Manuscripts and Special Collections

Biography of [William] Henry Bentinck, 1st Duke of Portland (1682-1726)

Henry was the second, but oldest surviving son of the 1st Earl of Portland and his wife Anne Villiers, and was styled Viscount Woodstock from 1689. Though his father accompanied William III to England in 1688, Henry did not follow, in order 'that he might not learn debauchery in that country'. In 1701, to complete his education, he was sent on the 'Grand Tour' of Europe, accompanied by the historian, Thoyras Rapin.

In 1716 Henry was created 1st Duke of Portland and Marquess of Titchfield, largely in memory of his illustrious father. Having inherited vast estates, he should have been extremely prosperous, but suffered heavy losses when the South Sea Bubble burst in 1720. As a result of this financial disaster, he accepted the post of Governor of Jamaica where he dealt, amongst other things, with the aftermath of a hurricane and with constitutional problems - all apparently with great success. Unfortunately, his tenure of the governorship was not to be a long one. He died in Jamaica in 1726 at the relatively young age of 44.


In 1704 he married Lady Elizabeth Noel (d 1737), eldest daughter of the 2nd Earl of Gainsborough. They had five children:

  • William (1709-1762), later 2nd Duke of Portland
  • George (1715-1759)
  • Anne (d 1749) m Colonel Daniel Paul
  • Isabella (d 1783) m Henry Monck of Charleville, County Wicklow in 1739
  • Amelia (d 1756) m Jacob Arend, Baron de Wassenaer

Archive Collections

  • The 1st Duke's papers (Pw B) are part of the Portland (Welbeck) Collection held in Manuscripts and Special Collections at The University of Nottingham and include a large proportion of papers relating to South Sea Stock
  • The Portland (London) Collection (Pl C), also held in Manuscripts and Special Collections at The University of Nottingham, contains some papers relating to the family and estate business of the 1st Duke
  • The Portland Estate Papers held at Nottinghamshire Archives also contain items relating to the 1st Duke's properties
  • Details of collections held elsewhere are available through the National Register of Archives.

Published Sources

Though there are no published biographies exclusively dedicated to the 1st Duke of Portland, his biographical details feature in the following:

  • Turberville, A.S., A History of Welbeck Abbey and its Owners, Volume 2 (London, 1938) [King’s Meadow Campus East Midlands Collection Not 468.D14 TUR]

Manuscripts and Special Collections

Kings Meadow Campus
Lenton Lane
Nottingham, NG7 2NR

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