CAVENDISH SCOTT BENTINCK, William John, mq. of Titchfield (1800-1879).
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Family and Educationb. 17 Sept. 1800, 2nd. but 1st surv. s. of William Henry Cavendish Bentinck†, 4th duke of Portland, and Henrietta, da. and coh. of Maj.-Gen. John Scott† of Balcomie, Fife; bro. of Lord William George Frederick Cavendish Bentinck* and William Henry Cavendish Scott Bentinck, mq. of Titchfield*. educ. by fa.’s chaplain, Rev. D.H. Parry. unm. styled mq. of Titchfield 1824-54; suc. fa. as 5th duke of Portland 27 Mar. 1854. d. 6 Dec. 1879
Lt. army July 1818; cornet 10 Drag. 1818; lt. and capt. 7 Drag. (half-pay [I]) 1821; capt. 2 Life Gds. 1823; capt. R.W.I. Rangers (half-pay) 1824, ret. 1834.
Lord John Bentinck, as he was commonly styled, was educated privately at Welbeck and in Scotland with his younger brothers, whose passion for the chase he shared.1 Tall, handsome and an excellent horseman, with ‘no hint’ of his later eccentricity, he joined the 10th Hussars in 1818, but promotion eluded him and in September 1821, after much negotiation, he was transferred to the 7th Hussars with a lieutenancy for £350 and placed on the Irish half-pay as a captain for a further £1,100.2 He rejected his uncle George Canning’s* offer to make him his joint personal private secretary at the foreign office with his brother George in September 1822.3 In January 1823 he transferred to the Life Guards but, having become heir to the dukedom on the death of their elder brother Lord Titchfield, 5 Mar. 1824, he effected an exchange of commissions with George, in order to avoid active service.4 Now styled Lord Titchfield, he replaced his late brother as their uncle Lord William Henry Cavendish Bentinck’s locum for King’s Lynn, where Lord William deputised for him at the election and undertook all constituency business.5 Titchfield, who was admitted to Brooks’s, 13 Feb. 1825, rarely attended the Commons, preferring to spend his time at Welbeck or hunting at Cottesmore with his uncle Lord William Frederick Cavendish Bentinck*, and ‘looking out for a wife’.6 His only known votes were for Catholic relief, 1 Mar., 10 May 1825. He made way for his uncle at the dissolution in June 1826.7 That September he helped to break the news of George’s enormous racing debts to their father.8 He declined to be called to the Lords in August 1831 to help carry the reform bill.9
Titchfield travelled extensively on the continent, where he indulged his passion for opera. He shunned politics and suppressed his Peelite sympathies to avoid exposing his political differences with the Protectionist Lord George and their father, and he cited this in justification of his refusal to become involved in estate business in Portland’s lifetime.10 He succeeded as 5th duke in 1854, but delayed taking his seat in the Lords until 5 June 1857, shortly before he called in the £25,000 which his father had lent Benjamin Disraeli† for the purchase of Hughenden.11 The opera singer Adelaide Kemble, to whom he was devoted, had rejected him as a suitor, and he died childless and unmarried at his London home in Cavendish Square in December 1879. Physical illness, unexplained mental ‘absences’, a bizarre taste in architecture, his old fashioned dress and a passion for building tunnels and underground chambers had made him a legend in his own lifetime.12 His brothers had predeceased him without issue, and the dukedom and entailed estates passed to Lieutenant-General William John Arthur Charles James Cavendish Bentinck, a grandson of the 3rd duke.13 As stipulated in his will, dated 21 Aug. 1857, his sisters Lady Ossington and Lady Howard de Walden and their heirs inherited his unentailed property as well as personal and household effects. His eccentricities lent credence to false litigious claims in 1896 that he had led a double life as a London draper Thomas Charles Druce (d. 1864).14
Ref Volumes: 1820-1832
Author: Margaret Escott
Draws on D.J. Bradbury, Welbeck and the 5th duke of Portland and A.S. Turberville, Hist. Welbeck, ii. 398-448.
- 1. Nottingham Univ. Lib. Portland mss PwH 347-51.
- 2. Ibid. PwH 73-74, 78, 109, 110, 266, 347, 352-9, 430; Pw2H 33; Turberville, ii. 398.
- 3. Ibid. PwH 446; Greville Mems. i. 133-5.
- 4. Portland mss PwL 241; TNA 30/29/9/5/25.
- 5. Gent. Mag. (1824), i. 367; Portland mss PwJe 77-122, 1077; J. Rosselli, Lord William Bentinck, 76.
- 6. Portland mss PwK 441; PwL 31-45; Add. 52017, Townshend to H.E. Fox, 25 Apr., 1 Aug. 1825.
- 7. Bury and Norwich Post, 7 June 1826; Portland mss PwJe 118, 973-4.
- 8. Portland mss PwH 358.
- 9. Wellington mss WP1/1192/25; TNA 30/29/9/5/25.
- 10. Portland mss PwH 374; Greville Mems. v. 152.
- 11. Turberville, ii. 403.
- 12. The Times, 13 Dec. 1879.
- 13. W.J.A.C.J. Cavendish-Bentinck, Men, Women and Things, 30-33.
- 14. T. Besterman, The Druce-Portland Case.