Cavendish Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Cavendish Meaning
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

Thomas de Cavendisshe, London Mercer.  Thomas de
Cavendisshe, an apprentice of Walter de Cavendisshe in 1312, was in
“the son of William atte Watre of Ewell.”  He
fared well as he was recorded as lending
money towards the French war in the 1340’s.
He was a mercer, as was his son John.
Another son Thomas was a
clothier.  As was Stephen de Cavendisshe,
possibly a son or grandson, who became mayor of London in 1362 and died
in 1372.  Judge John Cavendish may have
been related to
this family.

Judge John Cavendish and the Peasants’ Revolt.  Judge John Cavendish was said to have been descended from the Norman Robert de Gernon,
whose son Robert married Mary, the heiress of John Potton of Cavendish
Suffolk, and secured her landed estate. However,
the story appears unsubstantiated.  The
manor of Cavendish
was in fact held by
another family until Judge Cavendish acquired it in 1359.

John Cavendish was a lawyer who rose to
become Chief Justice.  As Chief Justice
he was obliged to suppress the Peasants’ Revolt in 1381.
Wat Tyler, the leader of the revolt, was believed
to have been killed by his son John while they were negotiating.  As a result of this, the father was pursued
by the peasants.  He reached St. Mary’s
Church in Cavendish where he pleaded sanctuary by grasping the handle
of the
church door. This was to no avail and he was taken to the marketplace
at Bury
St. Edmunds and beheaded by the mob.

of John’s brothers, Roger Cavendish whose family established themselves
Grimston Hall, was the ancestor of Thomas Cavendish “the Navigator.”

The Cavendishes and the Stuarts.  The Cavendishes
were closely involved with Arabella Stuart, the daughter of Charles
Stuart, and
a woman whom many saw as a Catholic pretender to the throne.  William Cavendish was her uncle and Arabella
was in fact born in 1575 in the small village of Edensor in Derbyshire,
very close
to the Cavendish estate at Chatsworth House.

were many plots attempted to reinstate the Catholic church on the
throne via Arabella, particularly after
the death of the childless Elizabeth I in 1603.
In 1610, when she was 35, Arabella
made the most dangerous of
possible marriages with William
Seymour.  With this
marriage, the two lines of descendants of the sisters of Henry VIII
were united
and both Arabella and William
were claimants to the
throne.  So great was the panic at court
at the prospect of a new and threatening dynasty that they were
separated shortly after their marriage.  Arabella was sent to the Tower of

William Cavendish’s sister Mary
was active in the scheming on behalf of her niece Arabella.  She planned Arabella’s escape from the Tower
of London, hoping that Arabella would go abroad and serve as a Catholic
pretender to the throne.  Mary
was arrested and twice examined
by the Privy Council after Arabella’s capture.  She was then fined
to the Tower in 1611.  Arabella
died in 1615 but Mary was held there for another three years.  When her husband fell ill, Mary was able to
obtain her release in order to nurse him.

Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire.  Lady Georgiana
Spencer married the Duke of Devonshire in 1774 on her 17th birthday.  As Duchess she was a celebrated beauty and
socialite of her day who gathered around her a large circle of literary
political figures.  She was famous not
just for her beauty and her sense of style, but also for her love of
and her catastrophic affairs.

when she was stepping out of her carriage one day, an Irish dustman

“Love and bless you, my lady, let me light my pipe in your eyes!”

This was a compliment which
she often recalled whenever others complimented her by retorting:

“After the dustman’s compliment, all others are insipid.”

Reader Feedback – William H. Cavendish of Greenbrier County, West Virginia.  I am a descendant of
William H. Cavendish and many of us in the family over the years have tried
to document when and where he arrived in America.  So far we have had no luck.

The only information I have (as well as many
others) is a Cavendish Family History
booklet that was published in the 1940’s with a new printing in 1961
(this is
the copy I have that belonged to my father).  We can find
reference to
William Hunter Cavendish in many court records, but the booklet states
William H. Cavendish who came to America was William Henderson

Hunter Cavendish was an attorney in Greenbrier County as well as
several other counties at the time.  I also found an entry in the
court records for Greenbrier County in 1794 that William H. Cavendish
appointed the administrator of the estate of William Cavendish.

would think that there
would be more information available about a person who was such a
attorney in Virginia/West Virginia (Greenbrier, Kanawaha and
counties) and the first clerk of Kanawha county.

county court records, as transcribed by Helen Stinson, gives much
about the cases he represented and the offices that he held within
county.  There is a reference in an application submitted to the
Sons of
the Revolution by one of his wife Alice Mann McClintic Cavendish’s
that states she married William H. Cavendish who was related to Lord
Cavendish.  Another entry in a McClung family history book also
Andrew, his son, and Rebecca, his daughter who both married McClungs,
related to Lord Cavendish.

Judy Cavendish Chamberlain (

Corjeag and Cavendish on the Isle of Man.  The Manx name Corjeag (possibly originally Quartaige) anglicized in a
number of cases to Cavendish in
the late 1700’s and 1800’s.  These Corjeag/Cavendishes included:

  • Charles Corjeag who was born in Kirk Michael
    in the Isle of Man sometime in the 1750’s.  He married Esther
    Qualtrough and three Corjeag children were born to
    them there.  They moved to Liverpool in the
    1790’s and their last two children were born as Cavendish.
  • Thomas Cavendish who was born in Kirk Michael in
    1777 and married Margaret Killey.  Their eldest son John Cavendish
    emigrated to America in
    the 1830’s and settled in Ohio.
  • Ann Corjeag/Cavendish who appeared in the will of Richard
    Quirk on the Isle of Man in 1808.
  • John Corjeag/Cavendish who was
    recorded in the 1830’s in relation to the Primitive Methodist Chapel in
    Kirk Michael.
  • and John Cavendish, a Wesleyan preacher, who died in Peel
    on the Isle of Man in 1837
    at the age of 88.


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 France.

Select Cavendish Numbers Today

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


Select Cavendish and Like Surnames

Many surnames have come from East Anglia (Norfolk and Suffolk) and surrounding areas in eastern England.  These are some of the noteworthy surnames that you can check out.




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