CAVENDISH BENTINCK, Lord William Frederick (1781-1828), of 11 St. James's Square, Mdx.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press



20 Feb. 1816 - 26 Jan. 1824
22 Mar. 1824 - 1826

Family and Education

b. 2 Nov. 1781, 4th s. of William Henry Cavendish Bentinck†, 3rd duke of Portland (d. 1809), and Lady Dorothy Cavendish, da. of William Cavendish†, 4th duke of Devonshire; bro. of Lord William Henry Cavendish Bentinck*. educ. Westminster 1797. m. 16 Sept. 1820, Lady Mary Lowther, da. of William Lowther†, 1st earl of Lonsdale, 1s. CB 1815. d. 10 Feb. 1828.1

Offices Held

Ensign 32 Ft. 1798; lt. 24 Drag. 1798, capt. 1799, half-pay 1802; capt. 52 Ft. 1803; maj. and lt.-col. 45 Ft. 1804; lt.-col. 7 Ft. 1804; capt. and lt.-col. 1 Ft. Gds. 1804; brevet col. 1813; lt.-col. commdt. 1 Ft. Gds. 1814-21; maj.-gen. 1819; col. 58 Ft. 1826-d.

Capt. commdt. Mansfield vol. cav. 1819.


The senior Guards officer and yeomanry commander Lord Frederick Bentinck, as he was generally known, was one of the few members of the family connection originally built up by his late father, the prime minister, who still held a seat in Parliament by the start of this period.2 Described by the infamous courtesan Harriette Wilson as ‘my very constant and steady admirer’ and ‘my constant swain’, he nevertheless became engaged to the ‘spirituelle’ Lady Mary Lowther.3 Of her, Lady Granville remarked that ‘she was very agreeable, and her look of conceit and triumph quite vanished. It must be a painful check to high opinion of oneself to be going to marry Lord Frederick’.4 To appease her father, Lord Lonsdale, he had to arrange a favourable jointure to benefit her should she be left a widow with children, and in October 1820 they travelled to Paris for their honeymoon.5 A taciturn man, he devoted much of his time to hunting and racing, and, unlike other Cavendish Bentincks, failed to shine in public life. Alluding perhaps to the electoral duel which the 3rd duke had fought as a young man with Lonsdale’s cousin Sir James Lowther†, Henry Brougham* commented that ‘the whole family is excellent, except perhaps that dunce Frederick, who is only a fool - and be-lowthered’.6 Brougham’s scorn was due in part to the fact that, although he had been elected to Brooks’s, 7 Apr. 1804, Cavendish Bentinck differed from his immediate relations by supporting the Liverpool administration. He paid a short visit to Weobley, where he was again returned unopposed by his cousin, the 2nd marquess of Bath, at the general election of 1820.7 He represented his brother Lord William Henry, who was abroad, at the Nottinghamshire election and briefly thanked the freeholders for re-electing him.8 On 27 Nov. 1820, he reported to his eldest brother, the 4th duke of Portland, who took little interest in politics, that his wife’s brother-in-law George Canning was soon to resign from the cabinet; Canning’s appointment as foreign secretary in late 1822 was an additional reason for Cavendish Bentinck to support the government.9

He was an infrequent voter and made no recorded speeches during this period. He divided with ministers against economies in the collection of taxes, 7 July 1820, and in defence of their conduct towards Queen Caroline, 6 Feb. 1821. He voted against Catholic claims, 28 Feb. 1821, and Canning’s bill to allow Catholic peers to sit in the Lords, 30 Apr. 1822. Surprisingly, he was in the minority for Lambton’s parliamentary reform motion, 18 Apr. 1821, but he voted against alteration of the Scottish representative system, 2 June 1823. He voted against economies, 27 June 1821, and more extensive tax reductions to relieve distress, 11 Feb. 1822. He divided with ministers on Irish tithes, 19 June, and the Canada bill, 18 July 1822, and against inquiries into the legal proceedings against the Dublin Orange rioters, 22 Apr., chancery administration, 7 June, and the currency, 12 June 1823. In January 1824 he vacated Weobley, presumably by agreement with Bath, who brought in his second son, and, at the invitation of the duke of Wellington, the master general of the ordnance, he accepted an available seat on that department’s interest at Queenborough, provided it would not cost more than £2,000 or £3,000, two months later.10 Captain Thomas Dickinson of the navy, a freeman, persuaded his friend, the all-powerful mayor, Thomas Young Greet, to support Cavendish Bentinck, but only on condition that the corporation’s patronage requests were fulfilled. Thus, for example, after his election Cavendish Bentinck interested himself in the appointment of Stephen Pellatt, another freeman, to the mastership of a convict ship.11 He voted against condemning the trial of the Methodist missionary John Smith in Demerara, 11 June 1824. He was absent from the House in early 1825, writing to his nephew Lord Titchfield*, 16 Feb., from the Lowther family’s residence at Cottesmore, Rutland, that

the opinion here is, that the call will certainly not be enforced. In consequence of this protracted debate, it is out of the question. Government cannot want their friends up because, if they did, they would have importuned us to have come up, which they have had time and opportunities without end to have done.12

He voted against Catholic claims, 1 Mar., paired against the second reading of the relief bill, 21 Apr., and voted against its third reading, 10 May; he divided against the Irish franchise bill, 26 Apr. He voted for the duke of Cumberland’s annuity, 2, 6, 10 June 1825.

In March 1825 Cavendish Bentinck was considered by his wife’s family for the expected vacancy at Carlisle during the final illness of Sir James Graham of Kirkstall; but his brother-in-law Lord Lowther* wrote that ‘his constituents are refractory at the moment and the government would lose a seat at Queenborough’.13 However, the ordnance was gradually losing its influence there because of the emergence of a popular, independent candidate, John Capel*, and the failure of the treasury to reward government supporters in the town with lucrative employments, a situation exacerbated by economies in the revenue offices.14 Cavendish Bentinck was anxious about the outcome, and was advised by Lonsdale and the other ministerial candidate, Lord Downes*, to issue an address.15 He managed only third place, behind Capel and Downes, at the general election of 1826; his defeat was attributed to lack of management by the treasury and Capel’s advocacy of the long-running cause of the fishing community against the corporation.16 Thereafter Lonsdale had it in mind to return Cavendish Bentinck for Cockermouth to replace William Carus Wilson, and he was again thought of in January 1828 when Lawrence Peel offered to surrender the seat.17 From late 1826 he became seriously ill with a fistula in the rectum. On medical advice he travelled abroad to recover, but died at Rome in February 1828, ‘after lingering for a week subsequent to an attack so violent that for some time he was thought actually dead’.18 By his will, dated 23 May 1826, he left all his property, including personal wealth sworn under £9,000, to his wife, who was made sole guardian of their only child, George Augustus Frederick Cavendish Bentinck (1821-91), Conservative Member for Taunton, 1859-65, and Whitehaven, 1865-91.19

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Stephen Farrell


Not Lord Frederick Cavendish Bentinck, as given in HP Commons, 1790-1820, iii. 420.

  • 1. Not 11 Feb. as erroneously stated in ibid. and, e.g., Burke PB (1930), 1921.
  • 2. Nottingham Univ. Lib. Portland mss PwH 83-85.
  • 3. Harriette Wilson’s Mems. (1929), 91, 596; Disraeli Letters, i. 325.
  • 4. Countess Granville Letters, i. 166.
  • 5. Lonsdale mss, Beckett to Lowther, 2 Oct. 1820; Portland mss PwH 77-80.
  • 6. Portland mss PwH 82; PwL 9-20; Bessborough mss, Brougham to Duncannon [10 Mar. 1823].
  • 7. Portland mss PwH 75.
  • 8. Nottingham Univ. Lib. Denison mss, J. to J.E. Denison, 17 Mar.; Nottingham Rev. 21 Mar. 1820.
  • 9. Portland mss PwH 81; Bessborough mss, Brougham to Duncannon, 13 Sept. 1822.
  • 10. Wellington mss WP1/787/10, 12; Lonsdale mss, Lowther to Lonsdale, 9 Mar. 1824.
  • 11. Wellington mss WP1/787/14; Add. 40365, f. 2.
  • 12. Portland mss PwK 441.
  • 13. Lonsdale mss, Lowther to Lonsdale, 21 Mar. 1825.
  • 14. Wellington mss WP1/822/20; 825/12; 826/11; 828/8, 12; 833/9; 846/7; The Times, 23 July 1825.
  • 15. Wellington mss WP1/856/18.
  • 16. Ibid. 857/8, 9; Kentish Chron. 16 June; Kentish Gazette, 13 June 1826.
  • 17. Lonsdale mss, Beckett to Lowther, 26 Dec. 1826; Lowther to Lonsdale, 6 Jan. [1827], 26 Jan. 1828.
  • 18. Ibid. Beckett to Lowther, 30 Sept., 16 Oct. [? Oct.], 1 Nov. 1826; Portland mss PwFj 477-8; PwH 139; Fox Jnl. 250, 267; Gent. Mag. (1828), i. 363.
  • 19. Portland mss PwFj 478; PROB 8/221; 11/1746/571.