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Edward Cavendish, 10th Duke of Devonshire: Wikis


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Edward William Spencer Cavendish, 10th Duke of Devonshire, KG, MBE (6 May 1895 – 26 November 1950), known as Marquess of Hartington (1908–1938), was the head of the Devonshire branch of the Cavendish family. Born in the Parish of St George in the East, Stepney, he was the owner of Chatsworth House, and one of the largest private landowners in both the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. He was also Member of Parliament for West Derbyshire from 1923 to 1938 and a minister in Winston Churchill's wartime government.

He was Chancellor of the University of Leeds from 1938 until 1950. He was a freemason and was Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England from 1947 to 1950.



The Duke's sister Lady Dorothy was married to Prime Minister Harold Macmillan.

In 1917 he married Lady Mary Gascoyne-Cecil. They had five children:


On 26 November 1950, he suffered a heart attack and died in Eastbourne in the presence of his general practitioner, Dr John Bodkin Adams, the suspected serial killer.[1] Despite the fact that the duke had not seen a doctor in the 14 days before his death, the coroner was not notified as he should have been. Adams signed the death certificate stating that the Duke died of natural causes. 13 days earlier, Edith Alice Morrell — another patient of Adams — had also died. Historian Pamela Cullen speculates that as the Duke was head of the freemasons, Adams - a member of the fundamentalist Plymouth Brethren - would have been motivated to withhold the necessary vital treatment,[2] since the "Grandmaster of England would have been seen by some of the Plymouth Brethren as Satan incarnate".[3] No proper police investigation was ever conducted into the death but his son, Andrew, later said "it should perhaps be noted that this doctor was not appointed to look after the health of my two younger sisters, who were then in their teens";[1] Adams had a reputation for grooming older patients in order to extract bequests.

Adams was tried in 1957 for Morrell's murder but controversially acquitted.[1][4] The prosecutor was Attorney-General Sir Reginald Manningham-Buller, a distant cousin of the Duke (via their shared ancestor, George Cavendish).[1] Cullen has questioned why Manningham-Buller failed to question Adams regarding the Duke's death, and suggests that he was wary of drawing attention to Prime Minister Harold Macmillan (the Duke's brother-in-law) and specifically to his wife who was having an extramarital affair with Robert Boothby at the time.[5]

Home Office pathologist Francis Camps linked Adams to 163 suspicious deaths in total, which would make him a precursor to Harold Shipman.[1]


The Duke's surprise death meant that his estate had to pay 80% death duties, which would have been avoided had he lived a few months longer. This led to the transfer of Hardwick Hall to the National Trust, and the sale of many of the Devonshires' accumulated assets, including tens of thousands of acres of land, and many works of art and rare books.



  1. ^ a b c d e Cullen, Pamela V., Stranger in Blood: The Case Files on Dr John Bodkin Adams, London, Elliott & Thompson, 2006, ISBN 1-904027-19-9
  2. ^ Cullen, pp. 97-101
  3. ^ Cullen, p. 100
  4. ^ Devlin, Patrick. Easing the passing: The trial of Doctor John Bodkin Adams, London, The Bodley Head, 1985.
  5. ^ Cullen, p. 617

See also

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Charles Frederick White
Member of Parliament for West Derbyshire
Succeeded by
Henry Philip Hunloke
Political offices
Preceded by
Douglas Hacking
Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs
Succeeded by
Geoffrey Shakespeare
Preceded by
Hugh O'Neill
Under-Secretary of State for India and Burma
Succeeded by
Earl of Munster
Preceded by
Harold Macmillan
Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies
Succeeded by
Arthur Creech Jones
Honorary titles
Preceded by
The Duke of Devonshire
Lord Lieutenant of Derbyshire
Succeeded by
Sir Ian Walker-Okeover, Bt
Masonic offices
Preceded by
The Earl of Harewood
Grand Master of the
United Grand Lodge of England

Succeeded by
The Earl of Scarbrough
Academic offices
Preceded by
The Duke of Devonshire
Chancellor of the University of Leeds
Succeeded by
Mary, Princess Royal
Peerage of England
Preceded by
Victor Cavendish
Duke of Devonshire
Succeeded by
Andrew Cavendish


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