Cavendish, Charles (1591-1654) (DNB01)

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CAVENDISH, Sir CHARLES (1591–1654), mathematician, born in 1591, was the youngest son of Sir Charles Cavendish (1553-1617), of Welbeck Abbey, Nottinghamshire, by his second wife, Catherine, Baroness Ogle (d. 1629), only surviving daughter of Cuthbert Ogle, baron Ogle (d. 1597). Sir William Cavendish [q. v.] was his grandfather, and William Cavendish, first duke of Newcastle [q. v.], was his brother. From his youth he inclined to learning. According to John Aubrey 'he was a little weake crooked man, and nature having not adapted him for the court nor campe, he betooke himselfe to the study of the mathematiques, wherein he became a great master.' In March 1612 he and his brother accompanied Sir Henry Wotton [q. v.] to France (Nichols, Progresses of James I, 1828, ii. 438). His father, on his death in 1617, left him a good estate, and he devoted himself to the collection of mathematical works and the patronage of mathematicians. He was knighted at Welbeck on 10 Aug. 1619 during a visit of the king to his brother (ib, iii. 559-60). On 23 Jan. 1623-4 he was returned to parliament for the borough of Nottingham. He was also returned for the same place to the third parliament of Charles I on 18 Feb. 1627-8, and to the Short parliament on 30 March 1640. On the outbreak of the civil war Cavendish, with his brother Newcastle, entered the king's service, serving under his brother as lieutenant-general of the horse. He behaved with great gallantry in several actions, particularly distinguishing himself at Marston Moor (Clarendon, History of the Rebellion, 1888, iii. 375), After that battle, despairing of the royal cause, he repaired to Scarborough and embarked with his brother for Hamburg, where he arrived on 8 July 1644. He accompanied his brother to Paris in 1645 and to The Hague. On 4 May 1649 he petitioned the committee for compounding to be permitted to compound his delinquency in the first war, and on 27 Aug., his fine having been paid, an order was made for discharging his estate. On 4 Jan. 1650-1, however, the committee for Staffordshire informed the committee for compounding that Sir Charles had been beyond seas at the time of his composition, and that he was a very dangerous person. On 27 and 2S March the sequestration of his estates was ordered on account of his adherence to Charles Stuart and of his being abroad without leave (cf. Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1651, p. 114). Cavendish was disinclined to make any concession by returning to England, but as the revenue from his estates was serviceable to his family, his brother Newcastle induced Clarendon to persuade him to make his submission. He accordingly repaired to England in the beginning of November with Lady Newcastle. They stayed in Southwark and afterwards in lodgings at Covent Garden, in great poverty. He was finally admitted to compound, and succeeded in purchasing Welbeck and Bolsover which had been confiscated from his brother. The proceedings in regard to his estates were not completed at the timy of his death. He was buried at Bolsover in the family vault on 4 Feb. 1653-4. Another account places his death some days later (see Cal. of Clarendon Papers, 1869, ii. 317). He was unmarried.

Cavendish was noted for his mathematical knowledge as well as for his love of mathematicians. Aubrey relates that 'he had collected in Italie, France, &c., with no small chardge, as many manuscript mathematicall bookes as filled a hoggeshead, which he intended to have printed; which if he had lived to have donne, the growth of mathematical! learning had been thirty yeares or more forwarder than 'tis.' His executor, an attorney of Clifford's Inn, dying, however, left the manuscripts in the custody of his wife, who sold them as waste paper. Cavendish was a great admirer of Rene Descartes and tried to induce him and Claude Mydorge to come to England that they might settle there under the patronage of Charles I. According to John Wallis (1616-1703) [q. v.], however, he convinced Giles Personne de Roberval that Descartes was indebted to Thomas Harriot [q. v.] in his additions to the theory of equations. In 1636 Mydorge sent Cavendish his treatise on refraction {Hist. MSS. Comm. Portland MSS. ii. p. 128), which was probably identical with his 'Prodromi catoptricorum et dioptricorum,' published in Paris three years later. Cavendish was also the friend of Pierre Gassend, William Oughtred [q. v.], and John Twysden [q. v.] According to John Pell [q. v.] 'he writt severall things in mathematiques for his owne pleasure.' A number of his letters to that mathematician are preserved among the Birch manuscripts in the British Museum, and some of them were printed by Robert Vaughan (1795-1868) [q. v.] in the second volume of his 'Protectorate of Cromwell' (1838) (where Cavendish is confused with his nephew. Lord Mansfield), and by James Orchard Halliwell [q. v.] in his 'Collection of Letters illustrative of the Progress of Science in England' (Hist. Soc. of Science, 1811). Cavendish was probably the author of some mathematical papers, formerly in the possession of John Moore (1616-1714) [q. v.], bishop of Ely, attributed by White Kennett [q. v.] to Sir Charles Cavendish [q. v.], brother of the Earl of Devonshire. His sister-in-law, the Duchess of Newcastle, dedicated to him her 'Poems and Fancies' (1653). A letter from Hobbes to Cavendish dated 1641 is in the Harleian MSS. (6796, f. 293), and another from Pell dated 18 Feb. 1644-5 is preserved in the same collection (ib. 6796, ft. 295-6).

[Life of William Cavendish, Duke of Newcastle, ed, C. H. Firth, 1886, index; Lloyd's Memoires, 1668, p. 672; Collins's Hist. Collections of Noble Families, 1752, pp. 24-5; Aubrey's Brief Lives, ed. Clark, 1898, i. 153-4, 366, 370, 386; Rigaud's Corresp. of Scientific Men, 1841, i. 22, 28, 29, 66, 87, 88; Calendar of Committee for Compounding, pp. 2021-3; Clarendon State Papers, iii. 34, 223; Berry's Gen. Peerage, p. 48; Hist. MSS. Comm. Portland MSS. ii. 126, 128; Sanford and Townsend's Great Governing Families, 1865, i. 144.]

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