Cavendish, William, first Earl of Devonshire d. 1626, second son of Sir William Cavendish [qv.], was educated with the children of George Talbot, sixth earl of Shrewsbury, whom his mother married after his father's death. The Countess of Shrewsbury showed him special favour, and made him a rich allowance in his youth. He was M.P. for Liverpool in 1586 and for Newport in 1588, and high sheriff of Derbyshire, where the estates of his family lay, in 1595. He was created Baron Cavendish of Hardwicke on the christening of the Princess Sophia in May 1605. He aided largely in the colonisation of the Bermudas, and one of the islands was called after him. His mother's death in 1608, and his elder brother Henry's death in 1616, gave him a vast fortune. He was in attendance on James I in a progress in Wiltshire in 1618, and on 2 Aug. was created Earl of Devonshire, while the court was staying at the Bishop of Salisbury's palace. He was currently reported to have paid 10,000l. for the title. He was named lord-lieutenant of Derbyshire 1 May 1619. He died on 3 March 1625-6, and was buried at Edensor.
His first wife was Anne, daughter of Henry Keighley of Keighley, Yorkshire, by whom he had three sons and three daughters. Of the former, Gilbert, who has been credited with the authorship of Horę Subsecivę [see Brydges, Grey], died young; William became second earl [qv.]; and James died in infancy. Cavendish's second wife was Elizabeth, daughter of Edward Boughton of Causton, Warwickshire, widow of Sir Richard Wortley of Wortley, Yorkshire, by whom he had a son, John (d. 1618), made K.B. when Prince Charles was created Prince of Wales, 3 Nov. 1616.
Biog. Brit. (Kippis)
Life of Duke of Newcastle, ed. C. H. Firth (1886)
Gardiner's Hist. of England, iii. 215
Cal. State Papers (Dom.)
Kennet's Memoirs of the Cavendish Family (1737).
Contributor: S. L. [Sidney Lee]