Manuscripts and Special Collections

The Earls and Dukes of Portland of Welbeck Abbey - a Brief History

The earliest Portland title was held by Richard Weston, Baron Weston (1576-1635), who was created 1st Earl of Portland in 1633. On his death, the title passed to his son, Jerome Weston, 2nd Earl (1605-1663), then to Charles Weston, 3rd Earl (1639-1665) and ultimately to Thomas Weston, 4th Earl (1609-1688), who was Charles' uncle and male heir, being the third surviving son of the 1st Earl by his second wife. Though Thomas married in 1667, his wife died only two years later and there were no heirs. As a result, all his honours became extinct on his death in 1688.

The title was revived the very next year by William III, following his accession to the throne in the 'Glorious Revolution'. Anxious to reward his close friend and supporter, [Hans] William Bentinck, William created him Baron of Cirencester, Viscount Woodstock and Earl of Portland in February 1689.

William was succeeded by his son, Henry in 1709, and within seven years Henry had been elevated to the titles Marquess of Titchfield and Duke of Portland. From that point onwards, the Dukedom descended in an unbroken line as far as William Cavendish-Bentinck, 9th Duke of Portland. With his death in 1990 the honour became extinct.

The title Earl of Portland did not die out with the dukedom, however. It was inherited by Henry Noel Bentinck, as 11th Earl of Portland. The 11th Earl was a direct descendent of William Bentinck, 1st Count Bentinck of the Holy Roman Empire, son of the 1st Earl of Portland by his second marriage. On his death the title passed to Timothy Charles Robert Noel Bentinck, the 12th Earl who is likely to be succeeded by his son, William, the present Viscount Woodstock.

For a brief period there was also an alternative, Jacobite Portland title. Around 1690 the exiled James II created the title Earl of Portland for Edward Herbert, brother of the 1st Earl of Torrington. This alternative title died with him in 1698.

Simplified family tree showing the line of descent of the Earls and Dukes of Portland (click to open in PDF format)


Family tree of the Bentinck family, Counts of the Holy Roman Empire (click to open in PDF format)


Biographies of the Earls and Dukes of Portland

Other Notable Family Members


Genealogical Sources

  • Burke's Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage
  • Debrett's Peerage
  • The Complete Peerage
  • Dictionary of National Biography


Next page:  Portland Family Seats


Manuscripts and Special Collections

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