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03 April 2015

Obituary of the Dowager Duchess, somewhat late

I missed the death of the dowager duchess, Deborah Cavendish, nee Freeman-Mitford, the youngest of the six famous "Mitford sisters." She was one of my favorite British upper-class folk. She was quite a character.

When she married him, in wartime, her future duke was just Lord Andrew Cavendish, and it was his older brother who had the title Marquess of Hartington and stood to inherit the dukedom. But when William, the Marquess, who was married to Kathleen Kennedy, sister of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, died in combat, her husband Andrew inherited his title, and Deborah now stood to become a duchess upon the death of her father-in-law. As Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, the pair inherited the vast estates including Chatsworth House, and also a tax bill of seven million pounds, an insurmountable fortune in those days. But they did surmount it, and cannily managed Chatsworth, with its vast lands and possibly the largest private art collection in the UK, for 50 years.
Deborah became the Dowager Duchess in 2004, and in her remaining 10 years, she wrote numerous books, including a cookery book, and Wait for Me!: Memoirs of the Youngest Mitford Sister .

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