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WILLIAM CAVENDISH

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Originally appearing in Volume V08, Page 130 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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WILLIAM CAVENDISH, 1st duke of Devonshire (1640-1707), English statesman, eldest son of the earl of Devonshire last mentioned, was born on the 25th of January 164o. After completing his education he made the tour of Europe according to the custom of young men of his rank, being accompanied on his travels by Dr Killigrew. On his return he obtained, in 1661, a seat in parliament for Derbyshire, and soon became conspicuous as one of the most determined and daring opponents of the general policy of the court. In 1678 he was one of the committee appointed to draw up articles of impeachment against the lord treasurer Danby. In 1679 he was re-elected for Derby, and made a privy councillor by Charles II.; but he soon withdrew from the board with his friend Lord Russell, when he found that the Roman Catholic interest uniformly prevailed. He carried up to the House of Lords the articles of impeachment against Lord Chief-Justice Scroggs, for his arbitrary and illegal proceedings in the court of King's bench; and when the king declared his resolution not to sign the bill for excluding the duke of York, afterwards James II., he moved in the House of Commons that a bill might be brought in for the association of all his majesty's Protestant subjects. He also openly denounced the king's counsellors, and voted for an address to remove them. He appeared in defence of Lord Russell at his trial, at a time when it was scarcely more criminal to be an accomplice than a witness. After the condemnation he gave the utmost possible proof of his attachment by offering to exchange clothes with Lord Russell in the prison, remain in his place, and so allow him to effect his escape. In Novembr 1684 he succeeded to the earldom on the death of his father. He opposed arbitrary government under James II. with the same consistency and high spirit as during the previous reign. He was withdrawn from public life for a time, however, in consequence of a hasty and imprudent act of which his enemies knew how to avail themselves. Fancying that he had received an insulting look in the presence chamber from Colonel Colepepper, a swaggerer whose attendance at court the king encouraged, he immediately avenged the affront by challenging the colonel, and, on the challenge being refused, striking him with his cane. This offence was punished by a fine of £30,000, which was an enormous sum even to one of the earl's princely fortune. Not being able to pay he was imprisoned in the king's bench, from which he was released only on signing a bond for the whole amount. This was afterwards cancelled by King William. After his discharge the earl went for a time to Chatsworth, where he occupied himself with the erection of a new mansion, designed by William Talman, with decorations by Verrio, Thornhill and Grinling Gibbons. The Revolution again brought him into prominence. He was one of the seven who signed the original paper inviting the prince of Orange from Holland, and was the first nobleman who appeared in arms to receive him at his landing. He received the order of the Garter on the occasion of the coronation, and was made lord high steward of the new court. In 1690 he accompanied King William on his visit to Holland. He was created marquis of Hartington and duke of Devonshire in 1694 by William and Mary, on the same day on which the head of the house of Russell was created duke of Bedford. Thus, to quote Macaulay, " the two great houses of Russell and Cavendish, which had long been closely connected by friendship and by marriage, by common opinions, common sufferings and common triumphs, received on the same day the highest honour which it is in the power of the crown to confer." His last public service was assisting to conclude the union with Scotland, for negotiating which he and his eldest son, the marquis of Hartington, had been appointed among the commissioners by Queen Anne. He died on the 18th of August 1707, and ordered the following inscription to be put on his monument: Willielmus Dux Devon, Bonorum Principum Fidelis Subditus, Inimicus et Invisus Tyrannis. He had married in 1661 the daughter of James, duke of Ormonde, and he was succeeded by his eldest son William as 2nd duke, and by the latter's son William as 3rd duke (viceroy of Ireland, 1737-1744). The latter's son William (1720-1764) succeeded in 1755 as 4th duke; he married the daughter and heiress of Richard Boyle, earl of Burlington and Cork, who brought Lismore Castle and the Irish estates into the family; and from November 1756 to May 1757 he was prime minister, mainly in order that Pitt, who would not then serve under the duke of Newcastle, should be in power. His son William (1748-1811), 5th duke, is memorable as the husband of the beautiful Georgiana Spencer, duchess of Devonshire (1757-1806), and of the intellectual Elizabeth Foster, duchess of Devonshire (1758-1824), both of whom Gainsborough painted. His son William, 6th duke (1790-1858), who died unmarried, was sent on a special mission to the coronation of the tsar Nicholas at Moscow in 1826, and became famous for his expenditure on that occasion; and it was he who employed Sir Joseph Paxton at Chatsworth. The title passed in 1858 to his cousin William (1808-1891), 2nd earl of Burlington, as 7th duke, a man who, without playing a prominent part in public affairs, exercised great influence, not only by his position but by his distinguished abilities. At Cambridge in 1829 he was second wrangler, first Smith's prizeman, and eighth classic, and subsequently he became chancellor of the university.
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