Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Cavendish, William (1592-1676)
CAVENDISH, WILLIAM, Duke of Newcastle (1592–1676), son of Sir Charles Cavendish and Catherine, second daughter of Cuthbert, lord Ogle, was born in 1592 educated at St. John's College, Cambridge. In 1610, when Prince Henry was created Prince of Wales, Cavendish was made a knight of the Bath. He was then sent on his travels under the care of Sir Henry Wotton at that time ambassador to the Duke of Savoy. On his return he married Elizabeth, daughter of William Basset of Blore, Staffordshire, and widow of Henry Howard, third son of the Earl of Suffolk. In 1619 King James visited Welbeck, and in the following year raised Cavendish to the peerage by the title of Viscount Mansfield (3 Nov. 1620). On 7 March 1628 he was further created Earl of Newcastle, and in the following year the Barony of Ogle was revived in favour of Lady Catherine Cavendish (4 Dec. 1629), which title at her death descended to the Earl of Newcastle. On the king's journey into Scotland he was entertained at Welbeck 'in such a wonderful manner, and in such an excess of feasting, as had scarce ever before been known in England; and would have been thought very prodigious if the same noble person had not within a year afterwards made the king and queen a more stupendous entertainment, which no man ever after in those days imitated' (Clarendon, Rebellion, i. 167). For the first of these visits Jonson wrote the masque entitled 'Love's Welcome at Welbeck;' for the second, 'Love's Welcome at Bolsover.' The two entertainments together cost the earl 20,000/. (Life, p. 192). He was lord-lieutenant of Derbyshire 1628-38, and of Wiltshire 1626-42 and from 1660 till death. A letter to Strafford, dated 5 Aug. 1633, shows his desire of important court office. I have hurt my estate with the hope of it. If I obtained what I desire, it would be a more painful life, and since I am so plunged in debt, it would help very well to undo me. Children come on apace, and with this weight of debt which lies on me I know no diet better than a strict diet in the country (Strafford Correspondence, i. 101). The earl's ambition was at length gratified when in 1638 the king appointed him governor of the Prince of Wales, and made him a member of the privy council (Clarendon, State Papers, ii. 7; Collins, p. 27). For Prince Charles the earl drew up a very interesting paper of instructions, which has been printed by Sir Henry Ellis (Original Letters, 1st ser. iii. 288). The prince is warned not to be too devout, for one may be a good man and a bad king, bidden to be courteous to everybody, and enjoined to remember that he cannot be too civil to women. The earl succeeded in making his pupil an accomplished horseman. Our gracious and most excellent king, he wrote in after years, is not only the handsomest and most comely horseman in the world, but as knowing and understanding in the art as any man (New Method and Extraordinary Invention, p. 7). The outbreak of the Scotch rebellion enabled the earl to show his loyalty. He lent the king 10,000/., and raised a volunteer troop which consisted entirely of knights and gentlemen of quality (Life, p. 9). In defence of the dignity of this troop Newcastle challenged the general of the horse, the Earl of Holland, to a duel to be fought when the war was over. The king, however, intervened. In May 1641 Newcastle resigned his office as governor of the prince, and retired from court (17 May, Whitelock, 144). According to Clarendon, his resignation was due to the hostility of Essex and Holland, who thought that his influence with the prince would not be agreeable to their designs (Rebellion, iv. 293). A more likely reason is the discovery of the earl's share in the first army plot which became known about this time. Suckling and Jermyn had selected him to succeed Northumberland in the command of the army, and the earl, with the prince, according to the deposition of Colonel Ballard, was to meet the army in Nottinghamshire with a thousand horse. Although there was not ground enough for a judicial proceeding, yet there was ground of suspicion, says the parliament in its remonstrance of 26 May 1642, and their suspicions made them resent the king's appointment of Newcastle as governor of Hull (11 Jan. 1642; Lords' Journals, 14 Feb.). The earl hastened down secretly to seize that important magazine. I am here at Hull, he wrote to the king on the 15th, but the town will not admit of me by no means, so I am very flat and out of countenance (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cccclxxxviii. No. 55). He strove to gain a party in the town, and, according to the duchess, would have secured the admission of the king's troops had not Charles changed his policy and suddenly recalled him. The House of Lords, which had required his attendance, admitted the king's commission as sufficient defence, and allowed him to retire to the country. In the summer, when the king began to raise forces, Newcastle joined him at York, and was despatched thence in the middle of June to secure Newcastle-upon-Tyne and take the command of the four northern counties. The lands and influence he inherited from the family of Ogle enabled him rapidly to raise troops, while the possession of a port enabled him to forward to the king supplies of arms and money from Denmark and Holland, and facilitated his correspondence with the queen. The appeals of the Yorkshire royalists for help obliged Newcastle to march south, but he prudently refused to move till the support of his army was assured (A New Discovery of Hidden Secrets, 1645). At the end of November 1642 he entered Yorkshire, defeating Hotham at Piercebridge, and successfully raising the blockade of York. A few days later he attacked Fairfax at Tadcaster, and though the battle itself was indecisive, Fairfax was forced to retreat and abandon the attempt to hold the line of the Ouse (7 Dec. 1642). Newcastle proceeded to garrison Pontefract, to despatch troops to occupy Newark, and to send a strong division to invade the West Riding, but its repulse from Bradford, and the recapture of Leeds by Sir Thomas Fairfax (23 Jan. 1643), obliged him to return to York and await reinforcements. In February he carried on an animated controversy with Lord Fairfax on the propriety of employing catholics and the rights of kings and subjects. Each accused the other of permitting indiscipline and pillage, and Newcastle concluded by challenging his opponent to follow the example of our heroic ancestors, who used not to spend their time in scratching one another out of holes, but in pitched fields determined their doubts (Rushworth, v. 78, 113). At the end of February the queen landed, and was received by Newcastle and conducted to York. In April he made a second attack on the West Riding, and, though obliged to abandon the siege of Leeds, took Wakefield, Rotherham, and Sheffield. Again Sir Thomas Fairfax, by the surprise of Wakefield (21 May), forced him to abandon his conquests. But though obliged to detach a large portion of his troops to escort the queen to Oxford, Newcastle returned to the attack in June, took Howley House (22 June), defeated the Fairfaxes at Adwalton Moor (30 June), captured Bradford, and subjected all Yorkshire, with the exception of Wressel Castle and Hull, to the king's authority. He is generally blamed for not advancing southwards to join the king, and his action attributed to jealousy of Prince Rupert. The king had wished Newcastle to join him against Essex in June, but in August he seems to have instructed him to attack the eastern association (Green, Letters of Henrietta Maria, 219, 225). In accordance with a design which Newcastle had previously announced to Sir Philip Warwick (Memoirs, p. 243), he entered Lincolnshire, recapturing Gainsborough on 30 July, occupying Lincoln, and threatening to raise the siege of Lynn. His orders, which I have seen, says Lord Fairfax, were to go into Essex and block up London on that side (Masères, i. 431; Clarendon, vii. 177). But the appeals of the Yorkshire committee, the reluctance of his local levies to march further from their homes, and the activity of the garrison of Hull in his rear, induced him to return to besiege the last-named town. After lying before it for six weeks, a destructive sally forced him to raise the siege, while on the same day the division which had been left to protect Lincolnshire was defeated by Cromwell at Winceby, and that county entirely lost (11 Oct. 1643). A few days later the king raised Newcastle to the rank of marquis (27 Oct. 1643, Collins, Historical Collections, p. 31). In January 1644 the Scots entered England, and Newcastle was called north to oppose them. But he could neither prevent the passage of the Tyne, nor bring the Scots to a battle (Rushworth, v. 614). His own army was greatly superior in cavalry, and he distressed the enemy by cutting off their supplies. The severity of the weather was ruinous to his forces. The defeat of the army left in Yorkshire (Selby, 11 April 1644) obliged Newcastle to make a hurried retreat to York, where the armies of Fairfax, Manchester, and the Scots closed in upon him. On 1 July Prince Rupert successfully raised the siege, and on the following day the battle of Marston Moor took place. Newcastle had vainly urged the prince to await the arrival of expected reinforcements, or the separation of the three armies opposed to him. He held no command in the battle, but fought as a volunteer at the head of a troop of gentlemen, distinguishing himself as usual by his courage. The next day he announced his intention of leaving England. Already in the previous April he had thought of laying down his commission to escape from the criticisms of his own party. If you leave my service, wrote the king, I am sure all the north is lost. Remember all courage is not in fighting, constancy in a good cause being the chief, and the despising of slanderous tongues and pens being not the least ingredient (Ellis, Original Letters, i. iii. 298). But Newcastle, according to Clarendon, was utterly tired of his employment as a general, and transported with passion and despair at the way in which the army he so painfully raised had been thrown away (Rebellion, viii. 87). When Prince Rupert urged him to endeavour to recruit his forces, No, says he, I will not endure the laughter of the court (Warburton, Prince Rupert, ii. 468). Accordingly he set sail from Scarborough a few days later, taking with him his two sons and his brother, Sir Charles Cavendish, and many friends, but leaving the rest of his family in England. He landed at Hamburg on 8 July 1644, stayed there till February 1645, and then set out for Paris, where he arrived in April, and remained for the next three years. Here, soon after his arrival, he married Margaret [see Cavendish Margaret, Duchess of Newcastle], daughter of Sir Thomas Lucas of St. John's, Colchester, his first wife, Elizabeth Basset, having died in April 1643 (Letters of Queen Henrietta Maria, p. 188). When Prince Charles went to Holland in the spring of 1648 to take command of the ships which had revolted from the parliament, Newcastle was desired by the queen to follow him, but did not arrive until the prince had put to sea.
Six months he stayed at Rotterdam, but hopes of further opportunities were destroyed by the defeats of the royalists, and about the end of the same year he removed to Antwerp. At Antwerp he remained for the rest of his exile, being 'so well pleased with the great civilities he received from that city that he was resolved to choose no other resting-place all the time of his banishment: he being not only credited there for all manner of provisions and necessaries for his subsistence, but also free both from ordinary and extraordinary taxes and paying excise’ (Life, 118). In April 1650 he was made a member of the privy council of Charles II, and was one of the party in it which urged the king to ‘make an agreement with his subjects of Scotland upon any condition, and go into Scotland in person himself, that he might but be sure of an army, there being no probability or appearance then of getting an army anywhere else.’ He pressed the king also to reconcile the parties of Argyll and Hamilton. ‘If his majesty could but get the power into his own hands, he might do hereafter what he pleased’ (Life, 104). In August 1651 Newcastle, whom the Scots had not permitted to accompany his master, was engaged in negotiating with the elector of Brandenburg for an auxiliary corps of ten thousand men, and with the king of Denmark for ships to carry them to Scotland; but the battle of Worcester put an end to these designs (Cal. Clarendon State Papers, ii. 105-7). During the rest of his exile Newcastle seems to have taken no part in political transactions. Probably one cause of this was the growing influence of Hyde, who opposed the policy advocated by Newcastle with reference to Scotland, and describes him in one of his letters as ‘a most lamentable man, as fit to be a general as to be a bishop’ (ib. 63). Nevertheless, Hyde and Newcastle continued outwardly on very good terms, and when Hyde was accused in 1653 of betraying the king's councils, Newcastle wrote him ‘a very comfortable letter of advice’ (ib. 280).
Newcastle had left England in 1644 with not more than 90l. in his possession (Life, 84). As one of the chief delinquents, he had been excluded by the parliament from pardon, and his estates had been confiscated without the alternative of paying a composition being offered to him. He had been at times reduced to great extremities, and even obliged to pawn his wife's jewels. The queen gave him 2,000l., and assisted him with her credit. The Earl of Devonshire and the Marquis of Hertford lent him another 2,000l., and William Aylesbury 200l. (ib. 91, 97, 98). These resources were now exhausted, and he despatched his wife and his brother, Sir Charles Cavendish, to England, to endeavour to raise some money. The sequestration committee refused to allow Lady Newcastle the customary share of her husband's estate allowed to the wives of delinquents, on the plea that the marriage had taken place since the sequestration (ib. 109, 298). But Sir Charles Cavendish succeeded in compounding for his estate, and sent a supply to his brother; and after the death of Sir Charles Newcastle obtained the remainder of his estate (ib. 125). As Newcastle was also aided by his eldest daughter, Lady Cheiny, and by his two sons, who had made advantageous matches in England, he was sufficiently prosperous during the latter part of his exile (ib. 125, 133). In February 1658 he entertained with great magnificence the king and the royal family (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1657-8, 296, 311). About the same time he published the first of his two works on horsemanship, ‘La Methode et Invention Nouvelle de dresser les Chevaux,’ Antwerp, 1657, folio. Shortly before leaving Paris, Newcastle had bought a pair of Barbary horses, ‘resolving, for his own recreation and divertisement in his banished condition, to exercise the art of manage’ (Life, 90). In these horses¾soon increased to eight in number¾‘he took so much delight and pleasure that though he was then in distress for money, yet he would sooner have tried all other ways than parted with any one of them’ (ib. 100). No stranger of distinction passed through Antwerp without visiting the Marquis of Newcastle's riding-house, and he has himself recorded, in the preface to his second book, the compliments paid him on his skill. The ‘Methode et Invention’ contained the theory and practice of ‘the art of manage,’ the results of these nine years of experiments and studies. The illustrations by Diepenbeke are remarkable not only for their excellence, but for the number of portraits they contain. Numerous diagrams represent Newcastle training horses in his riding school. In the large plates he is performing various feats of horsemanship before Welbeck, Bolsover, or some other of his houses. There are also two allegorical designs, in which he is adored by a circle of reverential horses. The cost of this work was above 1,300l., in defraying which Newcastle was generously helped by his friends Sir Hugh Cartwright and Mr. Loving (letter to Nicholas, 15 Feb. 1656, State Papers, Dom.) A second edition was published in 1737, London, folio, and a translation of the duke's treatise is contained in the first volume of ‘A General System of Horsemanship,’ London, 1743 or 1748, folio. Lowndes also mentions editions published at Paris and Nuremberg.
At the Restoration, Newcastle followed the king to London, leaving his wife at Antwerp as a pledge for the payment of his debts. But soon after she arrived in London he retired to the country, to order and re-establish his ruined estate. Those of his lands which had been confiscated by the parliament or the Commonwealth were restored to him by a private act. Those purchased by the regicides had been given by the king to the Duke of York, who graciously restored them to their lawful owner (Egerton MS. No. 2551). But those which had been alienated by his sons or by feoffees in trust, even when they had acted without his sanction, he could not recover. The duchess computes that he lost in this way lands worth 50,000/., and he was obliged to sell others, to the value of 60,000/., to pay debts contracted during the war and exile. His woods had been cut down, his houses and farms plundered, and he had lost sixteen years' rents. The total of his losses is estimated by the duchess to be about 940,000/.
Charles II rewarded his sufferings and services by restoring him to the offices which he had held before the rebellion. He was, in addition, made chief justice in eyre, Trent north (10 July 1661, Doyle), and created Duke of Newcastle (16 March 1665, Collins, 43). He was also invested with the order of the Garter (15 April 1661), which had been conferred on him during his exile (12 Jan. 1650, ib. 38, 42). During the remainder of his life he took no part in public affairs. The restoration of his estate occupied most of his time; his leisure he employed in literature and horsemanship. Soon after his return he established a racecourse near Welbeck, drawing up himself rules for the races which were to be run every month during six months of the year, which have been preserved by the care of Anthony à Wood (broadside in the Bodleian). In 1667 he published a second book on his favourite subject, ‘A New Method and Extraordinary Invention to Dress Horses, and Work them, according to Nature; as also to Perfect Nature by the Subtlety of Art; which was never found out but by the thrice noble, high, and puissant Prince, William Cavendish,’ &c. In the preface he explains that this work is ‘neither a translation of the first, nor an absolutely necessary addition to it,’ which ‘may be of use by itself without the other, as the other without this; but both together will questionless do best.’ Other editions of this second book were published in 1677 (London, folio), in 1740 (Dublin), and a French translation in 1671.
Although Newcastle is chiefly remembered by his two works on horsemanship, he was also the author of numerous plays and poems. ‘His comedies,’ says the duchess, ‘do sufficiently show his great observation and judgment; for they are composed of these three ingredients, viz. wit, humour, and satire; and his chief design in them is to divulge and laugh at the follies of mankind, to persecute vice and to encourage virtue.’ The following is a list of the duke's comedies: 1. ‘The Country Captain,’ 12mo, 1649, said in the title to have been acted with applause at Blackfriars, and printed at the Hague and London. Pepys terms it ‘so silly a play as in all my life I never saw’ (Diary, 26 Oct. 1661). 2. ‘The Variety,’ printed with the ‘Country Captain.’ 3. ‘The Humorous Lovers,’ acted at the Duke's Theatre, 4to, 1677. Pepys, who attributes this to the duchess, calls it ‘the most silly thing that ever came upon the stage’ (30 March 1667). 4. ‘The Triumphant Widow, or the Medley of Humours,’ acted at the Duke's Theatre, 4to, 1677. The plays are certainly not good plays, yet they contain amusing scenes. Shadwell incorporated a large part of the ‘Triumphant Widow’ in ‘Bury Fair,’ and a droll, entitled the ‘French Dancing Master,’ was made out of the ‘Variety,’ and is printed in ‘Sport upon Sport’ (1671). The duke also translated Molière's ‘L'Etourdi,’ which Dryden converted into ‘Sir Martin Mar-All.’ This play, printed in 1668, did not appear with Dryden's name until 1697, and is entered in the ‘Stationers' Register’ under that of the duke; but, according to Pepys, every one knew at the time that Dryden had assisted his patron (ib. 16 Aug. 1667; Scott, Dryden, i.).
In the plays of the duchess occasional scenes are the contribution of the duke. His poems consist of some tales in verse, published in his wife's book entitled ‘Nature's Pictures by Fancie's Pencil,’ adulatory verses prefixed to her various publications, and songs interspersed in her plays and his own. But he deserves praise rather as a patron than a producer of poetry. ‘Since the time of Augustus,’ writes Langbaine, ‘no person better understood dramatic poetry, nor more generously encouraged poets; so that we may truly call him our English Mæcenas.’ Jonson wrote, besides the two masques already mentioned for his entertainments, elegies to celebrate the duke's riding and fencing, epitaphs for his father and mother, and an interlude for the christening of his eldest son (Jonson, ed. Cunningham, i. cxxxix). Shirley dedicated to Newcastle his own play of the ‘Traitor,’ and assisted his patron in the composition of his plays (Wood, Athenæ, iii. 739; Dyce, Shirley, i. xliii). Wood also states that Newcastle invited Shirley ‘to take his fortune with him in the wars,’ and Davenant certainly held the post of lieutenant-general of the ordnance under him. ‘Such kind of witty society,’ says Warwick, ‘diverted many counsels and lost many opportunities’ (Memoirs, p. 235). After the Restoration, Dryden, Shadwell, and Flecknoe were among the recipients of the duke's favours. Dryden dedicated the ‘Mock Astrologer’ to him, Shadwell the ‘Virtuoso’ and the ‘Libertine.’ Flecknoe also has poems addressed both to the duke and the duchess. Nor did Newcastle confine his patronage to poets. ‘I have heard Mr. Edmund Waller say,’ writes Aubrey, ‘that W. Lord Marquis of Newcastle was a great patron to Dr. Gassendi and M. Des Cartes, as well as to Mr. Hobbes, and that he had dined with them all three at the marquis's table at Paris’ (Aubrey's Letters, ii. 602).
Newcastle died on 25 Dec. 1676, and was buried in St. Michael's Chapel, Westminster Abbey (Collins). His wife, in the life of her husband, which she published in 1667, describes at length his person, habits, and character. ‘His shape is neat and exactly proportioned, his stature of a middle size, and his complexion sanguine. His behaviour is such that it might be a pattern to all gentlemen; for it is courtly, civil, easy and free, without formality or constraint, and yet hath something in it of grandeur, that causes an awful respect for him.’ Clarendon, so severe in his judgment of Newcastle as a general and a politician, sums up by describing him as ‘a very fine gentleman.’[The Life of the Duke of Newcastle, by his second wife, was published in 1667 (London, folio); Pepys, in his Diary (18 March 1668), refers to it as ‘the ridiculous history of my lord Newcastle, wrote 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.’ A Latin version, translated by Walter Charlton, followed in 1668, and a second English edition, in quarto, in 1675. A careful reprint of the first edition, edited by M. A. Lower, is contained in Russell Smith's Library of Old Authors; Another edition, with notes and illustrative papers, edited by C. H. Firth, was published in 1886; Letters of the Duke of Newcastle are printed in the following collections: the Strafford Papers, the Clarendon State Papers, Warburton's Prince Rupert, and the Calendar of Domestic State Papers; Rushworth's Collection contains the declaration of the Earl of Newcastle on marching into Yorkshire, and his declaration in answer to Lord Fairfax; also letters relating to the siege of York (v. 78, 133, 624); Other letters are contained in Hunter's Hallamshire and the Pythouse Papers; an intercepted one is printed in Several Proceedings in Parliament, 18-25 Sept. 1651, and a number of unpublished letters addressed to Strafford are in the possession of Lord Fitzwilliam; Sir H. Ellis gives six letters from Charles I to Newcastle in Original Letters (series 1, iii. 291-303), twenty from the queen are in Mrs. Green's collection of her letters, and four from Ben Jonson in Cunningham's edition of his works. In addition to these sources may be mentioned Collins's Historical Collections of the Noble Families of Cavendish, Holles, &c., the Calendar of Domestic State Papers, the Clarendon State Papers, Clarendon's History of the Rebellion, Masère's Tracts, and the Memoirs of Sir Philip Warwick.]