Evelyn Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire, was born Lady Evelyn Fitzmaurice in 1870 to Henry Petty-Fitzmaurice, the 5th Marquess of Lansdowne, and his wife Maud Evelyn Petty-Fitzmaurice (nee Hamilton).
When Lady Evelyn was 13, her father was appointed Governor General of Canada and the family moved to Ottawa for five years. When she was 18, her father was made Viceroy of India and she spent time there with her family before her social debut.
In 1892, Lady Evelyn married Victor Cavendish and the couple had seven children between 1895 and 1909.
In 1908, Victor became the 9th Duke of Devonshire after the death of his uncle. The couple oversaw a refurbishment of Chatsworth. Duchess Evelyn became very knowledgeable about the conservation needs of their home. She took great care to safely store any objects that she did not want to use or display so that future generations could enjoy them
Deborah Cavendish, Duchess Evelyn’s granddaughter-in-law, once described her as ‘built for public life’ and she held roles in both the Royal Household and in charitable institutions.
The Duchess founded and became the first president of the Derbyshire branch of the Red Cross.
In 1910, Duchess Evelyn was made Mistress of the Robes to Queen Mary, playing an active role in the Coronation of King George in 1911. She travelled to India with the King and Queen in the same year.
In 1916, the 9th Duke was appointed Governor General of Canada. For Duchess Evelyn, this meant a return to Ottowa, where she had spent her teenage years. The couple returned to Chatsworth in 1921 and remained there until the Duke’s death.
After her husband’s death in 1938, Evelyn moved to Hardwick Hall, where she lived until her death in 1960.