Victor Cavendish-Bentinck, 9th Duke of Portland

Victor Frederick William Cavendish-Bentinck, 9th Duke of Portland, CMG (18 June 1897 – 30 July 1990), known as Victor Cavendish-Bentinck until 1977 and Lord Victor Cavendish-Bentinck from 1977 to 1980, and informally as Bill Bentinck, was a British diplomat, businessman, and peer. He served as Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee during the Second World War and was British Ambassador to Poland between 1945 and 1947.

The Duke of Portland
The 9th Duke of Portland Allan Warren.jpg
British Ambassador to Poland
In office
Preceded byOwen O'Malley
Succeeded byDonald Gainer
Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee
In office
Preceded byRalph Stevenson
Succeeded byHarold Caccia
Personal details
Victor Frederick William Cavendish-Bentinck

(1897-06-18)18 June 1897
Marylebone, London
Died30 July 1990(1990-07-30) (aged 93)
Chelsea, London
Political partyConservative
Clothilde Bruce Quigley
(m. 1924; div. 1948)

Kathleen Elsie Barry
(m. 1948)
Children3 (see section)
Alma materWellington College

Background and educationEdit

Cavendish-Bentinck was born in Marylebone, London on 18 June 1897.[1] He was the second son of Frederick Cavendish-Bentinck, whose father, George Cavendish-Bentinck, was a grandson of William Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland. Although formally Victor Cavendish-Bentinck he was known informally as Bill. Like other members of his family he informally dispensed with the name "Cavendish", being known simply as Bill Bentinck.[2] He was educated at Wellington College.

Queen Elizabeth II is also descended from the 3rd Duke of Portland through her maternal grandmother Cecilia Cavendish-Bentinck. The Queen and the 9th Duke of Portland were third cousins, once removed.

Diplomatic careerEdit

Cavendish-Bentinck did not pursue a university education, instead entering the diplomatic service in 1915 at the age of 18 before taking leave to fight with the Grenadier Guards in the First World War,[where?] returning to the Foreign Office in 1919.[3] In 1922, he took charge of administrative arrangements for the Lausanne Conference. He served in the British Embassy in Paris and also in the League of Nations Department in the Foreign Office. Other postings included Athens in 1932 and Santiago in 1933. The high point of his diplomatic career came in 1939 when he was appointed chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee. He managed to develop the body as a highly effective instrument of government and, as a result, became counsellor to the Services Liaison Department of the Foreign Office in 1942.

However, he cast doubt on reports that were received regarding the Nazi genocide of the Jews. In late August 1943 the Polish Embassy in London informed the British government of the deportation and annihilation of hundreds of thousands of Jews from Lublin and Bialystok provinces. The chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, Victor Cavendish-Bentinck, deplored Polish and Jewish information about atrocities. He wrote this information as an attempt to 'stoke us up' He added: 'I feel certain that we are making a mistake in giving credence to this gas chamber story.'[4]

In 1945, Cavendish-Bentinck was given his final diplomatic posting on his appointment as Ambassador to Poland. When visiting the formerly German City of Stettin (Szczecin) in 1946 he was invited to talk to German civilians suffering from months of internment so their possessions and property could be taken over by Polish resettlers from territories lost to the USSR. Cavendish-Bentinck refused to do so, ignoring certain inhuman circumstances under which mainly old people, women and children had to suffer, by noting to his Polish hosts, he was "convinced that they will complain as usual".[5]

He held the position for two years before the Foreign Office applied to appoint him Ambassador to Brazil. He never took up the latter post, being obliged to resign from the Foreign Office, without a pension, as a result of the publicity surrounding his divorce.[citation needed] Bentinck's aristocratic background attracted press attention; Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin, apparently sympathetic, remarked at that the time "I could have saved him if his name had been Smith."[3]

Later life and Duke of PortlandEdit

After his withdrawal from the diplomatic service, Cavendish-Bentinck embarked on a business career, becoming Vice-Chairman of the Committee of Industrial Interests in Germany. From this position, he was able to advance the interests of British companies such as Unilever. He was a member of the Steering Committee of the Bilderberg Group.[6]

In 1977 Cavendish-Bentinck's elder brother Ferdinand succeeded their kinsman William Cavendish-Bentinck, 7th Duke of Portland in the dukedom, becoming the 8th Duke. In the same year Cavendish-Bentinck was granted the rank of a duke's younger son, becoming styled Lord Victor Cavendish-Bentinck.

The 8th Duke died in 1980 and Lord Victor succeeded him as the 9th Duke of Portland. Upon the 9th Duke's own death in 1990, the dukedom and the Marquessate of Titchfield became extinct because the Duke's only son had predeceased him and there were no other surviving male line heirs of the 1st Duke. However, the earldom of Portland had been created in an earlier generation than the dukedom and there were surviving male line descendants of the 1st Earl. That title, along with its subsidiary titles of Viscount Woodstock and Baron Cirencester, therefore passed to the 9th Duke's kinsman Henry Noel Bentinck, who became the 11th Earl of Portland.

The 9th Duke was interred at the traditional burial place of the Dukes of Portland in the churchyard of St Winifred's Church, Holbeck in Nottinghamshire.

Marriages and childrenEdit

Bentinck married Clothilde Bruce Quigley (died 1984), an American, on 16 February 1924. She was the daughter of James Bruce Quigley.[7] They had two children together:

  • William James Cavendish-Bentinck (6 July 1925 – 4 September 1966)
  • Lady Margaret Cavendish-Bentinck (16 December 1929 – 1 March 2010)[8]

Soon after World War II began Bentinck received a telephone call at his office from his Hungarian maid to tell him that his wife had left him and taken their children with her. They were finally divorced in 1948.[9]

Portland married secondly, Kathleen Elsie Barry (died 2004) on 27 July 1948. She was the daughter of Arthur Barry. They had one daughter:

  • Lady Barbara Cavendish-Bentinck[7]

Honours and armsEdit

Coat of arms of Victor Cavendish-Bentinck, 9th Duke of Portland
The title Duke of Portland was created by George I in 1716 .
A Coronet of a Duke
Out of a ducal coronet proper two arms counter-embowed vested Gules, on the hands gloves Or, each holding an ostrich feather Argent (Bentinck); A snake nowed proper (Cavendish)
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)
Two lions double queued, the dexter Or and the sinister sable
Craignez Honte (Fear Dishonour)



  1. ^ Births in the Marylebone district of London Registered in July, August and September 1897 vol. 1a p. 541 – General Register Office
  2. ^ Howarth, Patrick, Intelligence Chief Extraordinary: The Life of the Ninth Duke of Portland, The Bodley Head, First Edition, 1986, p. 13-14 ISBN 0 370 30572 8
  3. ^ a b West, Nigel (2009). The A to Z of British Intelligence. Scarecrow Press. p. 89. ISBN 9780810870284.
  4. ^ Richard Breitman, Official Secrets (London: Allen Lane, 1998) pages 119–120
  5. ^ Memorandum H. Krajewski, Staatliches Repatriierungsamt (im Folgenden: PUR), Szczecin, 29.10.1946, MZO 196/541b, AAN. 103p} (in German)
  6. ^ "Former Steering Committee Members". Bilderberg Group. Retrieved 8 February 2014.
  7. ^ a b The Peerage, entry for 9th Duke of Portland
  8. ^ "Lives online: Lady Margaret Graubard, author, was born on December 16, 1929. She died on March 1, 2010, aged 80". The London Times. 29 June 2010.
  9. ^ Hastings, Max (2015). The Secret War: Spies, Codes and Guerrillas 1939 -1945 (Paperback). London: William Collins. ISBN 978-0-00-750374-2.
  10. ^ "No. 47391". The London Gazette. 29 November 1977. p. 14937.

External linksEdit

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by Ambassador to Poland
Succeeded by
Government offices
Preceded by Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee
Succeeded by
Peerage of Great Britain
Preceded by Duke of Portland
Peerage of England
Preceded by Earl of Portland
2nd creation
Succeeded by