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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Deborah Duchess of Devonshire 1920-2014

_, Deborah Duchess of Devonshire, for decades chatelaine of Chatsworth House, and the last surviving of the celebrated Mitford sisters, died 24 September, 2014. She was 94.

She was born the Hon Deborah Vivien Freeman-Mitford, 21 March, 1920, sixth daughter of the 2nd Baron Redesdale (1878-1958), by his wife the former Sydney Bowles (who died 1963).

Her sisters were (i) Nancy, writer; (ii) Pamela; (iii) Diana (Lady Mosley, wife of the British fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley); (iv) Unity, friend of Hitler; and (v) Jessica, writer.

'Debo' married, 19 Apr, 1941, the then Lord Andrew Cavendish, a younger son of the 10th Duke of Devonshire (1895-1950), by his wife the former Lady Mary Gascoyne-Cecil (d 1988), daughter of the 4th Marquess of Salisbury.

Her husband became heir to the Cavendish peerages and vast estates when his elder brother, William, Marquess of Hartington, was killed in action in 1944. Hartington had married Kathleen Kennedy, daughter of the US Ambassador to the Court of St James and a sister of the future US President, John Fitzgerald Kennedy. The marriage was childless.

Andrew Cavendish succeeded his father as 11th duke, 26 Nov, 1950, and died 3 May, 2004, aged 84.

Deborah Duchess of Devonshire is survived by one son, Peregrine, known as "Stoker" the 12th Duke of Devonshire, who was born in 1944, and by two daughters, Lady Emma Tennant and Lady Sophia Topley.

The funeral is expected to take place on the Chatsworth estate, Derbyshire.

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