Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford

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Thomas Wentworth

Also Known As: "Black Tom Tyrant"
Birthdate:
Birthplace: Chancery Lane, London, England
Death: Died in London, England
Cause of death: executed
Place of Burial: Holy Trinity Church Cemetery, Wentworth, South Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom
Immediate Family:

Son of Sir William Wentworth, 1st Bt of Wentworth Woodhouse; William Wentworth; Anne Wentworth and Anne Wentworth
Husband of Margaret Clifford; Arabella Holles, Lady and Elizabeth Wentworth (Rodes)
Father of Sir William Wentworth, 2nd Earl of Strafford; Arabella Wentworth; Anne Wentworth; Anne Watson; Margaret Wentworth and 1 other
Brother of Anne Savile (Wentworth); Michael Wentworth; Sir William Wentworth of Ashby; Margaret or Mary (Wentworth) Hutton; Matthew Wentworth and 5 others

Managed by: Joyce Darlene Tharp
Last Updated:

About Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Wentworth,_1st_Earl_of_Strafford - Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford (13 April 1593 (O.S.) – 12 May 1641) was an English statesman and a major figure in the period leading up to the English Civil War. He served in parliament and was a supporter of King Charles I. From 1632 to 1639, he instituted a harsh rule as Lord Deputy of Ireland. He was the toughest, most efficient, and most hated deputy the country had ever known. He continued the policy of plantations by seizing land based on old royal claims and offering it up for rent. In many ways, the absolute dictatorial powers weided by Wentworth was reflective of the attempts by Charles I to do the same in England and Scotland. But whereas Wentworth successfully browbeat the Irish into submission, Charles's failures led to crisis and civil war. Recalled to England in 1639, Wentworth became a leading advisor to the king, attempting to strengthen the royal position against parliament. He became known as "Black Tom Tyrant." When parliament condemned him to death, Charles signed the death warrant and Wentworth was executed. At the time of his own execution, Charles I expressed regret about this decision which him of one of his greatest supporters.

Thomas Wentworth was born in London, the son of Sir William Wentworth, of Wentworth Woodhouse, near Rotherham, a member of an old Yorkshire family, and of Ally, daughter of Sir Robert Atkins of Stowell, Gloucestershire. He was educated at St John's College, Cambridge,[1] became a law student at the Inner Temple in 1607, and in 1611 was knighted and married Margaret, daughter of Francis Clifford, 4th Earl of Cumberland. Wentworth entered English Parliament in 1614 as Yorkshire's representative in the "Addled Parliament". He was an opponent of the policies of James I of England, confronting the king's foremost advisor and favourite, George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham; but it was not until the parliament of 1621, in which he sat for the same constituency, that he took part in debate. His position was ambivalent. He did not sympathize with the zeal of the popular party for war with Spain, but King James's denial of the rights and privileges of parliament seems to have caused him to join in the vindication of the claims of the House of Commons, and he supported the protestation which dissolved the third parliament of James.

In 1622 Wentworth's wife died, and in February 1625 he married Arabella Holles, daughter of John Holles, 1st Earl of Clare. He represented Pontefract in the Parliament of 1624, but appears to have taken no active part. He expressed a wish to avoid foreign complications and "do first the business of the commonwealth." In the first parliament of Charles I, June 1625, Wentworth again represented Yorkshire, and showed his hostility to the proposed war with Spain by supporting a motion for an adjournment before the house proceeded to business. He opposed the demand for war subsidies made on Buckingham's behalf - after the death of James I, Buckingham had become first minister to Charles - and after that Parliament was dissolved in November, he was made sheriff of Yorkshire, a position which excluded him from the Parliament of 1626.

In January 1626 Wentworth asked for the presidency of the Council of the North, and was favourably received by Buckingham. But after the dissolution of the Parliament, he was dismissed from the justiceship of the peace and the office of custos rotulorum of Yorkshire - which he had held since 1615 - probably because he would not support the court in forcing the country to contribute money without a parliamentary grant. In 1627, he refused to contribute to the forced loan, and was subsequently imprisoned, meeting his fate two days later on Tower Hill, receiving the blessing of Archbishop Laud, who was then also imprisoned in the Tower. He was executed before a crowd of about 200,000 on 12 May 1641. His relative, another Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Cleveland, attended the execution and went on to fight during the Civil War on the king's side. Following news of Thomas, the Earl of Strafford's execution, Ireland rose in rebellion in October 1641. This led to more bickering between king and parliament, this time over the raising of an army.

When Charles I was executed eight years later, amongst his last words were that he suggested that God had permitted his execution as punishment for his permitting Strafford's execution. This suggests he regretted signing the death warrant.

In the course of his career he made many enemies. Yet the Earl of Strafford was capable of inspiring strong friendships in private life. Sir Thomas Roe speaks of him as "Severe abroad and in business, and sweet in private conversation; retired in his friendships but very firm; a terrible judge and a strong enemy." His appearance is described by Sir Philip Warwick: "In his person he was of a tall stature, but stooped much in the neck. His countenance was cloudy whilst he moved or sat thinking, but when he spoke, either seriously or facetiously, he had a lightsome and a very pleasant air; and indeed whatever he then did he performed very gracefully." He himself jested on his own "bent and ill-favoured brow," Lord Exeter replying that had he been "cursed with a meek brow and an arch of white hair upon it, he would never have governed Ireland nor Yorkshire."

Marriages

Margaret Clifford (died 1622), daughter of Francis Clifford, 4th Earl of Cumberland.

Arabella Holles (died October 1631), daughter of John Holles, 1st Earl of Clare. Married in February 1625.

Elizabeth Rhodes, daughter of Sir Godfrey Rhodes. Married in October 1632.

In 1662 Parliament reversed the attainder to allow his son William Wentworth to inherit his title.

References: Wikisource has the text of "A Compendium of Irish Biography" article: Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford

1.^ Wentworth, Thomas in Venn, J. & J. A., Alumni Cantabrigienses, Cambridge University Press, 10 vols, 1922–1958.

2.^ Jacob Abbott Charles I Chapter Downfall of Strafford and Laud

Wedgewood, C.V., Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford, 1st edition 1961. A paperback reprint was published in London in 2000: ISBN 1-84212-081-6

Merritt, J. F., editor, The Political World of Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford, a collection of essays. ISBN 0-521-52199-8

Abbott, Jacob, Charles I, Makers of History Series, 1876, Harper and Brothers: New York and London.

This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.

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http://www.british-civil-wars.co.uk/biog/strafford.htm

Sir Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford, 1593-1641

King Charles' cleverest and most able adviser, he became a scapegoat for Parliament's grievances and was finally deserted by the King.

Thomas Wentworth was born in London, the second son of Sir William Wentworth, of Wentworth Woodhouse near Rotherham, a member of an old Yorkshire family, and of Anne, daughter of Sir Robert Atkins of Stowell, Gloucestershire. Wentworth was educated at St John's College, Cambridge and became a law student at the Inner Temple in 1607. He married Lady Margaret Clifford (d.1622), daughter of the Earl of Cumberland, in October 1611 and was knighted by King James I in December 1611. After completing his education with a year's travel on the Continent, Wentworth returned to England in February 1613. He inherited a baronetcy on the death of his father in 1614 and was elected to the Parliament of 1614 (the "Addled Parliament") as MP for Yorkshire.

Wentworth was regularly elected to subsequent Parliaments called by King James and his successor King Charles I. Due in part to his bitter personal feud with Sir John Savile, a client of the Duke of Buckingham, Wentworth was drawn into political opposition to Buckingham and King Charles. His opposition deepened when, after the death of his first wife in 1622, he married Lady Arabella Holles (d.1631), daughter of the Earl of Clare and sister of Denzil Holles, both of whom were prominent critics of Buckingham. King Charles appointed him Sheriff of Yorkshire in an attempt to exclude him from the Parliament of 1626, but Wentworth continued his opposition. Like John Hampden and others, he refused to pay the forced loans demanded by the King and was imprisoned for six months in 1627.

In the Parliament of 1628, Wentworth argued for a moderate version of the Petition of Right, and lost influence when Sir John Eliot and Sir Edward Coke succeeded in carrying their more severe form of the petition. Following Buckingham's assassination in 1628, however, and with the subsequent abandonment of the disastrous wars against France and Spain, Wentworth asserted his fundamental loyalty to the Crown. King Charles secured his allegiance by making him a viscount and appointing him Lord-President of the Council of the North in December 1628. Wentworth dealt decisively with northern lords who opposed his authority and quickly established himself as a competent and efficient administrator. He was appointed to the Privy Council in May 1629.

Wentworth suffered a personal setback when his second wife died in October 1631. Her family held him responsible for her death because he had asked her to travel while pregnant. A year later, Wentworth married Elizabeth Rodes, the daughter of a prominent Yorkshire Puritan. Around the time of his third marriage in 1632, he was appointed Lord-Deputy of Ireland. The appointment was suggested to the King by Wentworth's colleagues on the Privy Council, Lord Weston and Lord Cottington, probably as a means of manoeuvring a potential rival out of the way. Wentworth took up the appointment in July 1633.

With his close ally Archbishop Laud, Wentworth evolved the centralizing policy known as "Thorough", by which they managed the administration of Church and State during the period of King Charles' Personal Rule. Wentworth systematically applied this policy in Ireland. He dominated the main power groups by clever manipulation of the Irish Parliament and by securing firm control of the army in Ireland. Schemes were introduced to develop trade and industry of every kind: financial reforms to increase Ireland's revenue were enforced; the piracy that was rife around the Irish coast was suppressed. However, Wentworth's methods were ruthless and despotic. The interests of the Crown were his priority, at the expense of all private interest. He alienated the predominantly Catholic "Old English" aristocracy in Ireland by promoting the interests of the new wave of Protestant settlers from England and Scotland, then alienated the settlers by enforcing Laud's anti-Puritan religious reforms and by introducing new taxes. The policy of driving the native Irish population from their lands was continued and extended under Wentworth's administration. He planned the full-scale plantation of Connacht and Leinster by disputing Irish land titles and confiscating estates wherever possible to make way for the new settlers.

Despite Wentworth's single-minded devotion to the King's interest, Charles had never entirely trusted him. The King's attitude did not change until the crisis brought about by England's humiliating defeat by the Scots in the First Bishops' War (1639), after which Wentworth was recalled to England as chief adviser to the King. In January 1640, he was elevated to the position of Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, which empowered him to govern Ireland in his absence through a deputy. He was also created first Earl of Strafford.

King Charles was determined to continue the war against Scotland. Strafford coerced the Irish Parliament into granting sufficient funds to raise a new army in Ireland for service against the Scots. He also advised the King to summon a Parliament in England to raise further war funds. Though willing to grant subsidies, the Short Parliament would only do so on condition that their many grievances in Church and State policy were addressed. Strafford then persuaded the King that an army could be raised in England by other means which, reinforced by the Irish army, would be enough to subdue the Scots. Charles abruptly dissolved Parliament in May 1640. However, the newly-mustered English army, untrained and badly disciplined, was easily defeated in the Second Bishops' War before the troops from Ireland could be deployed. The expense of having to maintain a Scottish army of occupation in Northumberland and Durham forced the King to call the Long Parliament in November 1640.

Strafford, now reviled as "Black Tom Tyrant", became a scapegoat for the nation's grievances. At the instigation of John Pym and other opposition MPs, one of the Long Parliament's first actions was to call for his impeachment. The case against him hinged upon an accusation that he had treasonously advised the King that the Irish army could be used against his opponents in England as well as the Scots. Strafford's trial opened on 22 March 1641, with Pym leading the prosecution. Strafford defended himself so ably that his alleged treason could not be proved. When it looked as if he might be acquitted, Pym and his supporters resorted to a bill of attainder. After anguished hesitation, King Charles gave way to the clamour for Strafford's execution and gave his consent to the bill. To great popular rejoicing, Strafford was beheaded on Tower Hill on 12 May 1641.

The King's betrayal of Strafford remained on his conscience. He came to believe that his own sufferings during the Civil Wars were a just punishment for his sin in letting Strafford die. It was certainly a grave political mistake, since Strafford was the ablest and cleverest of all the King's advisers. The attainder against him was reversed after the Restoration, and his only son William succeeded as the second Earl of Strafford.

Sources:

Ronald G. Asch, Thomas Wentworth, first earl of Strafford, Oxford DNB, 2004

S.R. Gardiner, Thomas Wentworth, first Earl of Strafford, DNB, 1899

C.V. Wedgwood, The King's Peace (London 1955)

Links:

Strafford's speech in his own defence at his trial: www.bartleby.com

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http://thepeerage.com/p41653.htm#i416523

Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Straffod was born on 13 April 1593.1 He was the son of Sir William Wentworth, 1st Bt. and Anne Atkinson.1 He married, firstly, Lady Margaret Clifford, daughter of Francis Clifford, 4th Earl of Cumberland and Grisold Hughes.3 He married, secondly, Lady Arabella Holles, daughter of John Holles, 1st Earl of Clare and Anne Stanhope.3 He married, thirdly, Elizabeth Rodes, daughter of Sir Godfrey Rodes.3 He died on 12 May 1641 at age 48 at Tower Hill, The City, London, England, beheaded.1

    Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Straffod gained the title of 1st Earl of Strafford.1

Children of Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Straffod and Elizabeth Rodes

1.Thomas Wentworth3

2.Margaret Wentworth3

Children of Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Straffod and Lady Arabella Holles

1.William Wentworth, 2nd Earl of Straffod1 d. Oct 1695

2.Lady Anne Wentworth+3

3.Lady Arabella Wentworth3 b. 1630, d. 1689

Citations

1.[S22] Sir Bernard Burke, C.B. LL.D., A Genealogical History of the Dormant, Abeyant, Forfeited, and Extinct Peerages of the British Empire, new edition (1883; reprint, Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1978), page 576. Hereinafter cited as Burkes Extinct Peerage.

2.[S3409] Caroline Maubois, "re: Penancoet Family," e-mail message to Darryl Roger Lundy, 2 December 2008. Hereinafter cited as "re: Penancoet Family."

3.[S22] Burke, Burkes Extinct Peerage, page 577.

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Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine

http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:zOrl0f1gCOoJ:www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1869229/pdf/procrsmed00270-0079.pdf+William+Wentworth,+1st+Baronet+Wentworth&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESihocJ-UnXa76BTonvsWM2Tr-TFfpYovc-LbdCWviSmWJxIMOBNaKj5VuIuHGyCa02cNnPJOPJtAXdd4EAbWHzM0rq81vccfgxBXc3ySYw4wUPzWftZ_Xeov9gnzmZ8z1l397qL&sig=AHIEtbS3hlhTFKcuO-RJU3JLigmC8R1Fhg

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  • 'The life of Thomas Wentworth, earl of Strafford and lord-lieutenant of Ireland .. (1874)
  • http://www.archive.org/stream/lifethomaswentw05coopgoog#page/n19/mode/1up
  • PG.1
  • ---------------------
  • '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/n97/mode/2up
  • http://www.archive.org/stream/wentworthgenealo01inwent#page/n166/mode/1up
  • (21) Thomas Wentworth, Esq., married Margaret, daughter of Sir William Gascoigne, Kt., and had issue, four daughters, viz: Elizabeth, who married Thomas Danby, Esq.: Barbara, who died unmarried; Margaret, who married, first Michael, son and heir of Lord Darcy, and secondly, Jasper Blythman, Esq.: and Catherine, who married Thomas Gargrave, Esq.; and an only son --
    • (22) Sir William Wentworth, who was created a Baronet, 29 June, 1611, and died in 1614. By his wife Anne, daughter and heir of Sir Robert Atkins, Kt., he had eight sons and three daughters; of whom John, Matthew, Philip, Michael, and Robert, all died unmarried. Mary married Sir Richard Hooton, Kt.; Anne married Sir George Savile, Kt.: and Elizabeth married James Dillon, third Earl of Roscommon, and was mother of the celebrated poet, Wentworth Dillon, fourth Earl of Roscommon.
      • The second son, Sir William Wentworth of Ashby Puerorum, in Lincolnshire, was knighted by Charles I., and fell in his service, at the battle of Marston Moor, 3 July, 1644. He married Elizabeth, daughter and co-heir of Thomas Savile, Esq., and was the ancestor of the Wentworths of Wentworth Castle, Barons Raby, Viscounts Wentworth, and Earls of Strafford of the second creation, which line terminated in an heiress, and which dignities expired on the death of the third Earl, 7 August, 1799. The eighth son, Sir George Wentworth, was also knighted by Charles I., and made General of his forces in Ireland, and died before 1667; he married Frances, daughter and co-heir of Sir Francis Ruishe, Kt., of the county of Kent, and had issue; but his line also terminated in an heiress, who married Thomas, Lord Howard of Effingham. The direct line continued through--
      • '(23) Sir Thomas Wentworth, second Baronet, who was born 13 April, 1593, and was created Baron Wentworth of Wentworth-Woodhouse, 22 July, 1628, Viscount Wentworth the 10th of December following, and in 1640, Baron Raby, of Raby Castle, in the County of Durham, and Earl of Strafford.* His unfortunate history is well known. He was beheaded 12 May, 1641. He was thrice married. By his second wife he had no issue, and by his third he had a son and daughter, who both died unmarried. By his first wife, Lady Margaret Clifford, daughter of Francis, fourth Earl of Cumberland, he had on son and two daughters. The former--
        • (24) Sir William Wentworth ...
  • ------------------------
  • 'A genealogical and biographical account of the descendants of Elder William Wentworth : one of the first settlers of Dover, in the state of New Hampshire (1850)
  • http://www.archive.org/stream/genealogicalbiog00went#page/n12/mode/1up
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  • http://www.tudorplace.com.ar/WENTWORTH.htm#Thomas WENTWORTH (1° E. Strafford)
  • 'Thomas WENTWORTH (1° E. Strafford)
  • Born: 13 May 1593, Wentworth, Yorkshire, England
  • Died: 12 May 1641
  • 'Notes: Knight of the Garter. Lord President of the North. Member of Parliament for Yorkshire, 1614; privy councilor from 1629. Male heir born 1626. Brother-in-law of Clifford. Created Baron in Jul 1628, Viscount in Dec 1628. Opposed the King's forced loan. Later supported him. Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. Impeached for high treason and beheaded.
  • Father: William WENTWORTH
  • Mother: Anne ATKINSON
  • 'Married 1: Margaret CLIFFORD BEF 1614
  • 'Married 2: Arabella HOLLES 1622
  • Children:
    • 1. Anne WENTWORTH
    • 2. William WENTWORTH
    • 3. Thomas WENTWORTH
    • 4. Arabella WENTWORTH
  • 'Married 3: Elizabeth RHODES
  • Children:
    • 5. Thomas WENTWORTH
    • 6. Margaret WENTWORTH
  • _________________

-------------------- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Wentworth,_1st_Earl_of_Strafford

Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford (13 April 1593 (O.S.) – 12 May 1641) was an English statesman and a major figure in the period leading up to the English Civil War. He served in Parliament and was a supporter of King Charles I. From 1632 to 1639 he instituted a harsh rule as Lord Deputy of Ireland. Recalled to England, he became a leading advisor to the king, attempting to strengthen the royal position against Parliament. When Parliament condemned him to death, Charles signed the death warrant and Wentworth was executed.

He was born in London, the son of Sir William Wentworth, of Wentworth Woodhouse, near Rotherham, a member of an old Yorkshire family, and of Ally, daughter of Sir Robert Atkins of Stowell, Gloucestershire. He was educated at St John's College, Cambridge, became a law student at the Inner Temple in 1607, and in 1611 was knighted and married Margaret, daughter of Francis Clifford, 4th Earl of Cumberland.

Wentworth entered the English Parliament in 1614 as Yorkshire's representative in the "Addled Parliament". He was an opponent of the policies of James I of England, confronting the king's foremost advisor and favourite, George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham; but it was not until the parliament of 1621, in which he sat for the same constituency, that he took part in debate. His position was ambivalent. He did not sympathize with the zeal of the popular party for war with Spain, but King James's denial of the rights and privileges of parliament seems to have caused him to join in the vindication of the claims of the House of Commons, and he supported the protestation which dissolved the third parliament of James.

In 1622 Wentworth's wife died, and in February 1625 he married Arabella Holles, daughter of John Holles, 1st Earl of Clare. He represented Pontefract in the parliament of 1624, but appears to have taken no active part. He expressed a wish to avoid foreign complications and "do first the business of the commonwealth."

In the first parliament of Charles I, June 1625, Wentworth again represented Yorkshire, and showed his hostility to the proposed war with Spain by supporting a motion for an adjournment before the house proceeded to business. He opposed the demand for war subsidies made on Buckingham's behalf - after the death of James I, Buckingham had become first minister to Charles - and after that Parliament was dissolved in November, he was made sheriff of Yorkshire, a position which excluded him from the parliament which met of 1626.

In January 1626 Wentworth asked for the presidency of the Council of the North, and was favourably received by Buckingham. But after the dissolution of the parliament, he was dismissed from the justiceship of the peace and the office of custos rotulorum of Yorkshire - which he had held since 1615 - probably because he would not support the court in forcing the country to contribute money without a parliamentary grant. In 1627, he refused to contribute to the forced loan, and was subsequently imprisoned.

In 1628, Wentworth was one of the more vocal supporters of the Petition of Right, which attempted to curb the power of the King. Once Charles had (grudgingly) accepted the Petition, Wentworth felt it appropriate to support the crown, saying "The authority of a king is the keystone which closeth up the arch of order and government." He was consequently branded a turncoat. And on 22 July 1628, he was created Baron Wentworth.

In the parliament of 1628, Wentworth joined the popular leaders in resistance to arbitrary taxation and imprisonment, but tried to obtain his goal without offending the Crown. He led the movement for a bill which would have secured the liberties of the subject as completely as the Petition of Right afterwards did, but in a manner less offensive to the King. The proposal failed because of both the uncompromising nature of the parliamentary party and Charles's stubborn refusal to make concessions, and the leadership was snatched from Wentworth's hands by John Eliot and John Coke. Later in the session he quarrelled with Eliot, because he wanted to come to a compromise with the Lords, so as to leave room for the King to act unchecked in special emergencies.

As yet Wentworth was not directly involved in the government of the country. But, and following the assassination of Buckingham, in December, 1628, he became Viscount Wentworth and president of the Council of the North. In the speech delivered at York on taking office, he announced his intention, almost in the words of Francis Bacon, of doing his utmost to bind up the prerogative of the Crown and the liberties of the subject in indistinguishable union. "Whoever," he said, "ravels forth into questions the right of a king and of a people shall never be able to wrap them up again into the comeliness and order he found them." His tactics were the same as those he later practised in Ireland, leading to the accusation that he planned to centralise all power with the executive at the expense of the individual in defiance of constitutional liberties.

The parliamentary session of 1629 ended in a breach between the king and parliament which made the task of a moderator hopeless. Wentworth had to choose between either helping the House of Commons dominate the King or helping the King to dominate the House of Commons. He chose the latter course, throwing himself into the work of repression with characteristic energy and claiming that he was maintaining the old constitution and that his opponents (Parliament) were attempting to alter it. From this time on, he acted as one of two principal members (the other being Archbishop William Laud) in a team of key advisors to the king during an eleven-year period of total monarchical rule without parliament (known both as "the Personal Rule" and the "eleven-year tyranny").

Lord Deputy of Ireland:


In November 1629 Wentworth became a privy counsellor. In January 1632, he was made Lord Deputy of Ireland, largely because of his reputation for harshness. There he exercised the policy of "Thorough" (a determined strong rule from the centre in partnership with Laud) with a certain degree of brutality, propagating the English tradition of using Ireland as a practice ground for social and military experimentation. His methods are generally considered to have been autocratic, single-minded and extreme. The Earl (later the Duke) of Ormonde became Wentworth's chief friend and supporter. Wentworth planned large scale confiscations of Catholic-owned land, both to raise money for the crown and to break the political power of the Irish Catholic gentry, a policy which Ormonde supported. Yet, it infuriated Ormonde's relatives and drove many of them into opposition to Wentworth and ultimately into armed rebellion. In 1640, with Wentworth having been recalled to attend to the Second Bishops' War in England, Ormonde was made commander-in-chief of the forces in Ireland.

However, Wentworth's heavy-handed approach did yield some improvements, as well as contribute to the strength of royal administration in Ireland. His hindrance in 1634 of The Graces, a campaign for equality by Roman Catholics in the Parliament of Ireland, lost him goodwill but was based mainly on fiscal and not religious principles.

He had to deal with a people who had not arrived at national cohesion, and amongst whom English and Scottish colonists had been introduced (see Plantations of Ireland), some of them, like the early Norman settlers, being Catholics, whilst others preserved their Protestantism. "The lord deputy of Ireland," wrote Sir Thomas Roe to Elizabeth of Bohemia, "doeth great wonders and governs like a king, and hath taught that kingdom to show us an example of envy, by having parliaments and knowing wisely how to use them." Wentworth reformed the administration, getting rid of the inefficient English officials. He manipulated the parliaments to obtain the necessary grants, and secured their cooperation in various useful legislative enactments. He started a new victualling trade with Spain, promoted linen manufacture, and encouraged the development of the resources of the country in many directions.

Customs duties rose from a little over £25,000 in 1633–1634 to £57,000 in 1637–1638. Wentworth raised an army, put an end to piracy, instilled life into the Church and rescued church property. His strong administration reduced the tyranny of the wealthy over the poor. Yet these good measures were all carried out by arbitrary methods which made them unpopular. Their aim was not the prosperity of the Irish but the benefit to the English exchequer, and Strafford suppressed the trade in cloth "lest it should be a means to prejudice that staple commodity of England." Individual cases of unfairness included those of Esmond, Lord Chancellor Loftus and Lord Mountnorris, the last of whom Strafford caused to be sentenced to death in order to obtain the resignation of his office, and then pardoned.

Strafford ignored Charles's promise that no colonists should be forced into Connaught, and in 1635 he raked up an obsolete title—the grant in the 14th century of Connaught to Lionel of Antwerp, whose heir Charles was—and insisted upon the grand juries finding verdicts for the king. One county only, that of Galway, resisted, and the confiscation of Galway was effected by the court of exchequer, while Strafford fined the sheriff £1,000 for summoning such a jury, and cited the jurymen to the castle chamber to answer for their offence. In Ulster the arbitrary confiscation of the property of the city companies aroused dangerous animosity against the government.

Wentworth was unsympathetic towards the Irish as a race. His only thought was to convert them into Englishmen as soon as possible, in their habits, in their laws and in their religion. "I see plainly," he once wrote, "that, so long as this kingdom continues popish, they are not a people for the Crown of England to be confident of." He became even more high-handed.

As yet he had never been consulted on English affairs, and it was only in February 1637 that Charles asked his opinion on a proposed interference in the affairs of the Continent. In reply, he assured Charles that it would be unwise to undertake naval operations until he had secured absolute power at home. He wished that John Hampden and his followers "were well whipped into their right senses." The opinion of the judges had given the King the right to levy ship money, but Wentworth did not consider this enough. When the Scottish Puritans rebelled, he advocated the most decided measures of repression, in February 1639 sending the king £2,000 as his contribution to the expenses of the coming war, at the same time arguing against an invasion of Scotland before the English army was trained, and advising certain concessions in religion.

Wentworth was recalled to England in September 1639. He was expected to help sort out the problems that were growing at home: namely, bankruptcy and war with the Scottish Covenanters, and became the king's principal adviser. Unaware how much opposition had developed in England during his absence, he recommended the calling of a parliament to support a renewal of the war, hoping that by the offer of a loan from the privy councillors, he would save Charles from having to submit to the new parliament if it rebelled. In January 1640 he was created Earl of Strafford, and in March he went to Ireland to hold a parliament, where the Catholic vote secured a grant of subsidies to be used against the Presbyterian Scots. An Irish army was to be levied to assist in the coming war. When Strafford returned to England he tried to enlist the peers on the side of the king, but persuaded Charles to be content with a smaller grant than he had originally asked for.

The Commons, however, insisted on peace with the Scots. Charles, on the advice of—or perhaps by the treachery of—Henry Vane the Elder, returned to his larger demand of twelve subsidies; and on 9 May, at the privy council, Strafford, though reluctantly, voted for a dissolution. The same morning the Committee of Eight of the privy council met again. Vane and others were for a mere defence against invasion. Strafford's advice was the contrary. "Go on vigorously or let them alone... go on with a vigorous war as you first designed, loose and absolved from all rules of government, being reduced to extreme necessity, everything is to be done that power might admit... You have an army in Ireland you may employ here to reduce this kingdom...." He tried to force the citizens of London to lend money, and supported a project for debasing the coinage and seizing bullion in the Tower of London, the property of foreign merchants. He also advocated the purchase of a loan from Spain by the offer of a future alliance. Strafford was now appointed to command the English army, and was made a Knight of the Garter, but he fell ill at a crucial moment. In the great council of peers, which assembled on 24 September at York, the struggle was given up, and Charles announced that he had issued writs for another parliament.

By November 1640, there was no other choice but to dismiss Parliament. The Long Parliament assembled on 3 November 1640, and Charles immediately summoned Strafford to London, promising that he "should not suffer in his person, honour or fortune." One of Parliament's first utterances after its eleven-year forced hiatus was to impeach Strafford for "high misdemeanours" regarding his conduct in Ireland. He arrived on 9 November and the next day asked the king to forestall his impeachment by accusing the leaders of the popular party of treasonable communications with the Scots. The plan having been betrayed, John Pym immediately took up the impeachment to the House of Lords. Strafford came in person to confront his accusers, but was ordered to withdraw and taken into custody. On 25 November his preliminary charge was brought up, whereupon he was sent to the Tower, and, on 31 January 1641, the accusations in detail were presented. These were that Strafford had tried to subvert the fundamental laws of the kingdom. Much stress was laid on Strafford's reported words: "You have an army in Ireland you may employ here to reduce this kingdom."

However tyrannical Strafford's earlier conduct may have been, his offence was outside the definition of high treason; the copy of rough notes of Strafford's speech in the committee of the council, its authenticity not supported by councillors who had been present on the occasion, was not evidence which would convict in a court of law. His words had to be arbitrarily interpreted as referring to the subjection of England and not of Scotland and were also spoken on a privileged occasion. Strafford took full advantage of the weak points in the attack, and the lords, his judges, were influenced in his favour. But behind the legal aspect of the case lay the great constitutional question of the responsibility to the nation of the leader of its administration. The impeachment failed on 10 April.

By this point, Strafford had become something of a symbol for absolute monarchy, and Parliament felt the need to kill this symbol off. Consequently, the House of Commons produced a bill of attainder which essentially meant that Strafford could be executed regardless of crime, simply because it was the will of Parliament that he should die. On 13 April the Commons passed the bill by a vote of 204 to 59. But the bill could still be blocked in the House of Lords of which Strafford was a member. There was considerable public feeling against Strafford, and the threat of mob violence was sufficient to persuade the Lords to give way. A scheme to win over the leaders of the Parliament, and a scheme to seize the Tower and free Strafford by force, were both considered by the king; and the revelation of the army plot on 5 May caused the Lords to pass the attainder. Nothing now remained but the king's signature.

Strafford had served Charles with what the king felt was a massive degree of loyalty, and Charles had a serious problem with signing Strafford's death warrant as a matter of conscience. However, to refuse the will of the Parliament on this matter could seriously threaten the monarchy. Charles had, after the passing of the attainder by the Commons, for the second time assured Strafford "upon the word of a king, you shall not suffer in life, honour or fortune." Strafford now wrote releasing the king from his engagements and declaring his willingness to die in order to reconcile Charles to his subjects. "I do most humbly beseech you, for the preventing of such massacres as may happen by your refusal, to pass the bill; by this means to remove... the unfortunate thing forth of the way towards that blessed agreement, which God, I trust, shall for ever establish between you and your subjects." Charles gave his assent on 10 May.

An engraving by Wenceslas Hollar depicting from a distance the execution of Strafford, with significant persons labeled.Strafford met his fate two days later on Tower Hill, receiving the blessing of Archbishop Laud, who was then also imprisoned in the Tower. He was executed before a crowd of about 200,000 on 12 May 1641. His relative, another Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Cleveland, attended the execution and went on to fight during the Civil War on the king's side. Following news of Strafford's execution, Ireland rose in rebellion in October 1641. This led to more bickering between king and parliament, this time over the raising of an army.

When Charles I was executed eight years later, amongst his last words were that he suggested that God had permitted his execution as punishment for his permitting Strafford's execution. This suggests he regretted signing the death warrant.

In the course of his career he made many enemies. Yet Strafford was capable of inspiring strong friendships in private life. Sir Thomas Roe speaks of him as "Severe abroad and in business, and sweet in private conversation; retired in his friendships but very firm; a terrible judge and a strong enemy." His appearance is described by Sir Philip Warwick: "In his person he was of a tall stature, but stooped much in the neck. His countenance was cloudy whilst he moved or sat thinking, but when he spoke, either seriously or facetiously, he had a lightsome and a very pleasant air; and indeed whatever he then did he performed very gracefully." He himself jested on his own "bent and ill-favoured brow," Lord Exeter replying that had he been "cursed with a meek brow and an arch of white hair upon it, he would never have governed Ireland nor Yorkshire."

Marriages and children:

Margaret Clifford (died 1622), daughter of Francis Clifford, 4th Earl of Cumberland.

Arabella Holles (died October 1631), daughter of John Holles, 1st Earl of Clare. Married in February 1625.

Elizabeth Rhodes, daughter of Sir Godfrey Rhodes. Married in October 1632.

In 1662 Parliament reversed the attainder to allow his son William Wentworth to inherit his title.

Find A Grave Memorial # 102844853.

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Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford's Timeline

1593
April 13, 1593
London, England
April 22, 1593
England
1611
October 22, 1611
Age 18
1625
February 1625
Age 31
1626
June 8, 1626
Age 33
1628
1628
Age 34
London, Middlesex, England
1629
October 8, 1629
Age 36
Dartford, Kent, England
1629
Age 35
1632
October 1632
Age 39
1641
May 12, 1641
Age 48
London, England