Kathleen Cavendish, Marchioness of Hartington

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Kathleen Cavendish

Marchioness of Hartington
Lady Hartington.jpg
Kennedy in 1944
Kathleen Agnes Kennedy

(1920-02-20)February 20, 1920
DiedMay 13, 1948(1948-05-13) (aged 28)
Cause of deathAirplane crash
Resting place St Peter's Church, Edensor, Derbyshire, England
ResidenceLondon, England
Education Riverdale Country School
Noroton Convent of the Sacred Heart
Holy Child Convent
Alma mater Queen's College, London
Finch School
Florida Commercial College
Parent(s) Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr.
Rose Kennedy
RelativesSee Kennedy family

Kathleen Agnes Cavendish, Marchioness of Hartington (néeKennedy; February 20, 1920 – May 13, 1948), also known as "Kick" Kennedy, [1] [2] was an American socialite. She was the daughter of Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. and Rose Kennedy, sister of future U.S. President John F. Kennedy, and wife of the Marquess of Hartington, heir apparent to the 10th Duke of Devonshire.

Americans Citizens, or natives, of the United States of America

Americans are nationals and citizens of the United States of America. Although nationals and citizens make up the majority of Americans, some dual citizens, expatriates, and permanent residents may also claim American nationality. The United States is home to people of many different ethnic origins. As a result, American culture and law does not equate nationality with race or ethnicity, but with citizenship and permanent allegiance.

A socialite is a person who plays a prominent role in high society. A socialite spends a significant amount of time attending various fashionable social gatherings.

Rose Kennedy 20th-century American philanthropist

Rose Elizabeth Fitzgerald Kennedy, Countess of the Holy Roman Church was an American philanthropist, socialite, and the matriarch of the Kennedy family. She was deeply embedded in the "lace curtain" Irish Catholic community in Boston, where her father John F. Fitzgerald was mayor. Kennedy was the wife of businessman and investor Joseph P. Kennedy Sr., who was United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom, formally known as Ambassador to the Court of St. James's in the UK. Their nine children included President John F. Kennedy, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, and longtime Senator Ted Kennedy. In 1951 she was ennobled by Pope Pius XII, becoming the sixth American woman to be granted the rank of Papal countess.


When her father was serving as United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Kathleen made many friends in London and was the "debutante of 1938." Working with the Red Cross, she began a romantic relationship with Lord Hartington, whom she married in May 1944. He was killed on active service in Belgium only four months later. Kick died in a plane crash in 1948, flying to the south of France while on vacation with her new partner, the 8th Earl Fitzwilliam.

Debutante upper class girl introduced to society

A debutante or deb is a young woman of aristocratic or upper-class family background who has reached maturity and, as a new adult, comes out into society at a formal "debut" or possibly debutante ball. Originally, the term meant the woman was old enough to be married, and part of the purpose of her coming out was to display her to eligible bachelors and their families with a view to marriage within a select circle.

William Henry Lawrence Peter Wentworth-Fitzwilliam, 8th Earl Fitzwilliam, DSO, styled Viscount Milton before 1943, was a British soldier, nobleman, and peer, with a seat in the House of Lords.

Early years

Kathleen Agnes Kennedy was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, the fourth child and second daughter of Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. and Rose Kennedy. She was nicknamed "Kick" because of her "irrepressible nature." Kathleen was especially close to her older brother, John F. Kennedy, known as "Jack". Her other siblings included Joseph P. Kennedy Jr., Rosemary Kennedy, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Patricia Kennedy Lawford, Ted Kennedy and Jean Kennedy Smith.

Brookline, Massachusetts Town in Massachusetts, United States

Brookline is a town in Norfolk County, Massachusetts, in the United States, and is a part of Greater Boston. Brookline borders six of Boston's neighborhoods: Brighton, Allston, Fenway–Kenmore, Mission Hill, Jamaica Plain, and West Roxbury. The city of Newton lies to the west of Brookline.

John F. Kennedy 35th president of the United States

John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy, often referred to by his initials JFK, was an American politician who served as the 35th president of the United States from January 1961 until his assassination in November 1963. He served at the height of the Cold War, and the majority of his presidency dealt with managing relations with the Soviet Union. A member of the Democratic Party, Kennedy represented Massachusetts in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate prior to becoming president.

Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. junior officer in the United States Navy and elder brother of John F. Kennedy

Joseph Patrick Kennedy Jr. was a United States Navy lieutenant. He was killed in action during World War II while serving as a land-based patrol bomber pilot, and was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross. He was the eldest of nine children born to Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. (1888–1969) and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy (1890–1995). He was the only Kennedy son who never sought political office, though he had planned to.

Kathleen was educated at Riverdale Country School in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, New York City. She also attended Noroton Convent of the Sacred Heart in Noroton, Connecticut and the Holy Child Convent in Neuilly, France. [3] While the Kennedy daughters were not raised to have political ambitions like their brothers, they were nonetheless provided with many of the same educational and social opportunities owing to their father's powerful financial and political connections and influence. This was particularly the case when President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Joseph as United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom in 1938.

Riverdale Country School private school in the Bronx, New York, United States

Riverdale Country School is a co-educational, independent, college-preparatory day school in New York City serving pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade. It is located on two campuses covering more than 27 acres (110,000 m2) in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, New York, United States. Started as a school for boys, Riverdale Country School became fully coeducational in 1972. It currently serves 1,140 students. According to Niche's 2018 Private School Rankings, Riverdale is ranked the 5th best private high school in New York City and the 28th best private high school in the United States.

The Bronx Borough in New York City and county in New York, United States

The Bronx is the northernmost of the five boroughs of New York City, in the U.S. state of New York. It is south of Westchester County; northeast and east of Manhattan, across the Harlem River; and north of Queens, across the East River. Since 1914, the borough has had the same boundaries as Bronx County, the third-most densely populated county in the United States.

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2018 population of 8,398,748 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 19,979,477 people in its 2018 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 22,679,948 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.

As a child, Kathleen was very athletic and played football with her brothers. Her optimism and high spirits attracted many suitors, some of whom were Jack's closest friends. When Kathleen attended the Riverdale Country School, her mother did not approve of the male attention she attracted and sent her to the all-girls Noroton Convent of the Sacred Heart. Eventually, Kathleen started to date and had her first serious relationship, with Peter Grace, an heir to W. R. Grace and Company.

American football Team field sport

American football, referred to as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangular field with goalposts at each end. The offense, which is the team controlling the oval-shaped football, attempts to advance down the field by running with or passing the ball, while the defense, which is the team without control of the ball, aims to stop the offense's advance and aims to take control of the ball for themselves. The offense must advance at least ten yards in four downs, or plays, and otherwise they turn over the football to the defense; if the offense succeeds in advancing ten yards or more, they are given a new set of four downs. Points are primarily scored by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone for a touchdown or kicking the ball through the opponent's goalposts for a field goal. The team with the most points at the end of a game wins.

J. Peter Grace American businessman

Joseph Peter Grace was an American industrialist of Irish Catholic heritage. He was president of the diversified chemical company for 48 years, making him the longest serving CEO of a public company.

W. R. Grace and Company company

W. R. Grace and Company is an American chemical conglomerate based in Columbia, Maryland. Grace is divided into two business segments: Grace Catalysts Technologies and Grace Materials Technologies. Grace is a specialty chemicals and specialty materials company. As of December 31, 2017, it has approximately 3,700 employees, with about 1,900 in the United States and 1,000 in Germany. In 2017, the annual sales is US $ 1.72 billion.


Kick's time in Britain during her father's term as Ambassador would dramatically influence the remainder of her life. While living in England, she was educated in London at Queen's College and quickly cultivated a wide circle of friends, both male and female, in British high society. She dated David Rockefeller and was declared the "debutante of 1938" by the English media.

Queens College, London independent school for girls in the City of Westminster, London

Queen's College is an independent school for girls aged 11–18 with an adjoining prep school for girls aged 4–11 in the City of Westminster, London. Founded in 1848 by theologian and social reformer Frederick Denison Maurice, Professor of English Literature and History at King's College London, along with a committee of patrons, the College was the first institution in the world to award academic qualifications to women. In 1853, it also became the first girls' school to be granted a Royal Charter for the furtherance of women's education. Ever since, the College patron has been a British queen; the current patron is Queen Elizabeth II.

David Rockefeller American billionaire banker and philanthropist

David Rockefeller was an American banker who was chairman and chief executive of Chase Manhattan Corporation. He was the oldest living member of third generation of the Rockefeller family and family patriarch from August 2004 until his death in March 2017. Rockefeller was the youngest child of John D. Rockefeller Jr. and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, and a grandson of John D. Rockefeller and Laura Spelman Rockefeller.

Following the German invasion of Poland and the outbreak of World War II in September 1939, the entire Kennedy family, save for Joseph and daughter Rosemary, returned to the United States. Kathleen, having become very fond of England and the many friends she had made during her two years there, petitioned her parents to remain in London in spite of the coming danger. However, she was overruled by her father and sailed back home in the early fall of 1939.

After returning to the U.S., Kennedy enrolled at the Finch School for a time and then attended Florida Commercial College. In addition to her studies, she also began doing volunteer work for the American Red Cross. In 1941, she decided to leave school and began working as a research assistant for Frank Waldrop, the executive editor for the Washington Times-Herald . She later teamed with Inga Arvad, who wrote the "Did You Happen to See....." column and was eventually given her own column where she reviewed films and plays. [3]


Kathleen on her wedding day in 1944 Lord Cavendish.jpg
Kathleen on her wedding day in 1944

In 1943, seeking a way to return to England, Kathleen signed up to work in a center for servicemen set up by the Red Cross. During her time in England, both before and particularly during the war, she gradually but increasingly grew more independent from her family and the Roman Catholic Church they belonged to. During this time, Kick began a romantic relationship with politician William Cavendish, Marquess of Hartington (usually known to his family and friends as Billy Hartington). He was the eldest son and heir apparent of the 10th Duke of Devonshire.

The two had met and begun a friendship when she moved to England when her father was appointed American Ambassador. Despite objections from her mother, Kennedy and Lord Hartington reunited upon her return to England. [4] Rose especially rejected their relationship because she saw that their marriage would break the laws of the Roman Catholic Church by allowing Kathleen's children to be raised in the Church of England (Anglican Communion) rather than the Roman Catholic Church. Rose even tried to manipulate their relationship by keeping Kathleen away from Hartington and postponing a possible wedding. Regardless, Kathleen stubbornly married Hartington on May 6, 1944, in a civil ceremony at the Caxton Hall Registry Office. [5] [6] Kick's eldest brother Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., an officer in the United States Navy, to whom she had grown close during the last year of his life as he was serving in Britain in the United States Army Air Forces during the war, was the only member of the family to attend the ceremony. Her second eldest brother, Jack, was still hospitalized due to a back injury incurred on the motor torpedo patrol boat PT-109 in the South Pacific Ocean, while her younger brother, Robert F. Kennedy, was in naval training. On August 12, 1944, Joe Jr. was killed when his plane exploded over the English Channel during a top-secret bombing mission in Europe. [5] He had been flying a B-24 bomber equipped with rudimentary "remote flying" technology and packed with explosives destined for the Fortress of Mimoyecques. The plan was for Joe Jr. and his co-pilot to bail out once the controls had been taken over by a second plane flying at 20,000 feet, but an electrical fault caused the "flying bomb" to explode before this could happen.


Kathleen, now Marchioness of Hartington, and Lord Hartington spent less than five weeks together before he went out to fight in France. Four months after their marriage, and less than a month after Joe Jr. was killed, Hartington was killed by a sniper during a battle with the Germans in Belgium. With his family's blessing, he was buried close to where he fell. His younger brother Lord Andrew Cavendish, who was married to Debo Mitford of the famous Mitford sisters, thus became the heir apparent to the dukedom as Billy Hartington had left no heirs.

Popular on the London social circuit and admired by many for her high spirits and wit, Lady Hartington eventually became romantically involved with the 8th Earl Fitzwilliam, [7] who was in the process of divorcing his wife. Once again, Rose Kennedy expressed her disapproval of her daughter's suitor and warned Kick that she would be disowned and cut off financially if she married Lord Fitzwilliam. In May 1948, Kathleen learned that her father would be traveling to Paris. In an effort to gain his consent for her upcoming plans to marry Fitzwilliam, she decided to fly to Paris to meet with her father. [8]


St Peter's Churchyard, Edensor - grave of Kathleen Cavendish, Marchioness of Hartington (nee Kennedy, 1920-1948). Her grave is marked with a headstone and a plaque in the ground commemorating the visit of 35th U.S. President John F. Kennedy at the gravesite. On her gravestone, it says "Joy she gave joy she has found" St Peter's Churchyard, Edensor - grave of Kathleen Cavendish, Marchioness of Hartington (nee Kennedy, 1920-1948).JPG
St Peter's Churchyard, Edensor - grave of Kathleen Cavendish, Marchioness of Hartington (née Kennedy, 1920–1948). Her grave is marked with a headstone and a plaque in the ground commemorating the visit of 35th U.S. President John F. Kennedy at the gravesite. On her gravestone, it says "Joy she gave joy she has found"

On May 13, 1948, Lady Hartington and Lord Fitzwilliam were flying from Paris to the French Riviera for a vacation. [9] aboard a de Havilland DH.104 Dove. [10] At 3:30 in the afternoon, their plane took off, reaching an altitude of 10,000 feet (3,000 m). Approximately one hour into the flight, radio contact was lost with the plane when it entered the region near Vienne which was also close to the center of a storm. The plane's four occupants endured twenty minutes of severe turbulence which bounced their small plane up and down as much as several thousand feet at a time.

When they finally cleared the clouds, they instantly discovered the plane was in a dive and moments away from impact, and they attempted to pull up. The stress of the turbulence coupled with the sudden change of direction tore loose one of the wings, followed by both engines and finally the tail. The plane's fuselage then spun into the ground seconds later, coming to rest nose down in a ravine after striking terrain at Plateau du Coiron, near Saint-Bauzile, Ardèche, France. Lady Hartington was instantly killed along with Fitzwilliam, pilot Peter Townshend, and navigator Arthur Freeman.[ citation needed ]

Her father was the only family member to attend the funeral, arranged by the Cavendishes. Rose Kennedy refused to attend her daughter's memorial service, instead, it was claimed, choosing to enter a hospital for routine medical tests. [8] Rose later said her daughter's death was "God pointing a finger."

The Kennedy Debutante, a novelization of Kennedy's life, was published by Berkley Books in 2018. Written by Kerri Maher, it was well received, including being named a "Best Book of the Week" by the New York Post. [11] [12] [13]

Kick Kennedy is portrayed in the 1993 movie JFK: Reckless Youth .


See also

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  1. McAfee, Tierney; McNeil, Liz (April 13, 2016). "The Untold Story of Kathleen 'Kick' Kennedy, Who Defied Her Parents and Died in a Tragic Plane Crash with Her Married Lover". People . Retrieved September 13, 2016.
  2. Heil, Emily (July 11, 2016). "New Kick Kennedy bio recounts her father's affairs with Hollywood actresses". The Washington Post . Retrieved September 13, 2016.
  3. 1 2 "Kathleen Kennedy". jfklibrary.org.
  4. Buck, Pearl S. (August 4, 1970). "Kathleen put love before religion". The Montreal Gazette. p. 15.
  5. 1 2 "Kathleen Kennedy Loses Husband in Action". The Pittsburgh Press. September 18, 1944. p. 2.
  6. "Kathleen Kennedy Flies From London". The Lewiston Daily Sun. August 17, 1944. p. 1.
  7. Bailey, C. (2007). Black Diamonds: The Rise and Fall of an English Dynasty, pp. 406–419. London: Penguin. ISBN   978-0-670-91542-2.
  8. 1 2 Hilty, James (2000). Robert Kennedy: Brother Protector. Temple University Press. p. 52. ISBN   1-439-90519-3.
  9. Schenectady Gazette May 15, 1948.
  10. Crash of a De Havilland DH.104 Dove 1 in Saint-Bauzile: 4 killed, www.baaa-acro.com Retrieved 18 February 2019
  11. "The Kennedy Debutante". Publishersweekly.com. Publishers Weekly. October 2018. Retrieved October 11, 2018.
  12. Dawson, Mackenzie (September 28, 2018). "The best books of the week". nypost.com. The New York Post. Retrieved October 11, 2018.
  13. Rhule, Patty (October 9, 2018). "JFK's spirited sis 'Kick' Kennedy grabs the spotlight in a new historical novel". USA Today. McClean, VA. Retrieved October 11, 2018.

Further reading