Victor Cavendish, 9th Duke of Devonshire

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The Duke of Devonshire
GG Duke of Devonshire.jpg
11th Governor General of Canada
In office
11 November 1916 – 2 August 1921
MonarchGeorge V
Prime MinisterCanadian
 • Robert Borden
 • Arthur Meighen
 • H. H. Asquith
 • David Lloyd George
Preceded byPrince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn
Succeeded byThe Lord Byng of Vimy
Secretary of State for the Colonies
In office
24 October 1922 – 22 January 1924
MonarchGeorge V
Prime MinisterBonar Law
Stanley Baldwin
Preceded byWinston Churchill
Succeeded byJames Henry Thomas
Civil Lord of the Admiralty
In office
25 May 1915 – 26 Jul 1916
MonarchGeorge V
Prime MinisterH. H. Asquith
Preceded byGeorge Lambert
Succeeded byThe Earl of Lytton
Financial Secretary to the Treasury
In office
9 October 1903 – 5 December 1905
MonarchEdward VII
Prime MinisterArthur Balfour
Preceded byArthur Elliot
Succeeded byReginald McKenna
Treasurer of the Household
In office
4 December 1900 – 13 October 1903
Edward VII
Prime MinisterThe Marquess of Salisbury
Arthur Balfour
Preceded byThe Earl Howe
Succeeded byMarquess of Hamilton
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
In office
24 March 1908 – 6 May 1938
Hereditary Peerage
Preceded byThe 8th Duke of Devonshire
Succeeded byThe 10th Duke of Devonshire
Member of Parliament
for West Derbyshire
In office
2 June 1891 – 24 March 1908
Preceded byLord Edward Cavendish
Succeeded byEarl of Kerry
Personal details
Born(1868-05-31)31 May 1868
Marylebone, London, England
Died6 May 1938(1938-05-06) (aged 69)
Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, England
Political partyLiberal Unionist
(m. 1892)
Alma materTrinity College, Cambridge
Garter-encircled shield of arms of Victor Cavendish, 9th Duke of Devonshire, KG, as displayed on his Order of the Garter stall plate in St. George's Chapel.

Victor Christian William Cavendish, 9th Duke of Devonshire KG, GCMG, GCVO, TD, PC, JP, FRS[1] (31 May 1868 – 6 May 1938), known as Victor Cavendish until 1908, was a British peer and politician who served as Governor General of Canada.

A member of the Cavendish family, he was educated at Eton College and the University of Cambridge. After the death of his father in 1891, he entered politics, winning his father's constituency unopposed. He held that seat until he inherited his uncle's dukedom in 1908. Thereafter, he took his place in the House of Lords, while, for a period at the same time, acting as mayor of Eastbourne and Chesterfield. He held various government posts both prior to and after his rise to the peerage. In 1916 he was appointed governor general of Canada by King George V, on the recommendation of Prime Minister H. H. Asquith, to replace Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, as viceroy. He occupied that post until succeeded by Lord Byng of Vimy in 1921. The appointment was initially controversial but, by the time of his return to England, the Duke had earned praise for the way in which he carried out his official duties.

Following his tenure as governor general, he returned to political and diplomatic life, serving as Secretary of State for the Colonies between 1922 and 1924, before retiring to his estate in Derbyshire, where he died on 6 May 1938. He was the last Duke to ever hold a cabinet post.

Early life, education and military career[edit]

Cavendish was born in the Marylebone area of London, England, the eldest son of Lord Edward Cavendish, himself the third son of the 7th Duke of Devonshire, and Emma Lascelles, both the daughter of William Lascelles and Lord Edward's cousin. Cavendish's younger brother was Lord Richard Cavendish and his uncles were Spencer Cavendish, Marquess of Hartington (later the eighth Duke of Devonshire) and Lord Frederick Cavendish.

Cavendish was educated at Eton College before being admitted to Trinity College, Cambridge, on 30 May 1887,[2] where he served as secretary of the Pitt Club.[3] During his years at Cambridge, Cavendish was initiated into Isaac Newton University Lodge[4] and served part-time with the Derbyshire Yeomanry, into which he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1890.[5] He was promoted major in September 1901[6] and retired from the Yeomanry in 1911.[7]

Marriage and children[edit]

On 30 July 1892, Cavendish married Lady Evelyn Petty-FitzMaurice, the elder daughter of Henry Petty-Fitzmaurice, 5th Marquess of Lansdowne, Viceroy of India and quondam Governor General of Canada.[8] The couple had seven children:[9]

Through his children's eventual marriages, Cavendish became the father-in-law of Henry Philip Hunloke, Christopher Holland-Martin, James Stuart, 1st Viscount Stuart of Findhorn, Harold Macmillan, Adele Astaire and Victor Montagu, 10th Earl of Sandwich.

Chatsworth House, which Cavendish inherited upon acceding to the Dukedom of Devonshire in 1908

Political career[edit]

In May 1891, shortly before Cavendish graduated from Cambridge, his father, who sat as the Member of Parliament for West Derbyshire, died and Cavendish entered the race for that parliamentary seat and won it, thus becoming the youngest member of the British House of Commons at the time.[10]

For seventeen years Cavendish held parliamentary positions. Between 1900 and 1903, he served as Treasurer of the Household,[11][12] from 1903 to 1905 as Financial Secretary to the Treasury, and on 11 December 1905 he was sworn of the Privy Council.[13] In 1907, he was appointed a deputy lieutenant of Derbyshire[14] and, from 1908, acted as Honorary Colonel of the 5th (Territorial Army) Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters.[15]

When he succeeded to his uncle's dukedom on 24 March 1908, Devonshire, as he was thereafter known, was disqualified from holding his seat in the Commons, as he now held a place in the House of Lords. The same year, Devonshire was appointed as Lord Lieutenant of Derbyshire and the year following was made Chancellor of the University of Leeds. He was then elected to two mayoral offices: first to that of Eastbourne, between 1909 and 1910, and then Chesterfield, from 1911 to 1912. In the House of Lords, Devonshire served as Conservative Chief Whip from 1911[16] and, after the Conservatives joined the government during the First World War, as joint Government Chief Whip in the upper chamber,[17] holding office as Civil Lord of the Admiralty.[18] Following the war, he became Honorary Colonel and Commandant of the Derbyshire Volunteer Regiment of the Volunteer Training Corps in 1918.[15]

Governor General of Canada[edit]

A welcome for Devonshire at Belleville during one of his tours of Canada while Governor General

It was announced on 8 August 1916 that King George V had, by commission under the royal sign-manual and signet, approved the recommendation of his British prime minister, H. H. Asquith, to appoint Devonshire as his representative in Canada. The appointment caused political problems, as Canadian prime minister Robert Borden had not been consulted on the matter, contrary to practice that had been well established by that time. Borden thus felt insulted, which led to considerable difficulties at the beginning of Devonshire's tenure, officially beginning after he was sworn in on 11 November 1916 during a ceremony held in Halifax.[8]

In that era, there was social unrest in the country. The women's suffrage movement gaining momentum in Canada, calls were coming out of the prairies for socialist changes to the governmental system and war continued to rage around the world. Canada was providing troops and supplies, and shortly after his installation, acting on the advice of Borden, Devonshire introduced conscription, a decision that was particularly divisive between French and English Canadians and sparked the Conscription Crisis of 1917. The same year, the Governor General also travelled to Nova Scotia to survey the damage caused by the Halifax Explosion on 6 December. There, he met with survivors and addressed the women of the Voluntary Aid Detachment.[19]

The Canadian victory in 1917 at the Battle of Vimy Ridge, however, helped fuel Canadian pride and nationalism at home, and the Governor General, while conscious of his role's remaining connection to the British government, used the victory positively and publicly encourage to reconciliation between Canada's two main linguistic groups. At all times, Devonshire was careful to consult with his prime minister and the leaders of His Majesty's Loyal Opposition in Canada on matters related to conscription and the war effort.[8]

Devonshire took an active interest in the lives of Canadians and conducted various tours of the country to meet with them. As a landowner himself, the Governor General was particularly focused on the development of farming in Canada and during his travels,[10] at agricultural and horticultural fairs, shows, and sugaring-off parties in the Gatineau, he discussed agricultural issues with farmers and other people in the industry. His speeches often referred to Canada's potential to lead the world in agricultural research and development, and one of his major projects as viceroy was establishing experimental farms, including the Crown's central one in Ottawa. At the same time, Devonshire acted as a patron of the arts When not on tour or residing at La Citadelle, the viceregal residence in Quebec City at which the Duke enjoyed spending time, he frequently visited the National Gallery and hosted theatrical performances at Rideau Hall. There, on the grounds of the royal residence, during the winters, the Devonshires also hosted tobogganing and skating parties, as well as hockey matches. Officially, in 1918 Devonshire travelled to the United States to meet President Woodrow Wilson informally, and the following year, he was host to Prince Edward, Prince of Wales, during his first tour of Canada.[8]

By the end of his tenure as governor general, Devonshire had overcome all of the initial suspicions that had surrounded his appointment, and both men who served as his Canadian prime minister, Borden and Arthur Meighen, came to view him as a personal friend of them and also of Canada. The former said of Devonshire: "No Governor General has come with a more comprehensive grasp of public questions as they touch not only this country and the United Kingdom, but the whole Empire".[8] The Duke left as a mark of his time in Canada the Devonshire Cup, for the annual golf competition of the Canadian Seniors Golf Association,[20] and the Duke of Devonshire Trophy, for the Ottawa Horticultural Society. While in Canada, Devonshire's two aides-de-camp married his daughters.

Later career[edit]

St Peter's Churchyard, Edensor – grave of Victor Cavendish, 9th Duke of Devonshire KG, GCMG, GCVO, TD, PC (1868–1938)

On returning to England, Devonshire worked at the League of Nations before serving from 1922 to 1924 as Secretary of State for the Colonies (with a seat in the Cabinet, while headed by Prime Ministers Bonar Law and Stanley Baldwin).[21] There, he opposed the views of Lord Delemere, the leading White settler in Kenya, who had helped found the Happy Valley set and campaigned for self-government by White settlers. Devonshire advocated protecting the interests of the Africans.[22] The Devonshire White Paper of 1923, which he authored, was cited as a reason why Kenya did not develop as a white minority rule, similar to the model of the Union of South Africa and Southern Rhodesia.[23]

In 1922, he was appointed by King George V to the committee that was charged with looking into how honours were to be bestowed in the United Kingdom.[24] From 1933 until his death he was Honorary Colonel of the 24 (Derbyshire Yeomanry) Armoured Car Company, Royal Tank Regiment, in the Territorial Army.[25] He simultaneously continued to run his agricultural land holdings, especially around Chatsworth House, where he died in May 1938.


Viceregal styles of
The Duke of Devonshire
Crest of the Governor General of Canada 1901-1921.svg
Reference styleHis Grace
Sa Grâce
Spoken styleYour Grace
Votre Grâce
Ribbon bars of the Duke of Devonshire

Honorary military appointments[edit]

Honorary degrees[edit]

Honorific eponyms[edit]

Geographic locations

Ottawa, Ontario Devonshire Community Public School

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Whiddington, R. (1939). "Victor Christian William Cavendish, the Duke of Devonshire. 1868-1938". Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society. 2 (7): 557–559. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1939.0016.
  2. ^ "Cavendish, Victor Christian William (CVNS887VC)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  3. ^ Fletcher, Walter Morley (2011) [1935]. The University Pitt Club: 1835-1935 (First Paperback ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 92. ISBN 978-1-107-60006-5.
  4. ^ "Victor Christian William Cavendish, 9th Duke of Devonshire – Sheffield Freemasonry | Freemasonry Matters". 24 May 2016. Archived from the original on 19 May 2021. Retrieved 27 February 2021.
  5. ^ Kelly's Handbook of the Titled, Landed and Official Classes, 1895. Kelly's. 1895. p. 249.
  6. ^ "No. 27362". The London Gazette. 4 October 1901. p. 6491.
  7. ^ Kelly's Handbook of the Titled, Landed and Official Classes, 1913. Kelly's. p. 616.
  8. ^ a b c d e Office of the Governor General of Canada. "Governor General > Former Governors General > The Duke of Devonshire". Queen's Printer for Canada. Archived from the original on 16 November 2008. Retrieved 18 April 2009.
  9. ^ Mosley, Charles, editor. Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage, 107th edition, 3 volumes. Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.A.: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, 2003
  10. ^ a b Hillmer, Norman, "The Canadian Encyclopedia", in Marsh, James Harley (ed.), Biography > Governors General of Canada > Devonshire, Victor Christian William Cavendish, 9th Duke of, Toronto: Historica Foundation of Canada, archived from the original on 4 March 2016, retrieved 28 April 2009
  11. ^ "No. 11256". The Edinburgh Gazette. 7 December 1900. p. 1285.
  12. ^ "No. 11559". The Edinburgh Gazette. 16 October 1903. p. 1048.
  13. ^ "No. 27862". The London Gazette. 8 December 1905. p. 8892.
  14. ^ "No. 28018". The London Gazette. 3 May 1907. p. 2999.
  15. ^ a b Kelly's Handbook of the Titled, Landed and Official Classes, 1920. Kelly's. p. 498.
  16. ^ David Butler and Gareth Butler, Twentieth Century British Political Facts 1900-2000 (Macmillan 2000) p. 69.
  17. ^ Butler and Butler (2000) p. 139.
  18. ^ "No. 29651". The London Gazette. 4 July 1916. p. 6596.
  19. ^ "Library and Archives Canada > MIKAN no. 3623771". Queen's Printer for Canada. Archived from the original on 10 January 2013. Retrieved 27 April 2009.
  20. ^ Barclay, James A. (1992). Golf in Canada: A History. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart. p. 456. ISBN 978-0-7710-1080-4.
  21. ^ "No. 32982". The London Gazette. 14 October 1924. p. 7430.
  22. ^ "Protectorate and trusteeship". The National Archives. The National Archives. Retrieved 10 March 2016.
  23. ^ Maxon, Robert M. (1993). Struggle for Kenya: The Loss and Reassertion of Imperial Initiative, 1912-1923. Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press. pp. 270–279. ISBN 9780838634868.
  24. ^ "No. 32749". The London Gazette. 22 September 1922. p. 6767.
  25. ^ Kelly's Handbook of Distinguished People, 1938. Kelly's. p. 588.
  26. ^ "No. 28639". The London Gazette. 27 August 1912. p. 6371.
  27. ^ "No. 29687". The London Gazette. 28 July 1916. p. 7477.
  28. ^ "No. 29711". The London Gazette. 18 August 1916. p. 8150.
  29. ^ "No. 30402". The London Gazette. 27 November 1917. p. 12354.
  30. ^ "No. 29423". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 January 1916. p. 79.
  31. ^ "No. 32803". The London Gazette. 6 March 1923. p. 1823.
  32. ^ "University of Alberta Senate > Honorary Degrees > Past Honorary Degree Recipients > C". University of Alberta. Archived from the original on 27 May 2011. Retrieved 28 April 2009.

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by Governor General of Canada
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Treasurer of the Household
Succeeded by
Preceded by Financial Secretary to the Treasury
Succeeded by
Preceded by Civil Lord of the Admiralty
Succeeded by
Preceded by Government Chief Whip in the House of Lords
With: The Lord Colebrooke
Succeeded by
Preceded by Secretary of State for the Colonies
Succeeded by
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by Member of Parliament for West Derbyshire
Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Conservative Chief Whip in the House of Lords
Succeeded by
Academic offices
Preceded by Chancellor of the University of Leeds
Succeeded by
Honorary titles
Preceded by Lord Lieutenant of Derbyshire
Succeeded by
Peerage of England
Preceded by Duke of Devonshire
Succeeded by