William Cavendish, 1st Duke of Newcastle

The Duke of Newcastle
Spouse(s) Elizabeth Bassett
Margaret Lucas


Jane Cavendish
Charles Cavendish
Elizabeth Cavendish
Henry Cavendish, Duke of Newcastle
Frances Cavendish

Titles and styles

Duke of Newcastle upon Tyne
Father Sir Charles Cavendish
Mother Catherine Ogle, Baroness Ogle
Born (1592-12-06)6 December 1592
Handsworth, West Riding of Yorkshire, England
Died 25 December 1676(1676-12-25) (aged 84)
Welbeck, Nottinghamshire, England
Occupation Royalist soldier, politician, writer

William Cavendish, 1st Duke of Newcastle upon Tyne KG KB PC (6 December 1592 – 25 December 1676) was an English polymath and aristocrat, having been a poet, equestrian, playwright, swordsman, politician, architect, diplomat and soldier.[1] He was born into the wealthy Cavendish family at Handsworth in the West Riding of Yorkshire; it had a good relationship with the ruling Stuart monarchy and began to gain prominence after he was invested as a Knight of the Bath, and then inherited his father's Northern England estates.

At first a courtier of James I of England, Cavendish would later strike up friendships with Charles I of England and his wife Henrietta Maria for whom he hosted lavish banquets. He was created Marquess of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and entrusted with the education of the royal couple's son, the future Charles II of England. Cavendish was a staunch royalist helping to fund the king in his Bishops' Wars; and then during the English Civil War he was made a general for the struggle in the North of England against the roundheads. In 1645 he married the English poet, dramatist, philosopher, and natural scientist Margaret Lucas. After the defeat at Marston Moor, Cavendish went into self-imposed exile, only returning with the English Restoration when he was created a duke.


Welbeck Abbey in the 17th century

A descendant of the famous Cavendish family, William Cavendish was born at Handsworth Manor in the West Riding of Yorkshire to Sir Charles Cavendish and Catherine Ogle.[2] On the paternal side of his family, the grandparents of William were Bess of Hardwick and courtier William Cavendish.[3] Shortly after the birth of William, his brother Charles was born (it is not known exactly when). The brothers would maintain a close relationship throughout their lives.[3] The family lived at Welbeck Abbey.

He was the eldest surviving son of Sir Charles Cavendish and his wife Catherine (daughter of the 7th Baron Ogle), and the grandson of Sir William Cavendish and Bess of Hardwick. (The name was generally pronounced "Candish".) He was educated at St John's College, Cambridge.

On the occasion of the creation of Prince Henry as Prince of Wales in 1610, Cavendish was made a Knight of the Bath, subsequently travelled with Sir Henry Wotton, then ambassador to the Duke of Savoy, and on his return married his first wife, Elizabeth Basset (before 1602 – 17 April 1643), daughter of William Basset of Blore, Staffordshire by his wife Judith Austen, and widow of Henry Howard, third son of the 1st Earl of Suffolk. He possessed an immense fortune, and several times he entertained King James I and King Charles I with great magnificence at Welbeck and Bolsover.

The Duke died at Welbeck Abbey on Christmas Day 1676, and was buried in Westminster Abbey. By his first wife he had ten children, of whom one son, Henry, survived him and became 2nd Duke of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, dying in 1691 without surviving male issue; the title then became extinct and the estates passed to his third daughter Margaret, wife of John Holles, Earl of Clare, created Duke of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1694. The 1st Duke's daughters included Lady Elizabeth Cavendish (c. 1627 – 14 June 1663), who married John Egerton, 2nd Earl of Bridgewater and had issue, and Lady Frances Cavendish (before 1641 – 15 August 1678), who married the 2nd Earl of Bolingbroke.

Granted noble titles

On 3 November 1620 Cavendish became Viscount Mansfield and on 7 March 1628 Earl of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. In 1629 he inherited his mother's barony of Ogle, together with an estate of £3,000 per annum. In 1638 he became governor of Charles, Prince of Wales, and in 1639 a Privy Counsellor. When the Scottish war (1639–1640) broke out he assisted King Charles I with a loan of £10,000 and a troop of volunteer horse, consisting of 120 knights and gentlemen.

English Civil War

Cavendish was a prominent royalist.

In 1641 Newcastle became implicated in the Army Plot, and in consequence withdrew for a time from the court. On 11 January 1642 King Charles sent him to seize Hull, but the town refused him admittance. When the king declared open war, Newcastle received the command of the four northern counties, and had the power conferred on him of making knights. He maintained troops at his own expense, and having occupied Newcastle kept open communications with Queen consort Henrietta Maria of France, and despatched to the king his foreign supplies. In November 1642 he advanced into Yorkshire, raised the siege of York, and compelled Lord Fairfax of Cameron to retire after attacking him at Tadcaster.

Subsequently his plans were checked by Fairfax's re-capture of Leeds in January 1643, and he retired to York. He escorted the queen, who returned from abroad in February, to York, and subsequently captured Wakefield, Rotherham and Sheffield, though failing at Leeds, but his successes were once more ravished from him by Fairfax. In June he advanced again, defeated the Fairfaxes at Adwalton Moor on 30 June, and obtained possession of all Yorkshire except Hull and Wressle Castle.

The Duke might now have joined the king against Lord Essex, but continued his campaign in the north, advancing into Lincolnshire to attack the eastern association, and taking Gainsborough and Lincoln. Thence he returned to besiege Hull, and in his absence the force which he had left in Lincolnshire was defeated at Winceby by Oliver Cromwell on 11 October 1643, which caused the loss of the whole county. On 27 October 1643, he was created Marquess of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

The next year Newcastle's position was further threatened by the advance of the Scots. Against larger numbers he could do little but harass and cut off supplies. He retreated to York, where the three armies of the Scots, as well as those of Lord Fairfax of Cameron and Lord Manchester, surrounded him. On 1 July 1644 Prince Rupert of the Rhine raised the siege, but on the next day threw away his success by engaging the three armies in battle, contrary to Newcastle's desire, at Marston Moor.

Leaving England

After this disaster, against the wishes of the king and of Rupert, Newcastle immediately announced his intention of abandoning the cause and of leaving England. He sailed from Scarborough accompanied by a considerable following, including his two sons and his brother, lived at Hamburg from July 1644 to February 1645, and moved in April to Paris, where he lived for three years. There he met and married as his second wife Margaret, daughter of Sir Thomas Lucas of St John's, Colchester; she was thirty-one years his junior. The new Marchioness was a dramatist and romancer, and had been maid of honour to Queen Henrietta Maria. Their marriage appears to have been a very happy one, and she later wrote a biography of him. His love and admiration for his wife is best expressed in the fine sonnet he wrote as an introduction to her masterpiece The Blazing World.

Newcastle left in 1648 for Rotterdam with the intention of joining the Prince of Wales in command of the rebellious navy, and finally took up his abode at Antwerp, where he remained till the Restoration. In April 1650 he was appointed a member of Charles II's privy council, and in opposition to Edward Hyde advocated the agreement with the Scots. In Antwerp he lived in the Rubenshuis (the house where the painter Peter Paul Rubens had lived from 1610 till his death in 1640)[4] and established his famous riding-school, exercised "the art of manège" (High School riding), and published his first work on horsemanship, Méthode et invention nouvelle de dresser les chevaux in1658.[5] This work had an influence on one of the greatest French riding masters, Francois Robichon de la Gueriniere, as well as a more controversial figure in dressage, Baucher. He is also said to be the inventor of draw reins.


At the Restoration (1660) Newcastle returned to England, and succeeded in regaining the greater part of his estates, though burdened with debts, his wife estimating his total losses in the war at the enormous sum of £941,303. He was reinstated in the offices he had filled under Charles I; was invested in 1661 with the Order of the Garter which had been bestowed upon him in 1650, and was advanced to a dukedom on 16 March 1665. He retired, however, from public life and occupied himself with his estate and with his favourite pursuit of training horses. He established a racecourse near Welbeck. In his later years, he suffered from Parkinson's Disease, and the sudden death of his second wife was a blow from which he never recovered.

With John Dryden's assistance he translated Molière's L'Etourdi as Sir Martin Mar-All (1688). He contributed scenes to his wife's plays, and poems of his composition are to be found among her works.

Cavendish was the patron of, among others, Jonson, Shirley, Davenant, Dryden, Shadwell and Flecknoe, and of Hobbes, Gassendi and Descartes.

During their stay in Antwerp, the Cavendishes had a music chapel of 5 musicians. They were acquainted with several of the contemporary English composers, and Newcastle's library contained a substantial collection of music of these composers.[6]

As a commander in the field Lord Clarendon spoke contemptuously of Newcastle as "a very lamentable man, and as fit to be a general as a bishop". It can hardly be denied, however, that his achievements in the north were of great military value to the king's cause. For politics he had no taste, and adhered to the king's cause merely from motives of personal loyalty, from hatred of "whatsoever was like to disturb the public peace," and because the monarchy "was the foundation and support of his own greatness". Even Clarendon conceded that he was "a very fine gentleman".

The department of Manuscripts and Special Collections, The University of Nottingham holds a number of papers relating to the 1st Duke: the Cavendish Papers (Pw 1), part of the Portland (Welbeck) Collection, includes some of his personal papers; the Portland Literary Collection (Pw V), also part of the Portland (Welbeck) Collection, contains many of his literary papers; and the Newcastle (Clumber) Collection (Ne) includes some estate papers from the time of the 1st Duke, for example, relating to his purchase of Nottingham Castle.

Works by William Cavendish

Le Parc de Welbeck, after Abraham van Diepenbeeck


Titles and styles

See also


  1.  "Cavendish, William (1592-1676)". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
  2. "William Cavendish, Marquis of Newcastle, 1593–1676". British-Civil-Wars.co.uk. Retrieved 21 June 2008.
  3. 1 2 "Early Life". WilliamCavendish.co.uk. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
  4. Vorstelijke vluchtelingen William en Margaret Cavendish, 1648–1660 ("Noble fugitives William en Margaret Cavendish, 1648–1660"), announcement of a 2006 exposition in the agenda of the Rubenshuis museum. Exposition catalogue: Royalist Refugees: William and Margaret Cavendish in the Rubenshuis (1648–1660), ISBN 90-8586-014-8, October 2006.
  5. Hulse, Lynn (2004). "Cavendish, William, first duke of Newcastle upon Tyne (bap. 1593, d. 1676)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (revised Jan 2011 ed.). Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2 February 2011.
  6. Amorous in Music: William Cavendish in Antwerp (1648–1660), Klara CD No. 34, KTC 4019 (2006)
Wikimedia Commons has media related to William Cavendish, 1st Duke of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
Political offices
Title last held by
The Earl of Shrewsbury
Lord Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire
English Interregnum
Preceded by
Sir Ralph Delaval
Custos Rotulorum of Northumberland
Succeeded by
Sir William Widdrington
Preceded by
The Earl of Devonshire
Lord Lieutenant of Derbyshire
Succeeded by
The Earl of Devonshire
Preceded by
The Earl of Exeter
Custos Rotulorum of Nottinghamshire
English Interregnum
Honorary titles
English Interregnum Custos Rotulorum of Derbyshire
Succeeded by
The Duke of Newcastle
Lord Lieutenant and Custos Rotulorum of Nottinghamshire
Preceded by
The Earl of Northumberland
Lord Lieutenant of Northumberland
jointly with Earl of Ogle

Legal offices
Preceded by
The Earl of Rutland
Justice in Eyre
north of the Trent

Succeeded by
The Duke of Newcastle
Peerage of England
Preceded by
New Creation
Duke of Newcastle-upon-Tyne
Succeeded by
Henry Cavendish
Marquess of Newcastle-upon-Tyne
Earl of Newcastle-upon-Tyne
Viscount Mansfield
Preceded by
Catherine Ogle
Baron Ogle
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