CAVENDISH, William, Mq. of Hartington (c.1720-64).

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1715-1754, ed. R. Sedgwick, 1970
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1741 - 13 June 1751

Family and Education

b. c. 1720, 1st s. of William Cavendish, 3rd Duke of Devonshire; bro. of Lords George Augustus and Frederick Cavendish. m. 27 Mar. 1748, Lady Charlotte Boyle, da. and h. of Richard, 2nd Earl of Burlington (whose immense estates in Yorks., Derbys., London and Ireland, including Bolton Abbey, Burlington House and Chiswick, she inherited), 3s. 1da. summ. to Lords in fa.’s barony of Cavendish 13 June 1751; suc. fa. as 4th Duke 5 Dec. 1755; K.G. 18 Nov. 1756.

Offices Held

P.C. 12 July 1751-3 Nov. 1752, master of the horse 1751-5; ld. treasurer [I] 1754-5, 1761-3; ld. lt. [I] 1755-6; ld. lt. Derbys. 1756-d.; first ld. of Treasury Nov. 1756-July 1757; ld. chamberlain 1757-62.


Horace Walpole, in 1752, describes Lord Hartington and his father, the Duke of Devonshire, as ‘the fashionable models of goodness’. Returned for the county on coming of age, Hartington canvassed vigorously for Walpole in the last crucial divisions of his Administration, lamenting that ‘we have a parcel of such shabby fellows who will not attend’. On 16 Nov. 1742 he moved the Address at the request of Pelham, who made a point of his opening ‘the first public act in which I can be supposed to have some degree the direction and advice’. At the beginning of the next session Pelham told the Duke of Devonshire that Hartington was ‘our mainstay amongst the young ones, of themselves liable to wander’. He was such ‘a bigot to the Pelham faction’, writes Horace Walpole, that when Granville accepted office in the ‘three day Administration’ of 1746, he offered to impeach him.1

At the opening of the 1747 Parliament Hartington moved Onslow’s re-election as Speaker. When in 1751 Pitt supported an opposition motion for ten instead of eight thousand seamen, Hartington, ‘a favourite by descent of the Old Whigs’, divided the House ‘to show Pitt that he would not be followed by them if he deserted Mr. Pelham’. A few days later, on the Westminster election petition, he carried a motion to reprimand the petitioner’s counsel for contempt of the House. After the death of Frederick, Prince of Wales, in April, he was offered the governorship of the new heir-apparent, later George III, but declined.2 In June his career in the Commons came to an end with his elevation to the peerage on his appointment to the post of master of the horse, carrying a seat in the Cabinet. He continued to hold office, for a short time as head of the Treasury, till he was dismissed by George III for refusing to attend a meeting of the Cabinet on the peace negotiations in October 1762. He died 2 Oct. 1764, aged 44.

Ref Volumes: 1715-1754

Author: Romney R. Sedgwick


  • 1. Mems. Geo. II, i. 184, 195; Owen, Pelhams, 30, 33, 148, 207.
  • 2. Mems. Geo. II, i. 12-13, 19-21, 87.