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  William Cavendish (bap. 1593, d. 1676), by Abraham van Diepenbeck [with Bolsover Castle in the background] William Cavendish (bap. 1593, d. 1676), by Abraham van Diepenbeck [with Bolsover Castle in the background]
Cavendish, William, first duke of Newcastle upon Tyne (bap. 1593, d. 1676), writer, patron, and royalist army officer, was born at Handsworth Manor, Yorkshire, and was baptized in the parish on 16 December 1593. He was the second of three children, the first having died in infancy, of Sir Charles Cavendish (1553–1617) MP, the youngest son of Bess of Hardwick [see ] and her second husband, of Chatsworth, Derbyshire, and his second wife, Catherine (1570–1629), daughter of Cuthbert, Baron Ogle, of Ogle Castle, Northumberland.

Education and early career

In 1597 Gilbert Talbot, seventh earl of Shrewsbury, passed over the lease of Welbeck Abbey, Nottinghamshire, to his stepbrother and brother-in-law, Sir Charles Cavendish, and it was here that William spent his formative years. Initially he was tutored at home but he was also ‘partly bred’ along with his younger brother the mathematician in the Shrewsbury household (Cavendish, Life, 1). William Cavendish entered St John's College, Cambridge, as a fellow-commoner in 1608. Mary, countess of Shrewsbury, was a benefactress of St John's and in recognition of her generosity Cavendish presented a statue of his aunt by the sculptor Thomas Burman to the college in 1671. Since he had little aptitude for academic pursuits Cavendish's tutors ‘could not persuade him to read or study much, he taking more delight in sports, than in learning’ (ibid., 104). Sir Charles Cavendish encouraged William to ‘follow his own genius’, and was delighted when his son spent £50 each on a singing boy and a horse instead of investing his money in land as a young kinsman had done, declaring, ‘if he should find his son to be so covetous, that he would buy land before he was twenty years of age, he would disinherit him’ (ibid., 105).

In contrast to many of his contemporaries Cavendish eschewed the inns of court, preferring instead to enter the Royal Mews. Here in the company of Prince Henry he was trained by the French riding instructor St Antoine in the art of manège, a passion that he pursued throughout his life. He later wrote, ‘I have practised ever since I was ten years old, have rid with the best masters of all nations’ (R. Strong, 65). Cavendish was one of twenty-five youths who attended Henry at his investiture as prince of Wales on 4 June 1610. On the eve of the ceremony he was created knight of the Bath, and on the following day he participated in a tilt staged to mark the event. In March 1612 Cavendish and his younger brother joined the diplomat Sir Henry Wotton on his mission to Italy to discuss a possible match between the prince of Wales and the duke of Savoy's daughter. Wotton described Cavendish as ‘so sweet an ornament of my journey, and a gentleman himself of so excellent nature and institution’ (Trease, 33). Moreover Duke Charles was so impressed that he wanted to detain Cavendish, promising to ‘confer upon him the best titles of honour he could’ (Cavendish, Life, 3), but he returned to England that summer.

As the seventh earl of Shrewsbury's nominee, Cavendish was elected MP for the Nottinghamshire seat of East Retford in 1614. It was probably about this time that he became a disciple of the poet and playwright Ben Jonson, for whom he had a ‘particular kindness’ (Langbaine, 386), and whose works had a profound influence on his own literary endeavours. Following the death of his father on 4 April 1617, William inherited the Cavendish estates, including Bolsover Castle in Derbyshire, which Sir Charles had acquired from Gilbert Talbot, seventh earl of Shrewsbury, in 1608. Passionate about architecture, Sir Charles had set about constructing a miniature version of a medieval castle with the help of the master mason and architect Robert Smythson and his son, John.

Career up to the civil war

On or shortly before 24 October 1618 Cavendish married the heiress Elizabeth Howard (1599–1643), only daughter of William Bassett of Blore in Staffordshire and his wife, Judith Austin, and widow of Henry Howard, third son of the earl of Suffolk. In the same year he planned a visit to London to consider the ‘furneshinge paynting and carving’ of the Little Castle at Bolsover (Worsley, Bolsover Castle, 15). The building has been described as ‘a superb instance of that blend of romance, chivalry, and pageant merged with classical myth and legend that informed the court masques and tournaments of the late Renaissance’ (Raylor, ‘“Pleasure Reconciled to Virtue”’, 403). Cavendish was largely responsible for the decorative scheme of the Little Castle which contains the most extensive and important surviving wall paintings from Jacobean England. Influenced by the palace of Fontainebleau and the Palazzo del Te, the interior depicts the humours (anteroom), the labours of Hercules (hall), the five senses (pillar chamber), Old and New Testament figures (star chamber), the virtues (marble closet), Christ's ascent into heaven and Elysium (first floor closets). The couple entertained James I at Welbeck on 10 August 1619.

In 1616 Cavendish had been appointed executor to the seventh earl of Shrewsbury and he was involved subsequently in a lengthy dispute over Talbot lands that the countess had promised to him. In order to resolve their differences Shrewsbury's heirs proposed raising William to the peerage and on 29 October 1620 he became Viscount Mansfield. However, he was precluded from sitting in the House of Lords for much of 1621 by his wife's failing health. In the following year she gave birth to a daughter, Jane (1622–1669). It was about this time that the famous riding school designed by John Smythson was built at Welbeck. Here on 10 August 1624 James I was entertained once again during his final hunting-trip to Sherwood. Mansfield was appointed lord lieutenant of Nottinghamshire on 6 July 1626 and was assiduous in the execution of his duties. The office had remained vacant since 1590 because of gentry hostility towards the local magnate, the seventh earl of Shrewsbury, but Mansfield's loyalty to the duke of Buckingham ensured his success in obtaining the post. Probably in the same year Elizabeth gave birth to their third, but first surviving, son, Charles (1626?–1659), followed quickly by a daughter, Elizabeth (1627?–1663).

On 7 March 1628 Mansfield was created earl of Newcastle upon Tyne, a title which acknowledged his growing prestige in the north of England, and Baron Cavendish of Bolsover. At the death of his cousin William Cavendish, second earl of Devonshire, in June of that year Newcastle assumed the role of lord lieutenant of Derbyshire, and he retained that office until the third earl achieved his majority in 1638. With the death of his mother on 18 April 1629 the barony of Ogle, which had been revived for her and her heirs, along with vast estates in the north, passed to Newcastle. As a consequence the earl could trace his nobility back to the reign of Edward IV. About 1630 he began work on a London town house, built by John Smythson, or possibly his son Huntingdon, on the site of a former Benedictine nunnery on the east side of Clerkenwell Close. On 24 June 1630 Elizabeth bore their second surviving son, , who would eventually succeed to his father's titles.

Newcastle was vying for a court appointment, a desire which later prompted Lucy Hutchinson to remark ‘a foolish ambition of glorious slavery carried him to the court, where he ran himself much into debt to purchase neglects of the King and Queen, and scorns of the proud courtiers’ (Hutchinson, 84). By the end of 1631 rumours were spreading around court that Newcastle might become lord president of the council in the north in place of Sir Thomas Wentworth who had been appointed lord deputy of Ireland. Nothing came of the gossip, but in a letter dated 13 December 1632 Lord Cottington informed Newcastle of his appointment to attend the king into Scotland, ‘which I Conceaue wyll be a good motiue for your frendes to putt it to a period’ (BL, Add. MS 70499, fol. 156). Newcastle's attendance consisted in providing safe passage for Charles I through Nottinghamshire on his journey north for his Scottish coronation, and in the hope of currying royal favour the earl resolved to entertain the monarch at Welbeck on 21 May 1633. Clarendon later recorded, ‘both King and Court were received and entertained by the earl of Newcastle, and at his own proper expense, in such a wonderful manner, and in such an excess of feasting, as had never before been known in England’ (Clarendon, Hist. rebellion, 1.104).

The visit is reputed to have cost the earl between £4000 and £5000. Newcastle turned to his old friend Ben Jonson to provide the text of The King's Entertainment at Welbeck. By the early 1630s Jonson had lost his commanding position both in the public theatre and at court. He was sick and infirm and suffering financial hardship. He was therefore indebted to Newcastle, ‘next the King, my best Patron’, describing himself as ‘Your truest beadsman & most thankefull seruant’ (BL, Harley MS 4955, fols. 203, 204). Jonson celebrated the earl's consummate skill in horsemanship and his expertise as a swordsman in two epigrams (The Underwood, 1641, LIII and LIX), and several of his works, including masques and poems, are preserved in the ‘Newcastle manuscript’ (BL, Harley MS 4955), compiled for the earl some time before 1640. The influence of Newcastle's patronage is evident in Jonson's late plays. For example, Lovel, the hero of The New Inn, is to some extent modelled on the earl and shares his enthusiasm for fencing and riding as well as his interest in science.

Newcastle's own political views are voiced in Jonson's A Tale of a Tub and in the unfinished pastoral The Sad Shepherd, both of which uphold rural hospitality, traditional customs, and country sports. Similarly the text of The King's Entertainment at Welbeck introduces local references into the framework of a dramatized equestrian show designed to appeal to the king. William Lawes's setting of Jonson's dialogue ‘What softer sounds than these’ (BL, Add. MS 31432, fols. 20v–21) may have been the one sung at the banquet. Newcastle's hospitality failed to achieve the desired effect. He complained to Wentworth on 5 August, ‘I have hurt my estate much with the hopes of it’ (Trease, 68). Charles hinted that the queen, who had not attended the Welbeck entertainment, would enjoy a similar spectacle on their midlands progress the following summer. Despite his financial difficulties Newcastle decided to gamble once again, this time spending between £14,000 and £15,000 on ‘a more stupendous entertainment; which (God be thanked), though possibly it might too much whet the appetite of others to excess, no man after imitated’ (Clarendon, Hist. rebellion, 1.105). The court was feasted at Welbeck for six days. An account of the royal visit is preserved in the manuscript poem ‘Carmen basileuporion’ (BL, Harley MS 4345), dedicated to Newcastle's brother by the Cambridge student John Westwood of Mansfield, Nottinghamshire. Newcastle had begun work on the riding house and the terrace range at his Derbyshire seat. Here on 30 July 1634 the king and queen were entertained by Jonson's Love's Welcome at Bolsover, inspired by the cult of platonic love which flourished around Henrietta Maria. Following a banquet of the senses given in the pillar chamber of the Little Castle, the royal couple retired to the garden where they were met by the surveyor Colonel Vitruvius, a satirical portrayal of Jonson's rival Inigo Jones, and his attendant tradesmen involved in the construction of the new wing. The entertainment closed with a second banquet given by the quarrelling twin sons of Venus whose reconciliation is attributed to the setting which is described as an academy of love. Jonson was grateful for Newcastle's second commission, writing ‘your Lordships timely gratuity … fell like the dewe of heauen on my necessities, it came so oportunely & in season’ (BL, Harley MS 4955, fol. 203).

Acting on Wentworth's advice, Newcastle accompanied Charles for two or three days following his removal from Welbeck in order to pursue his desire for a court appointment. No sign was forthcoming; however, both royal visits did much to enhance Newcastle's status as a literary patron. In The Chronicle History of Perkin Warbeck (1634) the dramatist John Ford commented, ‘The custom of your Lordship's entertainments, even to strangers, is rather an example than a fashion’ (Ford, 5). The following year James Shirley ‘confesse[d] his guilt of a long ambition, by some Service to be knowne to you’ (Shirley, The Traytor, sig. A2), a desire soon to be realized in connection with Newcastle's plays written for the public stage. William Sampson's elegies on the local gentry and nobility, Virtus Post funera vivit, or, Honour Triumphing over Death, published the following year, attested to the earl's status among the midlands ruling élite. Newcastle shared Charles's love of art and in the same year as the visit to Bolsover he presented the king with a landscape by the Antwerp artist Alexander Keirincx. It was about this time that the earl sat for Van Dyck. Writing to the artist from Welbeck in February 1637 he recalled ‘the Blessinge off your Coumpanye & Sweetnes off your Conuersation’, praising the artist's skill and describing himself uncharacteristically for a nobleman at this time as ‘your moste Humble Seruant’ (BL, Add. MS 70499, fol. 218).

By the early 1630s Newcastle and his brother were ‘at the forefront of the new philosophy in England, promoting theoretical research and practical experiments on optics, mathematics and mechanics’ (Raylor, ‘Newcastle ghosts’, 94). The Cavendish circle included Robert Payne, Walter Warner, and Thomas Hobbes. Payne, the earl's chaplain from 1632 to 1638, assisted the brothers in their experiments and translated Italian works on mechanics including a section of Benedetto Castelli's Della misura dell'acque correnti (1628) and Galileo's Della scienza mecanica (BL, Harley MS 6796, fols. 309–39). Payne and not Hobbes was the author of the seminal work A Short Tract on First Principles (BL, Harley MS 6796, fols. 297–308), written while Payne was in Newcastle's employment. Furthermore the earl's writings on horsemanship allude to Payne's essay ‘Considerations touching the facility or difficulty of the motions of a horse’ (in S. A. Strong, 237–40). Payne was also responsible for undertaking a number of revisions to the earl's literary works ‘intended for some kind of public appearance’ (Raylor, ‘Newcastle ghosts’, 110). Warner did not hold a post at Welbeck but he corresponded with the brothers on optics and psychology and received money from them. Hobbes had been in service to Newcastle's cousins the earls of Devonshire since the 1610s, and in autumn 1636 he toyed with the idea of moving to Welbeck. In 1640 he presented Newcastle with The Elements of Law, noting ‘the principles fit for such a foundation, are those which I have heretofore acquainted your Lordship withal in private discourse, and which by your command I have here put into method’ (ibid., 99).

According to Clarendon, Newcastle ‘was amorous in poetry and music, to which he indulged the greatest part of his time’ (Clarendon, Hist. rebellion, 3.381). Newcastle inherited his father's ‘great love and favour of Musicke’ (Wilbye, First Set of English Madrigals). Sir Charles was a patron of the composer John Wilbye and dedicatee of his First Set of English Madrigals (1598). Moreover he was almost certainly the anonymous translator of Nicholas Yonge's Musica transalpina (1588), England's first printed anthology of translated Italian madrigals, dedicated to the seventh earl of Shrewsbury. Throughout his life Newcastle ‘cherish[ed] and maintain[ed] such as are excellent in [music]’ (Simpson, sig. A2), and is reputed to have been a skilled practitioner. Nothing is known of his musical education, though his writings on the use of music in the training of horses suggest that he may have been a lutenist. During the 1630s Newcastle employed at least five musicians, including one or possibly two members of the royal household. Maurice Webster, who had been appointed to ‘the three lutes’ under James I in 1623, served on a temporary basis and was in charge of the earl's musical possessions until his death at Nottingham in December 1635. Newcastle's keyboard player Mr Tomkin or Tomkins may have been related to or was one of the famous Tomkins brothers, John and Giles, who accompanied Charles I during his Scottish royal progress, stopping at Welbeck in 1633. ‘A note of seuerall instruments and setts of bookes’ compiled at Welbeck on 9 November 1636 reveals much about Newcastle's musical taste. The sets of madrigals, canzonets, and chansons by the late sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century composers Wilbye, Thomas Morley, Giacomo Gastoldi, Antonio Mortaro, Orazio Vecchi, and Jean de Castro are indicative of his cosmopolitan upbringing. It is highly unlikely that the liturgical prints in Latin by William Byrd, including his mass for three voices, and the Spanish theologian Fernando de las Infantas formed part of Newcastle's household devotion. But their existence suggests that the Roman Catholic rite was practised at Welbeck during the lifetime of his father who in 1592 was branded a notorious papist and dangerous recusant (CSP dom., 1591–4, 174).

Four harpsichords, a virginal, an organ, and a claviorganum (a double- or triple-strung full-size harpsichord incorporating a positive organ), eleven wind and twenty-two plucked and bowed stringed instruments, including twelve viols, four by the highly esteemed English maker John Rose the younger, are listed at Welbeck in 1636. Newcastle particularly admired the viol and its repertory, and owned four books of divisions by the leading exponents of the genre including Webster, Daniel Norcombe, and Alfonso Ferrabosco II. Furthermore his passion for the instrument places in context his relationship with the composer and violist Christopher Simpson who served as quartermaster in the troop of horse commanded during the civil war by the earl's younger son. Simpson may have joined Newcastle's household prior to 1642. His early career is shrouded in mystery, but there is reason to believe that the musician and Christopher Sampson or Simpson, a Jesuit educated abroad who returned to England about 1639 to join the English mission at Durham, are one and the same person. The Jesuit Simpson taught the sons of several protestant noblemen and therefore he could have been employed as a tutor to the earl's sons. Newcastle's relations with English and continental Roman Catholics were ‘cordial and relaxed’ (Chaney, 309). His intellectual circle numbered several priests and lay papists including, among others, Richard Flecknoe whose Enigmaticall Characters (1658) contains commendatory verses by Newcastle, Endymion Porter, Sir Kenelm Digby, Marin Mersenne, René Descartes, François Derand, and Beatrix de Cusance.

A substantial proportion of Newcastle's literary works in verse and prose date from the Caroline period. Witts Triumvirate, or, The Philosopher (BL, Add. MS 45865), devised unusually for an all-male cast, is probably Newcastle's ‘earliest attempt at full-scale drama’ (Kelliher, 152). This comedy of humours, which echoes Jonson's The Alchemist (1612), was written for performance before the king and queen in the winter of 1635–6; however, there is no record of its being staged either in the public theatre or at court. Preserved among the earl's papers (U. Nott. L., MSS Pw V 25–6) are several dramatic fragments, including a dialogue on ‘Progectes … for the Good off the Common welth’, a scene from ‘The Cutpurse’, a prologue and epilogue to ‘a newe playe & a maske’, and a Christmas masque presented at Welbeck during the mid- to late-1630s (Hulse, Dramatic Works, 1–33). Two of Newcastle's plays were performed by the King's Men at the Blackfriars Theatre: The Varietie, c.1639–1641, and The Country Captaine, May–August 1641. According to Anthony Wood, Shirley assisted Newcastle ‘in the composure of certain plays which the [earl] afterwards published’ (Country Captain, ed. Johnson, xxv). In 1641 Shirley was paid for ‘several reformations’ made to The varietie (Bawcutt, 209), and may have had a similar hand in The Country Captaine. For example, the lyric ‘Come let us cast the dice’ was first printed in Shirley's Poems &c (1646). The text was set to music by William Lawes who composed several play songs for the King's Men during the years 1630–41. A copy of The Country Captaine containing annotations in Newcastle's hand survives among the Harley papers (BL, Harley MS 7650). The play was printed in The Hague in 1649 and published with The Varietie in London in the same year as Two comedies, written by a person of honor.

Newcastle's Blackfriars plays are significant in that they publicly express the earl's political view and foreshadow his advice to Charles II. Newcastle was devoted to the concept of monarchy, seeing in its authority the ‘foundation and support of his own greatness’. However, reflecting later on the causes of the civil war, he believed that the king's failure to maintain ceremony and degrees of honour had ultimately weakened the nobility and brought them into contempt. He blamed Charles I's downfall on ‘mean People’ close to the royal couple who jeered and despised those noblemen who could not make ‘le Bon Reverance & coulde nott dance a Sereban with castenettes off their fingers’ (S. A. Strong, 213). In The Varietie Newcastle voiced his discontent with the Frenchified atmosphere of Whitehall. Monsieur Galliard claims that dancing to the French fiddle is the basis of good government for it quells any thought of rebellion and instils obedience to the monarchy. Manley, a patriotic gentleman of honour modelled on Newcastle himself, is the antithesis of Galliard. Dressed in Elizabethan costume after the style of the earl of Leicester, he launches a vicious attack on the dancing master in which he looks back with nostalgia to the reign of the virgin queen. Newcastle also expressed his criticism of continental foppishness through his preference for native customs. In The Country Captaine Monsieur Device, a frivolous gallant who admits to being ‘an English Monsier made vp by a Scotch taylor that was Prentice in France’ (p. 11), mocks country-dancing and ballad-singing, thereby striking at the heart of noble hospitality and denigrating the importance of traditional pastimes which Newcastle saw as part of the foundation of a stable monarchy.

By 1636 Newcastle had set his sights on the governorship of Prince Charles, but on 8 April he wrote to his wife
I finde a Great dell of venum Agaynste mee, butt both the kinge & the Queene hath vsed mee very Gratiusly … They saye absolutly an other shall bee for the Prince & that the kinge wonderde att the reporte & sayde hee knewe no sutch thinge & tolde the queen so. (BL, Add. MS 70499, fol. 196)
He returned to the midlands by the summer in preparation for the visit of the palatine princes, Charles Louis and his brother Rupert, and their uncle Charles I, who were entertained by the earl in the park at Welbeck. Newcastle's apparent lack of religious conviction had threatened his appointment. Rumours spread round Whitehall that he was not fit to attend the prince, being ‘off no religion neyther fearde God nor the Diuell beleued Heauen or Hell’ (BL, Add. MS 70499, fol. 198v). George Conn, papal agent to the court of Henrietta Maria, reported as much to Cardinal Franceso Barberini at Rome on 17 September 1638, adding that the earl hated puritans. Newcastle's antipathy towards the godly clergy is evident in his Christmas masque which contains a satirical portrayal of Francis Stevenson, the puritan vicar of the local parish church of Norton Cuckney. Conn wrote to Barberini five months later, ‘il mondo hoara commincia à sospettarlo per Cattolico, et egli mostra di rallegrarsi di esser tenuto di qualche religione, perche viene assai sospettato d'una totale indifferenza’ (Chaney, 310). But Newcastle was not a papist. He disliked any form of recusancy, declaring himself to be a practising member of the ‘true Reformed Religion … as it was professed and practised in the purest times of peerlesse Queen Elizabeth’ (Cavendish, Declaration … for his Resolution, 13).

Newcastle realized his ambition in 1638; on 21 March he was appointed sole gentleman of the bedchamber and on 4 July governor to the prince of Wales, spending £40,000 of his own money in the execution of his office. He took charge of Charles's equestrian training, his academic instruction being entrusted to Dr Brian Duppa, bishop of Chichester. Newcastle set out his principles on education in a letter of instruction, advising the prince, ‘I would rather have you study things than words … for too much contemplation spoils action’; however, he recommended the study of history, ‘so you might compare the dead with the living’. He cautioned Charles to be wary of flatterers and to be mindful of his status but not so much as to lose sight of his subjects. In matters of religion he warned, ‘Beware of too much devotion for a King, for one may be a good man, but a bad King’ (Cavendish, Life, 184–7). The threat of war from Scotland following the government's attempt to impose divine right episcopacy and a service book composed by the Scottish bishops forced Newcastle temporarily to curtail his duties to the prince. He raised at his own expense a force of 120 knights and gentlemen, which he named the prince of Wales troop, and contributed £10,000 to the king. Newcastle joined the army at Berwick under the command of the earl of Holland. Affronted by the latter's decision to place the prince of Wales's troop in the rear of the cavalry advance on the covenanters, Newcastle challenged Holland to a duel, but the king intervened. On 29 November 1639 Newcastle was made a privy councillor. He became joint constable and high steward of Pontefract with his son, Charles, Viscount Mansfield, on 13 July 1640. The following year he was implicated in the first army plot to rescue the earl of Strafford from execution for high treason. On 29 May 1641, two weeks after Strafford was beheaded, Newcastle was summoned to the House of Lords. He was never charged, but with suspicion mounting against him he was forced to resign his office as governor despite being made gentleman of the robes to the prince on 17 July 1641. Five days later his daughter Elizabeth married John Egerton, earl of Bridgewater, at St James's Clerkenwell, after which Newcastle retired to Welbeck, intent on managing his estate and enjoying family life. On 17 August 1641 he was made steward and warden of Sherwood Forest.

Civil war commander

As the country moved ever close to civil war Charles I secretly instructed Newcastle on 11 January 1642 ‘to repair with all possible speed and privacy’ to the magazine at Hull (Cavendish, Life, 8) and to assume the role of governor. However, Newcastle wrote to the king four days later, ‘the town will by no means admit of me, so I am very flat and out of countenance’ (CSP dom., 1641–3, 256). Parliament soon got wind of Charles's plan. The king was forced to recall Newcastle, and Sir John Hotham was installed in his place. On 29 June the earl was appointed governor of Newcastle upon Tyne and given jurisdiction over the four northern counties of Northumberland, Durham, Cumberland, and Westmorland. The lands and influence he inherited as Baron Ogle enabled him to raise troops and his regiments were soon training in preparation for war. Lacking confidence in the leadership of the fifth earl of Cumberland, the Yorkshire royalists appealed to Newcastle for help in the autumn of 1642. He marched south with about 8000 men, including his own recently formed regiment known as the Whitecoats or Newcastle's Lambs, famous for their valour in battle. Newcastle defeated Hotham at Piercebridge on 1 December, and entered York two days later, receiving the keys of the city from the governor, Sir Thomas Glemham. He became commander-in-chief in the north. On 7 December, 10 miles away at Tadcaster, he attacked Ferdinando, Lord Fairfax, and though the battle itself was indecisive, the parliamentarian commander was forced to retreat.

Newcastle proceeded to garrison Pontefract and to dispatch troops to occupy Newark in order to maintain a line of communication with the king who had set up his court at Oxford. With the repulse of the royalist forces in the West Riding at Bradford on 17 or 18 December and Sir Thomas Fairfax's recapture of Leeds on 23 January 1643, Newcastle recalled his troops from Newark and retreated from Pontefract back to York. The following month the earl published A Declaration … in Answer to Six Groundlesse Aspersions Cast upon him by the Lord Fairefax in which he debated the rights of kings and subjects and defended his employment of Roman Catholics. He was criticized by his enemies for accepting so many northern recusants that his force was dubbed by hostile propagandists as the ‘Popish army’. In answer to his critics Newcastle claimed, ‘I have received them not for their Religion, but for their Allegiance which they professe’ (Cavendish, Declaration … for his Resolution, 13).

On 22 February the queen landed at Bridlington where she was received by Newcastle and escorted to York. Lord Goring's victory over Sir Thomas Fairfax at Seacroft Moor on 30 March paved the way for a second royalist attack in the West Riding. Newcastle abandoned the idea of entering Leeds but retook Wakefield on 2 April. With little time to mourn the loss of his wife who died at Bolsover on 17 April he stormed the town of Rotherham early in May, capturing arms and £5000 in cash, and went on to take Sheffield. The fall of Wakefield to Sir Thomas Fairfax on 21 May prevented Newcastle from attending the queen beyond Pontefract on her journey to Oxford. He stormed the parliamentarian stronghold of Howley House on 22 June and defeated the Fairfaxes at Adwalton Moor eight days later. With the successful bombardment of Bradford, Newcastle subjected Yorkshire, except for Wressel Castle and Hull, to the king's authority. In the following month he entered Lincolnshire, retaking Gainsborough on 30 July, occupying Lincoln, and threatening to raise the siege of Lynn. At the beginning of August he demanded the surrender of Nottingham but Colonel John Hutchinson refused to yield ‘on any terms to a papistical army led by an atheistical general’ (Trease, 120).

On 19 August Newcastle was made lieutenant-general in the counties of Lincoln, Rutland, Huntingdon, Cambridge, and Norfolk. The earl's orders were to march on London via Essex in a three-pronged attack on the capital. But Newcastle decided instead to secure Yorkshire and promised the king that he would march south once Hull had fallen to the royalists. However, the six-week assault on the town scarcely dented the roundheads' resolve. This setback, coupled with Cromwell's defeat at Winceby of the troops left to protect Lincolnshire, made the earl decide to abandon the siege and fall back on York. Newcastle was created a marquess on 27 October 1643. He set off for Derbyshire in early November with the intention of reducing all the parliamentarian garrisons in the area from his headquarters at Chesterfield. On 19 January 1644 the Scots under the command of Alexander Leslie, earl of Leven, invaded England. Newcastle returned to York where on 28 January Dr John Bramhall, bishop of Derry, preached at York Minster before the marquess, ‘Being then ready to meet the Scotch Army’ (Bramhall). He departed for Newcastle the same day, reaching the town on 2 February, the night before the Scots. Lulled into a false sense of security by the atrocious weather, Newcastle lowered his guard, thus allowing Leven to cross the Tyne and march south into Sunderland. The marquess gave pursuit, but it was not until 24 March that he finally engaged the Scots in battle. Disheartened by his inability to defeat Leven and by ‘the impertinent and malicious tongues’ of his critics at court, Newcastle tendered his resignation to the king, but Charles refused to accept it (Trease, 127).

The defeat of the royalist army at Selby on 11 April forced Newcastle to withdraw to York. Fairfax, Manchester, and Leven laid siege to the city, outnumbering the royalists six to one, but the marquess held out until Prince Rupert successfully raised the siege on 1 July. Newcastle's plea to wait for reinforcements fell on deaf ears and the prince set off the following day in pursuit of the enemy. Learning of Rupert's desire to fight, the allied generals retreating towards Tadcaster made a volte-face. The opposing armies met at Marston Moor where the royalists suffered their most crushing defeat of the civil war. Against all the odds Newcastle's whitecoats stood their ground, but 4000 of their number were slaughtered in the field. Without an army to command Newcastle was unwilling to ‘endure the laughter of the court’ (Trease, 141). He retired to the Netherlands. His enemies were quick to seize upon his departure from the stage of war. One pamphleteer commented, ‘the brave Marquess of Newcastle, which made the fine plays, he danced so quaintly, played his part a while in the North, was soundly beaten, shew'd a pair of heels, and exit Newcastle’ (Trease, 143). Moreover his allies disparaged his skills as a military commander. Clarendon, for example, recognized Newcastle's courage in the field, but criticized him for his limitations:
He liked the pomp, and absolute authority of a general well, and preserved the dignity of it to the full … But the substantial part, and fatigue of a general, he did not in any degree understand, (being utterly unacquainted with war) nor could submit to; but referred all matters of that nature to the discretion of his lieutenant general King … In all actions of the field he was still present, and never absent in any battle; in all which he gave instances of an invincible courage and fearlessness in danger; in which the exposing of himself notoriously did sometimes change the fortunes of the day, when his troops began to give ground. Such articles of action were no sooner over, than he retired to his delightful company, music or his softer pleasures, to all which he was so indulgent, and to his ease, that he would not be interrupted upon what occasion soever; insomuch as he sometimes denied admission to the chiefest officers of the army, even to general King himself [his principal military adviser, James King, a veteran of the Thirty Years' War], for two days together; from whence many inconveniences fell out. (Clarendon, Hist. rebellion, 3.382–3)

Newcastle in exile

Newcastle set off immediately for Scarborough in the company of his brother, his two sons and their tutor Mark Anthony Benoist, Lieutenant-General King, Major-General Sir Francis Mackworth, Sir William Carnaby (treasurer of the army), Sir Arthur Basset (colonel of Newcastle's own infantry), Captain John Mazine (master of his horse), colonels Francis Carnaby and Walter Vavasour, the Scottish peer Lord Carnwath, Lord Falconbridge, and the bishop of Derry. The party arrived in Hamburg on 8 July. Meanwhile at home the garrison at Welbeck fell to the earl of Manchester on 2 August and Bolsover surrendered to the enemy ten days later. On 16 February 1645 Newcastle travelled to Paris by way of Rotterdam and Brussels to join Henrietta Maria's court, reaching his destination on 20 April. It was here that he met his second wife, Margaret Lucas (1623?–1673) [see ], a maid of honour to the queen. She was the eighth child of Thomas Lucas of Colchester, Essex, and sister of Sir Charles Lucas, Newcastle's lieutenant-general of the horse. The marquess professed his love for Margaret in a series of verses entitled The Phanseys. The couple were married some time in November or December 1645 in the chapel of Sir Richard Browne, the king's English resident in Paris.

Newcastle and his brother resumed their philosophical and scientific researches in the French capital. The marquess compiled a book of ‘rare minerall receipts collected at Paris from those who hath great experience of them’, including the Paracelsian physician Theodore Turquet de Mayerne (U. Nott. L., MS Pw V 90). The Cavendish circle included among others Hobbes, Mersenne, Descartes, and Pierre Gassendi, professor of mathematics at the Collège Royal. Hobbes's discussions with Bishop Bramhall on the problem of determination, which he later published as Of Libertie and Necessitie (1654), were instigated by Newcastle in August 1645. Hobbes also undertook at the marquess's behest a treatise on optics, A minute, or, First Draught of the Optiques, which he dedicated to Newcastle in 1646. According to Margaret, her husband had developed a new method ‘in the art of weapons … beyond all that ever were famous in it, found out by his own ingenuity and practice’ (Cavendish, Life, 112–13). Newcastle set down his ‘method’ in ‘The truth off the sorde’ (BL, Harley MS 4206). This unpublished treatise, which is addressed to his two sons and dedicated to Charles II, was begun during the period spent in Paris. Hobbes provided a brief essay entitled ‘The mathematicall demonstration off the sorde’ (BL, Harley MS 5219), intended for insertion near the beginning of the work.

Since his departure from England, Newcastle had suffered financial hardship, but his credit improved considerably when the queen reimbursed nearly £2000 of the money she had borrowed from him in Yorkshire. In spring 1648 the marquess was summoned to a conference at St Germain to discuss the possibility of rekindling the royalist campaign. Before the end of June, Rupert travelled to The Hague in the company of Prince Charles to take command of the navy which had defected from parliament, with the intention of rescuing the king from the Isle of Wight and sailing up the Thames to London. The queen implored Newcastle to follow her son but he arrived after the prince had set sail. Nothing came of the venture, and the marquess finding life in Rotterdam too expensive, decided to move to Antwerp towards the end of 1648. Newcastle took up residence in the house of Peter Paul Rubens, possibly converting the salon, known today as the studio, into a riding school. On 12 January 1650 he was made a knight of the Garter and he became a privy councillor three months later. Newcastle found the council deeply divided over the issue of brokering a deal with the Scots. He supported the proposition and was desirous to accompany the king, but the covenanters refused to countenance his involvement. Instead he was sent as ambassador extraordinary to the king of Denmark with the purpose of seeking help for the invasion of England. During the rest of his exile in Antwerp, Newcastle seems to have taken no part in political transactions. In November 1651 Sir Charles returned to England in the company of his brother's wife in order to save Welbeck and Bolsover from confiscation. Margaret returned to Antwerp early in 1653, but Sir Charles died in England on 4 February 1654.

Newcastle spent the greater part of his time abroad in training horses. His equestrian skill was famous throughout Europe and his riding school at Antwerp attracted visitors from all over the continent. In 1658 he published his treatise on horsemanship, La méthode nouvelle et Invention extraordinaire de dresser les chevaux. The volume contains forty plates by Clouet, de Jode, and Vorsterman after drawings by Van Diepenbeck. The printing alone cost in excess of £1300, and he was obliged to borrow money to see the book through the press. Newcastle also indulged his muse. The Kingdom's Weekly Intelligencer for 23 February–2 March 1647 reported that the marquess had written for a company of English actors: ‘in the ruins of his country and himself he can be at leisure to make Prologues and Epilogues for players’ (Trease, 154). Newcastle's literary papers contain several dramatic works written in exile, including a dialogue on the origin of names which draws on real and fictitious characters, a prologue and part of a pastoral written at Antwerp and a comic interlude entitled ‘A Pleasante & Merrye Humor off a Roge’. In February 1658 he collaborated with the exiled court musician and composer Nicholas Lanier on a royal entertainment staged in the Cavendishes' lodgings at Antwerp in which the actor Michael Mohun, ‘made a speech in verse of his lordship's own poetry, complimenting the King in his highest hyperbole’. Alice, Viscountess Moore of Drogheda, sang a song ‘of the same author's set … by Nich. Lanier’, and Mohun ‘ended all with another speech, prophesying his Majesty's re-establishment’ (CSP dom., 1657–8, 311).

Life during the Restoration

Newcastle travelled to The Hague shortly after Charles II was proclaimed king on 8 May 1660. He sailed to London independently of the royal party and was present in the House of Lords on several occasions throughout June and July. Some time before the autumn Newcastle devised a private royal entertainment for Charles II which drew on events in the monarch's recent past and alluded to his affair with Barbara Villiers (Hulse, ‘King's entertainment’, 355–405).

Newcastle's lengthy advice for Charles II, ‘For your most sacred matie’, was written in or shortly before the Restoration. Reflecting on the mistakes of the king's father, he warned Charles II to take command of the army, ‘for withoute an Armeye In your owne handes you are butt a kinge Uppon the Courteseye of others’ (S. A. Strong, 176), and to ensure that the crown was never again insolvent and dependent upon parliament to vote supplies. On the subject of religion Newcastle believed that the Church of England was the only true faith, for ‘Popery, & Presbetery, though they looke divers wayes, with their heads, yett they are tied together like Samson Foxes by theyr Tayles Careinge the same firebrandes of Covetusnes & Ambition’ (ibid., 183). On a lighter note he recommended the return of all the court ceremonies and festivities.

On 13 September the bill for restoring unto the marquess all the honours, lands, and tenements which he had enjoyed before October 1642 received royal assent. Margaret estimated that the civil war and interregnum had lost her husband nearly £1 million in land revenue. Welbeck and Bolsover were in need of repair. Newcastle's townhouse in Clerkenwell had been sold in 1654 in payment of his debts. He was therefore obliged to occupy lodgings first in Aldgate then at Dorset House on his return from exile. Legal wrangling prevented the Clerkenwell property reverting to the family until after Michaelmas 1662. Newcastle presumed that Charles would grant him a major office in recognition of his past loyalty and services but he was denied such an honour. Disillusioned, he took leave of the king following his reappointment as gentleman of the bedchamber on 21 September 1660 and lord lieutenant of Nottinghamshire ten days later. Newcastle did not return to London for his installation as knight of the Garter on 15 April 1661, but sent his son Henry as proxy. Moreover he did not attend Charles's coronation on St George's day though he travelled south during the summer and is listed among the persons of quality present at the first reading of the English liturgy in the French church at the Savoy on 14 July 1661. In the same month he was made chief justice of eyre north of the Trent. On 16 March 1665 he was created duke of Newcastle upon Tyne. His retirement from public life was taken up with breeding horses. He laid out a 5-mile racetrack at Welbeck, holding meetings six times a year in which his neighbours competed for a silver cup. Newcastle began work on his second treatise on horsemanship, A New Method, and Extraordinary Invention, to Dress Horses (1667), which he described as ‘neither a translation of the first, nor an absolutely necessary addition to it’ (Trease, 196). A partial draft of this work entitled ‘The epitomey of the new method …’ is preserved among the duke's papers (U. Nott. L., MSS Pw V 21–2).

Newcastle continued to patronize music after the Restoration. On 2 November 1661 he paid wages of £15 to ‘Mr Young the Violist’ (U. Nott. L., MS Pw V 1/670), possibly the composer William Young (d. 1671) who returned briefly to England in the early 1660s. In the second edition of his theoretical treatise A Compendium of Practical Musick, dedicated to the duke in 1667, Simpson refers to ‘some things which I formerly composed for your Grace's recreation’. At least one of his three-part pavans, inscribed ‘at Welbeck’ (Bodl. Oxf., MSS Mus. Sch. C59–60, p. 59), must have been composed during the period December 1643–mid-January 1644 when Newcastle marched ‘to his own House and Garrison, in which parts he stayed some time, both to refresh his army, and to settle and reform some disorders he found there’ (Cavendish, Life, 32).

Pepys, who saw a revival of The Country Captaine on four occasions in 1661, 1667, and 1668, described the comedy as ‘so silly a play as in all my life I never saw, and the first that ever I was weary of in my life’ (Pepys, 2.202). Newcastle's Restoration comedies The Humorous Lovers (1677) and The Triumphant Widow, or, The Medley of Humours (1677), both of which are indebted to Jonson, were staged by the duke of York's company at Lincoln's Inn Fields in 1667 and the Dorset Garden Theatre in 1674 respectively. Newcastle's friendship with the company's founder, Sir William Davenant, predated the civil war. Together they had been implicated in the first army plot. Davenant later served as lieutenant-general of ordnance in Newcastle's army and like the duke was forced into exile at Henrietta Maria's French court. Matthew Locke, who may have met Newcastle in the Netherlands in 1648, collaborated in the production of The Triumphant Widow; two songs in the composer's hand are preserved among the duke's papers (U. Nott. L., MS Pw V 23). In August 1667 Davenant's company performed Sir Martin Mar-All. Based on Molière's L'Etourdi, the play was ‘made by my Lord Duke of Newcastle, but as everybody says corrected by Dryden’ (Pepys, 8.387).

According to Mary Evelyn the duke also collaborated with Dryden on the lost comedy The Heiress, which the king saw on 29 January 1669 (Trease, 200). Throughout his writing career Newcastle reworked material from his earlier compositions. Several verses from The Phanseys were reused in The Humorous Lovers while a substantial proportion of The Triumphant Widow is based on ‘A Pleasante & Merrye Humor off a Roge’ and ‘The king's entertainment’ of 1660. Following Newcastle's death his protégé Thomas Shadwell supervised the printing of both plays, for which he received £22, and was largely responsible for rewriting the scenes from the royal entertainment. The dramatist was a regular visitor to Welbeck. He enjoyed considerable favours from the duke and dedicated four of his plays to him, The Sullen Lovers (1668), Epsom Wells (1673), The Virtuoso (1676), and The Libertine (1676). Newcastle contributed commendatory poems and several passages in verse and prose to Margaret's literary works both before and after the Restoration, including among others Natures Pictures Drawn by Fancies Pencil to the Life (1656) and Plays (1668). A series of poems or songs dated 30 September 1675 to 27 October 1676 (U. Nott. L., MSS Pw V 25, fols. 56a–103) reveals that he continued to write verse up until his death.

On 16 May 1670 Charles II granted Newcastle's request for burial in Westminster Abbey. Three years later on 15 December Margaret died unexpectedly. The duke was too old to make the journey south for the funeral. He wrote the inscription for her tomb and collected together all the letters, addresses, dedications, and elegies written in praise of his wife which he published in 1676 as Letters and Poems in Honour of the Incomparable Princess, Margaret, Duchess of Newcastle. At the beginning of the Restoration, Newcastle had bought Nottingham Castle and in the 1670s he set about building a residence on the site. The work was undertaken by Samuel Marsh who had rebuilt the state rooms at Bolsover in the previous decade. The duke recorded in his will, dated 4 October 1676, ‘I earnestly desire [it] may be finished to the form and model by me laid and designed’ (Trease, 211). The castle was completed in 1679 at a cost of over £14,000. Newcastle died at Welbeck Abbey on Christmas day 1676 and was buried on 22 January 1677 alongside Margaret in Westminster Abbey.

Newcastle's dominant position among the ruling élite in the midlands was founded on his landed wealth and public office in which he discharged his duties as lord lieutenant with diplomacy and understanding. His unswerving loyalty to the crown during his command of the royalist forces in the north won him the respect of his officers and troops alike. However, except for a brief period as governor to the prince, Newcastle remained on the fringes of the court. Both in his dramatic works and in his advice to Charles II he was an outspoken critic of the growing remoteness of the Caroline monarchy. Fifteen years after his death Newcastle was described by Gerard Langbaine as ‘our English Mecoenas’ (Langbaine, 386). Throughout his life he patronized many of the leading exponents in the fields of literature, art, music, and science, and was a major contributor to the development of the English baroque.

Lynn Hulse

Sources  

G. Trease, Portrait of a cavalier: William Cavendish, first duke of Newcastle (1979) · M. Cavendish, duchess of Newcastle, The life of William Cavendish, duke of Newcastle, ed. C. H. Firth (1907) · L. Hulse, ed., Dramatic works by William Cavendish, Malone Society Reprints, 158 (1996) · The country captain by William Cavendish, earl of Newcastle, ed. A. Johnson, Malone Society Reprints, 162 (1999) · W. Cavendish, marquess of Newcastle, The country captaine, and The varietie, two comedies, written by a person of honor (1649) · L. Hulse, ‘“The king's entertainment” by the duke of Newcastle’, Viator, 26 (1995), 355–405 · W. Cavendish, ‘Witts triumvirate, or, The philosopher’, BL, Add. MS 45865 · W. Cavendish, duke of Newcastle, The humorous lovers (1677) · W. Cavendish, duke of Newcastle, The triumphant widow (1677) · W. Cavendish, marquess of Newcastle, The phanseys, BL, Add. MS 32497 · D. 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Archives  

BL, Add. MSS 70499–70500 · U. Nott., Portland MSS, Pw I and Pw V series |  BL, Harley MSS · BL, letters to first marquess of Halifax and James, duke of York, C6


Likenesses  

A. Van Dyck, oils, 1637, Welbeck Abbey, Nottinghamshire · marble tomb effigy, c.1676, Westminster Abbey · S. Cooper, miniature (after A. Van Dyck), Buccleuch estates, Selkirk · A. van Diepenbeck, portrait, BM [see illus.] · W. Hollar, engraving, NPG · engravings, repro. in W. Cavendish, Méthode et invention extraordinaire de dresser les chevaux (Antwerp, 1658) · miniatures, Welbeck Abbey, Nottinghamshire; repro. in Trease, Portrait · oils (after A. Van Dyck), Althorp, Northamptonshire · portrait (after A. Van Dyck), Palace of Westminster, London; repro. in Trease, Portrait