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This article is about the advocate for women's education. For the Cambridge college named after her, see Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge.
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 83. 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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Varsity Online

Varsity Online
Sat, 14 Nov 2015 08:53:17 -0800

“We're nearly at the end of this painful process here, I'm so sorry.” Jackie Ashley, veteran political journalist and President of Lucy Cavendish College, hovers over the humming coffee machine in her office. It's been yielding a steady trickle for the ...

Cambridge News

Cambridge News
Wed, 07 Oct 2015 04:01:59 -0700

Michaelmas term has seen a host of new arrivals at Cambridge, not least at the top of two of its colleges. Last week political journalist and commentator Jackie Ashley was officially sworn in as the new president of the all-female Lucy Cavendish ...

Cambridge News

Cambridge News
Wed, 21 Oct 2015 01:02:09 -0700

Four weeks into the new term and the new president of Lucy Cavendish College is well-immersed in the Cambridge routine, but admits there are still some things that catch her out. Journalist Jackie Ashley joined the all-women college following the ...

Cambridge News

Cambridge News
Wed, 18 Nov 2015 09:15:00 -0800

Aspiring female writers have been called to put pen to paper after a Cambridge college launched its sixth annual fiction-writing competition. The Fiction Prize comes courtesy of Lucy Cavendish College and provides unpublished female authors with the ...

Varsity Online

Varsity Online
Fri, 09 Oct 2015 05:25:31 -0700

The new President of Lucy Cavendish College is to commence her tenure by holding a conference to “evaluate the current experiences of women”, and will include an “outstanding” panel of women such as former Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman.

The Guardian

The Guardian
Mon, 16 Nov 2015 09:37:30 -0800

“It is very difficult to be a party arguing for women's advance when your top swathe is men,” she told the audience at Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge, on Sunday. Following Corbyn's shadow cabinet reshuffle – in which half of the posts were given to ...

The Guardian (blog)

The Guardian (blog)
Mon, 16 Nov 2015 01:44:18 -0800

Speaking at a Where are the Women event hosted by Lucy Cavendish College Cambridge, she said: It is very difficult to be a party arguing for women's advance when your top swathe is men. I think that the strand of the left that Jeremy comes from has ...


Fri, 03 Jul 2015 09:07:30 -0700

All my family are round for lunch. We are celebrating my sister's birthday and I have offered to host it all. This is not easy. There are 30-plus of us. I have three siblings. We all have children… and on it goes. So here we are, the sun is shining ...

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