Victor Cavendish-Bentinck, 9th Duke of Portland

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His Grace
The Duke of Portland
The 9th Duke of Portland Allan Warren.jpg
British Ambassador to Poland
In office
Preceded by Owen O'Malley
Succeeded by Donald Gainer
Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee
In office
Preceded by Ralph Stevenson
Succeeded by Harold Caccia
Personal details
Born Victor Frederick William Cavendish-Bentinck
(1897-06-18)18 June 1897
Marylebone, London
Died 30 July 1990(1990-07-30) (aged 93)
Chelsea, London
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Clothilde Bruce Quigley (m. 1924; div. 1948)
Kathleen Elsie Barry
(m. 1948)
Children 3 (see section)
Alma mater Wellington College

Victor Frederick William Cavendish-Bentinck, 9th Duke of Portland KCMG (18 June 1897 – 30 July 1990), known as Victor Cavendish-Bentinck until 1980, was a British diplomat, businessman, and peer. He served as Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee during the Second World War and was British Ambassador to Poland between 1945 and 1947.

Background and education[edit]

Cavendish-Bentinck was born in Marylebone, London on 18 June 1897.[1] He was the second son of Frederick Cavendish-Bentinck, whose father, George Cavendish-Bentinck, was a grandson of William Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland. Although formally Victor Cavendish-Bentinck he was known informally as Bill. Like other members of his family he informally dispensed with the name "Cavendish", being known simply as Bill Bentinck.[2] He was educated at Wellington College.

Queen Elizabeth II is also descended from the 3rd Duke of Portland through her maternal grandmother Cecilia Cavendish-Bentinck. The Queen and the 9th Duke of Portland were third cousins, once removed.

Diplomatic career[edit]

Cavendish-Bentinck did not pursue a university education, instead entering the diplomatic service in 1919. In 1922, he took charge of administrative arrangements for the Lausanne Conference. He served in the British Embassy in Paris and also in the League of Nations Department in the Foreign Office. Other postings included Athens in 1932 and Santiago in 1933. The high point of his diplomatic career came in 1939 when he was appointed chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee. He managed to develop the body as a highly effective instrument of government and, as a result, became counsellor to the Services Liaison Department of the Foreign Office in 1942.

In 1945, Cavendish-Bentinck was given his final diplomatic posting on his appointment as Ambassador to Poland. When visiting the formerly German City of Stettin (Szczecin) in 1946 he was invited to talk to German civilians suffering from months of internment so their possessions and property could be taken over by Polish resettlers from territories lost to the USSR. Cavendish-Bentinck refused to do so, ignoring certain inhuman circumstances under which mainly old people, women and children had to suffer, by noting to his Polish hosts, he was "convinced that they will complain as usual".[3]

He held the position for two years before the Foreign Office applied to appoint him Ambassador to Brazil. He never took up the latter post, being obliged to resign from the Foreign Office as a result of the publicity surrounding his divorce.[citation needed]

Later life and Duke of Portland[edit]

After his withdrawal from the diplomatic service, Cavendish-Bentinck embarked on a business career, becoming Vice-Chairman of the Committee of Industrial Interests in Germany. From this position, he was able to advance the interests of British companies such as Unilever. He was a member of the Steering Committee of the Bilderberg Group.[4]

In 1980 he succeeded his elder brother Ferdinand Cavendish-Bentinck as Duke of Portland. Upon the 9th Duke's death in 1990, the dukedom and the Marquessate of Titchfield became extinct because his only son had predeceased him and there were no other surviving male heirs of the 1st Duke. However, the earldom of Portland had been created in an earlier generation than the dukedom and there were surviving descendants in the male line to inherit it. That title was therefore inherited by his kinsman, Henry Noel Bentinck, who became 11th Earl of Portland, together with its subsidiary titles of Viscount Woodstock and Baron Cirencester. He was interred at the traditional burial place of the Dukes of Portland in the churchyard of St Winifred's Church at Holbeck.

Marriages and children[edit]

Bentick married Clothilde Bruce Quigley (died 1984), an American, on 16 February 1924. She was the daughter of James Bruce Quigley.[5] They had two children together:

  • William James Cavendish-Bentinck (6 July 1925 - 4 September 1966)
  • Lady Mary Jane Cavendish-Bentinck (16 December 1929 - 1 March 2010)[dubious ]

Soon after World War II began Bentinck received a telephone call at his office from his Hungarian maid to tell him that his wife had left him and taken their children with her. They were finally divorced in 1948.[6]

Portland married secondly, Kathleen Elsie Barry (died 2004) on 27 July 1948. She was the daughter of Arthur Barry. This marriage produced one further child[disputed ]:

  • Lady Barbara Cavendish-Bentinck

Styles, honours, and arms[edit]

Styles of address[edit]

  • 1897 – 1942: Victor Cavendish-Bentinck, Esq.
  • 1942 – 1945: Victor Cavendish-Bentinck CMG
  • 1945 – 1980: Sir Victor Cavendish-Bentinck KCMG
  • 1980 – 1990: His Grace The Duke of Portland KCMG

Honours and awards[edit]




  1. ^ Births in the Marylebone district of London Registered in July, August and September 1897 vol. 1a p. 541 — General Register Office
  2. ^ Patrick Howarth Intelligence Chief Extraordinary, First Edition, p. 13-14
  3. ^ Memorandum H. Krajewski, Staatliches Repatriierungsamt (im Folgenden: PUR), Szczecin, 29.10.1946, MZO 196/541b, AAN. 103p} (in German)
  4. ^ "Former Steering Committee Members". Bilderberg Group. Retrieved 2014-02-08. 
  5. ^ The Peerage, entry for 9th Duke of Portland
  6. ^ Hastings, Max (2015). The Secret War: Spies, Codes and Guerrillas 1939 -1945 (Paperback). London: William Collins. ISBN 978-0-00-750374-2. 

External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Owen O'Malley
Ambassador to Poland
Succeeded by
Donald Gainer
Government offices
Preceded by
Ralph Stevenson
Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee
Succeeded by
Harold Caccia
Peerage of Great Britain
Preceded by
Ferdinand Cavendish-Bentinck
Duke of Portland
Peerage of England
Preceded by
Ferdinand Cavendish-Bentinck
Earl of Portland
2nd creation
Succeeded by
Henry Bentinck