Winifred Cavendish-Bentinck, Duchess of Portland

Winifred Anna Cavendish-Bentinck, Duchess of Portland DBE JP (née Dallas-Yorke; 7 September 1863 – 30 July 1954) was a British humanitarian and animal welfare activist.[1]

The Duchess of Portland

Laszlo - Winifred Anna Cavendish-Bentinck (née Dallas-Yorke), 6th Duchess of Portland, 1912
Winifred Anna Dallas-Yorke by Philip de László, 1912
Personal details
Winifred Anna Dallas-Yorke

7 September 1863
Murthly Castle, Perthshire, Scotland
Died30 July 1954 (aged 90)
Welbeck Abbey, Nottinghamshire, England
Spouse(s)William John Arthur James Cavendish-Bentinck, 6th Duke of Portland (1857–1943)
ChildrenLady Victoria Erskine-Wemyss
William Cavendish-Bentinck, 7th Duke of Portland
Lord Francis Cavendish-Bentinck


Born at Murthly Castle, Perthshire, she was the only daughter of Thomas Yorke Dallas-Yorke of Walmsgate, Lincolnshire, and Frances (née Graham).[2]

She served as a canopy bearer to HM Queen Alexandra at the 1902 coronation of King Edward VII, and was Mistress of the Robes from 1913 until Alexandra's death in 1925.

The Duchess was a Justice of the Peace for Nottinghamshire when based at the family seat Welbeck Abbey.


She married William John Arthur James Cavendish-Bentinck on 11 June 1889. They had three children:

Winifred Cavendish-Bentinck, Duchess of Portland, was interred at the traditional burial place of the Dukes of Portland in the churchyard of St Winifred's Church at Holbeck.


Winifred Duchess of Portland John Singer Sargent 1902.jpeg
Winifred, Duchess of Portland, oil on canvas, John Singer Sargent, 1902

The Duchess of Portland was a passionate animal lover, who kept stables for old horses and ponies, as well as dogs needing homes.[2] In 1891, she became the first (and longest serving) president of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds[3] and was vice-president of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. She was also president of the ladies committee of the RSPCA.

She was elected as the third President of the Nottinghamshire Beekeepers' Association in 1907.

Social reform

In 1889, she persuaded the duke to use a large portion of his horseracing winnings to build almshouses at Welbeck, which he named "The Winnings."[2] She cared greatly for the local miners and supported them by paying for medical treatments, and organising cooking and sewing classes for their daughters. She also sponsored a miner, with an interest in art, to study in London.[2]

"In addition to the famous racing stables, where a number of the Duke of Portland's most celebrated horses (including "St. Simon") were to be seen, there is a group of substantially built almshouses, known as "The Winnings," which were erected by the Duke at the request of his wife out of the money won in seven races, viz., the Two Thousand Guineas in 1888 by "Ayrshire", the Derby and St. Leger in 1889 by "Donovan", the Oaks and St. Leger in 1890 by "Memoir", and the One Thousand Guineas in 1890 by "Semolina".[4]


In honour of her support, the Nottinghamshire Miners' Welfare Association petitioned the king on her behalf; and in 1935 she was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) on his silver jubilee.[2]

She was also made a Dame of the Order of Queen Maria Luisa in Spain.[5]


In 2010, a collection of jewels belonging to the Duchess was auctioned at Christies, including antique pearl and diamond brooches,[6] and the Portland sapphire tiara.[7]

The Portland diamond tiara, which was specially made for Edward VII's coronation, was stolen in November 2018.[8]


  1. ^ Nicholas Hammond. "Bentinck, Winifred Anna Cavendish- [née Winifred Anna Dallas-Yorke], duchess of Portland (1863–1954)". Oxford of Dictionary National Biography. Retrieved 19 October 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d e "The Dowager Duchess of Portland". The Times. The Times Digital Archive. 31 July 1954. p. 8.
  3. ^ Barbara T. Gates (15 February 1999). Kindred Nature: Victorian and Edwardian Women Embrace the Living World. University of Chicago Press. p. 115. ISBN 978-0-226-28443-9. Retrieved 19 October 2012.
  4. ^ "The Summer Excursion". Nottingham History. Retrieved 31 March 2015.
  5. ^ Geneall
  6. ^ Penton, Keith. "Specialist selection". Christies.
  7. ^ "Portland sapphire tiara". Order of Splendor.
  8. ^ "Diamond-encrusted tiara snatched in heist". BBC News. 23 November 2018. Retrieved 24 November 2018.

External links

Court offices
Preceded by
The Duchess of Buccleuch and Queensberry
Mistress of the Robes to
Queen Alexandra

Succeeded by
Duchess of Portland

The Duchess of Portland refers to the wife or widow of a Duke of Portland, a former title in the peerage of Great Britain. The title was created in 1716 but became extinct in 1990 upon the death of the ninth Duke.

Household of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra

The Royal Households of the United Kingdom consists of royal officials and the supporting staff of the British Royal Family, as well as the Royal Household which supports the Sovereign. Each member of the Royal Family who undertakes public duties has his own separate Household.

King Edward VII (1841–1910) was created Prince of Wales shortly after his birth, and his household was known as the Household of the Prince of Wales from 1841.

Upon his marriage in 1863, he and his wife shared the Household of the Prince and Princess of Wales until their accession as King and Queen in January 1901, but several appointments were to either the Prince or the Princess (e.g.. they each had separate Lords Chamberlain and private Secretaries).

When he became King, his household was known as the Household of the Sovereign 1901–1910.

Queen Alexandra (1844–1925) received a separate household upon her husband´s accession, the Household of the Queen. From 1910, it was known as the Household of Queen Alexandra.

Millicent Leveson-Gower, Duchess of Sutherland

Millicent Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, The Duchess of Sutherland (née Lady Millicent Fanny St. Clair-Erskine, 20 October 1867 – 20 August 1955) was a British society hostess, social reformer, author, editor, journalist, and playwright, often using the pen name Erskine Gower. Her first husband was Cromartie Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, 4th Duke of Sutherland. By her two later marriages, she was known as Lady Millicent Fitzgerald and Lady Millicent Hawes, the latter of which was the name she used at the time of her death.

Mistress of the Robes

The Mistress of the Robes is the senior lady in the Royal Household of the United Kingdom.

Formerly responsible for the queen's clothes and jewellery (as the name implies), the post now has the responsibility for arranging the rota of attendance of the ladies-in-waiting on the queen, along with various duties at state ceremonies. In modern times, the Mistress of the Robes is almost always a duchess. During the 17th and 18th centuries, this role often overlapped with or was replaced as First Lady of the Bedchamber.

In the past, whenever the queen was a queen regnant rather than a queen consort, the Mistress of the Robes was a political appointment, changing with the government. However, this has not been the case since the death of Queen Victoria in 1901, and Queen Elizabeth II has only had two Mistresses of the Robes in more than sixty years' reign. Queens dowager have their own Mistresses of the Robes, and in the 18th century Princesses of Wales had one too.

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is a charitable organisation registered in England and Wales and in Scotland. It was founded in 1889. It works to promote conservation and protection of birds and the wider environment through public awareness campaigns, petitions and through the operation of nature reserves throughout the United Kingdom.The RSPB has over 1,300 employees, 18,000 volunteers and more than a million members (including 195,000 youth members), making it the largest wildlife conservation charity in Europe. The RSPB has many local groups and maintains 200 nature reserves.

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