Born on 17 March 1703/1704,1 Charles Cavendish
Like all his brothers and sisters, Charles
Inside their various substantial four walls, the Cavendishes enjoyed informal relationships. Unlike many aristocratic families, for example, the duke of Kent’s, Charles’s family did not use formal titles for one another. In their letters, even after they were adults, Charles’s sisters referred to their mother as “Mama,” not “her Grace,” the title appropriate for a duchess, and they wrote of “brother Charles” rather than “Lord Charles” and of “Granmama Russell” rather than “Lady Russell.” Charles’s sister Elizabeth
Of his siblings, two brothers, William and James, and four sisters, Mary
The Cavendish boys received only the beginnings of their education at home. Their grandmother Rachel Russell
but rather from his studying in the dead languages, which he has not been well grounded in. I have knowen severall instances of this and if it be the case or perhaps his being too much indulged in sloth when younger, I do not see why either of them should be a reason for breaking off his studies. He can read in Italian and French most of the things that are necessary for a gentleman, and tho’ he should not give a very close application, something usefull will stick; and who knows but by degrees he may come to like what he now has ane aversion to. Were he mine, I would make him spend some time at Geneva in the studie of the law, should it be only to keep him from being imposed upon by pettyfoggers. Historie and geometry are accomplishments fitt for a gentleman and surely he can never serve his country or famely without knowledge, and geometry, if he give in to it, will at all times be ane amusement when he cannot be more profitably imploy’d. When he has made a tolerable progress in these, it will not be amiss that he make a tour in France and Italy that he may learn from observation what he has not gote by reading.13
The reference was to the by now obligatory grand tour that began in France, perhaps passed through Holland and Switzerland, and then settled down to a residence in Italy, home of Rome and the Renaissance. No Englishmen could pretend to an education or any degree of sophistication without this tour, two or three years abroad being the rule, a just compensation for having been born in backwater England.14 Some formal study might be combined with the sightseeing and cultural exposure. Anthony
Att Geneva you will find several persons that will be very helpful to you I don’t doubt, and I shall send a letter or two to some of the best I knew there who are of the best familys, men who are pretty well acquainted with the world and whose conversations will be agreable as well as instructive, that shall wait upon you and do any service that lies in their power as soon as ever you arrive; there are like wise some of the young men I was acquainted with who will be ready enough to introduce you into any other company you shall like or care for. I suppose you intend to study a little of the Civil Law there; the person I had and who is accounted one of the best is Mr. Guip a diligent and Studious man and likewise understanding in History and Chronology.
Having followed his own stay in Geneva with travels in Italy, Anthony displayed in the remainder of his letter that he had profited from the lessons in history, having become a careful observer of “antiquities
The “Académie d’Exercises” at Nancy, the capital of Lorraine, had been established in 1699, soon after Lorraine had been taken back from the French and reconstituted a duchy by the Treaty of Ryswick of 1697. Although the dukes of Lorraine were allowed no army of their own, their military Academy attracted young foreign aristocrats, some carrying “the greatest names of Europe.” By 1713 the Academy had added a course in public law to its curriculum, and Duke Leopold
Charles Cavendish left London for his education and tour abroad in March 1721, undoubtedly with another party traveling to Paris, since he was to be met there by his brother James’s valet, and as the seventeen-year-old son of a duke he would not have been sent off alone.18 Expected to be with James by mid-April, he instead stayed on in Paris three weeks longer than planned. As Anthony de Grey had informed his brother a few years earlier, in Paris there were “many things” to be “observed“
You will not stay long there perhaps the first time only to see a little of the Town.… You wont ommitt however the sight of the most principal things, as the Louvre, the Tuilleries, Place Vendosme & Victoire, Place Royal, the Luxemburg, the Church of Notre dam, L’hotel des invalids, Versailles, Trianon.19
Both his initial visit to Paris and his stay there with James for several months in 1723–24 came at a favorable stage in English-French relations, during the regency of the duke of Orléans and immediately after. The friendly climate toward England at court was accompanied by a resurgence of cultural life in Paris as, following the death of Louis XIV in 1715, French aristocrats returned from Versailles to Paris.20 The flourishing arts, operas, theater, and other entertainments lured so many of the British to Paris in these years that the resident at Paris, Thomas Crawford, complained in 1723 that we “should have had the halfe of the people of England” there if it had not been for the unsafe conditions of the roads; “this town began to be full of London apprentices that came running over here with their superfluous money instead of going to Tunbrige,” an English resort.21 The regency was also marked by another interest of the duke of Orléans, this one much closer to Charles’s eventual concerns, the natural sciences and the “improvement of the implements and appliances of the mechanical arts.”22 René Antoine Réaumur, the regent’s protégé at the Paris Academy of Sciences, published his important study of the iron and steel industry in Paris in 1722, which may well have come to Charles’s attention, given the practical bent of his family and their ownership of Derbyshire lead mines.23 As a Cavendish, indeed, he may have enjoyed even more direct exposure to the Parisian scientific world, but we have no evidence for that.
After Paris, if he proceeded as planned, Charles joined James at Lunéville, and for nearly two years after that, until late in 1722 or early in 1723, his activities and whereabouts can only be conjectured. Given the pattern of his brother’s stay abroad, Charles may well have spent a year at Lunéville. During the winter of 1722–23, the brothers were traveling together with a tutor, probably in the south. James had been tempted into gambling, prompting his mother to point out to him that the “right use” of their travel should be “seeing what is most curious in ye places you pass thru & making yr observations upon ‘em.” The following March, James was staying with a prince and princess, an “expensive enuff ” way of life, his mother commented in a discussion of his allowance. Neither the duchess’s letter to James in March nor another one in the middle of July refers to Charles, making it likely that Charles spent some time on his own in Geneva, from where he had written to his mother that summer or fall
The “Académie de Calvin” in Geneva had attracted not only the sons of the duke of Kent, but also the sons of several great English and Scottish families, including the Cavendishes. In 1723, four professors at the Academy offered courses in civil and natural law and in philosophy, including, apparently, natural philosophy, since one of its students, the later mathematician Gabriel Cramer
In November of 1723, James and Cavendish were together again, having only just arrived in Paris. Their stay in France required a doubling of their allowances, each now getting £100 annually, and advice about greater caution on the roads: “be very carefull now you are in France,” their mother wrote, “how you travel, & also of being out late in ye streets wch they tel me is very dangerious , murthers being there soe common.”27 They spent the winter there, still under the care of Mr. Cotteau, with mail reaching them through the banker Jean Louis Goudet. In February 1724, when the end of their tour was in sight, they appealed to their parents to stay a few months longer. “Relating to yr return into England,” the duchess wrote, “I believe yr father in that wo’d be willing to do what he thought was most agreeable to yr own inclinations. Mr. Cotteau writs were you employed yr time so well, that he thinks it might be for yr advantage if you stay’d in France some months longer, but in yr next you may let me know what yrown thoughts are, yr coming back by Holland is what I believe my Ld designes if you like it.”28 Charles and James had their way. They also followed their father’s plan of returning home by way of Holland, a detour that very nearly cost Charles his life
In 1725 the year after his return from his tour of the Continent, Charles Cavendish was elected to the House of Commons. Taking his seat as a Member of Parliament for Heytesbury, Wiltshire,30 in the parliamentary session of 1725–26, he joined all but two of the adult males of his family: his eldest brother, Lord Hartington, his uncle Lord James Cavendish, his two brothers-in-law, Sir Thomas Lowther and Sir William Morgan
Reelected in 1727, but from the large constituency of Westminster instead of small Heytesbury,33 Cavendish’s participation in the House’s activities increased in 1728 and 1729, only to be followed by four years of personal problems arising especially from his wife Anne’s struggle with tuberculosis, which kept him away from his duties much of the time. When, in 1733, his wife died, Cavendish immersed himself in his duties in the Commons. The regular problems of Westminster were typical of cities: repairing streets in “ruinous Condition,” clearing them of “Filth and Dirt,” and keeping them safe at night.34 In 1729, for example, Cavendish and his colleagues crafted a bill to correct the ill effects of having several different privately owned “waterworks” lay water lines and cover them with pavement that was neither level nor strong and lasting enough.35 A few weeks later he and his fellow member of Parliament William Clayton were ordered “to bring in a Bill for appointing a better nightly Watch, and regulating the Beadles… and for better enlightening the Streets, and publick Passages.”36 He worked on such problems for Westminster again in 1736 and 1737 though he had left this constituency.37 Westminster was at times difficult to represent because it was the seat of Parliament and because it was contiguous with London. Popular dissatisfaction with local or national matters sometimes took on tangible form: the street bills in 1729, for example, brought out a great crowd, whose complaints the Commons refused to hear. During these years the city was in vehement opposition to much of Walpole’s administrative program, as in 1733, when Walpole’s handling of the proposed excise on tobacco brought not only local opponents but also the London mob to Westminster. Members of Parliament complained of a “tumultuous Crowd” who “menaced, insulted, and assaulted” them as they left the House. By order of the Commons, Cavendish and Clayton were directed to notify the high bailiff of Westminster that such actions constituted a crime and an infringement on the privileges of the Commons.38
After representing Westminster for seven years Cavendish was elected Member of Parliament for Derbyshire in 1734, his last constituency, which he also served for seven years. At Westminster, like his predecessors there, Charles had been elected with Whig support. Derbyshire, however, had long been in the hands of the Tories, Cavendish being the first Whig to be elected for the county since his father had lost his seat over thirty years before, and Cavendish’s election was close.39 His fellow Member of Parliament there was in fact a Tory, Nathaniel Curzon
The subject of these private acts was road repair. The administration of English roads had been undergoing an important change from the beginning of the century. As the uses of the roads evolved from mainly local foot and animal traffic to through traffic for carriages and wagons, the roads were gradually converted into turnpikes, forcing the principal users to contribute to their upkeep. At the initiative of the local parishes responsible for road maintenance, and other interested parties, Parliament passed private acts establishing trusts responsible for setting up, financing, and maintaining the new turnpikes. The earliest of these had been along the main roads leading to London, two of which, the Great North Road and the road from London to Manchester, by the 1730s had already been turnpiked over considerable distances and in some areas the original turnpike trusts were already up for renewal. For Derbyshire coal trade, industry, and agriculture, it was important to complete the turnpiking of these roads and the east-west roads lying between them as well.42
In 1735 Cavendish had himself assigned to his first turnpike
For the entire sixteen years Cavendish
Cavendish’s political career ended not by defeat but by choice. In 1741 he turned his Derbyshire seat over to William Cavendish, marquess of Hartington. Whether he sensed it or not, he left politics at about the time his family could dispense with his services. Up to the 1740s, but not beyond, the outcome of the Revolution of 1688–89 remained in question, for until then the Tories were predominantly a Jacobite party ready to ally with France to restore the Stuart dynasty. With the defeat of the Jacobite rising of 1745, intended to seat the Catholic Stuart pretender on the throne, the vigilance of the Devonshires could be relaxed, and Charles Cavendish could with clear conscience leave politics for good and consider another path for the remainder of his long life.
As we will see, the Royal Society largely assumed the place that the House of Commons had occupied in Cavendish’s
The duke of Kent
As it turned out, this prince did not live long enough to become king, but long enough to be a political force in his own right and the scandal of the reign. Frederick was born in Hanover in 1707 and remained there until December 1728, when he was brought suddenly to England because word was received at court that he was about to marry the princess royal of Prussia. The marriage had been negotiated and sanctioned by George I, but in 1727 Frederick’s father, now George II, called it off. Although Frederick submitted, he detested his father for keeping him dependant, and when he married, with his father’s approval, Princess Augusta, daughter of Frederick, duke of Saxe-Gothe, he turned this marriage into a weapon against his father. Competing with the king for popularity in the country, the prince formed an opposition court, welcoming into his household ambitious young men like Pitt, Lyttleton, and the Grenvilles, and he developed an intense dislike for his father’s favorite minister, Robert Walpole. Confronted with the prince’s passionate rebellion, the king drew the line in 1738; thereafter no one who paid court to the prince of Wales or his wife was admitted to the king’s presence at any of the royal palaces.50 Charles Cavendish, however, had left his post before the prince’s banishment, having resigned in October 1730
The Peerage: A Geneological Survey of the Peerage of Britain …, comp. D. Lundy (http://www.thepeerage.com).
Lois G. Schwoerer (1988, 222). The author lists the Russell family homes and refers to Lady Russell’s closeness to her children. Various family letters refer to members of the family visiting one another.
Elizabeth Cavendish to James Cavendish, 13 Feb. and 24 Apr. , and Rachel Morgan to James Cavendish, 26 Sep. , Devon. Coll., 166.0, 166.1, and 167.0.
Mary Berry (1819, 73).
Schwoerer (1988, 227).
Samuel Smiles (1868, 208–211, 314).
Rachel Cavendish, duchess of Devonshire, to James Cavendish, 20 Mar., 12 July, and 11 Nov. 1723, and 13 Feb. 1724, Devon. Coll., 30.10–14.
Rachel Morgan to James Cavendish, 26 Sep. .
Elizabeth Cavendish to James Cavendish, 24 Apr. .
Lady Rachel Russell to John Roos (Manners), 5 Nov. 1692, in Lady Rachel Russell (1793, 550).
Joseph Foster (1891, 231). Francis Bickley (1911, 189–190).
R.A. Austen Leigh (1907, xxiv–xxvii, 14–18). J.H. Plumb (1956–1960, 1:253). The “lower master” of the lower school in 1718 was Francis Goode, who held that position from 1716 to 1734, succeeding Thomas Carter. There were four lower school assistants that year, Thomas Thackeray, Adam Elliot, John Burchett, and Charles Willats, three of whom were drawn from King’s College, Cambridge, the other, Burchett, from Peterhouse, Cambridge. Eton College Lists, xxxv. It was customary at Eton for the “sons of wealthy persons to have private tutors,” who were not the same as the assistant masters. H.C. Maxwell Lyte (1911, 284).
Great Britain, Historical Manuscripts Commission, (1924, 3:287–288).
J.H. Plumb (1963, 55–60).
Anthony de Grey to Henry de Grey, about 1760, Bedfordshire Record Office, Wrest Park Collection, Dale 30/5.
Elizabeth Cavendish to James Cavendish, 13 Feb. and 24 Apr. . Rachel Cavendish, duchess of Devonshire, to James Cavendish, 11 Nov. .
Michel Parisse, Stéphane Gaber, and Gérard Canini (1982, 43). Michel Antoine (1968, 70–72), and Claude Collot (1968, 218). Edmond Delorme (1977, 3, 17, 18, 111). Pierre Boyé (1980, 3–4).
Elizabeth Cavendish to James Cavendish, 13 Feb. . A party bound for Paris that Charles might have joined was that of the English ambassador to France Lucas Schaub, who planned to leave London for Paris on 23 February/6 March. That plan, given that the trip took four to five days if all went well, would have put him in Paris in the second week of March, the time when James was to send his valet to meet Charles. In the event, Schaub did not leave London until March 1/12, a possible reason for the delay in Charles’s plans too. Great Britain, Historical Manuscripts Commission (1931, 3:49–52).
Anthony de Grey to Henry de Grey, about 1716.
James Breck Perkins (1892, 374–396, 554–557, 559–562).
Thomas Crawford to Lord Polwarth, 9 Oct. [28 Sep.] 1723, in Great Britain, Historical Manuscripts Commission (1931, 3:308–9).
Perkins (1892, 556).
J.B. Gough (1975, 328).
Rachel Cavendish, duchess of Devonshire, to James Cavendish, late 1722 or early 1723, and 20 Mar. 1723.
Charles Borgeaud (1900, 442, 641–642). According to the registers of students, the Cavendishes who attended the Geneva Academy were Charles Cavendish’s great-grandfather William Cavendish, who was accompanied there by his tutor Thomas Hobbes, the philosopher, and Charles’s grandfather William Cavendish, later first duke of Devonshire. However, the registers are not complete, particularly on foreign nobleman, who might have stayed in Geneva only a few months. Anthony de Grey, who studied law in Geneva for a while, for example, does not appear in the registers; the absence of Charles’s name is not an indication that he did not attend the Academy or study with a private teacher in Geneva. Sven Stelling-Michaud and Suzanne Stelling-Michaud (1959–1972). On the registers: Michael Heyd (1982, 245–247).
Cramer and Charles Cavendish were exact contemporaries. Cramer’s travels were a part of his appointment at Geneva and intended for his further education. The scientists he met in England included Nicholas Saunderson, Edmond Halley, Hans Sloane, Abraham de Moive, and James Stirling. Phillip S. Jones (1971, 459).
Rachel Cavendish, duchess of Devonshire, to James Cavendish, 11 Nov. .
Rachel Cavendish, duchess of Devonshire, to James Cavendish, 13 Feb. .
“Copy of a Letter from Captain Gregory of the Katherine Yacht to Mr Burchett dated the 25th of September 1724 O.S. From Ostend,” Devon. Coll., 179.0.
Romney Sedgwick (1970, 536).
Great Britain, Parliament, House of Commons Journals 20:600–70. Entries from 4 Mar. 1726/27 to 19 Apr. 1727. Hereafter HCJ.
Samuel Wells (1830, 424–426, 661–662, 744–745). 4 Mar. 1725/1726 and 10 May 1726 HCJ 20:599, 697. H.C. Darby (1936, 456–459).
Sedgwick (1970, 1:285). 21 July 1727, St. Margaret’s Vestry, Minutes 1724–1733, Westminster City Archives, E 2419.
4 Feb. 1728/1729, HCJ 21:208.
19 Feb. 1728/1729, ibid., 229.
10 Apr. 1729, ibid., 313.
16, 25 Mar. 1735/1736 and 14, 21 Feb. 1736/1737, HCJ 22:633, 652, 746, 756.
12, 13 Apr. 1733, ibid., 115–126. Plumb (1956–1960, 2:262–271).
Sedgwick (1970, 1:223). In his first run for a seat from Derbyshire, Cavendish’s vote was 2081, the runner-up Tory Curzon’s, 2044, and the third candidate, the loser Harper’s, 1795. Places where the Cavendishes owned property such as Normanton gave almost all their votes to Cavendish. Other places such as Thornhill and Pisley, just outside Chatsworth, gave him virtually no votes. A Copy of a Poll Taken for the County of Derby, The 16th, 17th, 18th, and 20th Days of May, 1734 before George Mower, Esq.; High-Sheriff for the Said County (Derby, n.d.), Devon. Coll., 95/81.
Sedgwick (1970, 1:599).
P.D.G. Thomas (1971, 58).
Sidney and Beatrice Webb (1920, 70). William Albert (1972, 31–43).
18 Apr. 1735, HCJ 22:469.
9, 20 Mar. 1737/1738, HCJ 23:73, 107.
Information from HCJ.
Plumb (1956–1960, 2:122–124, 127).
Plumb (1956–1960, 2:250–271). Thomas (1971, 68–71). Lord John Hervey (1848, 200). Sedgwick (1970, 1:537).
John Edward Smith and W. Parkinson Smith (1923, 272). James Douglas, earl of Morton, who became president of the Royal Society while Cavendish was a member, had held a parallel position at court, as lord of the bedchamber. “Douglas, James, Fourteenth Earl of Morton,” DNB, 1st ed. 5:1236–37, on 1236.
Michael De-la-Noy (1996, 107, 115–116, 127, 194).
Duke of Grafton to [Theophilus, earl of Huntington], 27 Feb. 1738, in Great Britain, Historical Manuscripts Commission (1928–47, 3:22).
Entry on 17 Oct. 1730 in The Historical Register, vol. 15: The Chronological Diary (London, 1730), 64.
Table of Contents
Part I: Lord Charles Cavendish
Part II: The Honorable Henry Cavendish
17 Last Years
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