The 2nd Duke of Devonshire was a prominent Whig under George I, and became a member of the Privy Council in 1707, serving as Lord President of the Council on two occasions.

He married the Hon. Rachel Russell (1674-1725), daughter of William, Lord Russell in 1688, and together they had five children. Lord Russell was a close friend and political ally of William's father, the 1st Duke.

The 2nd Duke made no changes to the house and garden that his father had created at Chatsworth. He was however a connoisseur of the arts and was responsible for the formation of an outstanding collection that included paintings, Old Master drawings and prints, ancient coins, and carved Greek and Roman gems.

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