Kathleen Cavendish, Marchioness of Hartington
|Kathleen "Kick" Kennedy|
|Born||Kathleen Agnes Kennedy
February 20, 1920
Brookline, Massachusetts, United States
|Died||May 13, 1948
airplane crash over Saint-Bauzile, Ardèche, France
|Resting place||Edensor, Derbyshire, England|
|Education||Queen's College, London|
|Spouse(s)||William John Robert Cavendish (May-Sept. 1944, his death)|
|Parents||Joseph Patrick "Joe" Kennedy, Sr. and Rose Elizabeth Fitzgerald|
|Relatives||Joseph Patrick "Joe" Kennedy, Jr. (brother)
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy (brother)
Rose Marie "Rosemary" Kennedy (sister)
Eunice Mary Kennedy (sister)
Patricia Helen "Pat" Kennedy (sister)
Robert Francis "Bobby" Kennedy (brother)
Jean Ann Kennedy (sister)
Edward Moore "Ted" Kennedy (brother)
Kathleen Agnes "Kick" Kennedy, Marchioness of Hartington (February 20, 1920 – May 13, 1948), was the fourth child and second daughter of Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. and Rose Kennedy. She was a sister of future U.S. President John F. Kennedy and widow of the heir apparent to the Dukedom of Devonshire.
Kathleen Agnes Kennedy was born less than two years after her oldest sister Rosemary and was a year older than her next sister, the fifth Kennedy child, Eunice. Kathleen was called "Kick" by her family (except for her mother) and friends and was regarded as one of the more outgoing and spontaneous of the Kennedy children. Perhaps because of Rosemary's mental handicap, Kathleen and her older brother Jack were particularly close throughout their lives despite their three-year difference in age. She was a good student and because of her older sister's handicap held the status of eldest daughter within the family. Kathleen and her family moved to Bronxville, New York, in 1927 and she attended the private Riverdale Country School. After graduating from Riverdale, she went to the Noroton Convent of the Sacred Heart in Noroton, Connecticut and spent a year abroad studying at the Holy Child Convent in Neuilly, France. Like all the Kennedy children, Kick learned early on the importance of being a winner and that succeeding was the only way to win her father's approval. While the Kennedys' 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 connections and influence while growing up. This was particularly the case when Joe Kennedy was appointed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as ambassador to England in 1938.
England, marriage, and growing independence
Kathleen's time in England during her father's appointment 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 and was declared the "debutant of 1938" by the English media. With war with Germany imminent following the invasion of Poland in September 1939, the entire Kennedy family, save for ambassador Kennedy, returned to the United States. Kathleen, having become very fond of England and the many friends she had made, petitioned her parents to remain in London in spite of the coming danger but was overruled by her father and sailed back home in the early fall.
After returning to the states and while in college, Kathleen began volunteering for the Red Cross in New York in the summer of 1940. She planned benefit luncheons and fashion shows for the Allied Relief Fund to aid British seamen disabled in the war. She decided to leave school in 1941 to begin working for the Times-Herald newspaper in Washington, D.C. She was a research assistant to Frank Waldrop, the Executive Editor of the newspaper. She also assisted with reporter Inga Arvad’s column “Did You Happen to See…,” which profiled government officials. Kathleen was eventually promoted to reviewing plays and movies in her own bylined column and took over Arvad’s column when she left the newspaper.
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, Kathleen gradually but increasingly grew more independent from her family and the Catholic Church. Despite fierce opposition from her devout Catholic mother, she married William Cavendish, Marquess of Hartington, an Anglican and the eldest son and heir apparent of the 10th Duke of Devonshire, on May 6, 1944 in a civil ceremony. Her eldest brother Joe Joseph P. Kennedy Jr., whom she had grown close to during the last year of his life, was the only member of the Kennedy family to attend the ceremony. Later that summer, Joe Jr. would be killed when his plane exploded during a top-secret bombing mission. Kathleen and her new husband spent less than five weeks together before William, known to family and friends as "Billy", shipped out to fight in Germany. Four months after their marriage, and just weeks after Joe Jr. was killed, Billy was killed by a sniper during a battle near the German Front. With his family's blessing, he was buried close to where he fell. Her husband's younger brother Lord Andrew Cavendish, married to Deborah Mitford of the famous Mitford sisters, thus became the heir apparent to the dukedom as Billy left no heirs.
Popular on the London social circuit and admired by many for her high spirits and wit, Kathleen eventually became romantically involved with Peter Wentworth-Fitzwilliam, 8th Earl Fitzwilliam. Once again, despite an intense campaign led by her mother to stop the intended marriage, the couple planned to wed after Lord Fitzwilliam's divorce became final.
Kathleen and Fitzwilliam were flying from Paris to the French Riviera for a vacation.
At 3:30 in the afternoon on May 13, 1948, their plane took off, reaching an altitude of 10,000 feet. Approximately an 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 a terrifying 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 near the summit of Le Coran, the highest of the Cevennes Mountains in the Saint-Bauzile, Ardèche, France. Kathleen, Fitzwilliam, Townshend, and navigator Arthur Freeman were all killed instantly.
Joe Kennedy, the only family member to attend the funeral, would also make the identification of his daughter's remains. Rose Kennedy did not attend and, allegedly, discouraged her daughter's siblings from attending as well. She was later quoted as saying her daughter's death was "God casting a finger." Kathleen Kennedy is buried in the Cavendish family plot at Saint Peter's Church in Edensor, England, near Chatsworth in Derbyshire. The gymnasium at Manhattanville College is named in her honor. Her brother John F. Kennedy visited the grave shortly before his own death in 1963. Robert F. Kennedy named his eldest daughter in honor of her with the family's stipulation that the child never be referred to as "Kick".
- Miss Kathleen Kennedy (1920–1944)
- Marchioness of Hartington (May 1944 – September 1944)
- Kathleen, Marchioness of Hartington (September 1944 – May 1948)
- Bailey, C. (2007). Black Diamonds: The Rise and Fall of an English Dynasty, pp. 406-419. London: Penguin. ISBN 978-0-670-91542-2.
- Schenectady Gazette May 15, 1948.
- Kathleen Kennedy biography at John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum Site
- Kathleen Cavendish, Marchioness of Hartington at Find a Grave