Benning Wentworth, Royal Colonial Governor Of Hew Hampshire

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Benning Wentworth, Governor

Birthdate:
Birthplace: Portsmouth, New Hampshire, New England Colonies
Death: Died in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, New England Colonies
Immediate Family:

Son of John Wentworth, Lt.-Governor and Sarah Hunking
Husband of Abigail Wentworth and Martha Wentworth
Father of Benning Wentworth
Brother of Mark Hunking Wentworth; Hunking Wentworth; Hannah Wentworth; John Wentworth, Jr; Mary Wentworth and 9 others

Managed by: Elwin C Nickerson
Last Updated:

About Benning Wentworth, Governor

  • Governor of the Province of New Hampshire
  • In office 1741–1766
  • Preceded by John Wentworth
  • Succeeded by Sir John Wentworth
  • Born 24 July 1696 Portsmouth, New Hampshire
  • Died 14 October 1770 Portsmouth, New Hampshire
  • Spouse(s) Abigail Ruck
  • Martha Hilton1998

Benning Wentworth (1696-1770) was the first Royal Governor of the colony of New Hampshire, and he was Governor for 26 years (1741-1767). He was born (and died) at Portsmouth (NH), one of 14 children sired by Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor John Wentworth (1671-1730) and his wife. John Wentworth had responsibility for the Province of New Hampshire (his portrait hangs in Room 207); his son Benning attended Harvard College (Class of 1715) and on his return to Portsmouth he entered the merchant aristocracy, shipping timber, livestock, and provisions to the plantation economies in the Caribbean. Europe was at peace during the years 1713-1739, and the British Navigation Acts (which restricted the colonies' imports and exports to British-owned and operated ships) were routinely violated. Benning Wentworth had many Spanish customers, as did other British North American merchants.

In 1739 France declared that all shipping to and from Spanish possessions in the Caribbean would henceforth be in French-owned and French-operated ships. The weakened Spanish Empire had requested protection from France, and France was responding.

The British merchants who controlled Parliament were not about to allow France to freeze them out of Spanish markets. The War of Jenkins' Ear began. Proclamations of war against Spain were read throughout British North America. And Benning Wentworth was left with unpaid Spanish Caribbean bills and unhonored contracts. He faced financial ruin.

If Benning Wentworth failed in business his English creditors would also. They began a campaign to get Wentworth on the Royal payroll, as Surveyor of the King's Woods in North America and as Governor of New Hampshire. They succeeded.

In this 19th century copy of Wentworth's 1760 portrait, the Governor stands before white pines, the source of his wealth as Surveyor of the King's Woods in North America. His girth is supplemented by heavy cotton padding, to help show his wealth (fat = wealth). He sports a fashionable Malacca cane, and stands on a "marbleized" canvas floorcloth.

Location: State House, Second Floor, Opposit Second Floor Elevator Painted by U.D. Tenney, 1873, after 1760 original by J. Blackburn

Benning Wentworth (24 July 1696 – 14 October 1770) was the colonial governor of New Hampshire from 1741 to 1766. The son of the John Wentworth who had been Lieutenant Governor, he was born and died in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. His nephew John Wentworth succeeded him. Wentworth graduated from Harvard College in 1715 and married Abigail Ruck in Boston in 1719. Upon the death of his first wife in 1755, he married, in 1760 at age 64, his much younger housekeeper, Martha Hilton, the subject of considerable scandal at the time.

Wentworth enriched himself by a clever scheme of selling land in what is now the state of Vermont to developers, in spite of jurisdictional claims for this region by the Colony of New York. He often named the new townships after famous contemporaries in order to gain support for his enterprises (e.g. Rutland after John Manners, 3rd Duke of Rutland; Bennington he named after himself). Ultimately, this scheme led to a great deal of contention between New York, New England, and the settlers in Vermont. It created friction between the northeast colonies, and the dispute was hardly settled by the formation of Vermont as a state.

  • Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion

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  • Benning Wentworth (24 July 1696 – 14 October 1770) was the colonial governor of New Hampshire from 1741 to 1766.
  • The eldest child of Lieutenant Governor John Wentworth, he was a great-grandson of "Elder" William Wentworth. Benning was born and died in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Under his father's leadership, the Wentworths had become one of the most prominent political and merchant families in the small colony.
  • Benning Wentworth graduated from Harvard College in 1715. He became a merchant at Portsmouth, and frequently represented the town in the provincial assembly. He was appointed as a King's Councillor, 12 October 1734.
  • A series of twists of fate brought Wentworth to the governor's chair in 1741. For many years his father had been lobbying colonial officials to establish a separate governorship for New Hampshire. Until then it had been under the oversight of the governor of the neighboring (and much larger) Province of Massachusetts Bay. Jonathan Belcher, governor of both provinces during the 1730s and a Massachusetts native, had during his tenure issued many land grants to Massachusetts interests in disputed areas west of the Merrimack River. There were claims that he was biased in his awards. The dispute finally reached the highest levels of King George II's government by the late 1730s, and the Board of Trade decided to separate the two governorships.
  • At the time, Wentworth was in London dealing with a personal financial crisis. He had delivered a shipment of timber to Spain in 1733, but was not paid by the Spanish because of an episode of difficult diplomatic relations at the time. Wentworth had had to borrow money to pay his own creditors, and had lobbied London to secure payment from Spain. The diplomatic moves were unsuccessful (the War of Jenkins' Ear started in 1739 as a result of these disputes), and Wentworth was forced into bankruptcy. As part of the bankruptcy, he claimed £11,000 were owed him by the British government due to the Spanish failure to pay. His London creditors agreed to forgo immediate repayment of the debt if the government gave him the governorship of New Hampshire. This was agreed, on the condition that Wentworth abandon his claim against the British government.[1]
  • Wentworth's commission as governor of New Hampshire was issued in June 1741; he was also later be appointed the king's surveyor general.[1] On 13 December 1741 Wentworth assumed the office.
  • Wentworth was authorised by the Crown to grant patents of unoccupied land, and in 1749 began making grants in what is now southern Vermont. He enriched himself by a clever scheme of selling land to developers in spite of jurisdictional claims for this region by the Province of New York. He often named the new townships after famous contemporaries in order to gain support for his enterprises (for example, Rutland is named after John Manners, 3rd Duke of Rutland; he named Bennington after himself). In each of the grants, he stipulated the reservation of a lot for an Anglican church, and one for himself. Ultimately, this scheme led to a great deal of contention between New York, Massachusetts, and the settlers in Vermont. The dispute outlived Wentworth's administration, lasting until Vermont was admitted as a state in 1791.
  • He ordered the construction of Fort Wentworth, built in 1755 at Northumberland, New Hampshire and named for him. Wentworth gave important government patronage positions to relatives together with extensive grants of land. Businessmen and residents grew increasingly resentful of his administration's corruption, taxes, and mismanagement and neglect of the crown's timber interests, forcing his resignation in 1767. Afterward, Wentworth donated 500 acres of land to Dartmouth College for construction of its buildings. His nephew John Wentworth succeeded him as governor.
  • He married Abigail Ruck in Boston in 1719. They had three children who lived to maturity, but none married or survived their father. Abigail Wentworth died 8 November 1755.
  • On 1760, at age 64, the widower Wentworth married his much younger housekeeper, Martha Hilton. She had been brought up in the family and was housekeeper at the time of his first wife's death. The marriage was the subject of considerable scandal at the time. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote “Lady Wentworth” about Martha Wentworth. She was the sole heir of her husband's large property after his death.
  • From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benning_Wentworth

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  • The Wentworth genealogy, comprising the origin of the name, the family in England, and a particular account of Elder William Wentworth, the emigrant, and of his descendants (1870)
  • http://www.archive.org/stream/wentworthgenealo01inwent#page/n105/mode/2up
  • http://www.archive.org/stream/wentworthgenealo01inwent#page/n119/mode/2up
  • http://www.archive.org/stream/wentworthgenealo01inwent#page/n164/mode/1up
  • Michael* was afterwards of Mendham Priory, in the county of Suffolk, and became cofferer to Henry VIII., and comptroller to the Queen. By his wife Isabel, daughter and heir of Percival Whitley, Esq., of Whitley, in Yorkshire, he became ancestor of the Wentworths of Wooley, in Yorkshire, a line which terminated in co-heiresses the latter part of the last century. He died 13 October, 1558, and his wife in 1560.
    • *Col. Michael Wentworth, who emigrated to this country and married the widow of Gov. Benning Wentworth, and who is more particularly alluded to under the head of Gov. Benning, was descended from this Thomas, whose son Michael was of Mendham, and married Isabel, daughter of Percival Whitley. They had Thomas of Wooley, married to Susan, daughter of Christopher Hepton. They had Michael, of Wooley, married Frances, daughter of George Downes. They had John, of Wooley, married Elizabeth Ra Aldbogh. They had Michael, of Wooley, married Dorothy Sprotbrough. They had Mathew, of Wakefield, 8th and youngest son, born 1689, and died 1749, married Anne, daughter of James Sill, of Wakefield. They had Michael who was second son, and emigrated to Portsmouth, N. H., and married the widow of Gov. Benning Wentworth. They had but one child, Martha, who married at Portsmouth, N. H. John, son of Thomas, grandson of Mark Hunking, and great grandson of Lt. Gov. John Wentworth.
  • http://www.archive.org/stream/wentworthgenealo01inwent#page/n264/mode/1up
  • Samuel (2.I.) son of Elder William Wentworth, is supposed to have been the eldest son, and to have been born about 1640. He was on the tax list in Dover, N. H., from 1659 to 1668, and was a juror there in 1669. He was given, 3 March, 1670-1, at Portsmouth, H. H., "Libertie to entertain strangers and to sell & brew beare." This license was renewed at late as 1677. On the 7th of October, 1678, "Samuel Wentworth, of Great Island [now New Castle, N. H.]," sells his tavern stand, to which "the sign of ye dolphin is now affixed." He was one of the selectmen of Portsmouth, N. H., in 1684, and foreman of the grand jury there in 1686.
  • As to his old place of residence in Dover, it appears from the records, that "Samuel Wentworth, of Portsmouth" and wife Mary, sell to Job Clements, tanner, 4 August, 1670, "twenty acres between Nechewannick [Salmon Falls] and Cochecho [Dover], bounded east by land of Clements, north by Richard Oates,* west by Joseph Bannery, south by Peter Coffin."
  • In the "Point of Graves" burial-ground, at Portsmouth, N. H., there lies flat upon the ground, after the ancient custom, a slab of granite, from which can be read with difficulty the following items:
  • Samuel Wentworth Sr died March ye 25th 1690, in ye Fiftieth year of his age.
  • Daniel Wentworth died January ye 5th 1690 in ye 22nd year of his age.
  • Same year above, Hannah Wentworth, wife to Samuel Wentworth, jr., died February ye 21st, in the 24th year of her age.
  • http://www.archive.org/stream/wentworthgenealo01inwent#page/n266/mode/1up
  • The will of Samuel is among the Probate records at Exeter, N. H., dated 13 March, 1690-1, in which he describes himself as sick of the small-pox. He died of this disease.* In the will, he gave to his son Samuel the house and lands whereon he (Samuel) then lived; to his wife Mary, half of his dwelling-house and one-third of his movable estate, in fee simple; to his sons John and Ebenezer, and daughters Mary and Dorothy, L80 each, if there be sufficient; and if more, the balance to Samuel. The overseers were Richard Martyn (who married his widow) and Samuel Penhallow: witnesses, Richard Gerrish, Edward Melcher and Elisha Briard.
  • http://www.archive.org/stream/wentworthgenealo01inwent#page/n268/mode/1up
  • Lieut. William Fitzwilliam (988) Wentworth, of the British navy, son of Benning, grandson of Samuel, and great-granson of Lieut.-Gov. John, sent the following from the old family record in England:
  • Samuel Wentworth born at Cochecho.
  • He married, in 1664, Mary Benning,* who was born at Tatmour High Cross, in London.
  • The widow of Samuel became, as early as 1691, the wife of Hon. Richard Martyn. one of the overseers named in her husband's will. He died in 1693, having no children by her.
  • http://www.archive.org/stream/wentworthgenealo01inwent#page/n270/mode/1up
  • Mrs. Martyn was admitted to the church in Portsmouth, 2 February, 1693. She died 20 January, 1724-5, aged 77. By her will, she gave one-half of her estate to son Samuel and wife, for their support, and not to pay their debts ( as he had been unfortunate); what they did not need, to go to his son after their decease. She gave John one-fourth, Ebenezer one-fourth, and alludes to daughters, Mrs. Mary Rymes and Dorothy Sherburne, as being otherwise provided for.
  • http://www.archive.org/stream/wentworthgenealo01inwent#page/n272/mode/1up
  • The children* of Samuel and Mary (Benning) Wentworth were:
    • 14. III. John (Lieut.-Gov.), born 16 January, 1671. [79]
    • http://www.archive.org/stream/wentworthgenealo01inwent#page/n330/mode/1up
    • John (14. III.), known as "Lieut.-Gov. John," son of Samuel and Mary (Benning) Wentworth, born 16 January, 1671, resided at Portsmouth.
    • http://www.archive.org/stream/wentworthgenealo01inwent#page/n334/mode/1up
    • In 1717 he was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of New Hampshire, which office he held until his death, 12 December, 1730.
    • http://www.archive.org/stream/wentworthgenealo01inwent#page/n336/mode/1up
    • Lieut.-Gov. John married Sarah, daughter of Mark Hunking.* She died 1 April, 1741, in her 68th year, making her born in 1673.
    • http://www.archive.org/stream/wentworthgenealo01inwent#page/n338/mode/1up
    • The children of Lieut-Gov. John and Sarah (Hunking) Wentworth were:
      • 80. I. Benning, born 24 July, 1696. [335]
      • 81. II. Hunking, born 19 December, 1697. [338]
      • 82. III. Hannah, born 4 July, 1700; married, 1st, Samuel Plaisted; 2d, Theodore Atkinson. [340]
      • http://www.archive.org/stream/wentworthgenealo01inwent#page/100/mode/1up
      • 83. IV. Sarah, born 24 June, 1702: married, 1st Archibald McPhedris; 2d, George Jaffrey, jr. [341]
      • 84. V. John, born 19 October, 1703. [342]
      • 85. VI. William, born 10 December, 1705. [349]
      • 86. VII. Mary, born 7 My, 1707: married, 1st, Temple Nelson; 2d, John Steele. [359]
      • 87. VIII. Samuel, born 15 January, 1708. [361]
      • 88. IX. Mark Hunking, born 1 March, 1709. [370]
      • 89. X. Elizabeth, born 16 February, 1710-11: married, 1st, John Lowd; 2d Capt. Benjamin Underwood,* a ship-master, of Kittery, Me.; and died childless, 19 October, 1790.
      • 90. XI. Rebecca, born 16 April, 1712; married Thomas Packer* (Sheriff), and died, September 1738.
      • 91. XII. Ebenezer, born 1 August, 1714. [373]
      • http://www.archive.org/stream/wentworthgenealo01inwent#page/n342/mode/1up
      • 92. XIII. Daniel, born 5 January, 1715-16. [374]
      • 93. XIV. George, born 12 June, 1719, and died at sea, unmarried, December, 1741.
      • http://www.archive.org/stream/wentworthgenealo01inwent#page/n464/mode/1up/search/BENNING
      • Gov. Benning4 Wentworth married, 1st 31 December, 1719, Abigail, daughter of John Ruck, of Boston. She was baptized,* as by records of the Second church, in Boston, as the oldest of eight children, 17 September, 1699. She died 8 November, 1755. No record of their children's births appears; but the baptisms of John5 and Benning5 appear on the records of the Boston Second church. Gov. Benning married, 2d 15 March, 1760, a very young wife, Martha Hilton, granddaughter of Hon. Richard Hilton, of Newmarket, who was Justice of the Superior Court in 1698 and 1699, and who was grandson of the first Edward Hilton. This marriage, owing to the inequality of ages, as well as of position, caused much excitement at the time, and the excitement was greatly increased by his making her his sole heir. Gov. Benning4 Wentworth died 14 October, 1770. ....
      • http://www.archive.org/stream/wentworthgenealo01inwent#page/n466/mode/1up/search/BENNING
      • Gov. Benning4 Wentworth had children by his first wife:
        • 336. I. John,5 baptized 29 January, 1720-21. He was a Major in the Canada expedition of 1746, and died, unmarried, 8 November, 1759. Adams, in Annals of Portsmouth, calls him "Only son of His Excellency," and .....
        • 337. II Benning,5 baptized 1 July, 1722. He was a captain in the Canada expedition of 1746. His name appears as witness to a deed, 22 April 1746. Nothing furthur is now known.
        • 338. III. Foster,5 also a captain in the expedition of 1746. .....
      • http://www.archive.org/stream/wentworthgenealo01inwent#page/n468/mode/1up/search/BENNING
      • Gov. Benning,4 had by his second wife, one or more children,5 who died in infancy. Their names are not preserved.
      • Two month after Gov. Benning's decease, his widow married, 19 December, 1770, Col. Michael26 Wentworth. She died 28 December, 1805, aged 68. Col. Michael26 died 26 September, 1795, while on a visit to New York.

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  • Governor Benning Wentworth
    • Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion
    • City of Portsmouth
  • At the end of Little Harbor Road is the farm of Royal Governor Benning Wentworth (1696-1770). Appointed in 1741 by George II, Wentworth governed the province of New Hampshire for 25 years, promoting expansion as far west as Bennington, in present-day Vermont. The Cushing family acquired the farm in 1816, and by the 1840s began to show the mansion as one of America’s first historic houses open to the public. In 1886, John Templeman Coolidge (1856-1945) of Boston purchased the site for a summer home. In 1954, his widow, Mary Abigail Parsons Coolidge, donated it to the state of New Hampshire.
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Wentworth-**Coolidge_Mansion,_Portsmouth,_NH.jpg
  • From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_New_Hampshire_Historical_Markers:_176-200

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A particularly corrupt politician.

Benning Wentworth (1696-1770) was the first Royal Governor of the colony of New Hampshire, and he was Governor for 26 years (1741-1767). He was born (and died) at Portsmouth (NH), one of 14 children sired by Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor John Wentworth (1671-1730) and his wife. John Wentworth had responsibility for the Province of New Hampshire (his portrait hangs in Room 207); his son Benning attended Harvard College (Class of 1715) and on his return to Portsmouth he entered the merchant aristocracy, shipping timber, livestock, and provisions to the plantation economies in the Caribbean. Europe was at peace during the years 1713-1739, and the British Navigation Acts (which restricted the colonies' imports and exports to British-owned and operated ships) were routinely violated. Benning Wentworth had many Spanish customers, as did other British North American merchants.

In 1739 France declared that all shipping to and from Spanish possessions in the Caribbean would henceforth be in French-owned and French-operated ships. The weakened Spanish Empire had requested protection from France, and France was responding.

The British merchants who controlled Parliament were not about to allow France to freeze them out of Spanish markets. The War of Jenkins' Ear began. Proclamations of war against Spain were read throughout British North America. And Benning Wentworth was left with unpaid Spanish Caribbean bills and unhonored contracts. He faced financial ruin.

If Benning Wentworth failed in business his English creditors would also. They began a campaign to get Wentworth on the Royal payroll, as Surveyor of the King's Woods in North America and as Governor of New Hampshire. They succeeded. source http://www.nh.gov/nhdhr/glikeness/wentbenn.html

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Wentworth, Benning, 1696– 1770, American colonial governor, b. Portsmouth, N.H. A leading merchant of Portsmouth, he served in the colonial assembly and council, and, when New Hampshire was established as a separate province, he was appointed (1741) governor; he served until 1767. With no legal justification he made vast grants of land W of the Connecticut River in the region claimed by New York, including among the beneficiaries his friends, his relatives, and himself. The New Hampshire Grants (later the state of Vermont) thus became a much-disputed area. Bennington, Vt., took its name from his first name. source Answers.com

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Wentworth enriched himself by a clever scheme of selling land now in the state of Vermont to developers, in spite of jurisdictional claims for this region by the Colony of New York. He often named the new townships after famous contemporaries in order to gain support for his enterprises (e.g. Rutland after John Manners, 3rd Duke of Rutland; Bennington he named after himself). Ultimately, this scheme led to a great deal of contention between New York, New England, and the settlers in Vermont. It created friction between the northeast colonies, and the dispute was hardly settled by the formation of Vermont as a state.

Wentworth also gave important government positions to relatives and gave them extensive grants of land. He was allowed to retire from office in 1766.

Fort Wentworth built in 1755 at Northumberland, New Hampshire was built by his order and named after him. source wikipedia - http://capecodhistory.us/genealogy/getperson.php?personID=I25310&tree=Nauset

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Benning Wentworth, Royal Colonial Governor Of Hew Hampshire's Timeline

1696
July 24, 1696
Portsmouth, New Hampshire, New England Colonies
1719
December 31, 1719
Age 23
1760
1760
Age 63
1770
October 14, 1770
Age 74
Portsmouth, New Hampshire, New England Colonies
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