Andrew Cavendish, 11th Duke of Devonshire

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His Grace
The Duke of Devonshire
11th Duke of Devonshire Allan Warren.jpg
Portrait by Allan Warren
Minister of State for Commonwealth Relations
In office
Prime Minister Harold Macmillan
Sir Alec Douglas-Home
Preceded by Lord Alport
Succeeded by Cledwyn Hughes
Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations
In office
Prime Minister Harold Macmillan
Preceded by Richard Thompson
Succeeded by John Tilney
Personal details
Born 2 January 1920
Died 3 May 2004(2004-05-03) (aged 84)
Political party UKIP[1] (2001–2004)
None (1987–2001)
Social Democratic (1981–87)
Conservative (1950–81)
National Liberal (1940s)

Andrew Robert Buxton Cavendish, 11th Duke of Devonshire KG MC PC (2 January 1920 – 3 May 2004), styled Lord Andrew Cavendish until 1944 and Marquess of Hartington from 1944 to 1950, was a British Conservative and later Social Democratic Party politician. He was a minister in the government of Prime Minister Harold Macmillan (who was married to his aunt), but is best known for opening Chatsworth House to the public.


Cavendish was born to Edward Cavendish, 10th Duke of Devonshire and Mary Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire, the former Mary Alice Gascoyne-Cecil, daughter of James Gascoyne-Cecil, 4th Marquess of Salisbury. He was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge. In World War II, he was a major in the Coldstream Guards. He was awarded the Military Cross for his actions on 27 July 1944 when his company was cut off for 36 hours in heavy combat near Strada in Italy.


The 11th Duke outside Chatsworth, by Allan Warren

In 1941 he married the Hon. Deborah Mitford (born 31 March 1920), one of the Mitford sisters. The marriage was not without some bumps. Three of the couple's six children died soon after birth, and the Duke's extramarital affairs became public after he appeared as a witness at a burglary trial and was forced to admit, under oath, that he was on holiday with one of a series of younger women when the crime occurred at his London home. The Duke, however, claimed that much of his marriage's success was due to the Duchess's tolerance and broadmindedness. Deborah, as chatelaine, is largely responsible for the success of Chatsworth as a commercial endeavour.[citation needed]

He and his wife had six children, three of whom died in infancy.[2] The Duke and Duchess of Devonshire had three surviving children: a son, Stoker Cavendish, 12th Duke of Devonshire, and two daughters, Ladies Emma Cavendish and Sophia Topley. Among their grandchildren is the fashion model Stella Tennant. The Duke is buried in the churchyard of the village church in Edensor in the grounds of Chatsworth.[citation needed]

  • Mark Cavendish (born and died 14 November 1941)
  • Emma Cavendish (born 26 March 1943, styled Lady Emma Cavendish from 1944)
  • Stoker Cavendish, 12th Duke of Devonshire (born 27 April 1944)
  • An unnamed child (miscarried December 1946, he or she was a twin of Victor Cavendish, born in 1947)[3]
  • Lord Victor Cavendish (born and died 22 May 1947)
  • Lady Mary Cavendish (born and died 5 April 1953)
  • Lady Sophia Louise Sydney Cavendish (born 18 March 1957)

His older brother William Cavendish, Marquess of Hartington, who would have inherited the dukedom, was killed in combat near the end of the war. With William's death, Andrew became heir and received the courtesy title of Marquess of Hartington, which he held from 1944 until 1950. Another brother, Lord Charles Cavendish, died aged 38 as a result of alcoholism.[4] Lord Charles's will bequeathed Lismore Castle to Andrew upon the remarriage of Charles's wife, Adele Astaire, in 1947.[4]

The 10th Duke died of a heart attack while visiting Eastbourne in November 1950 and Cavendish inherited the title, though he was in Australia at the time.[5] The Duke died while being attended by suspected serial killer Dr John Bodkin Adams, who was his doctor when visiting Eastbourne. No proper police investigation was ever conducted into the death but Cavendish later said "it should perhaps be noted that this doctor was not appointed to look after the health of my two younger sisters, who were then in their teens";[5] Adams had a reputation for grooming older patients in order to extract bequests.

Cavendish inherited the estate but also an inheritance tax bill of £7 million (£203 million as of 2014) nearly 80 percent of the value of the estate.[6][7] In order to meet this, the Duke had to sell off many art objects and antiques, including several Rembrandts, Van Dycks and Raffaello Santis, as well as thousands of acres of land.[7]

Political career[edit]

Andrew Cavendish at a reception given by the Agent-General for Northern Nigeria

Cavendish ran unsuccessfully as a National Liberal candidate for Chesterfield in the 1945 general election and as a Conservative for the same seat in 1950. He was Mayor of Buxton from 1952 to 1954. He served as Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Commonwealth Relations from 1960 to 1962, Minister of State at the Commonwealth Relations Office from 1962 to 1963, and for Colonial Affairs from 1963 to 1964. He once said that these appointments by his uncle, Harold Macmillan, the then-prime minister, were "the greatest act of nepotism ever".[5][8]

He joined the Social Democratic Party shortly after its foundation in 1981, but left the party when David Owen resigned as the party's leader in 1987, describing Owen as "the best of them".[9] He then sat as a crossbencher during his rare appearances in the House of Lords.[10][11]

The duke followed the family tradition of owning racehorses, the most famous of which was Park Top, the subject of the duke's first published book, A Romance of The Turf: Park Top, which was published in 1976. His autobiography, Accidents of Fortune, was published just before his death in 2004. The duke had many disputes over the years with the ramblers who used the paths near Chatsworth. Eventually though, in 1991, he signed an agreement with the Peak National Park Authority opening 1,300 acres (5 km²) of his estate to walkers. He said that everyone was "welcome in my back garden". The duke's real estate holdings were vast. In addition to Chatsworth he also owned Lismore Castle in Ireland and Bolton Abbey in North Yorkshire. He also owned the bookshop Heywood Hill and the gentleman's club Pratt's.

He was a major collector of contemporary British art, known especially for his patronage of Lucian Freud. He was one of the founders, and the chief patron of, the Next Century Foundation, in which capacity he hosted the private Chatsworth talks between representatives of the governments of the Arab World and Israel. The duke was listed at number 73 in the Sunday Times Sunday Times Rich List of the richest people in Great Britain in 2004.


In 1996 he was made a Knight of the Garter.


He once told an interviewer:

"Wonderful things have happened in my life — it's time my son had his turn. When I was young I used to like casinos, fast women and God knows what. Now my idea of Heaven, apart from being at Chatsworth, is to sit in the hall of Brooks's, having tea."


Patrilineal descent[12][edit]


  • writing as The Duke of Devonshire: A Romance of the Turf: Park Top (2000 edition ISBN 0-7195-5482-9)
  • writing as Andrew Devonshire: Accidents of Fortune [Autobiography] (2004) ISBN 0-85955-286-1


  1. ^ Johnson, Frank (2004-06-19). "Notebook". The Telegraph (London). Retrieved 2011-04-16. "[...] the three dukes among Ukip's patrons – Somerset, Rutland and the late Devonshire, as well as the Earl of Bradford and Lord Neidpath, heir to the earldom of Wemyss [...]" 
  2. ^ Deborah Mitford, Duchess of Devonshire, Wait for Me! (Farrar Straus Giroux, 2010), pages 128–132
  3. ^ Deborah Mitford, Duchess of Devonshire, Wait for Me! (Farrar Straus Giroux, 2010), pages 130
  4. ^ a b Deborah Devonshire (15 September 2011). All in One Basket. John Murray. pp. 292–. ISBN 978-1-84854-594-6. 
  5. ^ a b c Pamela V. Cullen A Stranger in Blood: The Case Files on Dr John Bodkin Adams, London, Elliott & Thompson, 2006, ISBN 1-904027-19-9
  6. ^ UK CPI inflation numbers based on data available from Gregory Clark (2013), "What Were the British Earnings and Prices Then? (New Series)" MeasuringWorth.
  7. ^ a b Keith Colquhoun; Ann Wroe (2008). Economist Book of Obituaries. Profile Books. pp. 140–. ISBN 978-1-84765-041-2. 
  8. ^ Graham Stewart Nepotism on a majestic scale, The Times, 2 February 2008. Accessed 27 March 2008.
  9. ^ Barber, Lynn (2002-10-20). "The original Thin White Duke". The Observer. Retrieved 2007-09-23. 
  10. ^ Barker, Dennis (2005-05-05). "Obituary: The Duke of Devonshire". The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-09-23. 
  11. ^ "Obituary: The Duke of Devonshire". BBC News. 2004-05-04. Retrieved 2007-09-23. 
  12. ^

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Richard Thompson
Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations
jointly with Bernard Braine 1961–1962
John Tilney 1962

Succeeded by
John Tilney
Preceded by
Cuthbert Alport
Minister of State for Commonwealth Relations
Succeeded by
Cledwyn Hughes
Peerage of England
Preceded by
Sir Edward Cavendish, 10th Duke
Duke of Devonshire
Succeeded by
Sir Stoker Cavendish, 12th Duke