Louisa Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire

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The Duchess of Devonshire
Louise Montagu, Duchess of Manchester (1832-1911), later Duchess of Devonshire.jpg
Photograph of Her Grace, 1884
Mistress of the Robes
In office
24 February 1858 11 June 1859
Preceded by The Duchess of Sutherland
Succeeded byThe Duchess of Sutherland
Personal details
Louisa Frederica Augusta, Countess von Alten

15 June 1832
Hanover, Kingdom of Hanover
Died15 July 1911(1911-07-15) (aged 79)
Surrey, England
Resting place Edensor, Derbyshire
Children George Montagu, 8th Duke of Manchester
Mary Louisa, Duchess of Hamilton
Louisa Augusta, Countess of Gosford
Lord Charles Montagu
Alice Maude, Countess of Derby
ParentsKarl Franz Viktor
Hermine de Schminke

Louisa Frederica Augusta Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire, formerly Louisa Montagu, Duchess of Manchester, née Luise Fredericke Auguste, Countess von Alten (15 June 1832 – 15 July 1911) was a German-born British aristocrat sometimes referred to as the "Double Duchess" due to her marriages to first the Duke of Manchester and later to the Duke of Devonshire. [1] [ third-party source needed ]


Early life

Louisa Frederica Augusta, Countess of Alten was born 15 June 1832 in Hanover in what was then the Kingdom of Hanover. She was the daughter of Karl Franz Viktor, Count of Alten (1800–1879), and his wife, Hermine de Schminke (1806–1868). [2] [3] Her siblings included: Helene Charlotte Auguste, Countess of Alten, who married Andrei Bludov, Carl Friedrich Franz Victor, Count of Alten, who married Carolina Frederica Groeninx van Zoelen, and Guidobaldine, Countess of Alten, who married Graf August Grote and Don Luigi Maria Colonna, Prince of Stigliano, and Detlof von Bülow. [4] [5]

Her paternal grandparents were Adolf Viktor Christian Jobst, Count of Alten (1755–1820) and Charlotte Louise Wilhelmine Kinsky von Wchinitz und Tettau. [5]


"A social climber with a nose for power", the 26-year-old Duchess - through her friendship with Lord Derby, the then prime minister - was appointed Mistress of the Robes to Queen Victoria in February 1858, resigning in June 1859, when Lord Derby's government fell. [6] Victoria regretted her departure, calling her "a very pleasant, nice, sensible person". [6] The Duchess soon developed close friendships with Edward, Prince of Wales and Alexandra, Princess of Wales. [7]

Lady Eleanor Stanley recorded in her diary in 1859 that during a "paper chase", the Duchess caught her hoop while climbing over a stile, and was left with the entirety of her crinoline and skirts thrown over her head, revealing her scarlet drawers to the assembled company. [8] [ relevant? ] The Duc de Malakoff, the French ambassador, is said to have exclaimed "C'était diabolique!" at the sight. [9] [ relevant? ]

Devonshire House Ball of 1897

In 1897, the Duchess hosted the Devonshire House Fancy Dress Ball at Devonshire House, the London residence of the Dukes of Devonshire in the 18th and 19th centuries. The party was a costume ball thrown to celebrate Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee. The Queen's Private Secretary, Francis Knollys, wrote to the Duchess that the Prince of Wales (who dressed as the Grand Master of the Knights of Malta) thought the party a success. At the ball, the Duchess dressed as Queen Zenobia of Palmyra. [1]

Marriage and issue

Illustration of Kimbolton Castle in 1880, which shows the present mansion as rebuilt between 1690 and 1720. Kimboltonmorris edited.jpg
Illustration of Kimbolton Castle in 1880, which shows the present mansion as rebuilt between 1690 and 1720.

On 22 July 1852, the twenty-year old Louisa was married at Hanover to Viscount Mandeville, eldest son and heir of the 6th Duke of Manchester. Upon his father's death on 8 August 1855, he succeeded his father as 7th Duke of Manchester, and Louisa became Duchess of Manchester. [10] [11] They had five children: [12]

  1. George Victor Drogo Montagu, 8th Duke of Manchester (18531892), who married Consuelo Yznaga (1853–1909), and had issue. [12]
  2. Lady Mary Louisa Elizabeth Montagu (1854–1934), who was born at Kimbolton Castle and married, firstly, to William Douglas-Hamilton, 12th Duke of Hamilton, at Kimbolton Castle on 10 December 1873, and had issue. She secondly married on 20 July 1897 to Robert Carnaby Forster of Easton Park, Wickham Market, Suffolk (d. 1925), without issue. [12]
  3. Lady Louisa Augusta Beatrice Montagu (1856–1944), born at Kimbolton Castle. She married Archibald Acheson, 4th Earl of Gosford, on 10 August 1876 in London, and had issue. [12]
  4. Lord Charles William Augustus Montagu (1860–1939), who married the Hon. Mildred Cecilia Harriet Stuart (1869–1942), daughter of Henry Sturt, 1st Baron Alington, at Kimbolton Castle on 4 December 1930. He had no issue. [12]
  5. Lady Alice Maude Olivia Montagu (1862–1957), born in London. She married Edward Stanley, 17th Earl of Derby, on 5 January 1889 in London, and had issue. [12]

Louisa became estranged from the Duke, and they lived apart for many years.[ citation needed ] Louisa became the companion of the Marquess of Hartington, and a notable political hostess.[ citation needed ] The Duke died in Naples on 22 March 1890. [12]

On 16 August 1892, at Christ Church, Mayfair, the sixty-year-old Dowager Duchess of Manchester married Hartington, now the 8th Duke of Devonshire. She thereby became Duchess of Devonshire, with the nickname of "The Double Duchess". [13]

After the Duke of Devonshire's death on 24 March 1908, she was widowed for the second time, becoming the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire.[ citation needed ] On 15 July 1911, at the Sandown Races in Esher Park, the Duchess died after a seizure, aged 79, and was interred at Edensor, Derbyshire. [13]

Titles and styles

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  1. 1 2 "The Cavendish Story: The Double Duchess". www.chatsworthblog.org. Archived from the original on 15 April 2017. Retrieved 14 April 2017.[ third-party source needed ]
  2. "Louise Frederica Augusta Cavendish (née von Alten), Duchess of Devonshire (formerly Duchess of Manchester) (1832-1911), Mistress of the Robes to Queen Victoria; former wife of 7th Duke of Manchester, and later first wife of 8th Duke of Devonshire". npg.org.uk. National Portrait Gallery . Retrieved 14 April 2017.
  3. "Devonshire, Louisa Cavendish Duchess of 1832-1911". worldcat.org. Retrieved 14 April 2017.
  4. Cokayne, George Edward (1926). The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom: Extant, Extinct, Or Dormant. St. Catherine Press, Limited. Retrieved 18 September 2019.
  5. 1 2 Melville Amadeus Henry Douglas Heddle de La Caillemotte de Massue de Ruvigny Ruvigny and Raineval (9th marquis of) (1914). The Titled Nobility of Europe: An International Peerage, Or "Who's Who", of the Sovereigns, Princes and Nobles of Europe. Harrison & Sons. p. 244. Retrieved 18 September 2019.
  6. 1 2 Ripley 2012, p. 113.
  7. Ripley 2012, p. 114.
  8. Vane 2004, p. 25.
  9. Willett 2004, p. 156.
  10. Poole, Henry (September 29, 2015). "The Double Duchess: Louisa van Alten". henrypoole.com. Henry Poole & Co. Retrieved 14 April 2017.
  11. Kennedy 1956, p. ??.
  12. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "Manchester, Duke of (GB, 1719)". cracroftspeerage.co.uk. Heraldic Media Limited. Retrieved 18 September 2019.
  13. 1 2 "Devonshire, Duke of (E, 1694)". cracroftspeerage.co.uk. Heraldic Media Limited. Retrieved 18 September 2019.
Court offices
Preceded by
The Duchess of Sutherland
Mistress of the Robes
Succeeded by
The Duchess of Sutherland