Lucy Caroline Lyttelton was born on 5th September 1841. She was one of 12 children of the 4th Lord Lyttelton. She was brought up with her brothers and sisters on the Lyttelton estate at Hagley, Stourbridge, Worcestershire.
In 1863 she became Maid of Honour to Queen Victoria. In 1864 she married Lord Frederick Cavendish, the second son of the 7th Duke of Devonshire. In May 1882 Lord Frederick was appointed Chief Secretary for Ireland and within a few hours of being sworn in he was assassinated in Phoenix Park, Dublin.
Although Lucy Cavendish did not have children she held strong views about the education of girls. In 1894 she became a member of the Royal Commission on Secondary Education. In October 1904 her work in the field of education was marked by the conferment on her of the first Honorary Degree bestowed by the University of Leeds.
When the new college for women was taking shape in Cambridge in the early 1960s the question of its name was much discussed. The Founding Fellows settled on the name Lucy Cavendish College to commemorate the quiet, persistent, pioneering work that the relation of Margaret Masterman Braithwaite (one of the Founding Fellows) had undertaken to promote the cause of women's education.
“We went to Bradford, where I had to declare a Girls' Day Grammar-School open; the 1st of the sort, inasmuch as it has an endowment of £200 clawed from boys' education by the Endowed Sch. Commn. It has made a famous start, with over 160 pupils" Entry in Lucy Cavendish's diary. Holker, Thurs. September 27th-October 3rd, 1875.