Select Cavendish Surname Genealogy

The surname Cavendish comes from an old place name in Suffolk, Cavendish.  It is believed that Cavendish was so called because a man called Cafa used to own a pasture or "edisc" there, which became known as Cafa's Edisc and eventually Cavendish.  It was home to Sir John Cavendish, the ancestor of the Dukes of Devonshire who was involved in suppressing the Peasants' Revolt.

The earliest record of the name there was Simon de Cauerndis in 1201.

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Select Cavendish Ancestry

England.  London records of the early 1300's show Cavendish men who had migrated to the capital at a time when surnames were just beginning to be adopted.  Geoffrey de Cavendysh had a  house in St. Lawrence Jewry and his son Geoffrey was a buckle maker there.  Not all of the Cavendishs in London may have originated from Cavendish. Thomas Cavendisshe was an apprentice to a Cavendish and had taken his master's name and handed it down to his descendants.

It is thought likely, although not proven, that this Thomas Cavendisshe was the forebear of Sir John Cavendish, the chief justice who was murdered in 1381 by a Suffolk mob in the Peasants' Revolt. 

A descendant, Sir William Cavendish, was in the right place at the right time to profit from Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries.  Sir William through his sister was related to the Stuart family in Scotland and the Cavendishes were involved in the scheming to put the Catholic Arabella Stuart on the throne of England.  But they played their politics well and were made Dukes of Devonshire in 1694.  

The wealth and political prestige of the Dukes of Devonshire followed, a family who were to remain powerful and influential in English political life until the 20th century.  The marital story of the fourth Duke of Devonshire and his wife Duchess Georgiana was the subject of the 2008 film The Duchess.  The family story was narrated in Francis Bickley's 1911 book The Cavendish Family.

Their family seat is at Chatsworth House, first constructed in 1580, in Derbyshire.  Not too far away is Bolsover Castle, acquired and re-built by Charles Cavendish in the early 1600's.  

Ireland.  The Cavendish family estates extended to Ireland in the 18th century, most notably to Lismore in county Waterford.  William H. Cavendish, maybe an illegitimate offspring, left Ireland for America in the 1750's with his mother and eventually settled in Greenbrier county, West Virginia.  He married three times and has many descendants.   

Isle of Man.  Cavendish is also a Manx name.  It comes from the older Manx surname Corjeag.  This apparently sounded like the Manx for "giving dish" and consequently apparently Cavendish emerged.  The cyclist Mark Cavendish is known as the Manx missile.

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If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

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Thomas Cavendish
was known as "the Navigator" because he led the third expedition (after Magellan and Drake) to circumnavigate the world.
Henry Cavendish, related to the Devonshires, was the 18th century scientist noted for his discovery of the gas hydrogen which he isolated and studied.  The Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge was named after him.
Spencer Cavendish, 8th Duke of Devonshire, was a prominent Victorian politician, serving at various times as leader of the Liberal Party, the Liberal Union Party and the Unionist Party (as a Home Rule opponent).
Mark Cavendish from the Isle of Man won a record five cycling sprinting stages in the 2009 Tour de France.

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  • 2,000 in the UK (most numerous in London)

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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