the third Duke, was a Field Marshal in the Army. Lord John Cavendish, fourth son of the third Duke, was a politician and served as Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1782 and 1783.

Chatsworth House, the ancestral seat of the Dukes of Devonshire

Henry Frederick Compton Cavendish, third son of the first Earl of Burlington, was a General in the Army. The Hon. Charles Compton Cavendish, fourth son of the first Earl of Burlington, was created Baron Chesham in 1858.

Lord Frederick Cavendish, third son of the seventh Duke, was a Liberal politician. He had just been appointed Chief Secretary for Ireland in 1882 when he was assassinated by nationalists in Phoenix Park, Dublin. His wife Lady Frederick (Lucy) Cavendish was a pioneer of women's education. Lord Edward Cavendish, fourth and youngest son of the seventh Duke, sat as Member of Parliament for several constituencies. His second son Lord Richard Cavendish represented North Lonsdale in Parliament. In 1911 he was one of the proposed recipients of peerages in case the Bill that was to become the Parliament Act 1911 was not accepted by the House of Lords. His grandson Hugh Cavendish was created a life peer as Baron Cavendish of Furness in 1990. Lady Dorothy Cavendish, daughter of the ninth Duke, was the wife of Prime Minister Harold Macmillan.

Courtesy titles; family seats

The Duke of Devonshire's eldest son may use the courtesy title Marquess of Hartington, whilst the eldest son of the eldest son may use the title Earl of Burlington, and his eldest son may use the title Lord Cavendish.

St Peter's Church, Edensor, Cavendish family plot with the graves of the Dukes of Devonshire

The family seats are Chatsworth House, Bolton Abbey in Yorkshire, and Lismore Castle in Co Waterford, in the Republic of Ireland. Compton Place in Eastbourne belongs to the family (which developed Eastbourne as a seaside resort in the 19th century) but is let. In 1908 Holker Hall in Lancashire was left to a junior branch of the family. The family previously owned Londesborough Hall, Yorkshire; Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire; Chiswick House, Middlesex; and two London mansions on Piccadilly - Devonshire House and Burlington House. In 1907 the Duke owned 192,322 acres across the British Isles, principally in Derbyshire, Yorkshire, County Cork and County Waterford.[3]

The traditional burial place of the Dukes of Devonshire is at St Peter's Church, Edensor, in the closest village to Chatsworth House. Most ducal graves can be found on the highest spot of Edensor's churchyard in the Cavendish family plot.

Earls of Devonshire (1618)

Other titles: Baron Cavendish of Hardwick, in the county of Derby (1605)

Dukes of Devonshire (1694)

Other titles: Marquess of Hartington, in the county of Derby (1694), Earl of Devonshire (1618) and Baron Cavendish of Hardwick, in the county of Derby (1605)
Armorial Achievement of the Dukes of Devonshire. Arms: Sable, 3 stags' (or bucks') heads caboshed (or cabossed). Crest: A serpent nowed proper (or vert). Supporters: On either side, a buck (or stag) wreathed (or gorged) about the neck with a chaplet (or garland) of roses proper—but see note! Motto: Cavendo tutus, Safe through caution. NOTE: The stags' head are sometimes given as attired Or; for example, [3]. The garlands should be roses alternately argent and azure (see the preceding, [4], and the next). At least the 6th duke substituted as a crest a buck statant wreathed as the supporters (see the 1836 Debrett's Peerage of England, Scotland, and Ireland, viewable via Google Books).

Other titles (5th & 6th Dukes): Baron Clifford (1628)

Other titles (7th Duke onwards): Earl of Burlington and Baron Cavendish of Keighley, in the county of York (1831)

The heir apparent is the present holder's only son William "Bill Burlington" Cavendish, Earl of Burlington (b. 1969). Lord Burlington's heir apparent is his second child and only son, James Cavendish, Lord Cavendish (born 15 December 2010).[4] Lord Burlington, although entitled to use the courtesy title Marquess of Hartington has continued to use the Burlington title by courtesy since his father acceded as 12th Duke, probably for professional reasons.

Family tree

Line of succession

  1. William Cavendish, Earl of Burlington (b. 1969), only son of the 12th Duke
  2. James Cavendish, Lord Cavendish (b. 2010), only son of Lord Burlington
  3. (Richard) Hugh Cavendish, Baron Cavendish of Furness (b. 1941), grandson of Rt. Hon. Lord Richard Frederick Cavendish, younger brother of the 9th Duke and second son of Lord Edward Cavendish, fourth and youngest son of the 7th Duke
  4. Hon. Frederick Richard Toby Cavendish (b. 1972), only son of Lord Cavendish of Furness
  5. Edward Osborne Cavendish (b. 1955), younger brother of Lord Cavendish of Furness
  6. Ronald Simon Constantine Cavendish (b. 1954), great-great-great-grandson of George Augustus Henry Cavendish, 1st Earl of Burlington, third and youngest son of the 4th Duke
  7. Nicholas Peter Lancaster Cavendish (b. 1993), only son of Ronald Cavendish
  8. Joseph Cavendish Rutledge (b. 1995), first cousin of Nicholas Cavendish
  9. Mark Francis Cavendish (b. 1955), younger brother of Ronald Cavendish
  10. Rupert William Cavendish (b. 1962), younger brother of Ronald and Mark Cavendish
  11. Martin Alexander Cavendish (b. 1993), only son of Rupert Cavendish
  12. Jonathon Stewart Cavendish (b. 1959), first cousin of Ronald, Mark and Rupert Cavendish
  13. Theodore Robin Cavendish (b. 1996), only son of Jonathon Cavendish
  14. Richard Gordon John Cavendish (b. 1949), fourth cousin of Ronald, Mark, Rupert and Jonathon Cavendish
  15. Charles William Gordon Cavendish (b. 1975), only son of Richard Gordon John Cavendish
  16. William Alwyn Charles Chichester Cavendish (b. 1956), third cousin of Richard Gordon John Cavendish
  17. Myles Joseph Charles Cavendish (b. 1991), only son of William Alwyn Cavendish
  18. Mark Andrew Lionel Compton Cavendish (b. 1958), younger brother of William Alwyn Cavendish
  19. George Andrew Francis Stuart Cavendish (b. 1989), eldest son of Mark Andrew Cavendish
  20. Edward Charles Robert Pitcairn Cavendish (b. 1994), second and youngest son of Mark Andrew Cavendish
  21. Richard Blake Delmar Cavendish (b. 1916), third cousin once removed of Ronald, Mark Francis, Rupert, Jonathon, Richard Gordon John, William Alwyn and Mark Andrew Cavendish
  22. Anthony Leigh Cable (previously Anthony Leigh Delmar Cavendish, b. 1942), only son of Richard Blake Delmar Cavendish
  23. Adrian Delmar Cavendish (b. 1947), second cousin of Anthony Leigh Cable
  24. John Spencer Cavendish (b. 1987), only son of Adrian Cavendish
  25. William Anthony Delmar Cavendish (b. 1952), first cousin of Adrian Cavendish
  26. Edward William Henry Delmar Cavendish (b. 1987), only son of William Anthony Delmar Cavendish
  27. Charles Grey Compton Cavendish, 7th Baron Chesham, (b. 1974), great-great-great-great-grandson of Charles Compton Cavendish, 1st Baron Chesham, fourth and youngest son of the 1st Earl of Burlington
  28. Hon. Oliver Nicholas Bruce Cavendish (b. 2007), only son of Lord Chesham
  29. Hon. William George Gray Cavendish (b. 1980), younger brother of Lord Chesham
  30. Hon. John Charles Gregory Cavendish (b. 1952), uncle of Lord Chesham
  31. Greville Adrian Cavendish (b. 1925), second cousin twice removed of Lord Chesham and great-grandson of William George Cavendish, 2nd Baron Chesham
  32. Rupert Edward Greville Cavendish (b. 1955), eldest son of Greville Cavendish
  33. Piers Antony Charles Cavendish (b. 1956), second and youngest son of Greville Cavendish
  34. Patrick Alexander Cavendish (b. 1990), only son of Piers Cavendish

Earls of Devon

The earldom of Devonshire was originally granted as a recreation of the title of Earl of Devon, then held to be extinct; but which was found to have been in existence de jure in 1831. These are held by different families, and are now held to be distinct titles.

When the earldom of Devonshire was created, there was already in existence an earldom of Derby. It would therefore have been unlikely that the Cavendish family would have chosen Derbyshire as their new honour. It is much more likely that the title of Devonshire was chosen deliberately. The Cavendish peerage was granted in 1618, 12 years after the last holder of an earlier creation of the earldom of Devonshire, Charles Blount, 8th Lord Mountjoy had died.

The Devon earldom had earlier been held by the ancient de Redvers family and by the Courtenay family who had married in the Tudor era the daughter of King Edward IV, Princess Katherine of York and whose son was later made Marquess of Exeter. The Marquess of Exeter was executed for treason and his son was probably poisoned in 1556. From that date, the peerage was vacant. By choosing Devonshire the Cavendish family, who had only recently arrived socially on the political scene, were aligning themselves with some of the oldest families in England. It should be noted that historically 'Devon' and 'Devonshire' were alternating terms and as late as the eighteenth century Georgiana Cavendish was sometimes referred to as the Duchess of Devon.

In fiction

The fifth Duke and Duchess of Devonshire are portrayed in the 2008 film Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire.

Along with Stephanie Barron.

In John Buchan's novel The Three Hostages (1924), 'the late Duke of Devonshire' is cited as an epitome of Englishness. This probably refers to the eighth duke.

See also

Further reading

  • Pearson, John. The Serpent and the Stag. Holt, Rinehart, & Winston, 1984.


  1. ^ Debrett's Peerage, 1968, p.355
  2. ^
  3. ^ H. Evans, 'Cavendish', Our old nobility (Рипол Классик), 132.
  4. ^ The Duke of Devonshire has a grandson - Website


  • Kidd, Charles, Williamson, David (editors). Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage (1990 edition). New York: St Martin's Press, 1990,
  • Leigh Rayment's Peerage Pages
  • Lundy, Darryl. "". The Peerage. 

External links

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