Manuscripts and Special Collections

Biography of Winifred Anna Cavendish-Bentinck, Duchess of Portland (1863-1954)

Winifred, daughter to Thomas Yorke Dallas-Yorke, was born at Murthly Castle, Perthshire. Following her marriage to the 6th Duke of Portland, she became a prominent society figure. She also moved in court circles - Queen Victoria stood sponsor in person for her daughter, and the duchess served as Mistress of the Robes to Queen Alexandra from 1913-1925.

The duchess had a strong interest in the welfare of birds, and in 1891 became the first, and longest-serving, president of the Society for the Protection of Birds - a position which she held until her death and in which she helped the society obtain its royal charter. She was also active on behalf of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, serving as vice-president and president of the ladies' committee.

Winifred was also interested in improving social conditions. In the year of her marriage, the Duke of Portland won a large amount of horseracing prize money. The duchess persuaded him to use the greater part of this in building the Welbeck Almshouses. She actively supported the local mining community, paying for medical treatments for miners and organising cookery and sewing classes for their daughters. Indeed, the Nottinghamshire Miners' Welfare Association petitioned the king to have an honour bestowed on her on account of her work, and so in 1935 she was made a Dame of the British Empire.


In 1889 she married William John Arthur James Cavendish-Bentinck, 6th Duke of Portland and had:

  • William Arthur Henry (1893-1977), later 7th Duke of Portland
  • Francis Morven Dallas (d 1950) died unmarried
  • Victoria Alexandrina Violet (b 1890) m Captain Michael J.E. Wemyss in 1918

Archive Collections

Published Sources

  • There are apparently no biographies dedicated to the duchess.

Manuscripts and Special Collections

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