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  • Haley Jensen

Margaret Cavendish Bentinck, Duchess of Portland

Margaret Cavendish Bentinck (1715–1785) was a wealthy patron of the arts and a vivid collector of natural history specimens. She eventually had the largest collection of natural history in England.

She was friends with Elizabeth Montagu (1720–1800), the famous writer and leader of the Blue Stocking Society- a women led education and literature movement.

Wheatley had established a network of aristocratic strong women breaking 18th century gender stereotypes in her trip to London.

Cavendish Bentinck was a supporter of the Countess of Huntingdon.

Margaret Duchess of Portland, William Duke of Portland, and Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, in ovals, with emblematic and heraldic devices. Line engraving by G. Vertue 1739, after C.F. Zincke, 1738. Credit: Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Letter from Phillis Wheatley to David Wooster, 18 October 1773, in which she mentions the women meeting.

“Then to Lady Cavendish, and Lady Carteret Webb, -- Mrs. Palmer a Poetess, an accomplishd Lady”


The full letter is accessible with this link below! Im very grateful for the Massachusetts Historical Society for allowing me to quote these letters as well as having loads of primary sources and educational information on Wheatley available for free.

More on Lady Cavendish is available from the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography link here:

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