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Encyclopedia > Dukes of Devonshire

The Dukes of Devonshire are members of the aristocratic Cavendish family in the United Kingdom. They were related to the 17th century Dukes of Newcastle, with whom they shared the family name of Cavendish. Although in modern usage the county of Devon is now rarely called 'Devonshire', the title remained 'Duke of Devonshire'.

The Duke's subsidiary titles are: Marquess of Hartington (created 1694), Earl of Devonshire (1618), Earl of Burlington (1831), Baron Cavendish of Hardwick (1605) and Baron Cavendish of Keighley (1831). The Duke of Devonshire's eldest son may use the courtesy title Marquess of Hartington. The Marquessate of Hartington, the Earldom of Devonshire and the Barony of Cavendish of Hardwick are in the peerage of England, while the Earldom of Burlington and the Barony of Cavendish of Keighley are in the United Kingdom peerage.

The family name derives from the village of Cavendish, Suffolk, England and from Sir John Cavendish, who held the estate there in the 14th century and who died in the Peasants' Revolt.


His two great-grandsons were William Cavendish (pictured at right), the second husband of Bess of Hardwick, and George Cavendish, William's older brother and Thomas Cardinal Wolsey's biographer.

William Cavendish's descendants were Earls of Devonshire at first. The dukedom started when William Cavendish, the 4th Earl of Devonshire, was created the 1st Duke of Devonshire in 1694 (see below).

Many of the Dukes of Devonshire have been prominent politicians, including one prime minister, one leader of the Liberal Party, and one Governor-General of Canada.

Despite the title, the family estates center in Derbyshire. It is sometimes speculated that Derbyshire rather than Devonshire was intended on the original letters patent for the earldom, but no hard evidence supports this.

Earls of Devonshire (1618)

Dukes of Devonshire (1694)

His son and heir: William Cavendish, Marquess of Hartington (b. 1969)

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In 1921, the Duke of Devonshire Trophy for the Ottawa Horticultural Society was established.
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