The Devonshire Collection Archives hold the majority of the extant historic personal papers of the Dukes and Duchesses of Devonshire. In addition the archives hold many papers for other family members and associated individuals.
The catalogues to the family papers have been broadly arranged into three groups:
Selected Cavendish and Devonshire Family Collection catalogues are currently available online. If you wish to see the catalogues of other collections mentioned in this guide, please contact the archives team by email.
This guide is not comprehensive and does not include partly or fully uncatalogued collections, or material still closed to researchers. There are many nuances in using the catalogues in the Devonshire Archives, as such it is always worth asking the archivist if you have any doubts. See Note on the arrangement of the family papers for further information on how the collections came to be arranged as they are.
You can also download the family papers guidance notes detailed on this page.
CS1 First Correspondence Series, 1490-1839
Correspondence of the Cavendish family, their friends and acquaintances from 1490-1839. This series includes political and personal correspondence.
CS2 Second Correspondence Series, 1840-1908
Correspondence of the Cavendish family, their friends, and acquaintances from 1840-1908. This series includes political and personal correspondence.
CS4 4th Duke’s Group, 1755-1764
Correspondence of the 4th Duke, his friends, family and acquaintances. This series includes political and personal correspondence.
SEE ALSO: DF2
CS5 5th Duke’s Group, 1764-1811
Correspondence of the 5th Duke, his friends, family and acquaintances, including personal and political material.
SEE ALSO: DF3, DF11 and DF12
CS6 6th Duke’s Group, 1811-1840
Correspondence of the 6th Duke, his friends, family and acquaintances from 1811 up to and including 1839.
SEE ALSO: DF4 and CS2
CS8 8th Duke’s Group, 1841-1908
Correspondence of the 8th Duke. Unlike the other ducal groups, this group includes material that predates the 8th Duke coming into the title. There is family material from his childhood, but later material is predominately political.
SEE ALSO: DF6 and DF14
P Paxton’s Group, 1826-1907
Correspondence of Joseph Paxton, his friends, family and acquaintances.
SEE ALSO: DF4, DF37, CS2 and CS6
WC Newsletters and correspondence of William Cavendish, 3rd Earl of Devonshire (1617-1684) with later estate material
Dates of material: 1676-1820
Cavendish and Devonshire Family Collections
The Devonshire Family collections contain a wide variety of material including correspondence, diaries, financial papers, journals, notebooks and political papers of the Dukes and Duchesses of Devonshire, other members of the Cavendish family, and associated individuals.
DF1 Papers of William Cavendish, 3rd Duke of Devonshire (1698-1755)
Dates of material: 1713-1759
View DF1 catalogue.
DF2 Papers of William Cavendish, 4th Duke of Devonshire (1720-1764)
Dates of material: 1740-1768
View DF2 catalogue.
DF3 Papers of William Cavendish, 5th Duke of Devonshire (1748 -1811)
Dates of material: 1764-1811
View DF3 catalogue.
DF4 Papers of William George Spencer Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire (1790-1858)
Dates of material: 18th century-19th century
View DF4 catalogue.
DF5 Papers of William Cavendish, 7th Duke of Devonshire (1808-1891)
Dates of material: 1838-1896
View DF5 catalogue.
DF6 Papers of Spencer Compton Cavendish, 8th Duke of Devonshire (1833-1908)
Dates of material: 1856-1911
View DF6 catalogue.
DF11 Papers of Elizabeth Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire (1757-1824)
Dates of material: 1782-1820
View DF11 catalogue.
You can also view this catalogue on The National Archives' Discovery database by clicking on the DF11 link from this web page.
DF12 Papers of Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire (1757-1806)
Dates of material: 18th century-1820
View DF12 catalogue.
DF13 Papers of Blanche Cavendish, Countess of Burlington (1812-1840)
Dates of material: 1820-1840
View DF13 catalogue.
DF14 Papers of Louise Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire (1832-1911)
Dates of material: 1855 -1922
View DF14 catalogue.
SEE ALSO: DF6 and CS8
DF18 Papers of Lord Edward Cavendish (1838-1891)
Dates of material: 1858-1900s
View DF18 catalogue.
DF19 Papers of Lady Frederick Lucy Cavendish (1841-1925)
Dates of material: 1813-1913
DF22 Papers of Lady Edward Emma Cavendish (1838-1920)
Dates of material: c.1860- c.1920
DF23 Papers of Lord Frederick Cavendish (1836-1882)
Dates of material: 1845-1930s
View DF23 catalogue.
DF25 Papers of Lady Louisa Egerton (1835-1907)
Dates of material: 1880-1907
View DF25 catalogue.
DF26 Papers of Major Lord John Spencer Cavendish (1875-1914)
Dates of material: 1886-1914
View DF26 catalogue.
DF27 Papers of William Cavendish (1783-1812), Louisa Cavendish (d.1863) and Family
Dates of material: 1821-1839
View DF27 catalogue.
DF31 Papers of George Augustus Henry Cavendish, 1st Earl of Burlington of the 2nd creation (1754-1834), Lady Elizabeth Cavendish, Countess of Burlington (1760-1835) and members of the Compton Family
Dates of material: 1717-c.1834
View DF31 catalogue.
DF32 Papers of William Cavendish, 2nd Duke of Devonshire (1672-1729) and Rachel Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire (1674-1725)
Dates of material: c.1715-1723
View DF32 catalogue.
DF37 Papers of Joseph Paxton (1803-1865)
Dates of material: 1830s-1860s
DF38 Material relating to marital dispute between Elizabeth, Countess of Shrewsbury [Bess of Hardwick] and George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury
View DF38 catalogue.
Other family collections
BU Burlington Miscellaneous Manuscripts
This collection consists of the papers of Richard Boyle, 1st Earl of Burlington (1612-1698), Charles Boyle, 2nd Earl of Burlington (c.1662-1704), Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington (1694-1753), Henry Boyle, Baron Carleton (1669-1725) and Lady Charlotte Boyle, (1731-1754). Largely accounts and estate correspondence.
Dates of material: 1673-1758
View BU catalogue.
CH36 Inventories and valuations of the household effects and other material goods of the Cavendish family
NB Certain later material in this collection is not open for general research.
Dates of material: 1728-20th century
CM Papers of Richard Boyle, 1st Earl of Cork and later members of the Boyle family
This is a large and important collection of papers that provide many unique insights into English colonial expansion in Ireland. Material includes diaries of the 1st and 2nd Earls, and the 2nd Earl’s wife, Elizabeth Clifford, as well as an abundance of correspondence from many individuals of historical and cultural significance.
Dates of material: 1396-1774
FCH Papers of the Finch Family, Earls of Aylesford
Dates of material: 1663-1719
HS Manuscripts and papers of Thomas Hobbes (1588 -1679), political philosopher
Hobbes was tutor to the 2nd and 3rd Earls of Devonshire, and retained a strong connection to the family through his life time.
Dates of Material: c.1591-1684
HX Manuscripts and papers of the Savile Family, Marquesses of Halifax
Literary and political papers of the 1st Marquess of Halifax and his brother Henry Savile; estate correspondence, and some material on the management of the East India Company, 1660-1690.
Dates of material: 1642-1695
HY The scientific papers of Henry Cavendish (1731-1810) natural philosopher
Papers and letters of the scientist Henry Cavendish. The papers within this collection cover Cavendish’s experiments across several of the scientific fields, including electricity, optics, mechanics, and meteorology.
Dates of material: c.1771-1778
R Letters and papers of Rachel Russell (1637-1723) and those of her husband Lord William Russell (1639 -1683)
Letters and papers of Rachel Russell (1637-1723) and those of her husband Lord William Russell (executed in 1683)
Dates of material: 1657-1792
Note on the arrangement of family papers
The archive at Chatsworth has a complicated history, as such the process for finding all existing papers for one particular person is not limited to searching one catalogue. Researchers may find it useful to have an understanding of how the archives came to be catalogued, and how they came to be arranged as they are.
- CS1: First Correspondence Series
- CS2: Second Correspondence Series
- CS4: 4th Duke’s Correspondence Group
- CS5: 5th Duke’s Correspondence Group
- CS6: 6th Duke’s Correspondence Group
- CS8: 8th Duke’s Correspondence Group
It was not until the 1920s that a concerted effort was undertaken to comprehensively catalogue the family, social and political correspondence that had accumulated through the centuries at Chatsworth.
During 1925 and 1926, all letters dated before and including 1839 were catalogued as First Correspondence Series (CS1). As well as the direct ancestors of the Cavendish line, CS1 included correspondence for persons who had married into the family and whose papers came to be kept at Chatsworth. Such families include the Earls of Burlington, and material for their ancestors, the Savile and Finch families. In its initial form, the First Correspondence Series comprised c.10,000 letters.
Subsequently, during 1926 and 1927, all letters (then known to exist) that were dated between 1840 and 1908 were catalogued as Second Correspondence Series (CS2).
Although these two collections still exist, they have been heavily altered across the last ninety years. Most pertinently, in various stages from the 1970s through the 2000s the correspondence of the 4th, 5th and 6th Dukes of Devonshire, their families and associates were extracted to form, respectively, the 4th Duke's Group (CS4); the 5th Duke’s Group (CS5) and the 6th Duke’s group (CS6).
With these ducal papers extracted, the number of letters remaining in First Correspondence Series is now approximately 2800, the vast majority of the papers dating to before 1755, the date when the 4th Duke came into his title.
The Second Correspondence Series has been less altered, but all letters of the 8th Duke of Devonshire, including those before he became Duke, have been re-catalogued as the 8th Duke’s Correspondence group (CS8) and removed from the Second Correspondence Series.
Devonshire Family Collections
DF1 to DF37
A further complication that can be added to the above is that when the First and Second Correspondence Series collections were compiled they, by definition, did not include other family papers such as diaries, scrapbooks, photos, keepsakes and legal papers. Furthermore, correspondence of family members then still living were not then considered archival.
This extra material was left uncatalogued until 2014, when an 18 month project to gather and list any material not previously catalogued created the Devonshire Family collections groups of material that predominately focus on family members from the 19th and 20th centuries.
Notes on searching the collections
The above complications can make searching for all relevant material on a given member of the Cavendish family difficult. For example you can find personal material for the 6th Duke in the 5th Duke’s Group (CS5), the 6th Duke’s Group (CS6), Joseph Paxton’s Correspondence (P), the Second Correspondence Series (CS2) and in the relevant Devonshire Family Collection (which is DF4) - a total of 5 separate collections!
It helps when searching for material to bear in mind:
- If the person died before 1755 their correspondence is likely to be in the First Correspondence Series. Check also to see if they have a named collection (A DF number)
- From 1755 until 1840, most correspondence is filed under the relevant ducal group and so it is helpful to know the years of the ducal reigns. For example, the 6th Duke’s correspondence as Marquis of Hartington (i.e. before 1811), can be found in the 5th Duke’s group. Ducal periods and associated correspondence groups:
- 4th Duke (CS4) 1755-1764
- 5th Duke (CS5) 1764-1811
- 6th Duke (CS6) 1811-1858 NB 6th Duke correspondence after 1840 can be found in Second Correspondence Series (CS2).
- 8th Duke (CS8) 1841-1908 NB unlike the other ducal series, this catalogue includes material from immediate family members to Spencer Cavendish before he became Duke in 1892
- For correspondence between 1840 and 1908 material can be found in a number of places, notably CS8 and the Second Correspondence Series catalogue. Do also check if there was any extra material gathered together to form the Devonshire Family Collections (DF) - the majority of which date from the mid-19th century onward.
The below is an index to prominent persons and relevant collections.
|Boyle, Charles (c.1662-1704) | 2nd Earl of Burlington||CM, BU, CS1|
|Boyle, Elizabeth (nee Clifford) (1621 – 1698) | heir of Henry Clifford, 5th Earl of Cumberland||CM|
|Boyle, Richard (1566-1643) | 1st Earl of Cork||CM|
|Boyle, Richard (1612-1698) | 1st Earl of Burlington, 2nd Earl of Cork||CM|
|Boyle, Richard (1694–1753) | 3rd Earl of Burlington, 4th Earl of Cork, architect||CS1, BU, CM|
|Cavendish, Blanche (nee Howard) (1812-1840) |Countess of Burlington, wife of the
7th Duke of Devonshire
|Cavendish, Charlotte (nee Boyle)(1731-1754) | wife of the 4th Duke of Devonshire||CS1, BU|
|Cavendish, Edward (1838-1891) | politician; third son of William Cavendish, 7th Duke of Devonshire||DF18, DF22|
|Cavendish, Elizabeth (nee foster) (1757-1824) | Duchess of Devonshire||CS5, DF11, DF12, DF3|
|Cavendish, Emma (nee Lascelles )(1838-1920) | wife of Lord Edward Cavendish||DF22, DF18|
|Cavendish, Frederick (1836-1882) | politician||DF23, CS2, CS8, DF18, DF19|
|Cavendish, George (1754-1834) | 1st Earl of Burlington of the 2nd creation||DF31, CS1, CS4, CS6|
|Cavendish, Georgiana (nee Spencer) (1757-1806) | Duchess of Devonshire||CS5, DF12, DF11, DF3|
|Cavendish, Henry (1731-1810) | scientist||HY|
|Cavendish, John Spencer (1875-1914) | soldier; brother of the 9th Duke of Devonshire||DF26|
|Cavendish, Louise (nee von Alten) (1832-1911) | Duchess of Devonshire||DF14, DF6, CS8|
|Cavendish, Lucy (nee Littleton) (1841-1925) | women’s education pioneer; wife of Frederick Cavendish||DF19, CS2, DF23|
|Cavendish, Spencer (1833-1908) | 8th Duke of Devonshire||CS8, CS2, DF6|
|Cavendish, William (1552-1626) | 1st Earl of Devonshire||HM, CS1|
|Cavendish, William (1590-1628) | 2nd Earl of Devonshire||HM|
|Cavendish, William (1617-1684) | 3rd Earl of Devonshire||WC, CS1, HM|
|Cavendish, William (1641-1707) | 1st Duke of Devonshire||CS1|
|Cavendish, William (1673-1729) | 2nd Duke of Devonshire||DF32|
|Cavendish, William (1698-1755) | 3rd Duke of Devonshire||CS1|
|Cavendish, William (1720-1764) | 4th Duke of Devonshire||CS4, DF2|
|Cavendish, William (1748 -1811) | 5th Duke of Devonshire||CS5, DF3, DF12|
|Cavendish, William (1790-1858) | 6th Duke of Devonshire||CS5, CS6, DF4, CS2, P|
|Cavendish, William (1808-1891) | 7th Duke of Devonshire||CS6, CS2, CS8, DF5|
|Egerton, Louisa (nee Cavendish) (1835-1907) | daughter of the 7th Duke of Devonshire||CS2, P, CS8, DF25|
|Finch, Heneage (1648/9-1719) | 1st Earl of Aylseford, politician||FCH, L|
|Hobbes, Thomas (1588-1679) | political philosopher||HS, HM|
|Paxton, Joseph (1803-1865) | gardener and architect||P, DF4, CS6, CS2|
|Russell, Rachel (nee Wriothesley) (1637-1723) | wife of Lord William Russell||CS1, R|
|Russell, William (1639-1683) | politician, executed for part in Rye House Plot||R|
|Savile, George (1633 – 1695) | 1st Marquess of Halifax, statesman, author||HX, CS1, L|
|Talbot, Elizabeth (nee Hardwick)(c.1527-1608) | Bess of Hardwick||HM|
See Guide to the Devonshire Archives estate papers and related collections for descriptions of the L and HM series.