Major Lord John Spencer Cavendish

Lord John's Armour displayed in the Entrance Hall

I have been really interested in all of the events commemorating the centenary of the First World War and was hoping I could contribute in some small way.

Hardwick has its own connection to the war in one of the members of the Cavendish family, affectionately known as ‘Lord John’.

We have Lord John’s suit of armour on display in the back of the Entrance Hall, and I had never really though about its history or the man who had owned it. With it being a suit of armour I didn’t even consider that it could have such a connection to the First World War. The two images, ‘knight in shining armour’ and ‘tommy in the trenches’, seem like they should be hundreds of years apart and not within the span of one man’s career.

Lord John was born on the 25th March 1875 to Emma Elizabeth Lascelles and Lieutenant-Colonel Lord Edward Cavendish, has was the youngest of their three sons.

As the youngest son John would not inherit the family property, or be expected to follow his father into politics, so he made the military his career. He joined the First Regiment of Life Guards, a Cavalry Regiment, on the 3rd February 1897.

He was part of the First Regiment of Life Guards and served with distinction in the South African Was, for which he was awarded a Distinguished Service Order in April 1901. When the Great War broke out in 1914 Lord John joined the British Expeditionary Forces and was deployed to France on the 16th August 1914.

Less than three months later on the 20th October 1914 Major Lord John Spencer Cavendish was killed in action.

An account of John’s death by an unknown soldier, dated 24th October 1914, who served alongside him recalls that John was killed instantly by German Maxim Machine Gun fire whilst leading a regiment trying to hold the line in the village. The account talks about how well liked John was, saying that he was so nice to work with, and how much his regiments would feel his loss.

After his death Lord John’s family received a huge number of letters of condolence, showing how well thought of he, and his family, were thought of. Lord John had a successful military career earning the respect of those he served with and recognition for his good service.

I started my search for information within Hardwick’s own information, then looking on Google (where else!) where I found a website that catalogs graves:

The Find A Grave website was really useful for getting the basic information and then using, a brilliant site for this sort of research, I was able to flesh out the story a little more. I typed in the little bits of information I had found already and Ancestry recommended sources it thought matched, so helpful. I ended up finding several scanned images of primary sources which were absolutely fascinating!

Finally I contacted Chatsworth Archives to see if they could help me with any information about the actual circumstances of Lord John’s death. All I had up to this point was dates when things happened, but no details which was frustrating. I had though they would be too busy to help but they were really helpful and had a number of sources, including the account of Lord John’s I mentioned above.

I have really enjoyed doing this project and even though the story had a tragic end it was nice to know Lord John was so well though of, I have become rather fond of him! On monday I shall be remembering Major Lord John Spencer Cavendish and the men like him who served in the Great War for what they believed was right.

If you want to find some more information about the events taking place over the next four years or about the men who gave their live in the Great War I have included some links I found interesting and useful below.

First World War Centenary Information:

Lives of the First World War:

Every Man Remembered:

Imperial War Museums: