Manuscripts and Special Collections

Biography of Victor Frederick William Cavendish-Bentinck, 9th Duke of Portland (1897-1990)

Victor succeeded to the title in 1980, on the death of his brother, the 8th Duke. He was educated at Wellington College but did not pursue a university education, instead entering the diplomatic service in 1919. His diplomatic career was distinguished. In 1922 he took charge of administrative arrangments for the Lausanne Conference. He served in the British Embassy in Paris and also in the League of Nations Department in the Foreign Office. Other postings included Athens in 1932 and Santiago in 1933.

The high point of the 9th Duke's diplomatic career came in 1939 when he was appointed chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee. He managed to develop the body as a highly effective instrument of government and as a result became counsellor to the Services Liaison Department of the Foreign Office in 1942.

In 1945 the duke was given his final diplomatic posting on his appointment as Ambassador to Poland. He held the position for two years before the Foreign Office applied to appoint him Ambassador to Brazil. Unfortunately, he never took up the latter post, being obliged to resign from the Foreign Office as a result of the publicity surrounding his divorce.

After his withdrawal from the diplomatic service, Victor embarked on a business career, becoming Vice-Chairman of the Committee of Industrial Interests in Germany. From this position he was able to advance the interests of British companies such as Unilever.


He married firstly, in 1924, Clothilde (d 1984), daughter of James B. Quigley of Dallas, Texas and had:

  • William James (1925-1966)
  • Mary Jane (b 1929), married firstly Alexander Constantine Georgiades in 1963 (div. 1978) and secondly Professor Stephen Richards Graubard in 1978

Their marriage was dissolved in 1948 when he married Kathleen Elsie (d 2004), daughter of Arthur Barry of Montreal, Canada.

Archive Collections

  • There do not appear to be any archive collections which hold papers of the 9th Duke.

Published Sources

  • P. Howarth, Intelligence Chief Extraordinary: the life of the 9th Duke of Portland (London, 1986) [King’s Meadow Campus East Midlands Collection Not 468.V38 POR]

Manuscripts and Special Collections

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