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North London Collegiate School

BRYDGES, Cassandra (1670-1735)


Reference code(s): GB 2457 BRYDGES

Held at: North London Collegiate School

Title: BRYDGES, Cassandra (1670-1735)

Date(s): 1713-1735

Level of description: Collection (fonds)

Extent: 1 volume

Name of creator(s): BRYDGES | Cassandra | nee Willoughby | 1670-1735 | Second wife of 1st Duke of Chandos


Administrative/Biographical history:

Cassandra Willoughby was born in 1670 at Middleton, Warwickshire, the daughter of Francis Willoughby (1619-1672) and his wife Emma Barnard (1644-1725). Following Willoughby's death, Emma married Sir Josiah Child (d.1699), and moved with him and her three children to Wanstead House, Essex. In 1681, her eldest brother Francis (1668-1888) went to live with his aunt, Lettice Wendy, at Haslingfield, Cambridgeshire, his younger brother Thomas (1672-1729) following soon after. Around 1886, Francis persuaded Cassandra to join him at Wollaton Hall, Nottinghamshire, a family property which he occupied by then. Following Francis death in 1688, she lived for a time in London with her younger brother Thomas, before returning with him to Wallaton.

In 1713, Cassandra married James Brydges (1674-1744), MP for Hereford, and Post Master General. Brydges had resigned as PMG in 1713 having acquired a fortune of 600 000. They moved, along with the surviving children from his first marriage to Canons, a property near Edgware, Middlesex, which he had acquired through his first wife, Mary Lake (c.1666-1712), and which he rebuilt over the next three years. From 1717-1720, the composer George Frederick Handel became composer-in-residence at Canons. He wrote both The Chandos Anthems and Concerti Grossi at Canons, and his opera Acis and Galatea had its first performance in the gardens there.

In 1717, Brydges inherited the earldom of Caernarvon, and in 1717 was created the first Duke of Chandos. The family lived mainly at Canons, travelling frequently to their other residences in Albemarle Street, London and Bath. Cassandra kept up a copious correspondence, was fond of horse riding, reading, painting and embroidery, as well as being a skilful household manager. Brydges lost much of his fortune in the failure of the South Sea Company, 1720. Cassandra died unexpectedly following an apoplectic fit on14 Jul 1735.


Scope and content/abstract:

Letter book of Cassandra Brydges containing copies of her letters out, 1713-1735.


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:

Conditions governing access:

By appointment. Available to bona fide researchers only. Contact the Mrs Karen Morgan, Archivist, North London Collegiate School, Canons, Edgware HA8 7RJ, Tel: 020 8952 0912. Email:

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copies available subject to the physical condition of the materials. Researcher may be asked to contribute to the costs.

Physical characteristics:

Finding aids:

Archive database may be consulted in the School Library


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information:


Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:



Existence and location of originals:

Existence and location of copies:

The School also holds typescript transcripts of the letter book prepared by Brian Woods, [1992].

Related material:

Brydges family papers, 17th cent-18th century, including papers of Cassandra Brydges, Duchess of Chandos (d 1735) (Ref: DR 18) held at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Records Office, Stratford-Upon-Avon; manuscript history of the Willoughby family by Cassandra, Duchess of Chandos (d 1735), early 18th cent (Ref: Mi/LM 27) held at the Nottingham University Library, Department of Manuscripts and Special Collections; Brydges family papers, 1416-1900, held by the Huntingdon Library, San Marino, California, USA.

Publication note:



Archivist's note: Sources: Historical Manuscripts Commission's On-Line National Register of Archives; Excellent Cassandra, the life and times of the Duchess of Chandos, Joan Johnson, Alan Sutton Publishing Limited, Gloucester, 1981.
Compiled by Alison Field as part of the London Signpost Survey Project.

Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal Place and Corporate Names 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: September 2003

Bookform materials | Documents | Information sources
Women authors | Authors

Personal names
BRYDGES | Cassandra | nee Willoughby | 1670-1735 | Second wife of 1st Duke of Chandos

Corporate names

Edgeware | Middlesex | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe
London | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe