Founder of the English noble house of Cavendish
Born c.1505 Died 1557
Sir William Cavendish was the younger brother of George Cavendish. His father, Thomas, was a descendant of Sir John Cavendish, the judge, who in 1381 was murdered by Jack Straw's insurgent peasants at Bury St Edmunds. Of William's education nothing seems known, but in 1530 he was appointed one of the commissioners for visiting monasteries; he worked directly under Thomas Cromwell, whom he calls "master" and to whom many of his extant letters are addressed. In 1541 he was auditor of the court of augmentations, in 1546 treasurer of the king's chamber, and was knighted and sworn of the privy council. Under Edward VI and Mary he continued in favour at court; during the latter's reign he partially conformed, but on the occasion of the war with France he with other Derbyshire gentlemen refused the loan of £100 demanded by the queen. He died in 1557.
Cavendish acquired large properties from the spoils of the monasteries, but in accordance with the wish of his third wife Elizabeth he sold them to purchase land in Derbyshire. This wife was the celebrated "building Bess of Hardwick", daughter of John Hardwicke, of Hardwicke, Derbyshire; she completed the original building of Chatsworth House, begun in 1553 by her husband,of which nothing now remains. Her fourth husband was George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury. By her Cavendish had six children; an elder son who died without issue; William, who in 1618 was created Earl of Devonshire; Charles, whose son William became 1st Duke of Newcastle; Frances, who married Sir Henry Pierporit, and was the ancestress of the Dukes of Kingston; Elizabeth, who married Charles Stuart, Earl of Lennox and was the mother of Arabella Stuart; and Mary, who married Gilbert Talbot, 7th Earl of Shrewsbury.
Being the entry for CAVENDISH, SIR WILLIAM in the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, the text of which lies within the public domain.