Sir William Cavendish
- Born: 1505
- Marriage: Bess of Hardwick Countess of Shrewsbury on 20 Aug 1547
- Died: 25 Oct 1557 at age 52
Sir William Cavendish was an English courtier who became one of Thomas Cromwell's "visitors of the monasteries" when King Henry VIII annexed the property of the Catholic Church at the end of the 1530s, in the dissolution of the monasteries. Cavendish became quite wealthy from his share of those properties.
His first two wives died, leaving him with two daughters, and in 1547 he married Bess of Hardwick. He sold his property in Suffolk and moved to Bess's native county of Derbyshire. He purchased the Chatsworth estate in 1549 and the couple began to build Chatsworth House in 1553. In the ten years before he died, they had eight children, only six of whom survived infancy; one of these, Elizabeth, later entered into a controversial marriage with the Earl of Lennox. Some of William and Bess's descendants became the Dukes of Devonshire, and others became Dukes of Newcastle. Their grand-daughter Arabella Stuart was a claimant to the throne of England in 1603.
During the reign of Mary I of England, a favorable biography of Thomas Cardinal Wolsey was first published, written from the perspective of one of his closest aides, the one who had taken King Henry news of Wolsey's death. Although for centuries Sir William was said to be its author, historians now attribute it to his older brother George Cavendish (1500 - ~1562) instead.
William married Bess of Hardwick Countess of Shrewsbury on 20 Aug 1547. (Bess of Hardwick Countess of Shrewsbury was born in 1527 and died in 1608.)