Kathleen Cavendish (20th February 1920 to 13th May 1948)


You wouldn’t easily think one of the Kennedy clan would be buried in England would you? However President JFK’s sister Kathleen is buried here at the back of Edensor village church in Derbyshire. She married into the British aristocracy and lies in the Cavendish family plot on the Chatsworth Estate. She had a short and sad life.


Kathleen was the fourth child of Joseph and Rose Kennedy and was known as "Kick". So how did she get to England? Her dad was rich and powerful and appointed as United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom in 1938. Kathleen lived in England too and was educated at Queen's College in London. She was highly social and declared the "debutante of 1938" by the English media.


However World War Two was brewing and English society had to be left behind. Germany invaded Poland in September 1939 and Kathleen reluctantly returned to America. In 1941 she decided to leave school and began working for the Washington Times-Herald later pairing up with Inga Arvad (who wrote the popular column, "Did You Happen to See.....".) Even though she was soon given her own column to write she missed England. She was soon back, signing up to work for the Red Cross.


She met William Cavendish, the eldest son of Duke of Devonshire who would one day inherit the stately home Chatsworth House. They married when she was 24 but the only member of the Kennedy clan to attend was her brother Joseph (he was killed three months later during a secret bombing mission in Europe.)


Kathleen and her husband were together was only one month before her new husband left to fight in Germany. About a month later he was shot dead by a sniper during a battle near the German Front (aged 26) and was buried near to where he fell.


Later one Kathleen, now Lady Hartington, became romantically involved with the Earl Fitzwilliam. She was from a strong Catholic family and as the Earl was divorcing his wife, her mother warned her she’d be disowned by the family if she married a divorcee. At this time Kathleen learned her dad would be in Paris. Hoping to gain his consent she decided to fly to Paris to him. I don’t know if she gained his consent but it was futile anyway. From Paris she was flying to the French Riviera for holiday when the plane crashed killing all on board.


Her father was the only family member to attend the funeral and, later on, her mother refused to attend Kathleen’s memorial service (she choose to enter a hospital for routine medical tests instead.)


Despite a three-year age difference Kathleen and her older brother John (the President) had been particularly close. He visited the grave on 29th June 1963 and there’s a stone to mark this. Months later he was assassinated in Dallas. Wonder if they were reunited somewhere?









The Cavendish family plot is at the back of the churchyard…


Chatsworth House is just over the hill facing the church…