Letter: Early royal ignorance

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The Independent Online
IN HIS travel article 'On England's roof' (Review, 16 January) Keith Waterhouse says, 'I could never understand why the Duke of Devonshire owned large tracts of Yorkshire'.

The main estates of the Duke of Devonshire are not situated in Yorkshire but in the adjoining county of Derbyshire. The explanation for this goes back to 1605 when Sir William Cavendish was created the 1st Earl of Devonshire by James I. The King, when about to bestow the earldom, turned to his aide and asked for the name of the actual title to be conferred. On being told 'Earl of Derbyshire', he retorted, 'There is no such place as Derbyshire, you mean Devonshire', and dubbed Sir William 'Earl of Devonshire'. In 1694, when the 4th Earl was created the 1st Duke, the error was compounded.

J M Griffiths

Newcastle, Staffordshire