Lord John Cavendish

British nobleman and politician

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Lord John Cavendish
Chancellor of the Exchequer
In office
2 April 1783 – 19 December 1783
Monarch George III
Prime Minister The Duke of Portland
Preceded by William Pitt the Younger
Succeeded by William Pitt the Younger
In office
27 March 1782 – 10 July 1782
Monarch George III
Prime Minister The Marquess of Rockingham
Preceded by Lord North
Succeeded by William Pitt the Younger
Personal details
Born (1732-10-22)22 October 1732
Died 18 December 1796(1796-12-18) (aged 64)
Resting place Derby Cathedral
Nationality British
Political party Whig
Parent(s) William Cavendish, 3rd Duke of Devonshire
Catherine Hoskins

Lord John Cavendish PC (22 October 1732 – 18 December 1796) was a British nobleman and politician.


Cavendish was the youngest son of William Cavendish, 3rd Duke of Devonshire, and his wife Catherine, daughter of John Hoskins. Prime Minister William Cavendish, 4th Duke of Devonshire, Lord George Cavendish and Field Marshal Lord Frederick Cavendish were his elder brothers. He was educated at Newcome’s School in Hackney and at Peterhouse, Cambridge.[1]

Political career[edit]

He served as Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1782 and 1783, and was sworn of the Privy Council in 1782. He was a supporter of Lord Rockingham, and subsequently of the Fox-North Coalition that brought the Duke of Portland to power. He lost his seat in the election of 1784, when the coalition fell, and did not return to the House of Commons until 1794, in the family seat of Derbyshire.


Cavendish lived at Billing Hall, Northamptonshire which he commissioned John Carr to substantially remodel in the fashionable Palladian style around 1776. The house passed to the Elwes family in 1790.[2]

He died unmarried in December 1796, aged 64.


Cavendish’s friend Edmund Burke penned several eulogies of him after his death: “The world never produced a more upright and honourable mind; with very considerable talents, and a still more considerable improvement of them”.[3]

There is lost to the world, in every thing but the example of his life the fairest mind that perhaps ever infor’d a human body. A mind totally free from every Vice, and fill’d with Virtues of all kinds, and in each kind of no common rank or form; benevolent, friendly, generous, disinterested, unambitious almost to a fault; Tho’ cold in his exterior, he was inwardly quick and full of feeling, and tho’ reserv’d from modesty, from dignity, from family temperament and not from design, he was an entire stranger to every thing false and counterfeit: so great an Enemy to all dissimulation active or passive, and indeed even to a fair and just ostentation, that some of his Virtues, obscur’d by his other Virtues, wanted something of that burnish and lustre which those who know how to assay the solidity and fineness of the metal wish’d them to have. It were to be wish’d that he had had more of that Vanity of which we who acted on the same stage had enough and to spare. I have known very few men of better natural Parts, and none more perfected by every species of elegant and usefull erudition. He served the publick often out of Office, sometimes in it, with Fidelity, and diligence, and when the occasion call’d for it, with a manly resolution. At length when he was overborne by the Torrent, he retir’d from a world that certainly was not worthy of him. He was of a character that seems as if it were peculiar to this Country. He was exactly what we conceive an English Nobleman of the old Stamp, and one born in better times.[4]

Lord John Cavendish by James Sayers (1782)

Sir Nathaniel Wraxall in his Memoirs sketched Cavendish’s character:

Lord John Cavendish was listened to, whenever he rose, with…deference or predilection. His near alliance to the Duke of Devonshire; his very name, connected with the Revolution of 1688, which secured the liberties of Great Britain; his unblemished reputation, and his talents, though very moderate;—all these qualities combined to impress with esteem, even those who differed most from him in political opinion. Nature had in the most legible characters stamped honesty on his countenance.[5]


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  1. ^ .mw-parser-output cite.citation{font-style:inherit;word-wrap:break-word}.mw-parser-output .citation q{quotes:”””””””‘””‘”}.mw-parser-output .citation:target{background-color:rgba(0,127,255,0.133)}.mw-parser-output .id-lock-free.id-lock-free a{background:url(“//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/65/Lock-green.svg”)right 0.1em center/9px no-repeat}body:not(.skin-timeless):not(.skin-minerva) .mw-parser-output .id-lock-free a{background-size:contain}.mw-parser-output .id-lock-limited.id-lock-limited a,.mw-parser-output .id-lock-registration.id-lock-registration a{background:url(“//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d6/Lock-gray-alt-2.svg”)right 0.1em center/9px no-repeat}body:not(.skin-timeless):not(.skin-minerva) .mw-parser-output .id-lock-limited a,body:not(.skin-timeless):not(.skin-minerva) .mw-parser-output .id-lock-registration a{background-size:contain}.mw-parser-output .id-lock-subscription.id-lock-subscription a{background:url(“//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/aa/Lock-red-alt-2.svg”)right 0.1em center/9px no-repeat}body:not(.skin-timeless):not(.skin-minerva) .mw-parser-output .id-lock-subscription a{background-size:contain}.mw-parser-output .cs1-ws-icon a{background:url(“//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4c/Wikisource-logo.svg”)right 0.1em center/12px no-repeat}body:not(.skin-timeless):not(.skin-minerva) .mw-parser-output .cs1-ws-icon a{background-size:contain}.mw-parser-output .cs1-code{color:inherit;background:inherit;border:none;padding:inherit}.mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{display:none;color:#d33}.mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error{color:#d33}.mw-parser-output .cs1-maint{display:none;color:#2C882D;margin-left:0.3em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-format{font-size:95%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-left{padding-left:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-right{padding-right:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .citation .mw-selflink{font-weight:inherit}html.skin-theme-clientpref-night .mw-parser-output .cs1-maint{color:#18911F}html.skin-theme-clientpref-night .mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error,html.skin-theme-clientpref-night .mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{color:#f8a397}@media(prefers-color-scheme:dark){html.skin-theme-clientpref-os .mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error,html.skin-theme-clientpref-os .mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{color:#f8a397}html.skin-theme-clientpref-os .mw-parser-output .cs1-maint{color:#18911F}}“Cavendish, Lord John (CVNS749LJ)”. A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  2. ^ “Billing Hall”. House and Heritage. 4 August 2017. Retrieved 27 February 2018.
  3. ^ R. B. McDowell and John A. Woods (eds.), The Correspondence of Edmund Burke. Volume IX: Part One. May 1796-July 1797. Part Two. Additional and Undated Letters (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970), p. 202.
  4. ^ McDowell and Woods, pp. 213-214.
  5. ^ Sir Nathaniel William Wraxall, Historical Memoirs of My Own Time. Part the First, from 1772 to 1780. Part the Second, from 1781 to 1784 (London: Kegan Paul, 1904), pp. 364-365.


Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by

Member of Parliament for Weymouth and Melcombe Regis
with Welbore Ellis
George Dodington
John Tucker
Succeeded by

Preceded by

Member of Parliament for Knaresborough
with Sir Henry Slingsby, Bt 1761–1763
Sir Anthony Abdy, Bt 1763–1768
Succeeded by

Preceded by

Member of Parliament for York
with Charles Turner 1768–1783
The Viscount Galway 1783–1784
Succeeded by

Preceded by

Member of Parliament for Derbyshire
with Edward Miller Mundy
Succeeded by

Political offices
Preceded by

Chancellor of the Exchequer
Succeeded by

Preceded by

Chancellor of the Exchequer
Succeeded by