Louisa Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire

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by Le Jeune, albumen carte-de-visite, 1867 or before

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

Early life[edit]

Louisa Frederica Augusta, Countess von Alten was born 15 June 1832 in Hanover. She was the daughter of Karl Franz Viktor, Count von Alten (1800–1879) and his wife, Hermine de Schminke (1806-1868).[2][3]


She was appointed Mistress of the Robes to the Queen on 24 February 1858, and remained in that office until the fall of Lord Derby's government on 11 June 1859.[2]

Lady Eleanor Stanley recorded in her diary in 1859 that while participating in a paper chase, the Duchess was involved in a crinoline fashion-related disaster when she 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'stait diabolique!' at the sight.[5]

Marriage and issue[edit]

Louise Frederica Augusta Cavendish (née von Alten), Duchess of Devonshire, 1860, by Camille Silvy

On 22 July 1852 she was married at Hanover to Viscount Mandeville, eldest son of the 6th Duke of Manchester. He succeeded his father as 7th Duke of Manchester on the 8 August 1855, and Louisa became Duchess of Manchester.[6][7]

Before The Duke of Manchester's death in Naples on 22 March 1890, 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 (Kimbolton Castle, 27 December 1854 – 10 February 1934), who married, firstly, to William Douglas-Hamilton, 12th Duke of Hamilton, at Kimbolton Castle on 10 December 1873. They had issue, and secondly married on 20 July 1897 to Robert Carnaby Forster of Easton Park, Wickham Market, Suffolk (d. 23 June 1925), without issue.
  3. Lady Louisa Augusta Beatrice Montagu (Kimbolton Castle, 17 January 1856 – London, 3 March 1944), who married Archibald Acheson, 4th Earl of Gosford, on 10 August 1876 in London, and had issue.
  4. Lord Charles William Augustus Montagu (Kimbolton Castle, 23 November 1860 – 10 November 1939), who married the Hon. Mildred Cecilia Harriet Stuart (27 February 1869 – London, 17 September 1942), daughter of Henry Sturt, 1st Baron Alington, at Kimbolton Castle on 4 December 1930, without issue.
  5. Lady Alice Maude Olivia Montagu (London, 15 August 1862 – Coworth Park, 23 July 1957), who married Edward Stanley, 17th Earl of Derby, on 5 January 1889 at London, and had issue.

On 16 August 1892 at Christ Church, Mayfair, the sixty-year-old Dowager Duchess of Manchester married the Spencer Cavendish, 8th Duke of Devonshire, who had reportedly been in love with her for years. She thereby became Duchess of Devonshire; sometimes she is given the nickname "The Double Duchess".

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


  1. ^ "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 Verlag 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 Verlag London 2004, ISBN 0-7206-1233-0
Court offices
Preceded by
The Duchess of Sutherland
Mistress of the Robes
Succeeded by
The Duchess of Sutherland