Biography of DEVONSHIRE, 4th Duke of - Archontology
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DEVONSHIRE, 4th Duke of

William Cavendish

b. 1720
d. 2 Oct 1764, Spa, Liège, Austrian Netherlands

Ministerial offices: Master of the Horse (Jul 1751 - 1755)
Lord Treasurer of Ireland (2 Mar 1754 - 2 Oct 1764)
First Lord Commissioner of the Treasury and Leader of the House of Lords (16 Nov 1756 - 29 Jun 1757)
Lord Chamberlain of the Household (May 1757 - 31 Oct 1762)
Names/titles: Marquess of Hartington; Lord Cavendish of Hardwick [from 13 Jun 1751]; 4th Duke of Devonshire [from 5 Dec 1755]

The son of the 3rd Duke of Devonshire, William Cavendish was a Whig MP for 10 years (1741-1751) before entering the House of Lords as Lord Cavendish in 1751. He assumed a ministerial office of the Master of the Horse (1751-1755) almost immediately, and was a successful Lord Lieutenant and Governor-General of Ireland (1755-1762). George II appointed Devonshire First Lord of the Treasury on 16 Nov 1756 and asked him to form a ministry following Newcastle's resignation, although in reality William Pitt 'the Elder', Secretary of State for the Southern Department (1756-1761), dominated the political scene. Devonshire's brief period in office was notable for the court martial of Admiral Byng (executed 14 Mar 1757) for his failure to relieve Minorca, and for difficulties with the Duke of Cumberland over the defense of Hanover. The latter dispute provoked a political crisis in early 1757 leading to the reconstitution of the Government, with the Duke of Newcastle replacing Devonshire as First Lord of the Treasury (29 Jun 1757) and prime minister. Devonshire remained in the Government as Lord Chamberlain (1757-1762), but the influence of the Earl of Bute and the Tories increased as that of Newcastle and Devonshire declined. When Devonshire refused to attend Privy Council meetings following Bute's appointment as First Lord of the Treasury (26 May 1762) George III dismissed him from ministerial office and from the Privy Council. [1, pp. 23-27]

[1] Englefield, Dermot; Seaton, Janet; White, Isobel (eds.) Facts About the British Prime Ministers: A Compilation of Biographical and Historical Information. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1995. online