WILLIAM CAVENDISH, baron Ogle, viscount Mansfield, earl, marquis, and duke of Newcastle, one of the most accomplished persons, as well as one of the most able generals and most distinguished patriots of the age, was son of sir Charles Cavendish, youngest son of sir William Cavendish, and younger brother of the first earl of Devonshire, by Catherine, daughter of Cuthbert lord Ogle. He was born in 1592, and discovering great capacity in his infancy, his father had him educated with such success, that he early acquired a large stock of solid learning, to which he added the graces of politeness. This soon made him be taken notice of at the court of James I. where he was quickly distinguished by the king's favour; and its 1610, was made knight of the bath, at the creation of Henry prince of Wales. In 1617, his father died, by which he came to the possession of a very large estate; and having a great interest at court, he was by letters-patent, dated November 3, 1620, raised to the dignity of a peer of the realm, by the style and title of baron Ogle and viscount Mansfield; and having no less credit with Charles I. than with his father king James, was in the third year of the reign of that prince advanced to the higher title of earl of Newcastle upon Tyne, and at the same time he was created baron Cavendish of Bolesover. Our genealogists and antiquaries give us but a very obscure account of these honours, or at least, of the barony of Ogle, to which, in the inscription upon his own and his grandmother the countess of Shrewsbury's tomb, he is said to have succeeded in right of his mother. His attendance on the court, though it procured him honour, brought him very early into difficulties; and there is some reason to believe that he was not much liked by the great duke of Buckingham, who perhaps was apprehensive of the large share he had in his master's favour. However, he did not suffer, even by that powerful favourite's displeasure, but remained in full credit with his master; which was notwithstanding so far from being beneficial to him, that the services expected from him, and his constant waiting upon the king, plunged him very deeply in debt, though he had a large estate, of which we find him complaining heavily in his letters to his firm and steady friend the lord viscount Wentworth, afterwards earl of Strafford. But these difficulties never in the least discouraged him from doing his duty, or from testifying his zeal and loyalty, when the king's service required it. In 1638, when it was thought requisite to take the prince of Wales, afterwards Charles II. from the nursery, the king made choice of the earl of Newcastle, as the person in his kingdom most fit to have the tuition of his heir-apparent; and accordingly declared him governor to the prince. In the spring of 1639, the first troubles in Scotland broke out, which induced the king to assemble an army in the north; soon after which, he went down thither to put himself at the head of it; and in his way, was most splendidly entertained by the earl of Newcastle, at his noble seat at Welbeck, as he had been some years before when he went into that kingdom to be crowned; which though in itself a very trivial matter, yet such was the magnificence of this noble peer, that from the circumstances attending them, both these entertainments have found a place in general histories. But this was not the only manner in which he expressed his warm affection for his master. Such expeditions require great expences, and the king's treasury was but indifferently provided, for the supply of which, the earl contributed ten thousand pounds, and also raised a troop of horse, consisting of about two hundred knights and gentlemen, who served at their own charge; and this was honoured with the title of the Prince's troop. These services, however, rather heightened than lessened that envy borne to him by some great persons' about the court, and the choice that had been made of his lordship for the tuition of the prince, which was at first so universally approved, began now to be called in question by those who meant very soon to call every thing in question. On this the earl desired to resign his office, which he did; and in June 1640, it was given to the marquis of Hertford. As his lordship took this step from the knowledge he had of the ill-will borne him by the chief persons amongst the disaffected, so he thought he could not take a better method to avoid the effects of their resentment, than to retire into the country; which accordingly he did, and remained there quietly till he received his majesty's orders to visit Hull; and though these came at twelve o'clock at night, his lordship went immediately thither, though forty miles distant, and entered the place with only two or three servants, early the next morning. He offered his majesty to have secured for him that important fortress, and all the magazines that were there: but instead of receiving such a command as he expected, his majesty sent him instructions to obey whatever directions were sent him by the parliament; upon the heels of which, came their order for him to attend the service of the house; which he accordingly did, when a design was formed to have attacked him, but his general character was so good, that this scheme did not succeed. He now again retired into the country, but soon after, upon the king's coming to York, his lordship was sent for thither; and in June 1642, his majesty gave him directions to take upon him the care of the town of Newcastle, and the command of the four adjacent counties of Northumberland, Cumberland, Westmoreland, and Durham. These orders were easily issued, but they were not so easily to be carried into execution; for at this time, the king had not either money, forces, or ammunition; and yet there never was more apparent necessity, for at that juncture his majesty had not a single port open in his dominions; and if either the order had been delayed a few days, or had been sent to any other person, the design had certainly miscarried. But, as soon as he received his majesty's commands, he repaired immediately to the place, and by his own interest there secured it: he raised also a troop of one hundred and twenty horse, and a good regiment of foot, which secured him from any sudden attempts. Soon after, the queen, who was retired out of the kingdom, sent a supply of arms and ammunition, which being designed for the troops under the king's command, the earl took care they should be speedily and safely conducted to his majesty under the escort of his only troop, which his majesty kept, to the great prejudice of his own affairs in the north. The parliament, in the mean time, had not forgotten the earl's behaviour towards them, but as a mark of their resentment excepted him by name; which was so far from discouraging, that it put his lordship upon a more decided part: and having well considered his own influence in those parts, he offered to raise an army in the north for his majesty's service. On this the king gave him a commission, constituting him general of all the forces raised north of Trent; and likewise general and commander in chief of such as might be raised in the counties of Lincoln, Nottingham, Lancaster, Chester, Leicester, Rutland, Cambridge, Huntingdon, Norfolk, Suffolk, and Essex; with power to confer the honour of knighthood, coin money, and to print and set forth such declarations as should seem to him expedient; of all which extensive powers, though freely conferred, and without reserve, his lordship made a very sparing use. But with respect to the more material point of raising men, his lordship prosecuted it with such diligence, that in less than three months he had an army of eight thousand horse, foot, and dragoons, with which he marched directly into Yorkshire; and his forces having defeated the enemy at Pierce-bridge, his lordship advanced to York, where sir Thomas Glenham, the governor, presented him with the keys, and the earl of Cumberland and many of the nobility resorted thither to compliment and to assist his lordship. He did not long remain there; but, having placed a good garrison in the city, marched on towards Tadcaster, where the parliament forces were very advantageously posted. The design which the earl had formed, not only for reducing that place, but for making the troops that were there prisoners, failed, through the want of diligence in some of his officers; but notwithstanding this, his lordship attacked the place so vigorously, that the enemy thought fit to retire, and leave him in possession of the best part of Yorkshire. This advantage he improved to the utmost, by establishing garrisons in proper places, particularly at Newark upon Trent, by which the greatest part of Nottinghamshire, and some part of Lincolnshire, were kept in obedience. In the beginning of 1643, his lordship gave orders for a great convoy of ammunition to be removed from Newcastle to York, under the escort of a body of horse, commanded by lieutenant-general King, a Scotch officer, whom his majesty had lately created lord Ethyn. The parliament forces attempted to intercept this convoy at Yarum-bridge, but were beaten on the 1st of February with a great loss. Soon after this, her majesty landing at Burlington, the earl drew his forces that way to cover her journey to York, where she safely arrived on the 7th of March, and having pressing occasions for money, his lordship presented her with three thousand pounds, and furnished an escort of fifteen hundred men, under the command of lord Percy, to conduct a supply of arms and ammunition to the king at Oxford, where he kept them for his own service. Not long after, sir Hugh Cholmondley and captain Brown Bushel were prevailed upon to return to their duty, and give up the important port and castle of Scarborough. This was followed by the routing Ferdinando lord Fairfax on Seacroft, or as some call it Bramham-moor, by lord George Goring, then general of the horse under the earl, when about eight hundred of the enemy were taken prisoners; and this again made way for another victory gained on Tankersly-moor. In the month of April, the earl marched to reduce Rotherham, which he took by storm, and soon after Sheffield; but in the mean time, lord Goring and sir Francis Mackworth were surprised, on the 21st of May, at Wakefield, where the former and most of his men were made prisoners, which was a great prejudice to the service. In the same month her majesty went from York to Pomfret under the escort of the earl's forces; and from thence she continued her journey to Oxford, with a body of seven thousand horse, foot, and dragoons, detached for that service by the earl; and those forces, likewise, the king kept about him. In the month of June the earl reduced Howly-house by storm; and on the 30th gained a complete victory over Ferdinando lord Fairfax, though much superior to him in numbers, on Adderton-heath, near Bradford, where the enemy had seven hundred men killed, and three thousand taken prisoners; and on the 2d of July following Bradford surrendered. The earl advanced next into Lincolnshire, where he took Gainsborough and Lincoln; but was then recalled by the pressing solicitations of the gentlemen of Yorkshire into that country, where Beverley surrendered to him on the 28th of August, and in the next month, his lordship was prevailed on to besiege Hull, the only place of consequence then held for the parliament in those parts. Notwithstanding these important successes obtained by an army raised, and in a great measure kept up by his lordship's personal influence and expence, there have not been wanting censures upon his conduct; of which, however, his majesty had so just a sense, that by letters-patent dated the 27th of October, he advanced him to the dignity of marquis of Newcastle; and in the preamble of his patent all his services are mentioned with suitable encomiums. That winter the earl marched into Derbyshire, and from thence to his own house at Welbeck in Nottinghamshire, where he received the news of the Scots intending to enter England, which brought him back into Yorkshire, from whence he sent sir Thomas Glenham to Newcastle, and himself for some time successfully opposed the Scots in the bishopric of Durham: but, the forces he left behind under the command of lord Bellasis at Selby being routed, the marquis found himself obliged to retire, in order, if possible, to preserve York; and this he did with so much military prudence, that he arrived there safely in the month of April 1644, and retaining his infantry and artillery in that city, sent his horse to quarter in Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, and Leicestershire, for the sake of subsistence. The city was very soon blocked up by three armies, who quickly commenced a regular siege, and were once very hear taking the place by storm; and at last, having lain before it three months, brought the garrison into great distress for want of provision; and if the marquis had not very early had recourse to a short allowance, had infallibly reduced it by famine. For though sir Charles Lucas, who commanded the marquis's horse, importuned the king for relief, yet it was the latter end of June before his majesty could send a sufficient body, under the command of prince Rupert, to join sir Charles Lucas, and attempt the forcing the enemy to raise the siege; which, however, upon their approach, they did, remaining on the west side of the Owse with all their forces, while the king's army advanced on the east side of the same river. By this quick and vigorous march, prince Rupert had done his business; but, as is very well observed by a most judicious historian of these times, he would needs overdo it; and not content with the honour of raising the siege of York by a confederate army much superior to his own, he was bent upon having the honour to beat that army also; and this brought on the fatal battle of Hessom, or, as it is more generally called, Marston-moor, which was fought July 2, 1644, against the consent of the marquis of Newcastle, who, seeing the king's affairs totally undone thereby, made the best of his way to Scarborough, and from thence, with a few of the principal officers of his army, took shipping for Hamburgh. After staying about six months at Hamburgh, he went by sea to Amsterdam, and from thence made a journey to Paris, where he continued for sometime; and where, notwithstanding the vast estate he had when the civil war broke out, his circumstances were now so bad, that himself and his young wife were reduced to the pawning their cloaths for a dinner. He removed afterwards to Antwerp, that he might be nearer his own country; and there, though under very great difficulties, he resided for several years; while the parliament in the mean time levied prodigious sums upon his estate, insomuch that the computation of what he lost by the disorders of those times, though none of the particulars can be disproved, amount in the whole to a sum that is almost incredible. It has been computed at £733,579. All these hardships and misfortunes never broke his spirit in the least, which his biographer somewhat fondly says was chiefly owing to his great foresight; for as he plainly perceived after the battle of Marston-moor, that the affairs of Charles I. were irrecoverably undone, so he discerned through the thickest clouds of Charles IId's adversity, that he would be infallibly restored: and as he had predicted the civil war to the father before it began, so he gave the strongest assurance to the son of his being called home, by addressing to him a treatise upon Government and the Interests of Great Britain with respect to the other powers of Europe; which he wrote at a time when the hopes of those about his majesty scarcely rose so high as the marquis's expectations. During this long exile of eighteen years, in which he suffered so many and so great hardships, this worthy nobleman wanted not some consolations that were particularly such to one of his high and generous spirit. He was, notwithstanding his low and distressed circumstances, treated with the highest respect, and with the most extraordinary marks of distinction, by the persons entrusted with the government of the countries where he resided. He received the high compliment of having the keys of the cities he passed through in the Spanish dominions offered him: he was visited by don John of Austria, and by several princes of Germany. But what comforted him most was the company very frequently of his royal master, who, in the midst of his sufferings, bestowed upon him the most noble order of the garter. On his return to England at the restoration, he was received with all the respect due to his unshaken fidelity and important services; was constituted chief justice in Eyre of the counties north of Trent, and, by letters-patent dated the 16th of March 1664, was advanced to the dignity of earl of Ogle, and duke of Newcastle. He spent the remainder of his life, for the most part, in a country retirement, and in reading and writing, in which he took singular pleasure. He also employed a great part of his time in repairing the injuries which his fortune had received, and at length departed this life December 25, 1676, in the eighty-fourth year of his age. His grace was twice married, but had issue only by his first lady. His body lies interred, with that of his duchess, under a most noble monument at the entrance into Westminster-abbey, with an inscription suitable to his merits. His titles descended to his son Henry, earl of Ogle, who was the last heir male of this family, and died July 26, 1691, in whom the title of Newcastle, in the line of Cavendish, became extinguished, but his daughters married into some of the noblest families of this kingdom.
Dr. Kippis, in the last edition of the Biographia Brittanica, observes, that the Life of the duke of Newcastle, written for the first edition by Dr Campbell, is "one of the articles in which that biographer has carried his praises to the utmost height of which they were capable of being raised," and therefore agrees with Mr. Walpole (lord Orford) that "the ample encomiums would endure some abatement." Dr. Campbell on some occasions certainly carried his praises too far, but, as we have confined ourselves chiefly to the facts in the duke's life, we have no apology to make for what we have not inserted. If, however, we have shunned Dr. Campbell's error, we have little hesitation in saying that we should admit of one more absurd, were we to copy those "abatements" which Dr. Kippis has brought together from such writers as lord Orford, and Messrs. Hume and Granger. In themselves they amount to little more than that general charge of imprudence which it is easy to advance against an unsuccessful commander, and most easy for those who living at a distance from the time cannot be supposed much acquainted with the real truth. But the character lord Clarendon has given of the duke, which lord Orford admits to be "one of the noble historian's finest portraits," and which has been since confirmed by the opposite party in the recently-published "Memoirs of Col. Hutchinson," is a far better foundation on which to rest our opinion. The duke was not without his failings; his character has a greater portion of the romantic in it than is agreeable to the sobriety of mind which now prevails, but still it cannot be denied that his Quixotism, if we must use such an expression, was demonstrated in a series of persevering acts of bravery and munificence, of which we have few examples on record.
Of his grace's literary labours, it is less possible to entertain a high opinion. Except the first article we shall mention, they may be passed over with very slight notice as the amusements of a nobleman, who, with a strong attachment to poetry and the polite arts, was not qualified to advance either, unless by his patronage. It has been remarked by Granger, with a sneer borrowed from Strawberry-hill, that "the duke of Newcastle was so attached to the muses, that he could not leave them behind him, but carried them to the camp, and made Davenant, the poet-laureat, his lieutenant-general of the ordnance." Why did he not add, that his scout-master-general was a clergyman, the rev. Mr. Hudson, and that the celebrated Chillingworth served in the engineers? The fact was, that after Davenant, at the risk of his life, returned to England to devote himself to the king 's service, the duke did promote him to the above office, and his majesty bestowed the honour of knighthood on him for his able and judicious conduct at the siege of Gloucester. While the duke was permitted to devote his time, his health, and his fortune, to the royal cause, he never suffered his thoughts to stray far from his employment. It was in his exile, that being extremely fond of the breaking and managing horses, which is now almost entirely left to grooms and jockies, he thought fit to publish his sentiments on those subjects in a work we are about to notice, and which is still held in high esteem. He also, for the amusement of his leisure hours, applied himself to dramatic poetry, the produce of which, says Mr. Reed, cannot but give us a strong idea of his fortitude and cheerfulness of temper, even under the greatest difficulties, since, though written during his banishment, and in the midst of depression and poverty, all the pieces he has left us in that way of writing are of the comic kind.
His grace's works are, 1. "La methode nouvelle de dresser lei Chevaux," &c. Antwerp, 1658, fol. It was first written in English, and translated into French by a Walloon. "A new method and extraordinary invention to dress Horses, and work them according to nature; as also to perfect nature by the subtlety of art," Lond. 1667, fol. This, the author informs the reader, is "neither a translation of the first, nor an absolute necessary addition to it; and may be of use without the other, as the other hath been hitherto, and still is, without this but both together will, questionless, do best." His other works are plays, I. "The Exile." 2. "The Country Captain," Antwerp, 1649. 3. "Variety," 1649, 12mo. 4. "The Humourous Lovers," 1677, 4to. 5. "The Triumphant Widow," 1677, 4to. These are all comedies, but in the Biog. Dramatica it is doubted whether the first exists. His poems are scattered among those of his duchess, in whose plays too he wrote many scenes; and a few prose articles are noticed by Mr. Park, in his excellent edition of the "Royal and Noble Authors."