Document ReferencePw J
TitlePapers of Lord William H. Cavendish Bentinck (1774-1839), soldier, politician and statesman, in the Portland (Welbeck) Collection
Extent203 boxes
AbstractPrincipal document types present include; correspondence, letter books, journals, maps.
Access ConditionsAccessible to all readers.
Admin HistoryLord William Cavendish Bentinck (1774-1839) was the second son of the third Duke of Portland and a professional soldier. His extensive correspondence and associated official papers cover his distinguished career. He saw service in Minorca and Egypt before being posted to India in 1803 as Governor of Madras. In 1811 he returned to Europe as commander-in-chief of the British forces in Sicily, and later served in Spain. He served briefly as M.P. for Kings Lynn before returning to India in 1827 as governor general of Bengal, where he effected important financial reforms, reorganized the judicial department and extended the system of employment of natives in official positions. In 1833 he became the first governor general of India. Lord William returned to England in 1835, serving as Liberal M.P. for Glasgow from 1837.
Custodial HistoryThese papers form a sub-group of the Portland (Welbeck) Collection (Pw) and were received from the 7th Duke of Portland in the first deposit from Welbeck Abbey in 1949. A second deposit was received in 1968.
DescriptionThe Collection covers Lord William's military and official postings in some detail, with separate groups of papers concerning his career in Madras, Sicily, and Bengal. The pre-1803 series refers to his activities as a young officer in the English armies in Flanders and Italy during the Revolutionary wars. Correspondence and related papers are also present for his time with the British armies in the Penninsular War, when he took part in the retreat to Coruña under Sir John Moore.

From his experience as a local landlord, there are records concerning his interest in agricultural improvement and the Fen drainage system. His life and interests after his return from India to England are also reflected, particularly his energetic efforts as M.P. for Glasgow to set up a company to promote steam ship communication with India via Suez and Socotra.
MgtGroupPolitical and diplomatic papers
Family and estate collections
ArrangementLord William's papers are divided according to notable stages in his career, with different finding aids devoted to the seven different series:

Pw Ja. Early military career to 1803
Pw Jb. Governor of Madras, 1803-1807
Pw Jc. Military Service during the Peninsular War, 1807-1811
Pw Jd. Envoy to the Court of Sicily, 1811-1814
Pw Je. King's Lynn and political career, 1814-1827
Pw Jf. Governor-General of Bombay and India, 1827-1835
Pw Jg. Political Career after India, 1835-1839

In most cases, the surviving papers reflect the organisation of his files during his official duties.
TermEurope - History, Military
Military history, Modern - 18th century
Military history, Modern - 19th century
Great Britain - Politics and government - 19th century
Agriculture - Great Britain
Peninsular War, 1807-1814
Elections - England
Great Britain - Parliament - Elections
Great Britain - Colonies - Administration
India - Politics and government
FindingAidsCopyright in all Finding Aids belongs to the University of Nottingham. In the Reading Room, King's Meadow Campus: 4 Typescript Catalogues, 529 pp At the National Register of Archives, The National Archives, Kew: 4 Typescript Catalogues, 529 pp Online: Catalogue available through the website of Manuscripts and Special Collections, Manuscripts Online Catalogue. Access to the old typescript catalogue was also made available online during the national Access to Archives (A2A) project in 2000-2004. This catalogue is now available through Discovery, hosted by The National Archives ( The version on our own Manuscripts Online Catalogue will be more up to date.
ReprodnNotePhotocopies and photographic copies can be supplied for educational use and private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.
Related MaterialSee the fonds record for the Portland (Welbeck) Collection as a whole (Pw); and also the separate records for each of the other constituent subfonds (Pw 1, Pw 2 Hy, Pw B, Pw C, Pw F, Pw G, Pw K, Pw L, Pw M, Pw N, Pw V)
British Library
Other collections listed through The National Archives Discovery catalogue.
Related RecordPw/H
Publication NoteJohn Rosselli, 'Lord William Bentinck: The Making of a Liberal Imperialist 1774-1839' (Chatto and Windus, 1974)
C.H. Philips, (ed.), 'The Correspondence of Lord William Cavendish-Bentinck' (2 vols., Oxford University Press, 1977)

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CodePersonNameDates of existence
NA1105Bentinck; William H. Cavendish- (1774-1839); Lord; 2nd son of 3rd Duke of Portland; Governor-General of India 1827-351774-1839
NA1105Bentinck; William H. Cavendish- (1774-1839); Lord; 2nd son of 3rd Duke of Portland; Governor-General of India 1827-351774-1839
NA75927Cavendish-Bentinck; family; of Welbeck, Nottinghamshire; Dukes of Portland
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