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.

Cavendish Resources on

Cavendish Ancestry

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
was an apprentice to a Cavendish and had taken
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
influential in English political life until the 20th
century.  The marital story of the fourth Duke of Devonshire
and his wife Duchess
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.

The Cavendish family estates extended to Ireland in the 18th century,
most notably to Lismore in county Waterford.  William H.
, 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.

Select Cavendish Miscellany

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

Cavendish Names

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

Select Cavendish Today

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




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