William Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland

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His Grace
The Duke of Portland
KG PC
3rd Duke of Portland 1804.jpg
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
In office
31 March 1807 – 4 October 1809
Monarch George III
Preceded by The Lord Grenville
Succeeded by Spencer Perceval
Prime Minister of Great Britain
In office
2 April 1783 – 19 December 1783
Monarch George III
Preceded by The Earl of Shelburne
Succeeded by William Pitt the Younger
Personal details
Born (1738-04-14)14 April 1738
Nottinghamshire
Died 30 October 1809(1809-10-30) (aged 71)
Bulstrode Park, Buckinghamshire
Political party Whig, later Tory
Spouse(s) Lady Dorothy Cavendish
Children 6
Alma mater Christ Church, Oxford
Signature Cursive signature in ink
The 3rd Duke of Portland.

William Henry Cavendish Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland, KG PC (14 April 1738 – 30 October 1809) was a British Whig and Tory statesman, Chancellor of the University of Oxford, Prime Minister of Great Britain, serving in 1783 and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1807 to 1809. The 24 years between his two terms as Prime Minister is the longest gap between terms of office of any Prime Minister. He was known before 1762 by the courtesy title Marquess of Titchfield. He held a title of every degree of British nobility—Duke, Marquess, Earl, Viscount, and Baron. He is also a great-great-great-grandfather of Queen Elizabeth II through her maternal grandmother.

Biography[edit]

Lord Titchfield was the eldest son of William Bentinck, 2nd Duke of Portland and Margaret Cavendish-Harley and inherited many lands from his mother and his maternal grandmother.[1][2] He was educated at Westminster and Christ Church, Oxford, and was elected to sit in the Parliament for Weobley in 1761 before entering the Lords when he succeeded his father as Duke of Portland the next year. Associated with the aristocratic Whig party of Lord Rockingham, Portland served as Lord Chamberlain of the Household in Rockingham's first Government (1765–1766) and then as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in Rockingham's second ministry (April–August 1782); he resigned from Lord Shelburne's ministry along with other supporters of Charles James Fox following Rockingham's death.[3]

In April 1783, Portland was brought forward as titular head of a coalition government as Prime Minister, whose real leaders were Charles James Fox and Lord North. He served as First Lord of the Treasury in this ministry until its fall in December of the same year. During his tenure the Treaty of Paris was signed formally ending the American Revolutionary War.

In 1789, Portland became one of several vice presidents of London's Foundling Hospital. This charity had become one of the most fashionable of the time, with several notables serving on its board. At its creation, fifty years earlier, Portland's father, William Bentinck, 2nd Duke of Portland, had been one of the founding governors, listed on the charity's royal charter granted by George II. The hospital's mission was to care for the abandoned children in London; and it achieved rapid fame through its poignant mission, its art collection donated from supporting artists, and popular benefit concerts put on by George Frideric Handel. In 1793, Portland took over the presidency of the charity from Lord North.

Along with many such conservative Whigs as Edmund Burke, Portland was deeply uncomfortable with the French Revolution and broke with Fox over this issue, joining Pitt's government as Home Secretary in 1794. He continued to serve in the cabinet until Pitt's death in 1806—from 1801 to 1805 as Lord President of the Council and then as a Minister without Portfolio.

In March 1807, after the collapse of the Ministry of all the Talents, Pitt's supporters returned to power; and Portland was, once again, an acceptable figurehead for a fractious group of ministers that included George Canning, Lord Castlereagh, Lord Hawkesbury, and Spencer Perceval.

Portland's second government saw the United Kingdom's complete isolation on the continent but also the beginning of recovery, with the start of the Peninsular War. In late 1809, with Portland's health poor and the ministry rocked by the scandalous duel between Canning and Castlereagh, Portland resigned, dying shortly thereafter.

He was Recorder of Nottingham until his death in 1809.

The Portland Vase of Roman glass was given its name due to it having been owned by Portland at his family residence at Bulstrode Park.

The department of Manuscripts and Special Collections, The University of Nottingham holds a number of papers relating to the 3rd Duke: the 3rd Duke's personal and political papers (Pw F) are part of the Portland (Welbeck) Collection; and the Portland (London) Collection (Pl) contains correspondence and official papers of the 3rd Duke, especially in series Pl C.

The Portland Estate Papers held at Nottinghamshire Archives also contain items relating to the 3rd Duke's properties.

The Portland Collection of fine and decorative art includes pieces owned and commissioned by the 3rd Duke, including paintings by George Stubbs.

Titles from birth[edit]

  • Marquess of Titchfield (1738–62)
  • His Grace The Duke of Portland (1762–65)
  • His Grace The Duke of Portland, PC (1765–94)
  • His Grace The Duke of Portland, KG, PC (1794–1809)

Marriage and children[edit]

Lady Dorothy Cavendish, wife of William Cavendish Bentinck. (George Romney)

On 8 November 1766, Portland married Lady Dorothy Cavendish, a daughter of William Cavendish, 4th Duke of Devonshire and Charlotte Boyle. They were parents of six children:

Portland is a great-great-great-grandfather of Queen Elizabeth II (see ancestry of Elizabeth II).

Ancestors[edit]

The Duke of Portland's First Ministry, April – December 1783[edit]

The Duke of Portland's Second Ministry, March 1807 – October 1809[edit]

Changes

Influence on former colonies[edit]

Portland parish in Jamaica was named after the 3rd Duke of Portland. The Titchfield School, founded in 1786, also in the parish is also named in his honor. The school's crest is derived from the Earl of Portland's personal crest.

Legacy[edit]

North Bentinck Arm and South Bentinck Arm were named for the House of Portland by George Vancouver in 1793, along with other names on the British Columbia Coast such as Portland Canal and Portland Channel.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
John Craster
George Venables-Vernon
Member of Parliament for Weobley
1761–1762
With: Hon. Henry Thynne
Succeeded by
William Lynch
Hon. Henry Thynne
Political offices
Preceded by
The Earl Gower
Lord Chamberlain
1765–1766
Succeeded by
The Earl of Hertford
Preceded by
The Earl of Carlisle
Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
1782
Succeeded by
The Earl Temple
Preceded by
The Earl of Shelburne
Prime Minister of Great Britain
2 April 1783 – 19 December 1783
Succeeded by
William Pitt the Younger
Preceded by
The Earl of Shelburne
Leader of the House of Lords
1783
Succeeded by
The Lord Sydney
Preceded by
Henry Dundas
Home Secretary
1794–1801
Succeeded by
Lord Pelham
Preceded by
The Earl of Chatham
Lord President of the Council
1801–1805
Succeeded by
The Viscount Sidmouth
New office Minister without Portfolio
1805–1806
Succeeded by
The Earl FitzWilliam
Preceded by
The Lord Grenville
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
31 March 1807 – 4 October 1809
Succeeded by
Spencer Perceval
Academic offices
Preceded by
Earl of Guilford
Chancellor of the University of Oxford
1792–1809
Succeeded by
Baron Grenville
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Lord North
President of the Foundling Hospital
1793–1809
Succeeded by
The Prince of Wales
later became King George IV
Preceded by
The 3rd Duke of Newcastle-under-Lyne
Lord Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire
1795–1809
Succeeded by
The 4th Duke of Newcastle-under-Lyne
Peerage of Great Britain
Preceded by
William Bentinck
Duke of Portland
1762–1809
Succeeded by
William Bentinck