1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Newcastle, Dukes of

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NEWCASTLE, DUKES OF. Within the space of a century there were no less than four successive creations of dukes of Newcastle in the British peerage. William Cavendish (see below), nephew of the 1st earl of Devonshire, was raised to the dignity of duke of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1665. His son and successor Henry (1630–1691) died leaving daughters only, and one of these married John Holles (1662–1711), earl of Clare, who was created duke in 1694. This duke died also without male issue, leaving his estates to his sister’s son, Thomas Pelham (see below), who, with other dignities, had the title of duke of Newcastle-upon-Tyne conferred on him in 1715, and a second and similar ducal title (that of Newcastle-under-Lyme) in 1756. The first dukedom became extinct at his death, but the second title was granted him with remainder to Henry Fiennes Clinton, earl of Lincoln, at once his nephew and nephew-in-law. From his heir, who ranks as the 2nd duke, Henry Fiennes Clinton (1720–1794), the dukedom passed through father and son from Thomas Pelham Clinton (d. 1795), Henry Pelham Fiennes Pelham Clinton (1785–1851), Henry Pelham Fiennes Pelham Clinton (1811–1864), Henry Pelham Alexander (1834–1879), to the 7th duke, Henry Pelham Archibald Douglas Pelham Clinton (b. 1864). The three principal dukes are more fully noticed below.

1. William Cavendish, duke of Newcastle (1592–1676), eldest surviving son of Sir Charles Cavendish and of Catherine, daughter of Cuthbert, Lord Ogle, and grandson of Sir William Cavendish and “ Bess of Hardwick, ” was born in 1592 and educated at St John’s College, Cambridge. On the occasion of the creation of Prince Henry as prince of Wales in 1610 he was made a knight of the Bath, subsequently travelled with Sir Henry Wotton, then ambassador to the duke of Savoy, and on his return married his first wife, Elizabeth, daughter of William Basset of Blore, Staffordshire, and widow of Henry Howard, 3rd son of the earl of Suffolk. His fortune was immense, and he several times entertained James I. and Charles I. with great magnificence at Welbeck and Bolsover. On the 3rd of November 1620 he was created Viscount Mansfield, on the 7th of March 1628 earl of Newcastle, and in 1629 the barony of Ogle was restored to his mother, this title, together with an estate of £3000 per annum, descending to him. In 1638 he was made governor of the prince of Wales, and in 1639 a privy councillor. When the Scottish war broke out he assisted the king with a loan of £10,000 and a troop of volunteer horse, consisting of 120 knights and gentlemen. In 1641 he was implicated in the Army Plot, and in consequence withdrew for a time from the court. He was sent by Charles on the 11th of January 1642 to seize Hull, but was refused admittance. When the king declared open war, Newcastle was given the command of the four northern counties, and had the power conferred on him of making knights. He maintained troops at his own expense, and having occupied Newcastle kept open communications with the queen, and dispatched to the king his foreign supplies. In November 1642 he advanced into Yorkshire, raised the siege of York, and compelled Fairfax to retire after attacking him at Tadcaster. Subsequently his plans were checked by the latter’s recapture of Leeds in January 1643, and he retired to York. He escorted the queen, who returned from abroad in February, to York, and subsequently captured Wakefield, Rotherham and Sheffield, though failing at Leeds, but his successes were once more ravished from him by Fairfax. In June he advanced again, defeated the Fairfaxes to Adwalton Moor on the 30th of June, and obtained possession of all Yorkshire except Hull and Wressel Castle. He might now have joined the king against Essex, but continued his campaign in the north, advancing into Lincolnshire to attack the eastern association, and taking Gainsborough and Lincoln. Thence he returned to besiege Hull, and in his absence the force which he had left in Lincolnshire was defeated at Winceby by Cromwell on the 11th of October 1643, which caused the loss of the whole county. On the 27th of October 1643 he was created a marquis. Next year his position was further threatened by the advance of the Scots. Against prevailing numbers he could do little but harass and cut 05 supplies. He retreated to York, where the three armies of the Scots, Fairfax and Manchester surrounded him. On the 1st of July Rupert raised the siege, but on the next day threw away his success by engaging the three armies in battle, contrary to Newcastle’s desire, at Marston Moor. After this disaster, notwithstanding the entreaties of the king and the remonstrances of Rupert, Newcastle immediately announced his intention of abandoning the cause and of quitting England. He sailed from Scarborough accompanied by a considerable following, including his two sons and his brother, resided at Hamburg from July 1644 to February 1645, and removed in April to Paris, where he lived for three years. There he married as his second wife Margaret (see below), daughter of Sir Thomas Lucas of St John’s, Colchester. He left in 1648 for Rotterdam with the intention of joining the prince of Wales in command of the revolted navy, and finally took up his abode at Antwerp, where he remained till the Restoration. In April 1650 he was appointed a member of Charles II.’s privy council, and in opposition to Hyde advocated the agreement with the Scots. In Antwerp he established his famous riding-school, exercised “the art of manage,” and published his first work on horsemanship, Méthode et invention nouvelle de dresser les chevaux (1658, 2nd ed., 1747; translated as A General System of Horsemanship, 1743).

At the Restoration Newcastle returned to England, and succeeded in regaining the greater part of his estates, though burdened with debts, his wife estimating his total losses in the war at the enormous sum of £941,303. He was reinstated in the offices he had filled under Charles I.; was invested in 1661 with the Garter which had been bestowed upon him in 1650, and was advanced to a dukedom on the 16th of March 1665. He retired, however, from public life and occupied himself with his estate and with his favourite pursuit of training horses. He established a racecourse near Welbeck, and published another work on horsemanship, A New Method and Extraordinary Invention to Dress Horses and Work them according to Nature . . . (1667). He wrote also several comedies, The Country Captain and The Varietie (1649), The Humorous Lovers and The Triumphant Widow (1677). With Dryden’s assistance he translated Molière’s L’Étourdi as Sir Martin Mar-All (1688). He contributed scenes to his wife’s plays, and poems of his composition are to be found among her works; and he was the patron of Jonson, Shirley, Davenant, Dryden, Shadwell and Flecknoe, and of Hobbes, Gassendi and Descartes. He died on the 25th of December 1676, and was buried in Westminster Abbey. By his first wife he had ten children, of Whom one son, Henry, survived him and became 2nd duke of Newcastle, dying in 1691 without male issue; the title then became extinct and the estates passed to his third daughter Margaret, wife of John Holles, earl of Clare, created duke of Newcastle in 1694.

As a commander in the field Clarendon spoke contemptuously of Newcastle as “a very lamentable man, and as fit to be a general as a bishop.”[1] It can hardly be denied, however, that his achievements in the north were of great military value to the king’s cause. For politics he had no taste, and adhered to the king’s cause merely from motives of personal loyalty, from hatred of “whatsoever was like to disturb the public peace,” and because the monarchy “was the foundation and support of his own greatness.” Even Clarendon concedes that he was “a very fine gentleman,” which is perhaps the best summary of his character.

His second wife, Margaret, duchess of Newcastle (c. 1625–1673), had been maid of honour to Henrietta Maria, and after she married the duke in 1645 they continued to cherish a mutual admiration of a very exaggerated character, each regarding the other as endowed with transcendent merits both of person and mind. The duchess cultivated literary composition with exuberant fervour, and kept a bevy of maids of honour obliged to be ready at all hours “ to register her Grace's conceptions.” Walpole speaks of her as a “fertile pedant” with an “unbounded passion for scribbling”; and, although giving evidence of learning, ingenuity and imagination, her writings are fatally marred by a deficiency in judgment and self-restraint. She is best known by the Lde she wrote of her husband, originally printed by A. Maxwell at London in 1667. She also published Philosophical Fancies (1653); Poems and Fancies (1653); The World's Olio (1655); Nature's Picture drawn by Fancie's Pencil to the Life, which includes an autobiography (1656); Philosophical and Physical Opinions (1655); Orations (1662); Plays (1662); Sociable Letters (1664); Observations upon Experimental Philosophy (1666); Letters and Poems (1676).

The Life of William Cavendish, Duke of Newcastle, by Margaret, duchess of Newcastle, has been edited by C. H. Firth (1886); it was criticized by Pepys as “ the ridiculous history of my Lord Newcastle writ by his wife, which shows her to be a mad, conceited, ridiculous woman, and he an ass to suffer her to write what she writes to him and of him," but on the other hand eulogized by Charles Lamb as a work for which “ no casket is rich enough, no case sufficiently durable to honour and keep soft such a jewel.” See also La Duchesse et le Duc de Newcastle, by Emile Montégut (1895). The duchess's Select Poems were edited by Brydges in 1813, and her Autobiography in 1814. The latter, edited by Lower, was published along with her Life of the Duke of Newcastle in 1872.

2. Thomas Pelham Holles, duke of Newcastle (1693–1768), whose official life extended throughout the Whig supremacy of the 18th century, was the elder son of Thomas, first Lord Pelham, by his second wife Lady Grace Holles, younger sister of John Holles, duke of Newcastle-on-Tyne, who died in 1711, and left the whole of his vast estates to him. In 1712 he also succeeded his father in his peerage and estates, and in 1714, when he came of age, was one of the greatest landowners in the kingdom. He vigorously sustained the Whig party at Queen Anne's death, and had much influence in making the Londoners accept King George. His services were too great to be neglected, and in 1714 he was created earl of Clare, and in 1715 duke of Newcastle-on-Tyne. He also became lord-lieutenant of the counties of Middlesex and Nottingham and a knight of the Garter in 1718, in which year he increased his Whig Connexion by marrying Lady Henrietta Godolphin, granddaughter of the great duke of Marlborough. In 1717 he first held political office as lord chamberlain of the household, and in 1724 was chosen by Sir Robert Walpole to be secretary of state in place of Lord Carteret. This office he held continuously for thirty years (1724–1754), and only changed it for the premiership on his brother's death. His long tenure of office has been attributed to his great Whig connexions and his wealth, but some praise must be given to his inexhaustible activity and great powers of debate. He was a peculiarly muddle-headed man, and unhappy if he had not more to do than he could possibly manage, but at the same time he was a consummate master of parliamentary tactics, and knew how to manage the Houses of Lords and Commons alike. Lord Hervey (Memoirs) compares him with Walpole in 1735, and says: “ We have one minister that does everything with the same seeming ease and tranquillity as if he were doing nothing; we have another that does nothing in the same hurry and agitation as if he did everything.” He continued in office on Walpole's fall in 1742, and became more powerful on his younger brother Henry becoming prime minister in 1743. On Henry Pelham's death in March 1754, Newcastle succeeded him as premier; but people who had been accustomed to him as secretary of state would not stand him as premier, and in November 1756 he gave place to the duke of Devonshire. For his long services he was created duke of Newcastle-under-Lyme, with remainder to Henry Fiennes Clinton, 9th earl of Lincoln, who had married his niece Catherine Pelham. In July 1757 he again became prime minister-for Pitt, though a great statesman, was a bad party leader—on the understanding, according to Horace Walpole, that “Mr Pitt does everything, the duke gives everything.” Under this ministry England became famous abroad, but it gradually fell before the young king’s affection for Lord Bute) who, after supplanting Pitt, became prime minister in the room of Newcastle in May 1762. The duke went into strong opposition, and lost his two lord-lieutenancies for opposing the peace of 1763. In 1765 he became lord privy seal for a. few months, but his health was fast giving way, and he died in November 1768. The duke was certainly not a great man, but he was industrious and energetic, and to his credit be it said that the statesman who almost monopolized the patronage of office for half a century twice refused a pension, and finally left office £300,000 poorer than he, entered it.

See Memoirs of the Administration of the Right Hon. H. Pelham, by W. Coxe (1829).

3. Henry Pelham Fiennes Pelham Clinton, 5th duke of Newcastle (1811–1864), the eldest son of Henry, the 4th duke, was educated at Eton and at Christ Church, Oxford, where he graduated in 1832. He was member of parliament for South Nottinghamshire from 1832 to 1846, when he became member for the Falkirk Burghs, retaining this seat until he became duke of Newcastle in January 1851. As earl of Lincoln he was first commissioner of woods and forests from 1841 to February 1846, when he was appointed chief secretary to the lord-lieutenant of Ireland, but the ministry fell in June of the same year. In 1852 Newcastle became secretary for war and the colonies under the earl of Aberdeen, and when, after the outbreak of the Crimean War, a separate war department was constituted, he was placed in charge of it. As secretary for war he was regarded as being largely responsible for the terrible hardships which befell the British troops in the Crimea in the winter of 1854, and as the result of a vote of censure he left office with his colleagues in January 1855. He was secretary for the colonies from 1859 to 1864, and died on the 18th of October 1864, being succeeded as 6th duke by his eldest son, Henry Pelham Alexander.

See J. Martineau, The Life of Henry Pelham, 5th Duke of Newcastle (1908).

  1. Calendar of Clarendon Papers, ii. 63.