Manuscripts and Special Collections

Biography of John Holles, 3rd Duke of Newcastle upon Tyne and 4th Earl of Clare (1662-1711)

The eldest son of Gilbert Holles, 3rd Earl of Clare, John Holles was known as Lord Haughton from 1666 until he succeeded to his father's title in 1689. Unlike his father-in-law, the 2nd Duke, he was a supporter of William and Mary, and in November 1688 waited on the Prince of Orange as a representative of the risings in York and Nottingham. In 1689 he was elected to the House of Commons as M.P. for Nottinghamshire, but succeeded to the title Earl of Clare very shortly afterwards and so was elevated to the House of Lords. He became Gentleman of the Bedchamber to William III and Lord Lieutenant of Middlesex.

Clare married Margaret Cavendish, favourite daughter of the 2nd Duke of Newcastle upon Tyne. By the terms of his will, Margaret inherited all of the duke's estates in the East Midlands and Northumberland. The will was angrily contested by Margaret's sisters and their respective husbands but all attempts to have it invalidated were rejected in Chancery. Such was the ill-feeling engendered by the disputed will, that on 13 May 1692 Clare fought a duel with his brother-in-law, the 5th Earl of Thanet, in which both were wounded!

Initally overlooked for a dukedom, a disappointed Clare resigned his posts as Gentleman of the Bedchamber and Lord Lieutenant of Middlesex and concentrated on consolidating his estates, which were further augmented by the death of his relative, Denzel, 3rd Baron Holles. With his increasing wealth and influence, he became a leading electoral patron, exercising power in East Retford, Nottinghamshire, Dorchester, Dorset and Aldborough, Yorkshire. His hopes for a dukedom were finally answered and he became Marquess of Clare and Duke of Newcastle upon Tyne in 1694.

As 3rd Duke, Holles' power increased again. He became Lord Privy Seal and was an influential figure in the discussions which ultimately led to the Treaty of Union (with Scotland) in 1707. He was also in receipt of a number of local offices, such as Lord Lieutenant of the North Riding of Yorkshire.

An engraved portrait of the Duke, after Sir Godfrey Kneller, is available on the National Portrait Gallery website


In 1690 he married Margaret Cavendish (1661-1716), the daughter of Henry Cavendish, 2nd Duke of Newcastle upon Tyne.

They had only one daughter surviving them

  • Henrietta (1694-1755) m Edward Harley, 2nd Earl of Oxford and Mortimer in 1713

Archive Collections

Lady Henrietta Cavendish Holles (1694-1755), daughter of the 3rd Duke of Newcastle upon Tyne and granddaughter of the 2nd Duke, inherited the bulk of the latter's 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 quantity of the Newcastle/Cavendish/Holles papers passed into the Portland, rather than the Newcastle Collection.

  • The Newcastle Collection held in Manuscripts and Special Collections at The University of Nottingham includes estate papers relating to properties acquired by the 3rd Duke in Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and London
  • Correspondence of John Holles forms part of the Holles Papers in the Portland (Welbeck) Collections held in Manuscripts and Special Collections at The University of Nottingham
  • Details of collections held elsewhere are available through the National Register of Archives

Published Sources

  • Holles, John, 3rd Duke of Newcastle, The Whole Life and Noble Character of John, Duke of Newcastle etc (London, 1711)

His biographical details also feature in the following publication:

  • Turberville, A.S., A History of Welbeck Abbey and its Owners, Volume 1, Chapter 11 (London, 1938)

University Theses

  • Davies, O.R.F., The Dukes of Devonshire, Newcastle and Rutland, 1688-1714: a study in wealth and political influence (Oxford University Thesis, 1972)

Manuscripts and Special Collections

Kings Meadow Campus
Lenton Lane
Nottingham, NG7 2NR

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