During the following year, after the siege of Namur, King William, on his return to England, took a progress into Nottinghamshire, and was met by the Duke of Newcastle at Dunham Ferry, who conducted the royal party to Welbeck, seven miles away, where the King and his court were for two days magnificently entertained by his grace, who afterwards accompanied his Majesty to Holme-Pierrepont, the seat of the Earl of Kingston.

The Duke was now such a wealthy and powerful man that in 1706 a serious proposal was made to him respecting arranging a marriage between his only daughter and the son of the Elector of Hanover. But if his grace, like the famous Countess of Shrewsbury, was gifted with ability to make his way in the world, he was not destined to have such a long enjoyment of fortune's favours. In 1711 he died from the effects of a fall from his horse, while hunting between Thoresby and Welbeck, probably near Hazelgap.1

The only daughter of the Duke, Henrietta Cavendish Holles, would have been one of the richest heiresses in Europe, had not Newcastle left the greater part of his estates to his nephew, Thomas Pelham. Among these estates were Clumber, where that branch of the family afterwards settled.

Two years after her father's death Lady Henrietta was married to Edward, Lord Harley, afterwards second Earl of Oxford, to whom she brought a fortune of half a million of money. The Harleys had long been a distinguished family in the county of Hereford. Edward Harley's great-grand­father, Sir Robert, was Master of the Mint in the reign of Charles I., and Lady Harley's courageous defence of Brampton Castle is a matter well known in history. Edward Harley's father, the first Earl of Oxford, was an active statesman, who filled the office of Prime Minister in the reign of Queen Anne, and was patron of eminent literary men. He was a great collector of printed books and manuscripts, and these, with the additions made to them by the second Earl, form the Harleian collection in the British Museum. It was not from want of ability that Edward Harley took no part in public affairs, but principally from indolence. He cared little for general society, though he had a love for the company of eminent men, such as Swift, who frequently visited him ; Pope, who was his correspondent; and Prior, who was his guest at the time of his death.

In 1724, the year when Edward Harley  succeeded  his father as Earl of Oxford, the opening was cut through the Greendale Oak; it is said to have been made in consequence of an after-dinner bet by the owner, who declared that he had a tree in his park with a sufficiently large trunk to allow an aperture to be cut through which a coach and six could be driven. This is certainly one of the most remarkable trees in Sherwood Forest, the circumference of the trunk up to the height of ten feet being greater than that of the Major Oak. In an account of some remarkable oaks Evelyn gives measurements of this and other trees, taken about fifty years before the incision was made through the trunk; and from this account it may be seen that the great trees now remaining do not equal in size the giants of former rimes, for he notes that "the Lord's Oak, that stood in Rivelin " (near Sheffield), "was in diameter 3 yards and 21 inches, and exceeded this in circumference 3 feet, at one foot from the ground." The growth of the Greendale Oak has been proportionately greater in breadth of trunk than in height; and this peculiarity, no doubt, suggested the idea that, without destroying the tree, a sufficiently large space might be cut in the trunk to allow a carriage and horses to pass through, or for three horsemen to ride through abreast. It appears strange to learn that 180 years ago the Countess of Oxford had a cabinet made of the oak that was cut from the heart of this tree which still survives. On the cabinet are inlaid representations of the Greendale Oak, and of a carriage and six horses being driven through the opening.2

The second Earl of Oxford made many valuable additions to the manuscripts collected by his father, especially those referring to the history and antiquities of England. His printed books are said to have been the most choice and magnificent ever collected in this kingdom, which he usually bought at exorbitant prices. He was generous-hearted to those in need, though often imposed upon, and notwithstanding the great fortune he had with the Countess, this disposition led him into pecuniary difficulties. In 1740 he sold Wimpole to Lord Chancellor Hardwicke to pay off a debt of £100,000.

But this sale did not remove his trouble. Of the large fortune the Countess brought him, it is said £400,000 were wasted through good-nature and want of worldly wisdom. He died at his house in Dover Street on June 16, 1741.

The miscellaneous curiosities, with the coins, medals, and portraits, were sold by auction in 1742. And the books, including about 50,000 printed volumes, 41,000 prints, and 350,000 pamphlets, were bought the same year by Thomas Osborne, bookseller, of Gray's Inn, for £13,000, a considerable amount less than the price of binding, although Osborne is said to have found his purchase a heavy investment. In order that the manuscripts might not be dispersed Lady Oxford sold them to the British Museum in 1753 for £10,000.

The Countess of Oxford is said to have been "a dull, worthy woman, who disliked most of the wits who surrounded her husband, and hated Pope."3 Though, that she was dull is scarcely borne out by the fact that Lady Mary Wortley Montagu was her friend and correspondent, and that she presented to the Countess her portrait painted by Charles della Rusca ; but perhaps her friendship with this lady may explain Lady Oxford's dislike of Pope. Nor would it be expected that a lady with this characteristic would pass her widowhood in arranging the ancestral portraits, and encouraging as well as rendering assistance to Arthur Collins in gathering together his "most valuable memorials of the great families that centred in herself" ; nor in employing George Vertue to catalogue all the pictures and portraits left by her husband; or in making improvements at Welbeck in which she expended forty thousand pounds.

In July, 1744, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu wrote to the Countess from Avignon: " . . . I think it extremely reasonable you should take that of embellishing your paternal seat, which on many accounts I think one of the most rational, as well as agreeable you can take.

"Indeed, it is a sort of duty to support a place which has been so long dignified by your ancestors."

From Brescia—in July, 1747—she says: "Mr. Wortley tells me you have made Welbeck a very delightful place; it is always so by the situation, I do not doubt of the improvement by your good taste."

Lady Oxford died on December 9, 1755; and for the third time this great estate passed through the female line, the only surviving child of the marriage being Margaret Cavendish Harley, "the noble, lovely little Peggy," celebrated by Prior, who, by her union with William Bentinck, second Duke of Portland, carried the estates into that family.

William Henry Cavendish Bentinck, the oldest son of the above-named marriage, succeeded to the titles and estates as third Duke of Portland when only twenty-four years of age. Shortly afterwards on entering into political association with the Marquis of Rockingham, who was then Prime Minister, he was appointed Lord Chamberlain of the Household. He retired with the Rockingham administration in the following year, and during the same month married Lady Dorothy Cavendish, only daughter of the fourth Duke of Devonshire. When the Marquis of Rockingham in 1782 was again returned to power, the Duke accepted the office of Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland.

In 1783 the Duke of Portland himself became Prime Minister, with Fox and Lord North in subordinate offices.

Though not of remarkable ability as a statesman the Duke of Portland was a man of enlightened views, who saw the advantage of allowing a free expression of opinions on political matters. In the early days of the movement which led to the French Revolution he sympathised with that great upheaval, but on its tendency becoming more pronounced, he altogether rejected its doctrines. From 1794 to 1801 he was Secretary of State, and during the Duke's tenure of that office the Irish rebellion occurred, and although it was found needful to pass several repressive measures, there was no undue stretching of power, nor was the Government unpopular. There were indeed some trade processions where seditious flags were carried in Sheffield, but nothing more serious than the breaking of the King's carriage windows when he was on his way to open Parliament. It may also be said in praise of the Duke's policy that during this time Cornwallis and Castlereagh received his support in all their actions except in the disgraceful bargaining for titles of honour between the Peers and the Cabinet, the Irish peers taking advantage of the necessity of their support to the Government in passing the Act of Union.

Owing to the Duke's advanced age and feebleness when he became Prime Minister for the last time in 1807, the work of the Government fell principally on Castlereagh and Canning. On the failure of the expedition to Walcheren, Castlereagh became very unpopular with the public, and this brought on dissensions in the Cabinet ; Canning and Castlereagh could not agree. The Duke was afraid to accept Canning's resignation, and promised to dismiss Castlereagh ; but he was equally afraid to dismiss Castlereagh, and put off the evil day. Castlereagh discovered what had been going on, and the result was a duel on Wimbledon Common between Canning and Castlereagh on September 21, 1809, when Canning was wounded, and both resigned. In the following month the Duke also insisted on giving up office, and died at Bulstrode on November 30th in the same year.

The fourth Duke of Portland, while Marquis of Titchfield, married Henrietta, daughter and co-heiress of General Scott, of Balcomie, a descendant of Baliol and Bruce. The Duke assumed the name of Scott-Bentinck. He was a great patron of agriculture, and tried many experiments on his estates. He also made the series of flood meadows on the rivers Meden and Mann, those on the latter stream extending from near Mansfield to Ollerton.

The second son of the third Duke of Portland, Lord William Cavendish, became Governor-General of India.

William George Frederick Cavendish, better known as Lord George Cavendish, the second surviving son of the fourth Duke, born in 1802, was one of the most eminent politicians of his time, who, in close association with D'Israeli (afterwards Lord Beaconsfield), strenuously opposed the policy of Sir Robert Peel in the temporary withdrawal of the taxes on foreign corn. His death, which was a matter of much regret to the nation, occurred on September 21, 1848, while walking alone on his way to visit Lord Manvers at Thoresby. As a tribute to his memory, Mr. D'Israeli published his political biography.

The passion for building, which was developed by "Bess of Hardwick," has shown itself in several of her descendants—in her grandson, the first Duke of Newcastle; in the Countess of Oxford, who spent her widowhood at Welbeck making improvements; and most notably of all, in the fifth Duke of Portland, whose surprising erections draw thousands of wondering spectators to Welbeck every year.

Of the buildings on this estate there are few, if any, in better taste than the entrance lodge to the grounds from Sparken Hill, Worksop, built a few years ago. It does honour to every one concerned with the work.

1 "On the 15th instant died his grace the Duke of Newcastle, at his seat at Welbeck. 'Tis said his grace being a stag hunter, his horse fell under him in the chase, and he fell on his shoulders, yet for the present felt no great harm. When the stag was killed, finding himself worse, getting into a coach he ordered to be driven home, fell into convulsions, and died."—Nottingham Post, July 11 to 18, 1711.
2 In the spring of 1725, when the Earl was making a tour from the south through Hertfordshire, Lincolnshire, and Notts, to the northern counties and Scotland, in the company of Mr. Thomas, his chaplain, and several other gentlemen ; Mr. Thomas in his journal gives the following description of Welbeck and Worksop Manor Parks: " After crossing Clumber Park we entered into my ' Lord's liberty,' which begins at Carburton, where there is a good old house, and a ruinous church or chapel on the right hand, a little further, at the bottom on our left is the famous Dam of Carburton, made for the forge adjoining, and stored with plenty of pike by the late Duke, who took great delight in that kind of fishing for them, which is termed ' trowling'. We entered Welbeck Park at the South east, passed through an avenue cut through the most stately oaks, thickly and widely spread on each side, about the middle of which we go over a small vale, called the Banqueting Dale, and had its name from an entertainment which was made in it for King Charles I. We got safe into Welbeck House about five in the afternoon . . . where we rested ourselves with no small satisfaction on April 24, 25 and 26 ... on Tuesday about eleven in the morning my Lord, Mr. Morley, Mr. Hobart and myself rode out that way where the famous tree is, called the 'Grindall' Oak, which has lately had a passage cut through it, large enough for any coach to drive through, and accordingly seldom any pass that way without going through it ; there were several of the most heavy and cumbersome branches cut off at the same time to ease the tree, but there are still reckoned to be about nine tons of timber remaining upon it. We rode through the body of it. We then passed out at the gate leading to  Worksop  Manor, through some of the noblest oak timber that I ever beheld, or ever expect to see, which are thought not to have grown from the acorn but the stump after a former fall of timber, there being frequently to be seen two, three, four, five and sometimes six growing up together from the same common stock, and particularly three trees, which are called the three sisters, two of which grow on the right hand, and one on the left of the way that we came out of the park. As we came on this way . . . we had a view to the right of Worksop Manor House, a stately building, the seat of the Duke of Norfolk."
3 Dictionary of National Biography.