Cavendish, Christiana, Countess of Devonshire d. 1675, was the daughter of Edward Bruce of Kinloss (1549?-1611) [qv.]. In token of her father's services she, on her marriage to William Cavendish, second earl of Devonshire [qv.], received from the king a grant of 10,000l. After the death of her husband in 1628 she had the wardship of the young lord and the care of the estates, the value of which she greatly increased by her prudent management. At the rebellion she was one of the most enthusiastic supporters of the cause of the king, and her devotion to it was increased by the death of her second son, Charles [qv.], who was slain at Gainsborough on 28 July 1643. She took charge of the king's effects after the battle of Worcester, and during the protectorate was accustomed to entertain the friends of the cause at her house at Roehampton, and also kept up a correspondence with the principal royalists on the continent. General Monck, it is said, sent her a private signal to make her aware of his intention to restore the king. After the Restoration Charles II frequently resorted to her house at Roehampton, and the queen mother lived on terms of unusual intimacy with her till her death. She is described by her biographer as of that affability and sweet address, with so great wit and judgment, as captivated all who conversed with her. After the Restoration she was accustomed frequently to entertain the wits and men of letters, one of her favourite friends being Edmund Waller, who had been a sufferer in the royal cause. Waller dedicated to her his Epistles, which conclude with an Epistle to the Duchess, and he also wrote an epitaph on her son. William, earl of Pembroke, wrote a volume of poems in praise of her and Lady Rich, which was published with a dedication to her by Donne. A portrait of the countess by Theodore Russell was in the Duke of Bedford's collection at Woburn. She died on 16 Jan. 1674-5.

     Life of the Right Honourable and Religious Lady, Christian, late Countess Dowager of Devonshire, London, 1685
     Sir William Temple's Works, ii. 135
     Kennet's Memoirs of the Family of Cavendish, pp. 12-20
     Collins's Peerage, ed. 1812, i. 325-33
     Lysons's Environs of London, i. 430-2.

Contributor: T. F. H. [Thomas Finlayson Henderson]

Published: 1886