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Duke of Portland, Peerage of Great Britain (1716), Extinct 1990

Arms of the Duke of Portland

Arms of the 9th, and last, Duke of Portland

Arms: Quarterly: 1st and 4th, Azure a cross moline Argent (Bentinck); 2nd and 3rd, Sable three stags' heads cabossed Argent attired Or, a crescent for difference (Cavendish)

1st Crest: Out of a ducal coronet proper two arms counter-embowed vested Gules, on the hands gloves Or, each holding an ostrich feather Argent (Bentinck)

2nd Crest: A snake nowed proper (Cavendish)

Supporters: Two lions double queued, the dexter Or and the sinister sable

The Cavendish-Bentinck family has quite an extensive history. Compared to many of the ancient families discussed here, this family seems to have kept their heads (literally) from the 1200's through the 20th century. Contrary to many other families, there does not appear to be any members of this family who were attainted, beheaded, or drawn-and-quartered.

William John Cavendish-Bentinck-Scott, 5th Duke, had a strong desire to be withdrawn from society. In order to be isolated, the 5th Duke built many underground tunnels. One tunnel went to the kitchen, where a chicken was always roasting and ready to be eaten. When needed, it would be placed into a heated cart and pushed on rails to the Duke's quarters. There are differing stories about the Duke's reaction when he accidentally encountered any housemaids. By one account, house workers unfortunate enough to be seen by him were immediately fired. Another account is that they were sent to a skating rink (specifically built for his staff) and told to get some exercise, on roller-skates provided just for the occasion.

The 5th Duke's seclusion resulted in a wild legal battle after his death. In 1896, a Mrs. Druce claimed to be his Duchess. She stated that the Duke had led a double life and spent much of his time in London as Mr. T.C. Druce (her husband). She claimed that the funeral of her husband in 1864 had been staged and that if the coffin were opened, it would be empty. As the media of the day published the story, the fire of public imagination was fanned. It even went so far that a son of Mr. Druce came from Australia to accept the Portland title. In the end, the coffin was exumed and opened only to discover that it was occupied and that Mrs. Druce had in fact made the whole story up.

The 6th Duke carried the Crown of H.M. Queen Elizabeth (queen mother) at the coronation of George VI in 1937.

Photo of the 9th Duke of PortlandIn 1990, His Grace, Victor Frederick William Cavendish-Bentinck, 9th Duke of Portland, died without an heir and the Portland title now has the distinction of being the most recent Dukedom to fall into extinction.

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