Cavendish-Bentinck family, Dukes of Portland of Welbeck, Nottinghamshire
The Portland (London) Collection is so named to differentiate it from the Portland (Welbeck) Collections also held by Nottingham University. Although some of the Collection concerns property in London, the name derives from its chief creators, the firm of Baileys, Shaw and Gillett, London solicitors to successive Dukes of Portland. The bulk of the papers were generated in the course of their work on behalf of various members of the family, but particularly the 3rd-6th Dukes of Portland and their trustees as clients of the firm.
Bailey, Shaw and Smith was established in 1836 at 5 Berners Street, London. It became Bailey, Shaw, Smith and Bailey in 1847 and settled on its final title in 1875. It disappeared by amalgamation into Speechley, Bircham and Company in 1997, having moved from Berners Street in about 1990. The firm acted as solicitors to the Dukes of Portland from the mid-1830s. Until that time the legal business of the dukes had been carried out by agents in London, corresponding with stewards on the dukes' estates. Papers relating to pre-1830 business were clearly inherited by Bailey, Shaw and Smith and form part of the archive.
The archive is not solely concerned with legal and financial business, and includes some series which have no obvious explanation in this context. The most significant of these is the political correspondence of the 3rd Duke of Portland, which complements other papers of the 3rd Duke remaining at Welbeck, Nottinghamshire and now forming part of the University's Portland (Welbeck) Collection.
The Cavendish-Bentinck Dukes of Portland trace their line through Hans Willem Bentinck (1649-1709), who accompanied King William III from the Netherlands and, in recognition of his services, was made Earl of Portland in 1689. He was granted a large number of estates which were added to by following generations, often through advantageous marriages. A considerable part of the archive concerns these inherited estates, ranging in territory from the south coast of England to the north coast of Scotland. In addition, the collection reflects other financial investments of the the Earls and Dukes of Portland, and legal efforts to recoup the finances of the family which at various points were seriously embarrassed.
The solicitor's archive ceases around 1927 when the extant estates were brought together under the Welbeck Estates Company Limited. The records remained with the firm in London until the 1940s, when during the war the premises suffered bomb and subsequently water damage. Salvage efforts enabled the rescue of, apparently, most of the archive, but in a very disordered state. Many papers were irretrievably damaged; those which remain were for the most part in fragile condition and requiring extensive conservation treatment.
From the guide to the The Portland (London) Collection, being Legal, Financial and Estate Papers of the Dukes of Portland, 1304-1940, 1304-1940, (The University of Nottingham)
Hans Willem Bentinck (1649-1709) came to England from the Netherlands and was created Earl of Portland in 1689 by his close friend William III. He acquired a number of estates including Bulstrode in Buckinghamshire; Theobalds in Hertfordshire; and properties in Cumberland and Soho, Middlesex. His son, Henry (1682-1726), who was created 1st Duke of Portland in 1716, married Elizabeth Noel, daughter of the 2nd Earl of Gainsborough, and through her acquired the Titchfield estates in Hampshire (formerly owned by the Wriothesley family, Earls of Southampton). It was through the marriage of their son Henry, 2nd Duke (1709-1762) to Lady Margaret Cavendish Harley (1715-1785) in 1734 that the former Cavendish-owned Welbeck estates in Nottinghamshire came into the possession of the Bentinck family, Dukes of Portland.
Lady Margaret Cavendish Harley was the daughter and heir of Edward Harley, 2nd Earl of Oxford (1689-1741), and his wife Henrietta (1694-1755), the daughter of John Holles, 3rd Duke of Newcastle upon Tyne (d 1711) and Margaret Cavendish, who was the daughter and heir of Henry Cavendish, 2nd Duke of Newcastle upon Tyne (d 1691). Through her mother and grandmother Lady Margaret inherited not only the Welbeck estates but also many of the family papers of her Harley/Holles and Cavendish forebears. These were inherited on her death by her son William Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland (1738-1809) who made Welbeck Abbey his principal seat.
Papers of nineteenth-century members of the family also form part of the collection. These include the extensive official and administrative papers of Lord William Bentinck, brother of the 4th Duke of Portland, covering his career in Sicily and India, and the papers of Viscountess Ossington, sister of the 5th Duke of Portland.
During the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century most of the Bentinck and many of the other inherited estates were sold as were the Balcomie (Scottish) estates, which had been brought into the family through the marriage of William, 4th Duke of Portland (1786-1854) to the heiress, Henrietta Scott.
Although referred to as the Portland Collection, the papers at Nottingham are not those described by J.J. Arkwright, Papers of the Dukes of Portland, 10 vols (Historical Manuscripts Commission, 1891-1931), which are now held in other repositories.
From the guide to the Portland (Welbeck) Collection, 1571-1896, (The University of Nottingham)
|The Portland (London) Collection, being Legal, Financial and Estate Papers of the Dukes of Portland, 1304-1940, 1304-1940
|The University of Nottingham
|Portland (Welbeck) Collection, 1571-1896
|The University of Nottingham
|Administration of estates