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Lucy Cavendish at about the time of her marriage

Lady Frederick Cavendish (Lucy Caroline; née Lyttelton; 5 September 1841 – 22 April 1925) was a pioneer of women's education.

A daughter of George Lyttelton, 4th Baron Lyttelton, she married into another aristocratic family, the Cavendishes, in 1864. Eighteen years later her husband, Lord Frederick Cavendish, was murdered in Dublin by Irish nationalists. After his death she devoted much of her time to the cause of girls' and women's education, for which she was honoured in her lifetime with an honorary degree, and posthumously when, in 1965, Cambridge University named its first post-graduate college for women after her.


Lucy Cavendish was born at the Lyttelton family house, Hagley Hall, Worcestershire on 5 September 1841. She was the second daughter of George Lyttelton, 4th Baron Lyttelton and his wife, Mary, née Glynne, whose sister married W. E. Gladstone.[1] In 1863 she was appointed a Maid of Honour to Queen Victoria, whom she attended until marrying the following year.[2]

On 7 June 1864 she married Lord Frederick Cavendish, the second son of the Duke of Devonshire. They had no children. Cavendish was elected to Parliament in 1865 and was assassinated by Irish nationalists in the Phoenix Park Murders on 6 May 1882, the day on which he took the oath of office of Chief Secretary for Ireland.[1] Though devastated by the assassination, on the day before the ringleader was hanged she sent him the small gold crucifix she had long worn, as a token of her forgiveness.[3] Gladstone was greatly moved when she told him that she could bear the loss of her beloved husband "if his death were to work good to his fellow-men, which indeed was the whole object of his life."[2] She remained a firm supporter of home rule for Ireland.[1]

After Cavendish's death, Lucy Cavendish was active in the sphere of women's education. She was of President of the Yorkshire Ladies Council of Education from 1883 to 1912. She declined the offer of the post of Mistress of Girton College, Cambridge in 1884. She was a member of the Royal Commission on Secondary Education and was a founding member of the Council of the Girls' Public Day School Company, which had been founded by her father.[1] On 6 October 1904 she received the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws at the formal inauguration of the University of Leeds for "notable service to the cause of education".[4]

Lucy Cavendish died at her home, The Glebe, Penshurst, Tonbridge, on 22 April 1925. aged 84. She was buried in her husband's grave in Edensor churchyard, near Chatsworth.[1]

Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge was named in her honour in 1965.[1] She was the great-aunt of one of its founders, Margaret Braithwaite.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Boase G. C. "Cavendish, Lord Frederick Charles (1836–1882)" rev. H. C. G. Matthew, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004, online edition, October 2005, accessed 23 April 2013 (subscription or UK public library membership required)
  2. ^ a b "Obituary – Lady Frederick Cavendish", The Times, 23 April 1925, p. 14
  3. ^ Lyttelton and Hart Davis, p. 40 – letter of 17 March 1960
  4. ^ "The Papers of Lucy Cavendish". 
  5. ^ Renfrew, Jane M. "Who was Lucy Cavendish?". Rooms of Our Own - Lucy Cavendish College. Retrieved 1 March 2012. 


External links[edit]

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Sat, 19 Apr 2014 23:03:51 -0700

Lucy Cavendish gets a surprising request from a friend. How the other half lives: an old schoolmate calls Lucy Cavendish in a time of need. Lucy Cavendish receives a phone call from an old friend having a difficult tine. Raymond shouts: 'That friend of ...


Sat, 12 Apr 2014 23:04:56 -0700

It is the night of the cloud-spotting talk, and I am supposed to be getting ready. I have failed to buy a ticket – on the grounds that it can hardly be sold out, can it? I have also failed to persuade all of my children to go to their father's for the ...

Daily Mail

Daily Mail
Fri, 11 Apr 2014 10:22:13 -0700

Narrowboats are bobbing gently. The sun is even shining. In fact, it's pretty much how the brochures show it, as my family and I — four children, one dog and a male partner — prepare for a week on the Stratford Canal. I am hoping it will be glamorous ...


Sat, 05 Apr 2014 23:14:24 -0700

Lucy Cavendish sees famous faces in her new home town. How the other half lives: exploring the area she has recently relocated to, Lucy Cavendish meets some celebrities in church. Lucy Cavendish visits her local church, where she meets Jeremy Irons ...


Sat, 29 Mar 2014 23:02:07 -0700

A hungover Lucy Cavendish remembers the night before. How the other half lives: having spent an evening drinking and reminiscing with friends, Lucy Cavendish wakes up worse for wear. Lucy Cavendish enjoyed some wine at her house-warming gathering.


Sun, 23 Mar 2014 00:07:34 -0700

Four hours in to the house-warming and I notice Tania is about to open a bottle of mulled wine left over from my birthday. Jo is smoking a roll-up in front of the fire and blowing the smoke up the chimney. The children are in bed (finally). My daughter ...


Sat, 19 Apr 2014 23:03:51 -0700

When I was a child, I thought that living on a commune sounded the most amazing idea. I was brought up in a relatively bohemian family in a big, rambling house. There were always new people to meet, new children to play with. In a way, it was the ...

The Guardian

The Guardian
Sun, 20 Apr 2014 00:35:21 -0700

I am a fellow commoner at Lucy Cavendish College. My husband used to be a lecturer at Leeds University and we lived in Yorkshire for 11 years. When he gave up his job, we realised we could live wherever we liked. Cambridge is heaven, I am convinced it ...

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