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Biography of William Cavendish, 1st Duke of Newcastle upon Tyne (1593-1676)

William was the only surviving son and heir of Sir Charles Cavendish, the 3rd son of Bess of Hardwick by her 2nd husband, Sir William Cavendish. He was educated at St John's College, Cambridge and became a favoured courtier of Charles I.

He was created Viscount Mansfield in 1620, Baron Cavendish of Bolsover and Earl of Newcastle upon Tyne in 1628, and Earl of Ogle and Marquess of Newcastle upon Tyne in 1643 by Charles I. In 1665, after years in exile on the continent following the king's defeat in the Civil War, he was created Duke of Newcastle upon Tyne by Charles II.

William was renowned for his abilities as an athlete and scholar. His interests in art and science were wide-ranging. He was a significant patron of the arts - supporting both authors and musicians - and wrote poetry and drama himself. He spent much of his time surrounded by philosophers, playwrights, poets and musicians, who came to be known as 'The Cavendish Circle'.

He was also particularly famed for his horsemanship and was the author of several noted works on the subject. He was appointed governor to Prince Charles in 1638, teaching him horse riding. On two notable occasions in 1633 and 1634 he entertained the king lavishly, first at Welbeck Abbey and then at Bolsover Castle, where he had built a large indoor riding school.

He remained a staunch royalist during the Civil War, becoming general of the king's forces north of the River Trent. Following the Royalist defeat at the Battle of Marston Moor, Cavendish fled to the continent where he remained until the Restoration. One of his notable activities in exile was the establishment of a riding school in Antwerp.

After his return to England with Charles II he continued to be an important patron of literature and the arts but mainly lived a quiet family life at Welbeck Abbey, his seat in Nottinghamshire. Amongst his other possessions was Nottingham Castle, which he purchased in 1663/4 and had rebuilt as a ducal mansion, following the destruction of the medieval castle at the end of the Civil War.

Images

Portrait of William Cavendish

William Cavendish, 1st Duke of Newcastle upon Tyne

Family

William married twice:

1. Elizabeth Basset of Blore (d 1643) in 1618 by whom he had 10 children. Only 5 survived infancy, 2 sons and 3 daughters

  • Charles Cavendish, Viscount Mansfield (d 1659). He went into exile with his father, returning to England shortly before him. He died in 1659 at the age of 32
  • Henry (1630-1691), later 2nd Duke of Newcastle upon Tyne
  • Jane (d 1669) m Charles Cheyne, later 1st Viscount Newhaven in 1654
  • Elizabeth (d 1663) m Lord Brackely, Earl of Bridgewater in 1641
  • Frances (d 1678) m 2nd Earl of Bolingbroke in 1654

2. Margaret Lucas (1617-1673)whom he married in 1645 while in exile in Paris. She was also a writer and was regarded as an eccentric by the standards of her times. 'Mad Madge', as she was popularly known, wrote her husband's biography and shared his interest in the arts and literature. They had no children and his only surviving son, Henry, succeeded to the estates and title when he died in 1676.

Archive Collections

The Cavendish inheritance descended in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries through the female line, passing first from Henry Cavendish, 2nd Duke of Newcastle upon Tyne (1630-1691) to his daughter, Margaret (1661-1716) who married John Holles, 4th Earl of Clare (1662-1711). Their daughter, Lady Henrietta Cavendish Holles (1694-1755), inherited the bulk of the Cavendish estates after litigation. She married Edward Harley, 2nd Earl of Oxford (1689-1741). Their daughter, Lady Margaret Cavendish Harley, was married in 1743 to William Bentinck, 2nd Duke of Portland (1709-1762). As a result of this union, a considerable quantity of the Newcastle/Cavendish papers passed into the Portland, rather than the Newcastle Collection.

  • The Cavendish Collection, part of the Portland (Welbeck) Collection held in Manuscripts and Special Collections, includes some of his personal papers
  • The Portland Literary Collection, also part of the Portland (Welbeck) Collection, contains many of his literary papers
  • The Newcastle Collection held in Manuscripts and Special Collections includes some estate papers from the time of the 1st Duke, for example, relating to his purchase of Nottingham Castle
  • Details of collections held elsewhere are available through the National Register of Archives.

Published Works by the 1st Duke of Newcastle upon Tyne

  • Cavendish, William, 1st Duke of Newcastle, A General System of Horsemanship, introduced by W.C. Steinkraus with commentary by E. Schmit-Jensen (London, 2000)
  • Cavendish, William, 1st Duke of Newcastle, The Country Captain, prepared by A. Johnson and revised by H.R. Woudhuysen (Oxford, 1999)
  • Cavendish, William, 1st Duke of Newcastle, Dramatic Works (Oxford, 1996)
  • Cavendish, William, 1st Duke of Newcastle, Ideology and Politics on the Eve of Restoration: Newcastle's advice to Charles II, transcribed and introduced by T.P. Slaughter (Philadelphia, 1984)
  • Cavendish, William, 1st Duke of Newcastle, The Phanseys of William Cavendish, Marquis of Newcastle addressed to Margaret Lucas and her letters in reply, ed. D. Grant (London, 1956)
  • Cavendish, William, 1st Duke of Newcastle, Witts Triumverate, or, The Philosopher (1635)
  • Cavendish, William, 1st Duke of Newcastle, The Varietie (1639-1641)
  • Cavendish, William, 1st Duke of Newcastle, The Country Captaine (1641)
  • Cavendish, William, 1st Duke of Newcastle, The Humorous Lovers (1677)
  • Cavendish, William, 1st Duke of Newcastle, The Triumphant Widow, or The Medley of Humours (1677)

Published Sources

  • Cavendish, Margaret, The Life of William Cavendish, ed. C.H. Firth (2nd revised edition, 1906) [King’s Meadow Campus East Midlands Collection Not 468.V38 CAV]
  • Longueville, Thomas, The First Duke and Duchess of Newcastle upon Tyne (London, 1910) [King’s Meadow Campus East Midlands Collection Not 468.V38 CAV]
  • Trease, Geoffrey, Portrait of a Cavalier: William Cavendish, 1st Duke of Newcastle (London, 1979)
 

Manuscripts and Special Collections

Kings Meadow Campus
Lenton Lane
Nottingham, NG7 2NR

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