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William Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland

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Title: William Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland  
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Subject: William Grenville, 1st Baron Grenville, William Petty, 2nd Earl of Shelburne, Frederick North, Lord North, Robert Jenkinson, 2nd Earl of Liverpool, George Canning
Collection: 1738 Births, 1809 Deaths, 18Th-Century Heads of Government, 19Th-Century Heads of Government, Alumni of Christ Church, Oxford, Bentinck Family, British Mps 1761–68, British Secretaries of State, Chancellors of the University of Oxford, Dukes of Portland, Fellows of the Royal Society, Knights of the Garter, Lord Presidents of the Council, Lord-Lieutenants of Nottinghamshire, Members of the Parliament of Great Britain for English Constituencies, Members of the Privy Council of Great Britain, People Educated at Westminster School, London, People from Nottinghamshire, Portland, Victoria, Prime Ministers of Great Britain, Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom, Whig Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom
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William Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland

His Grace
The Duke of Portland
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
In office
31 March 1807 – 4 October 1809
Monarch George III
Preceded by The Lord Grenville
Succeeded by Spencer Perceval
Prime Minister of Great Britain
In office
2 April 1783 – 19 December 1783
Monarch George III
Preceded by The Earl of Shelburne
Succeeded by William Pitt the Younger
Lord President of the Council
In office
30 July 1801 – 14 January 1805
Monarch George III
Prime Minister Henry Addington
William Pitt the Younger
Preceded by The Earl of Chatham
Succeeded by Viscount Sidmouth
Home Secretary
In office
11 July 1794 – 30 July 1801
Monarch George III
Preceded by Henry Dundas
Succeeded by Lord Pelham
Personal details
Born (1738-04-14)14 April 1738
Died 30 October 1809(1809-10-30) (aged 71)
Bulstrode Park, Buckinghamshire
Political party Whig, later Tory
Spouse(s) Lady Dorothy Cavendish
Children 6
Alma mater Christ Church, Oxford
Religion Church of England
Signature Cursive signature in ink

William Henry Cavendish Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland KG PC (14 April 1738 – 30 October 1809) was a British Whig and Tory statesman, Chancellor of the University of Oxford, Prime Minister of Great Britain, serving in 1783 and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1807 to 1809. The 24 years between his two terms as Prime Minister is the longest gap between terms of office of any Prime Minister. He was known before 1762 by the courtesy title Marquess of Titchfield. He held a title of every degree of British nobility—Duke, Marquess, Earl, Viscount, and Baron. He is also a great-great-great-grandfather of Queen Elizabeth II through her maternal grandmother.


  • Biography 1
    • Early life and education 1.1
    • Marriage and children 1.2
    • Political and public offices 1.3
    • Death and burial 1.4
  • Legacy 2
  • Titles and arms 3
    • Titles from birth 3.1
    • Arms 3.2
  • Cabinets as Prime Minister 4
    • First Ministry, April – December 1783 4.1
    • Second Ministry, March 1807 – October 1809 4.2
  • References 5
  • External links 6
  • Ancestors 7
  • Succession boxes 8


Early life and education

Lord Titchfield was the eldest son of William Bentinck, 2nd Duke of Portland and Margaret Cavendish-Harley and inherited many lands from his mother and his maternal grandmother.[1][2][3] He was educated at Westminster and Christ Church, Oxford.

Marriage and children

George Romney)

On 8 November 1766, Portland married Lady Dorothy Cavendish, a daughter of William Cavendish, 4th Duke of Devonshire and Charlotte Boyle. They were parents of six children:

Portland is a great-great-great-grandfather of Queen Elizabeth II (see ancestry of Elizabeth II).

Political and public offices

He was elected to sit in the Parliament for Weobley in 1761 before entering the Lords when he succeeded his father as Duke of Portland the next year. Associated with the aristocratic Whig party of Lord Rockingham, Portland served as Lord Chamberlain of the Household in Rockingham's first Government (1765–1766) and then as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in Rockingham's second ministry (April–August 1782); he resigned from Lord Shelburne's ministry along with other supporters of Charles James Fox following Rockingham's death.[5]

In April 1783, Portland was brought forward as titular head of a coalition government as Prime Minister, whose real leaders were Charles James Fox and Lord North. He served as First Lord of the Treasury in this ministry until its fall in December of the same year. During his tenure the Treaty of Paris was signed formally ending the American Revolutionary War.

In 1789, Portland became one of several vice presidents of Lord North.

Along with many such conservative Whigs as Edmund Burke, Portland was deeply uncomfortable with the French Revolution and broke with Fox over this issue, joining Pitt's government as Home Secretary in 1794. He continued to serve in the cabinet until Pitt's death in 1806—from 1801 to 1805 as Lord President of the Council and then as a Minister without Portfolio.

In March 1807, after the collapse of the Lord Castlereagh, Lord Hawkesbury, and Spencer Perceval.

Portland's second government saw the United Kingdom's complete isolation on the continent but also the beginning of recovery, with the start of the Peninsular War. In late 1809, with Portland's health poor and the ministry rocked by the scandalous duel between Canning and Castlereagh, Portland resigned, dying shortly thereafter.

He was Recorder of Nottingham until his death in 1809.

Death and burial

Memorial to the 3rd Duke of Portland at the family vault in St Marylebone Parish Church

The 3rd Duke of Portland died at Bulstrode Park, Buckinghamshire, after an operation to remove a kidney stone on 30 October 1809 and was buried in St Marylebone Parish Church, Marylebone, London.[6]

He had lived expensively: with an income of £17,000 a year (worth £577,000 in 2005),[7] he had debts at his death computed at £52,000 (£1.76 million in 2005),[7] which were paid off by his succeeding son selling off some property including Bulstrode.[8]

Along with Earl of Aberdeen, Benjamin Disraeli, William Ewart Gladstone, Marquess of Salisbury, Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, Andrew Bonar Law, and Neville Chamberlain, he is one of nine British Prime Ministers to die while his direct successor was in office, and the first to do so.


The Portland Vase of Roman glass was given its name due to it having been owned by Portland at his family residence at Bulstrode Park.

Portland parish in Jamaica was named after the 3rd Duke of Portland. The Titchfield School, founded in 1786, also in the parish is also named in his honor. The school's crest is derived from the Earl of Portland's personal crest.

Portland Canal and Portland Channel.

The department of Manuscripts and Special Collections, The University of Nottingham holds a number of papers relating to the 3rd Duke: the 3rd Duke's personal and political papers (Pw F) are part of the Portland (Welbeck) Collection; and the Portland (London) Collection (Pl) contains correspondence and official papers of the 3rd Duke, especially in series Pl C.

The Portland Estate Papers held at Nottinghamshire Archives also contain items relating to the 3rd Duke's properties.

The Portland Collection of fine and decorative art includes pieces owned and commissioned by the 3rd Duke, including paintings by George Stubbs.

Titles and arms

The 3rd Duke of Portland.

Titles from birth

  • Marquess of Titchfield (1738–61)
  • Marquess of Titchfield MP (1761-1762)
  • His Grace The Duke of Portland (1762–65)
  • His Grace The Duke of Portland, PC (1765–94)
  • His Grace The Duke of Portland, KG, PC (1794–1809)


Arms of William Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland
The title Duke of Portland was created by George I in 1716 .
A Coronet of a Duke
Out of a ducal coronet proper two arms counter-embowed vested Gules, on the hands gloves Or, each holding an ostrich feather Argent (Bentinck); A snake nowed proper (Cavendish)
Quarterly: 1st and 4th, Azure a cross moline Argent (Bentinck); 2nd and 3rd, Sable three stags' heads cabossed Argent attired Or, a crescent for difference (Cavendish)
Two lions double queued, the dexter Or and the sinister sable
Craignez Honte (Fear Dishonour)

Cabinets as Prime Minister

First Ministry, April – December 1783

Second Ministry, March 1807 – October 1809



  1. ^ "Line of descent of the Earls and Dukes of Portland" (PDF).  
  2. ^ Settlements, mortgages, litigation, Acts of Parliament etc. relating to the 'maternal' estates of the Dukes of Portland; 1583–1790, The University of Nottingham, UK.
  3. ^ Series of manorial papers in the Newcastle (Clumber) Collection (1st Deposit); 1357–1867, The University of Nottingham, UK.
  4. ^ "Harriet Catherine Greville". 
  5. ^  Stephens, Henry Morse (1885). "Bentinck, William Henry Cavendish". In  
  6. ^ Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Volume 5. Oxford University Press. 2004. p. 268.  
  7. ^ a b [2] National Archives currency converter.
  8. ^ Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Volume 5. pp. 268–269. 

External links

  • William Bentinck, Duke of Portland profile on the 10 Downing Street website
  • Biography of the 3rd Duke, with links to online catalogues, from Manuscripts and Special Collections, The University of Nottingham
  • Portraits of William Henry Cavendish Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland at the National Portrait Gallery, London
  • Archival material relating to William Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland listed at the UK National Archives


Succession boxes

Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
John Craster
George Venables-Vernon
Member of Parliament for Weobley
With: Hon. Henry Thynne
Succeeded by
William Lynch
Hon. Henry Thynne
Political offices
Preceded by
The Earl Gower
Lord Chamberlain
Succeeded by
The Earl of Hertford
Preceded by
The Earl of Carlisle
Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
Succeeded by
The Earl Temple
Preceded by
The Earl of Shelburne
Prime Minister of Great Britain
2 April 1783 – 19 December 1783
Succeeded by
William Pitt the Younger
Preceded by
The Earl of Shelburne
Leader of the House of Lords
Succeeded by
The Lord Sydney
Preceded by
Henry Dundas
Home Secretary
Succeeded by
Lord Pelham
Preceded by
The Earl of Chatham
Lord President of the Council
Succeeded by
The Viscount Sidmouth
New office Minister without Portfolio
Succeeded by
The Earl FitzWilliam
Preceded by
The Lord Grenville
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
31 March 1807 – 4 October 1809
Succeeded by
Spencer Perceval
Academic offices
Preceded by
Earl of Guilford
Chancellor of the University of Oxford
Succeeded by
Baron Grenville
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Lord North
President of the Foundling Hospital
Succeeded by
The Prince of Wales
later became King George IV
Preceded by
The 3rd Duke of Newcastle-under-Lyne
Lord Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire
Succeeded by
The 4th Duke of Newcastle-under-Lyne
Peerage of Great Britain
Preceded by
William Bentinck
Duke of Portland
Succeeded by
William Bentinck
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