Spencer Cavendish, 8th Duke of Devonshire

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The Duke of Devonshire

Spencer Cavendish, 8th Duke of Devonshire.jpg
Leader of the Liberal Party
In office
1875–1880
Preceded by William Ewart Gladstone
Succeeded by William Ewart Gladstone
Lord President of the Council
In office
29 June 1895 19 October 1903
Monarch Victoria
Edward VII
Prime Minister The Marquess of Salisbury
Arthur Balfour
Preceded by The Earl of Rosebery
Succeeded by The Marquess of Londonderry
Personal details
Born(1833-07-23)23 July 1833
Died24 March 1908(1908-03-24) (aged 74)
Cannes, France
Nationality British
Political party Liberal
Liberal Unionist
Spouse(s) Louisa Frederica Augusta von Alten
Parents William Cavendish, 7th Duke of Devonshire
Lady Blanche Howard
Alma mater Trinity College, Cambridge
Shield of arms of Spencer Cavendish, 8th Duke of Devonshire Shield of arms of Spencer Cavendish, 8th Duke of Devonshire, KG, GCVO, PC, FRS.png
Shield of arms of Spencer Cavendish, 8th Duke of Devonshire

Spencer Compton Cavendish, 8th Duke of Devonshire, KG , GCVO , PC , PC (Ire) , FRS (23 July 1833 24 March 1908), styled Lord Cavendish of Keighley between 1834 and 1858 and Marquess of Hartington between 1858 and 1891, was a British statesman. He has the distinction of having served as leader of three political parties: as Leader of the Liberal Party in the House of Commons (1875–1880) and as of the Liberal Unionist Party (1886–1903) and of the Unionists in the House of Lords (1902–1903) (though the Conservatives and Liberal Unionists operated in close alliance from 1892–1903 and would eventually merge in 1912). He also declined to become Prime Minister on three occasions, not because he was not a serious politician but because the circumstances were never right.

Privy Council of the United Kingdom Formal body of advisers to the sovereign in the United Kingdom

Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, usually known simply as the Privy Council of the United Kingdom or just the Privy Council, is a formal body of advisers to the Sovereign of the United Kingdom. Its membership mainly comprises senior politicians who are current or former members of either the House of Commons or the House of Lords.

The Privy Council of Ireland was an institution of the Kingdom of Ireland until 31 December 1800 and of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 1801 to 1922. It performed a similar role in the Dublin Castle administration in Ireland to that of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom in the government of the United Kingdom.

Fellow of the Royal Society Elected Fellow of the Royal Society, including Honorary, Foreign and Royal Fellows

Fellowship of the UK Royal Society is an award granted to individuals that the Royal Society of London judges to have made a 'substantial contribution to the improvement of natural knowledge, including mathematics, engineering science, and medical science'.

Contents

Background and education

Devonshire was the eldest son of William Cavendish, 2nd Earl of Burlington, who succeeded his cousin as Duke of Devonshire in 1858, and Lady Blanche Cavendish (née Howard). Lord Frederick Cavendish and Lord Edward Cavendish were his younger brothers. He was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated as MA in 1854, having taken a Second in the Mathematical Tripos. He later was made honorary LLD in 1862, and as DCL at Oxford University in 1878. [1]

William Cavendish, 7th Duke of Devonshire British landowner, benefactor and politician

William Cavendish, 7th Duke of Devonshire,, styled as Lord Cavendish of Keighley between 1831 and 1834 and known as The Earl of Burlington between 1834 and 1858, was a British landowner, benefactor, nobleman, and politician.

William Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire British noble

William George Spencer Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire,, styled Marquess of Hartington until 1811, was a British peer, courtier, nobleman, and Whig politician. Known as the "Bachelor Duke", he was Lord Chamberlain of the Household between 1827 and 1828 and again between 1830 and 1834. The Cavendish banana is named after him.

Blanche Cavendish, Countess of Burlington Duchess of Devonshire (to the 7th Duke)

Blanche Cavendish, Countess of Burlington was the wife of William Cavendish, 2nd Earl of Burlington, who would later become the 7th Duke of Devonshire.

In later life he continued his interests in education as Chancellor of his old university from 1892, and of Manchester University from 1907 until his death. He was Lord Rector of Edinburgh University from 1877 to 1880. [1]

Rector of the University of Edinburgh

The Lord Rector of the University of Edinburgh is elected every three years by the students and staff at the University of Edinburgh. Seldom referred to as Lord Rector, the incumbent is more commonly known just as the Rector. As of March 2018, the current Rector is Ann Henderson, the second-ever woman to hold the post.

Liberal, 1857–86

After joining the special mission to Russia for Alexander II's accession, [2] Lord Cavendish of Keighley (as he was styled at the time) entered Parliament in the 1857 general election, when he was returned for North Lancashire as a Liberal (his title "Lord Hartington", by which he became known in 1858, was a courtesy title; as he was not a peer in his own right he was eligible to sit in the Commons until he succeeded his father as Duke of Devonshire in 1891). Between 1863 and 1874, Lord Hartington held various Government posts, including Civil Lord of the Admiralty and Under-Secretary of State for War under Palmerston and Earl Russell. In the 1868 general election he lost his seat; having refused the Lord Lieutenancy of Ireland, he was made Postmaster-General, without a seat in the Cabinet. The next year he re-entered the Commons, having been returned for Radnor. In 1870 Hartington reluctantly accepted the post of Chief Secretary for Ireland in Gladstone's first government.

Russia transcontinental country in Eastern Europe and Northern Asia

Russia, or the Russian Federation, is a transcontinental country in Eastern Europe and North Asia. At 17,125,200 square kilometres (6,612,100 sq mi), Russia is by a considerable margin the largest country in the world by area, covering more than one-eighth of the Earth's inhabited land area, and the ninth most populous, with about 146.79 million people as of 2019, including Crimea. About 77% of the population live in the western, European part of the country. Russia's capital, Moscow, is one of the largest cities in the world and the second largest city in Europe; other major cities include Saint Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg and Nizhny Novgorod. Extending across the entirety of Northern Asia and much of Eastern Europe, Russia spans eleven time zones and incorporates a wide range of environments and landforms. From northwest to southeast, Russia shares land borders with Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia and North Korea. It shares maritime borders with Japan by the Sea of Okhotsk and the U.S. state of Alaska across the Bering Strait. However, Russia recognises two more countries that border it, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, both of which are internationally recognized as parts of Georgia.

Alexander II of Russia Emperor of Russia

Alexander II was the Emperor of Russia from 2 March 1855 until his assassination on 13 March 1881. He was also the King of Poland and the Grand Duke of Finland.

Parliament of the United Kingdom Supreme legislative body of the United Kingdom

The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known internationally as the UK Parliament, British Parliament, or Westminster Parliament, and domestically simply as Parliament, is the supreme legislative body of the United Kingdom, the Crown dependencies and the British Overseas Territories. It alone possesses legislative supremacy and thereby ultimate power over all other political bodies in the UK and the overseas territories. Parliament is bicameral but has three parts, consisting of the Sovereign, the House of Lords, and the House of Commons. The two houses meet in the Palace of Westminster in the City of Westminster, one of the inner boroughs of the capital city, London.

In 1875 — the year following the Liberal defeat at the General Election — he succeeded William Ewart Gladstone as Leader of the Liberal opposition in the House of Commons after the other serious contender, W. E. Forster, had indicated that he was not interested in the post. The following year, however, Gladstone returned to active political life in the campaign against Turkey's Bulgarian Atrocities. The relative political fortunes of Gladstone and Hartington fluctuated — Gladstone was not popular at the time of Benjamin Disraeli's triumph at the Congress of Berlin, but the Midlothian Campaigns of 1879–80 marked him out as the Liberals' foremost public campaigner.

1874 United Kingdom general election

The 1874 United Kingdom general election saw the incumbent Liberals, led by William Ewart Gladstone, lose decisively, even though it won a majority of the votes cast. Benjamin Disraeli's Conservatives won the majority of seats in the House of Commons, largely because they won a number of uncontested seats. It was the first Conservative victory in a general election since 1841. Gladstone's decision to call an election surprised his colleagues, for they were aware of large sectors of discontent in their coalition. For example, the nonconformists were upset with education policies; many working-class people disliked the new trade union laws and the restrictions on drinking. The Conservatives were making gains in the middle-class, Gladstone wanted to abolish the income tax, but failed to carry his own cabinet. The result was a disaster for the Liberals, who went from 387 MPs to only 242. Conservatives jumped from 271 to 350. For the first time the Irish Nationalists gained seats, returning 60. Gladstone himself noted: "We have been swept away in a torrent of gin and beer".

William Ewart Gladstone British Liberal politician and prime minister of the United Kingdom

William Ewart Gladstone was a British statesman and Liberal Party politician. In a career lasting over 60 years, he served for 12 years as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, spread over four terms beginning in 1868 and ending in 1894. He also served as Chancellor of the Exchequer four times.

Benjamin Disraeli British Conservative Prime Minister

Benjamin Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield,, was a British statesman of the Conservative Party who twice served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He played a central role in the creation of the modern Conservative Party, defining its policies and its broad outreach. Disraeli is remembered for his influential voice in world affairs, his political battles with the Liberal Party leader William Ewart Gladstone, and his one-nation conservatism or "Tory democracy". He made the Conservatives the party most identified with the glory and power of the British Empire. He is the only British prime minister to have been of Jewish birth. He was also a novelist, publishing works of fiction even as prime minister.

In 1880, after Disraeli's government lost the general election, Hartington was invited by the Queen to form a government, but declined — as did the Earl Granville, Liberal Leader in the House of Lords — after William Ewart Gladstone made it clear that he would not serve under anybody else. Hartington chose instead to serve in Gladstone's Second government as Secretary of State for India (1880–1882) and Secretary of State for War (1882–1885).

Granville Leveson-Gower, 2nd Earl Granville British Liberal statesman

Granville George Leveson-Gower, 2nd Earl Granville,, styled Lord Leveson until 1846, was a British Liberal statesman from the Leveson-Gower family.

Secretary of State for India former political office in the United Kingdom

His Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for India, known for short as the India Secretary or the Indian Secretary, was the British Cabinet minister and the political head of the India Office responsible for the governance of the British Indian Empire, Aden, and Burma. The post was created in 1858 when the East India Company's rule in Bengal ended and India, except for the Princely States, was brought under the direct administration of the government in Whitehall in London, beginning the official colonial period under the British Empire.

Secretary of State for War British cabinet-level position

The position of Secretary of State for War, commonly called War Secretary, was a British cabinet-level position which existed from 1794 to 1801 and from 1854 to 1964. The Secretary of State for War headed the War Office and was assisted by a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for War, a Parliamentary Private Secretary who was also a Member of Parliament, and a Military Secretary, who was a general.

In 1884 he was instrumental in persuading Gladstone to send a mission to Khartoum for the relief of General Gordon, which arrived two days too late to save him. [3] A considerable number of the Conservative party long held him chiefly responsible for the "betrayal of Gordon." His lethargic manner, apart from his position as war minister, helped to associate him in their minds with a disaster which emphasized the fact that the government acted "too late"; but Gladstone and Lord Granville were no less responsible than he. [4]

Liberal Unionist, 1886–1908

The Duke of Devonshire by Sir Hubert von Herkomer. Spencer Compton Cavendish, 8th Duke of Devonshire by Sir Hubert von Herkomer.jpg
The Duke of Devonshire by Sir Hubert von Herkomer.

Hartington became increasingly uneasy with Gladstone's Irish policies, especially after the murder of his younger brother Lord Frederick Cavendish in Phoenix Park. After being elected in December 1885 for the newly created Rossendale Division of Lancashire, he broke with Gladstone altogether. He declined to serve in Gladstone's third government, formed after Gladstone came out in favour of Irish Home Rule (unlike Joseph Chamberlain, who accepted the Local Government Board but then resigned), and after opposing the First Home Rule Bill became the leader of the Liberal Unionists. After the general election of 1886 Hartington declined to become Prime Minister, preferring instead to hold the balance of power in the House of Commons and give support from the back benches to the second Conservative government of Lord Salisbury. Early in 1887, after the resignation of Lord Randolph Churchill, Salisbury offered to step down and serve in a government under Hartington, who now declined the premiership for the third time. Instead the Liberal Unionist George Goschen accepted the Exchequer in Churchill's place.

Having succeeded as Duke of Devonshire in 1891 and entered the House of Lords where, in 1893, he formally moved for the rejection of the Second Home Rule Bill. Devonshire eventually joined Salisbury's third government in 1895 as Lord President of the Council. Devonshire was not asked to become Prime Minister when Lord Salisbury retired in favour of his nephew Arthur Balfour in 1902. He resigned from the government in 1903, and from the Liberal Unionist Association the following spring, in protest at Joseph Chamberlain's Tariff Reform scheme. Devonshire said of Chamberlain's proposals:

I venture to express the opinion that [Chamberlain] will find among the projects and plans which he will be called upon to discuss none containing a more Socialistic principle than that which is embodied in his own scheme, which, whether it can properly be described as a scheme of protection or not, is certainly a scheme under which the State is to undertake to regulate the course of commerce and of industry, and tell us where we are to buy, where we are to sell, what commodities we are to manufacture at home, and what we may continue, if we think right, to import from other countries. [5]

Balfour, trying to juggle different factions, had allowed both Chamberlain and Free Trade supporters to resign from the government, hoping that Devonshire would remain for the sake of balance, but the latter eventually resigned under pressure from Charles Thomson Ritchie and from his wife, who still hoped that he might lead a government including leading Liberals. But in the autumn of 1907 his health gave way, and grave symptoms of cardiac weakness necessitated his abstaining from public effort and spending the winter abroad. He died, rather suddenly, at Cannes on 24 March 1908. [4]

Military service

The Duke of Devonshire's grave in St Peter's Churchyard, Edensor St Peter's Churchyard, Edensor - grave of Spencer Cavendish, 8th Duke of Devonshire.JPG
The Duke of Devonshire's grave in St Peter's Churchyard, Edensor
Statue of the Duke of Devonshire by Herbert Hampton in Whitehall, London Statue of the Duke of Devonshire in Whitehall (cropped).jpg
Statue of the Duke of Devonshire by Herbert Hampton in Whitehall, London

He served part-time as Captain in the Duke of Lancaster's Own Yeomanry from 1855 to 1873, and was Honorary Colonel of the 3rd (Militia) Battalion of the Derbyshire Regiment from 1871 and of the 2nd Sussex Artillery Volunteers from 1887. [6]

Personal life

Hartington took great pains to parade his interest in horseracing, so as to cultivate an image of not being entirely obsessed by politics. For many years the courtesan Catherine Walters ("Skittles") was his mistress. He was married at Christ Church, Mayfair, on 16 August 1892, at the age of 59, to Louisa Frederica Augusta von Alten, widow of the late William Drogo Montagu, 7th Duke of Manchester. Upon his death, he was succeeded by his nephew Victor Cavendish. He died of pneumonia at the Hotel Metropol in Cannes and was interred on 28 March 1908 at St Peter's Churchyard, Edensor, Derbyshire. A statue of the Duke can be found at the junction of Whitehall and Horse Guards Avenue in London, and also on the Western Lawns at Eastbourne.

Legacy

Upon receiving news of the Duke's death, the House of Lords took the unprecedented step of adjourning in his honour. [7] Margot Asquith said the Duke of Devonshire "was a man whose like we shall never see again; he stood by himself and could have come from no country in the world but England. He had the figure and appearance of an artisan, with the brevity of a peasant, the courtesy of a king and the noisy sense of humour of a Falstaff. He gave a great, wheezy guffaw at all the right things and was possessed of endless wisdom. He was perfectly disengaged from himself, fearlessly truthful and without pettiness of any kind". [8]

Historian Jonathan Parry claimed that "He inherited the whig belief in the duty of political leadership, afforced by the intellectual notions characteristic of well-educated, propertied early to mid-Victorian Liberals: a confidence that the application of free trade, rational public administration, scientific enquiry, and a patriotic defence policy would promote Britain's international greatness—in which he strongly believed—and her economic and social progress...he became a model of the dutiful aristocrat". [9] It has been said[ according to whom? ] that he was "the best excuse that the last half-century has produced for the continuance of the peerages".

With 24 years of government service, Devonshire's is the fourth longest ministerial career in modern British politics. [10]

Caricature of Spencer Compton Cavendish by Carlo Pellegrini Portrait of Spencer Compton Cavendish, 8th Duke of Devonshire (4671361).jpg
Caricature of Spencer Compton Cavendish by Carlo Pellegrini

Ancestry

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References

  1. 1 2 "Cavendish, Spencer Compton, Lord Cavendish (CVNS850SC)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  2. Chisholm 1911, pp. 131–132.
  3. Lytton Strachey, Eminent Victorians, Chato & Windus, 1918; p. 289
  4. 1 2 Chisholm 1911, p. 131.
  5. The Fiscal Question, HL Deb 22 February 1906 vol 152 cc456-86.
  6. Kelly's Handbook of the Titled, Landed and Official Classes, 1895. Kelly's. p. 368.
  7. Hansard, THE LATE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE HL Deb 24 March 1908 vol 186 cc1178-83 .
  8. Margot Asquith, The Autobiography of Margot Asquith. Volume One (London: Penguin, 1936), p. 123.
  9. Parry.
  10. Parkinson, Justin (13 June 2013). "Chasing Churchill: Ken Clarke climbs ministerial long-service chart". BBC News.

Further reading

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
John Wilson-Patten
James Heywood
Member of Parliament for North Lancashire
1857–1868
With: John Wilson-Patten
Succeeded by
John Wilson-Patten
Frederick Stanley
Preceded by
Richard Green-Price
Member of Parliament for Radnor
1869–1880
Succeeded by
Samuel Williams
Preceded by
James Maden Holt
John Pierce Chamberlain Starkie
Member of Parliament for North East Lancashire
1880–1885
With: Frederick William Grafton
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Rossendale
1885–1891
Succeeded by
John Henry Maden
Political offices
Preceded by
The Earl De Grey and Ripon
Under-Secretary of State for War
1863–1866
Succeeded by
The Lord Dufferin and Clandeboye
Preceded by
The Earl De Grey and Ripon
Secretary of State for War
1866
Succeeded by
Jonathan Peel
Preceded by
The Duke of Montrose
Postmaster-General
1868–1871
Succeeded by
William Monsell
Preceded by
Chichester Fortescue
Chief Secretary for Ireland
1871–1874
Succeeded by
Sir Michael Hicks-Beach, Bt
Preceded by
The Viscount Cranbrook
Secretary of State for India
1880–1882
Succeeded by
The Earl of Kimberley
Preceded by
Hugh Childers
Secretary of State for War
1882–1885
Succeeded by
William Henry Smith
Preceded by
The Earl of Rosebery
Lord President of the Council
1895–1903
Succeeded by
The Marquess of Londonderry
Preceded by
The Marquess of Salisbury
Leader of the House of Lords
1902–1903
Succeeded by
The Marquess of Lansdowne
Party political offices
Preceded by
William Ewart Gladstone
Leader of the British Liberal Party
he was generally regarded as such though such a
position did not formally exist until 1916

1875–1880
Succeeded by
William Ewart Gladstone
Leader of the British Liberal Party in the House of Commons
The Earl Granville
was Leader in the House of Lords

1875–1880
New office Leader of the Liberal Unionist Association
1886–1903
Succeeded by
Joseph Chamberlain
Preceded by
The Marquess of Salisbury
Leader of the Conservative Party in the House of Lords
1902–1903
Succeeded by
The Marquess of Lansdowne
Honorary titles
Preceded by
The Duke of Devonshire
Lord Lieutenant of Derbyshire
1892–1908
Succeeded by
The Duke of Devonshire
Preceded by
The Marquess of Waterford
Lord Lieutenant of Waterford
1895–1908
Succeeded by
Henry Villiers-Stuart
Academic offices
Preceded by
Earl of Derby
Rector of the University of Edinburgh
1877–1880
Succeeded by
Earl of Rosebery
Preceded by
The Duke of Devonshire
Chancellor of the University of Cambridge
1892–1908
Succeeded by
The Baron Rayleigh
Peerage of England
Preceded by
William Cavendish
Duke of Devonshire
1891–1908
Succeeded by
Victor Cavendish