Louisa Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire

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Her Grace
The Duchess of Devonshire
Louise Montagu, Duchess of Manchester (1832-1911), later Duchess of Devonshire.jpg
Photograph of Her Grace, 1884
Mistress of the Robes
In office
24 February 1858 – 11 June 1859
Preceded by The Duchess of Sutherland
Succeeded by The Duchess of Sutherland
Personal details
Born Louisa Frederica Augusta, Countess von Alten
15 June 1832
Hanover, Kingdom of Hanover
Died 15 July 1911 (1911-07-16) (aged 79)
Surrey, England
Resting place Edensor, Derbyshire
Spouse(s) William Drogo Montagu, 7th Duke of Manchester
(m. 1852; d. 1890)

Spencer Cavendish, 8th Duke of Devonshire
(m. 1892; d. 1908)
Children George Montagu, 8th Duke of Manchester
Mary Louisa, Duchess of Hamilton
Louisa Augusta, Countess of Gosford
Lord Charles Montagu
Alice Maude, Countess of Derby
Parents Karl Franz Viktor
Hermine de Schminke

Louisa Frederica Augusta Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire, formerly Louisa Montagu, Duchess of Manchester, née Luise Fredericke Auguste, Countess von Alten (15 June 1832 – 15 July 1911) was a German born British aristocrat sometimes referred to as the "Double Duchess" due to her marriage to both the Duke of Manchester and the Duke of Devonshire.[1]

Early life[edit]

Louisa Frederica Augusta, Countess von Alten was born 15 June 1832 in Hanover in what was then the Kingdom of Hanover. She was the daughter of Karl Franz Viktor, Count von Alten (1800–1879), and his wife, Hermine de Schminke (1806–1868).[2][3] Her siblings included Helene Charlotte Auguste, Countess von Alten (1830–1890), who married Andrei Bludov, Carl Friedrich Franz Victor, Count von Alten (1833–1901), who married Carolina Frederica Groeninx van Zoelen, and Guidobaldine, Count von Alten (1838–1922), who married Graf August Grote and Don Luigi Maria Colonna, dei Principi di Stigliano, and Detlof von Bülow.

Her paternal grandparents were Adolf Viktor Christian Jobst, Count von Alten (1755–1820) and Charlotte Louise Wilhelmine Kinsky von Wchinitz und Tettau (1775–1842).


She was appointed Mistress of the Robes to Queen Victoria on 24 February 1858, and remained in that office until the fall of Lord Derby's government on 11 June 1859.[2] While in her office, the Duchess maintained friendships with Edward, Prince of Wales and Alexandra, Princess of Wales.[1]

Lady Eleanor Stanley recorded in her diary in 1859 that during a "paper chase", the Duchess caught her hoop while climbing over a stile, and was left with the entirety of her crinoline and skirts thrown over her head, revealing her scarlet drawers to the assembled company.[4] The Duc de Malakoff, the French ambassador, is said to have exclaimed "C'était diabolique!" at the sight.[5]

Devonshire House Ball of 1897[edit]

In 1897, the Duchess hosted the Devonshire House Fancy Dress Ball at Devonshire House, the London residence of the Dukes of Devonshire in the 18th and 19th centuries. The party was a costume ball thrown to celebrate Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee. The Queen's Private Secretary, Francis Knollys, wrote to the Duchess that the Prince of Wales (who dressed as the Grand Master of the Knights of Malta) thought the party a success. At the ball, the Duchess dressed as Queen Zenobia of Palmyra.[1]

Marriage and issue[edit]

Illustration of Kimbolton Castle in 1880, which shows the present mansion as rebuilt between 1690 and 1720.

On 22 July 1852, the twenty-year old Louisa was married at Hanover to Viscount Mandeville, eldest son and heir of the 6th Duke of Manchester. Upon his father's death on 8 August 1855, he succeeded his father as 7th Duke of Manchester, and Louisa became Duchess of Manchester.[6][7]

They had five children:

  1. George Victor Drogo Montagu, 8th Duke of Manchester (1853–1892), who married Consuelo Yznaga (1853–1909), and had issue.
  2. Lady Mary Louisa Elizabeth Montagu (1854–1934), who was born at Kimbolton Castle and married, firstly, to William Douglas-Hamilton, 12th Duke of Hamilton, at Kimbolton Castle on 10 December 1873, and had issue. She secondly married on 20 July 1897 to Robert Carnaby Forster of Easton Park, Wickham Market, Suffolk (d. 1925), without issue.
  3. Lady Louisa Augusta Beatrice Montagu (1856–1944), born at Kimbolton Castle. She married Archibald Acheson, 4th Earl of Gosford, on 10 August 1876 in London, and had issue.
  4. Lord Charles William Augustus Montagu (1860–1939), who married the Hon. Mildred Cecilia Harriet Stuart (1869–1942), daughter of Henry Sturt, 1st Baron Alington, at Kimbolton Castle on 4 December 1930. He had no issue.
  5. Lady Alice Maude Olivia Montagu (1862–1957), born in London. She married Edward Stanley, 17th Earl of Derby, on 5 January 1889 in London, and had issue.

Louisa became estranged from the Duke, and they lived apart for many years. Louisa became the companion of the Marquess of Hartington, and a notable political hostess. The Duke died in Naples on 22 March 1890.

On 16 August 1892, at Christ Church, Mayfair, the sixty-year-old Dowager Duchess of Manchester married Hartington, now the 8th Duke of Devonshire. She thereby became Duchess of Devonshire, with the nickname of "The Double Duchess".

After the Duke of Devonshire's death on 24 March 1908, she was widowed for the second time, becoming the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire. On 15 July 1911, at the Sandown Races in Esher Park, the Duchess died after a seizure, aged 79. She was interred at Edensor, Derbyshire.

Titles and styles[edit]

  • 15 June 1832 – 22 July 1852: Louisa Frederica Augusta, Countess von Alton
  • 22 July 1852 – 22 March 1890: Her Grace The Duchess of Manchester
  • 22 March 1890 – 16 August 1892: Her Grace The Dowager Duchess of Manchester
  • 16 August 1892 – 24 March 1908: Her Grace The Duchess of Devonshire
  • 24 March 1908 – 15 July 1911: Her Grace The Dowager Duchess of Devonshire



  1. ^ a b c "The Cavendish Story: The Double Duchess". www.chatsworthblog.org. Retrieved 14 April 2017. 
  2. ^ a b "Louise Frederica Augusta Cavendish (née von Alten), Duchess of Devonshire (formerly Duchess of Manchester) (1832-1911), Mistress of the Robes to Queen Victoria; former wife of 7th Duke of Manchester, and later first wife of 8th Duke of Devonshire". npg.org.uk. National Portrait Gallery. Retrieved 14 April 2017. 
  3. ^ "Devonshire, Louisa Cavendish Duchess of 1832-1911". worldcat.org. Retrieved 14 April 2017. 
  4. ^ Vane, Henry (2004). Affair of State: A Biography of the 8th Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. London: Dover Publications Inc. p. 25. ISBN 9780720612332. 
  5. ^ Willett, C. (2004). The History of Underclothes. New York: Peter Owen. p. 156. ISBN 9780486271248. 
  6. ^ Poole, Henry (September 29, 2015). "The Double Duchess: Louisa van Alten". henrypoole.com. Henry Poole & Co. Retrieved 14 April 2017. 
  7. ^ Kennedy, A. L; Devonshire, Louisa Cavendish (1 January 1956). ""My Dear Duchess": Social and Political Letters to the Duchess of Manchester, 1858-1869". Murray. Retrieved 14 April 2017. 
  • A. L. Kennedy: My Dear Duchess: Social and Political Letters to the Duchess of Manchester 1858-1869, John Murray, London 1956
  • Sophia Murphy: The Duchess of Devonshire's Ball, Sidgwick & Jackson, 1984
  • Henry Vane: Affair of State: A biography of the 8th Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, Peter Owen, London 2004, ISBN 0-7206-1233-0

External links[edit]

Court offices
Preceded by
The Duchess of Sutherland
Mistress of the Robes
Succeeded by
The Duchess of Sutherland