CAVENDISH, Richard (d.c.1601), of Trimley St. Martin, Suff. and of Nottinghamshire.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
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Family and Education

2nd s. of Sir Richard Gernon alias Cavendish of Grimston Hall, Trimley St. Martin by his w. Beatrice Golde or Gould; bro. of William Cavendish I. educ. Oxf. and Camb.; MA Camb. 1573. m. 1da.1

Offices Held


Little is known of Cavendish’s early life, until he came to the notice of the Earl of. Leicester, who introduced him into the service of Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk. Cavendish then acted as a go-between between Norfolk and Mary Queen of Scots, at the same time corresponding with Cecil, Pembroke and Sir Nicholas Throckmorton, so that his exact role in the affair remains obscure though it was certainly unheroic. In September 1569, just after Norfolk had quitted the court, it appeared that Cavendish might be arrested: the earls of Shrewsbury and Huntingdon sought him at his house in Nottinghamshire, but he had fled to Suffolk, and eventually took refuge with the Duke at Kenninghall, Norfolk. However, Cavendish deserted Norfolk before the latter’s arraignment for treason, and appeared as a witness against him at the trial, during which Norfolk spoke out about his treachery.2

It was Leicester, the lord of the borough, who imposed Cavendish on Denbigh in 1572. The only probable reference to any activity by him in this Parliament is the appointment of Mr. ‘Candishe’ to a committee concerned with grants made by the dean and chapter of Norwich cathedral (2 Mar. 1576). Again he was probably the Mr. ‘Candish’ appointed to a religious committee, 16 Dec. 1584, during his second Parliament.3

He was abroad on a mission in 1575, and a decade later he was with Leicester in the Netherlands. In his letters to Burghley and Walsingham he praised Leicester for his ‘most orderly, wise and dutiful proceedings’, and urged that the Queen should accept the sovereignty of the States. Burghley in turn assured Leicester that Cavendish was ‘a most earnest devoted creature to your lordship’. Others deplored that Cavendish was one of those who ‘wholly possess his excellency when sufficienter men wait at the door’.4

In 1587 Cavendish was put forward by the Queen for an office in the common pleas, but there was opposition from the judges and Cavendish had to be content with an annuity of £40 from the Exchequer instead. He died, presumably, in 1601, the year in which Margaret, Countess of Cumberland, erected in Hornsey church a monument to him graced by the inscription: ‘Dear to his prince, in English court admired, beloved of great and honourable peers’. Cavendish had some reputation as a mathematician and man of letters.5

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: M.R.P.


  • 1. DNB; Vis. Suff. ed. Metcalfe, 12-13; Suff. Recs. ed. Copinger, v. 225; Copinger, Suff. Manors, iii. 98.
  • 2. Cooper, Ath. Cant. ii. 302; CSP Scot. 1563-9, p. 687; 1569-71, p. 452; 1571-4, pp. 32 seq.; 1581-3, p. 389; State Trials, i. 997-9; N. Williams, Duke of Norfolk, 235-6.
  • 3. See DENBIGH BOROUGHS; CJ, i. 110; D’Ewes, 340.
  • 4. CSP For. 1585-6, pp. 459, 496, 529, 533, 557, 669; 1586-7, pp. 17, 33, 128; E157/1; Leycester Corresp. (Cam. Soc. xxvii), 151, 160, 420.
  • 5. Lansd. 88, f. 215; Diary of John Dee (Cam. Soc. xix), 34-7; E.G. Taylor, Mathematical Practitioners of Tudor and Stuart England, 169; Lysons, Environs of London, ii(2), p. 426.