Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Cavendish, Henry (1732-1804)

CAVENDISH, Sir HENRY (1732–1804), parliamentary reporter, eldest son of Sir Henry Cavendish, bart., of Doveridge Hall, Derbyshire, was born on 13 Sept. 1732, and sat as member for Lostwithiel in Cornwall from 1768 to 1774. He succeeded to the baronetcy on his father's death in 1776. Three years later he was made receiver-general for Ireland, and sworn of the privy council in that country, and in 1795 he was appointed deputy vice-treasurer of Ireland. He sat in the Irish House of Commons for Lismore 1766–8, 1776–91, and 1798–1800, and for Killibegs 1791–7. In 1757 he married Sarah, only daughter and heiress of Richard Bradshaw, esq., and this lady was in 1792 advanced to the peerage of Ireland by the title of Baroness of Waterpark. Cavendish died at Blackrock, near Dublin, on 3 Aug. 1804, and on the decease of his widow in 1807, his eldest son, Sir Richard Cavendish, became Lord Waterpark. His only published work is ‘A Statement of the Public Accounts of Ireland,’ London, 1791, 8vo.

Sir Henry was an adept in writing in Gurney's system of shorthand, and he took copious verbatim notes of the debates in what has been termed the unreported parliament, from 10 May 1768 to 13 June 1774. The manuscripts, consisting of forty-eight quarto volumes, are now in the British Museum (Egerton Collection, Nos. 215–62). The historical value of these manuscripts may be estimated from the fact that they contain two hundred and fifty speeches of Edmund Burke, together with a number of the most striking speeches of George Grenville, Lord North, Dowdeswell, Charles James Fox, Wedderburn, Dunning, Lord John Cavendish, Thurlow, Sir George Savile, Colonel Barré, Blackstone, Serjeant Glynn, Alderman Beckford, and other distinguished public characters. Mr. J. Wright, editor of the ‘Parliamentary History of England,’ extracted from Cavendish's notes an account of the ‘Debates of the House of Commons in the year 1774 on the Bill for making more effectual provision for the Government of the Province of Quebec,’ London, 1839, 8vo. Mr. Wright also published by subscription another portion of ‘Sir Henry Cavendish's Debates of the House of Commons during the thirteenth Parliament of Great Britain, commonly called the unreported Parliament,’ 2 vols. London, 1841–3. The work was to have extended to four volumes, but was not proceeded with beyond the eighth part, which ends on 27 March 1771. It is to be hoped that this important historical publication will some day be completed. The early portion of Cavendish's collection has evidently been written out under the inspection or from the dictation of the reporter himself, and apparently with a view to publication; another portion is transcribed from the shorthand notes, but the outline is not filled up; while a third portion remains still in shorthand, but is easily decipherable by any one who is acquainted with Gurney's system, especially with the aid of the alphabetical list of contractions given in the Egerton MS. 263*.

[Wright's prefaces to the Parliamentary Debates; McDougall's Sketches of Irish Political Characters, 208; Croker's Correspondence and Diaries, iii. 293; Blacker's Sketches of Booterstown and Donnybrook, 182, 194; Cooper's Parliamentary Shorthand; Gent. Mag. lxxiv. (ii.) 789.]

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