Lady Lucy Caroline Cavendish (née Lyttelton; 5 September 1841 – 22 April 1925) was a pioneer of women's education.
A daughter of George Lord Lyttelton, she married into another aristocratic family, the Cavendishes, in 1864. Eighteen years later her husband, Lord Frederick Cavendish, was murdered in Dublin by Irish nationalists. After his death she devoted much of her time to the cause of girls' and women's education, for which she was honoured in her lifetime with an honorary degree, and posthumously when, in 1965, Cambridge University named its first post-graduate college for women after her.
Lucy Lyttelton was born at Hagley Hall in Worcestershire, the second daughter of George Lord Lyttelton and his wife Mary Glynne, whose sister married William Ewart Gladstone. In 1863 she was appointed a Maid of Honour to Queen Victoria, whom she attended until marrying the following year.
Marriage and husband's murder
On 7 June 1864 she married Lord Frederick Cavendish, the second son of the Duke of Devonshire. They had no children. Cavendish was elected to Parliament in 1865 and was murdered by Irish republicans in the Phoenix Park Murders on 6 May 1882, the same day he took the oath of office of Chief Secretary for Ireland. Although devastated by the assassination, on the day before the ringleader was hanged she sent him the small gold crucifix she had long worn, as a token of her forgiveness. Gladstone was greatly moved when she told him that she could bear the loss of her beloved husband "if his death were to work good to his fellow-men, which indeed was the whole object of his life." She remained a firm supporter of Irish Home Rule. A window to Lord Cavendish's memory was placed in St Margaret's Church, Westminster, at the cost of the members of the House of Commons.
After Cavendish's death, Lucy Cavendish was active in the sphere of women's education. She was President of the Yorkshire Ladies Council of Education from 1883 to 1912. She declined the offer of the post of Mistress of Girton College, Cambridge in 1884. She was a member of the Royal Commission on Secondary Education and was a founding member of the Council of the Girls' Public Day School Company, which had been founded by her father. On 6 October 1904 she received the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws at the formal inauguration of Leeds University for "notable service to the cause of education".
- Boase, G. C. "Cavendish, Lord Frederick Charles (1836–1882)" rev. H. C. G. Matthew, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004, online edition, October 2005, accessed 23 April 2013 (subscription or UK public library membership required)
- "Obituary – Lady Frederick Cavendish", The Times, 23 April 1925, p. 14
- Lyttelton and Hart Davis, p. 40 – letter of 17 March 1960.
- "The Papers of Lucy Cavendish".
- Renfrew, Jane M. "Who was Lucy Cavendish?". Rooms of Our Own - Lucy Cavendish College. Retrieved 1 March 2012.
- Lyttelton, George; Rupert Hart-Davis (1978). The Lyttelton/Hart-Davis Letters, Volume 5. London: John Murray. ISBN 0-7195-4381-9.
- The Diary of Lady Frederick Cavendish (or Lady Lucy Cavendish) (blog) Edited by John Bailey with illustrations Vol. I and II, New York, Frederick A. Stokes Company Publishers, First Edition 1927