Saturday, January 1, 2011

2011-An Important Year in Cavendish History

Cavendish will mark two important anniversaries this year-the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War and the 250th anniversary of the founding of the town. Each week, during this historic year, the Cavendish Historical Society will provide information about the early years of the town as well as the Civil War era.

Cavendish was chartered on October 12, 1761 under New Hampshire’s Benning Wentworth, who was appointed first Royal Governor of New Hampshire (1741-1766). Starting with Bennington in 1749, Wentworth granted (sold) large tracts of land in what would become Vermont, even though this territory was claimed by the Province of New York. Wentworth kept the fees paid by the towns, as well reserving two shares (500 acres) of each town for himself. Though he became very wealthy through these activities, he desperately wanted a title. Consequently, he named the towns to honor people that he thought could further his interests.

Cavendish was most likely named for William Cavendish, the fourth Duke of Devonshire. The Duke was married to Charlotte, who was a daughter and heiress of Richard Boyle, the third Earl of Burlington, and a granddaughter of the Marquis of Halifax. At different times William Cavendish was lord lieutenant of Ireland and of Derbyshire and first lord of the treasury. In 1756-57 he was prime minister of England, and from 1757 to 1762 he was lord high chamberlain.

In 1764, after considerable dispute between New York and New Hampshire, the King awarded Wentworth’s grants to New York. Neither the settlers nor the proprietors of this town were eager to pay for a New York charter, which cost more than ten times the amount charged by New Hampshire. Eight years later, proprietors re-purchased Cavendish from New York, having raised funds by selling the town’s Wentworth’s tract. Yet the land dispute continued, and Vermont fought New York as well as Great Britain for its independence. Finally, in 1791, when no colony or state could any longer make claim upon its territory, Vermont joined the United States and the land question was settled.

A committee is being formed to plan events for the 250th anniversary. If you are interested in participating, please e-mail or call 226-7807.

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