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A New Hampshire Dynasty. The Wentworth Governors. More. The Wentworth Governors A New Hampshire Dynasty. When John Wheelwright first arrived in New Hampshire in 1639 as a religious exile from neighboring Massachusetts…. John Wheelwright.

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A new hampshire dynasty
A New Hampshire Dynasty

The Wentworth Governors

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The wentworth governors a new hampshire dynasty
The Wentworth GovernorsA New Hampshire Dynasty

When John Wheelwright first arrived in New Hampshire in 1639 as a religious exile from neighboring Massachusetts…

John Wheelwright

…he was accompanied by Elder William Wentworth — the first of the Wentworths in the province.

By the early 1700s, the Wentworth family was among the richest and most powerful in the province.

William Wentworth

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The wentworth governors a new hampshire dynasty1
The Wentworth GovernorsA New Hampshire Dynasty

Linked by birth with old and noble families in England, the Wentworths were loyal to the English Crown…

Nevertheless, the Wentworth governors negotiated and wielded power well for the interests of their native province.

Together, the three…

Lieutenant Governor John Wentworth, Governor Benning Wentworth, and Governor Sir John Wentworth

…formed a political dynasty that shaped today’s New Hampshire.

Wentworth Coat of Arms


Lieutenant governor john wentworth 1671 1730
Lieutenant Governor John Wentworth1671–1730

John Wentworth,a sea captain and merchant, served as the province’s Lieutenant Governor from 1717 to 1730 while New Hampshire was still controlled by Massachusetts.

Largely through his initiative, New Hampshire later secured its independence from the powerful Massachusetts province to the south and won a border dispute with the province as well.

Border Dispute with Massachusetts

John Wentworth


1 n h mass border dispute 1739 map
1 N.H. - Mass. Border Dispute1739 Map

Borders Claimed by Massachusetts


2 n h mass border dispute 1739 map
2 N.H. - Mass. Border Dispute1739 Map

Boundaries proposed by Massachusetts

Modern Version of the Map


N h mass border dispute 1741 settlement
N.H. - Mass. Border Dispute1741 Settlement

This map shows the borders as settled in 1741 as well as the claims put forward by the two provinces.

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Royal governor benning wentworth 1696 1770
Royal Governor Benning Wentworth1696–1770

Benning Wentworth, John Wentworth’s son, was the first royal governor to be independent of Massachusetts.

He remains the longest reigning governor in the history of New Hampshire — province or state.

He governed twenty-five years from 1741 to 1766.

Martha Hilton, Lady Wentworth

New Hampshire Grants

Benning Wentworth’s Will

Benning Wentworth


Martha hilton wentworth 1737 1805
Martha Hilton Wentworth1737–1805

Royal Governor Benning Wentworth, 64, shocked Portsmouth society at his dinner party by introducing his maid servant, 23-year old Martha Hilton, to the assembled guests and asking that a minister in attendance marry them then and there.

Later, the governor wrote a will bequeathing everything to his young wife. After the governor’s death, Martha married the governor’s cousin Michael.

Almost a century later, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow romanticized the marriage in his poem “Lady Wentworth.”

Martha Hilton Wentworth

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The new hampshire grants
The New Hampshire Grants!

Victorious in its border dispute with Massachusetts, New Hampshire looked west to the vague borders with New York.

During his long reign, Governor Benning Wentworth granted many towns, not just in New Hampshire…

…but also in what today is Vermont.

Governor Wentworth considered these towns, known as the New Hampshire Grants, part of the province of New Hampshire.

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Governor wentworth s new hampshire 1755 map
Governor Wentworth’s New Hampshire1755 Map

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NHHS Collections


The new hampshire grants some towns named for wentworth relatives and associates
The New Hampshire GrantsSome Towns Named for Wentworth Relatives and Associates

Addison

Barnard

Bennington

Bolton

Bridgewater

Bristol

Burlington

Cavendish

Chester

Clarendon

Colchester

Cornwall

Maidstone

Marlboro

New Fane

Pittsford

Pomfret

Poultney

Rockingham

Ryegate

Salisbury

Shelburne

Stowe

Strafford

Thetford

Tunbridge

Wilmington

Windsor

Woodstock

By the end of his governorship, Benning Wentworth had granted 128 towns in today’s Vermont.

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Grants in new hampshire towns named for wentworth relatives and associates
Grants in New HampshireTowns Named for Wentworth Relatives and Associates

Thomas Pelham-Holles, Earl of Chichester and owner of Claremont Castle, lends his name to three New Hampshire towns — Chichester, Claremont, and Hollis. He held many posts in English government, including prime minister.

Also, he was related by marriage to the Wentworths, Lady Arabella Holles having married Sir Thomas Wentworth.

Pelham, incidentally, was named for Thomas Pelham-Holles’s brother, Sir Henry Pelham.

Governor Benning Wentworth granted two Connecticut River towns in honor of England’s first Prime Minister, Sir Robert Walpole, Earl of Orford.

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Grants in new hampshire towns named for wentworth relatives and associates1

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Grants in New HampshireTowns Named for Wentworth Relatives and Associates

Amherst

Bath

Bedford

Boscawen

Campton

Charlestown

Chatham

Chesterfield

Conway

Dorchester

Enfield

Fitzwilliam

Franconia

Grafton

Grantham

Hanover

Hillsborough

Holderness

Keene

Landaff

Lee

Lempster

Lincoln

Milton

Newport

Northumberland

Richmond

Rumney

Sandwich

Tamworth

Warren

Wentworth

Winchester

Windham

Wolfeborough

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Benning wentworth s will 1769
Benning Wentworth’s Will1769

The substance of Governor Wentworth’s will, drawn the year before his death, is as follows:

“I give to my beloved wife Martha Wentworth my whole Estate, both Real and Personal, whatsoever and wheresoever, together with all such sum and sums of money as shall be due to me at my decease either by Sea or by Land…”

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NHHS Collections


Royal governor sir john wentworth 1737 1820
Royal Governor Sir John Wentworth1737–1820

Sir John Wentworth, nephew of Benning and the last of the royal governors, served from 1767 to 1775.

Though personally popular and professionally competent, he suffered the misfortune of remaining loyal to England as the province — and country — was revolting against the crown to form an independent nation.

Governor Wentworth and New Hampshire’s Interior

Lady Frances Deering Wentworth

The Wentworths Speak about Americans

John Wentworth


1 new hampshire s interior growth and development
1 New Hampshire’s InteriorGrowth and Development

Governor Wentworth worked to develop inland New Hampshire. During his reign he…

  • secured New Hampshire land and signed the charter for Dartmouth College

  • built a summer home in Wolfeboro (see map), marking the town as the first resort town in America

  • built roads from the coast to the Connecticut River and to his summer home

  • created New Hampshire’s original five counties.

Governor Wentworth’s Land in Wolfeboro


2 new hampshire s interior growth and development
2 New Hampshire’s InteriorGrowth and Development

Governor Wentworth worked to develop inland New Hampshire. During his reign he…

  • secured New Hampshire land and signed the charter for Dartmouth College

  • built a summer home in Wolfeboro (see map), marking the town as the first resort town in America

  • built roads from the coast to the Connecticut River and to his summer home

  • created New Hampshire’s original five counties.

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Lady frances deering wentworth 1745 1813
Lady Frances Deering Wentworth1745–1813

As a young man, John Wentworth was in love with his cousin, Frances Deering Wentworth, known to her friends as Fannie. But when he left New Hampshire for a long stay in England, Fannie married another cousin, Thomas Atkinson. Upon his return, John renewed his relationship with Fannie, and when her sickly husband died, Fannie married John — a scant fourteen days after her husband’s burial service.

After leaving America during the Revolutionary War, Lady Wentworth was appointed lady-in-waiting to Queen Charlotte, wife of King George III.

The towns of Deering and Francestown are named for this interesting woman.

Frances Deering Wentworth

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The wentworths speak about americans sir john wentworth september 1 1765
The Wentworths Speak about AmericansSir John Wentworth (September 1, 1765)

Asked by his mentor, the Marquis of Rockingham, to describe the American colonies in light of the political unrest surrounding the imposition of the Stamp Act, John Wentworth wrote with a great deal of irony that some members of Parliament…

alarmed at the prosperity and security of the provinces, that they are blessed with a spirit of liberty, and having no French or Indian savages to massacre them, [believe] that it is necessary to load them with taxes to prevent their revolt; thus humanely proposing that two million loyal subjects should be made poor, miserable, useless and burdensome to their mother country, lest they should be wicked enough (under more favorable circumstances) to grow rich, happy, useful and a support to her.

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The wentworths speak about americans lady frances deering wentworth june 13 1775
The Wentworths Speak about AmericansLady Frances Deering Wentworth (June 13, 1775)

As the war between Britain and its colonies began, Lady Frances Wentworth wrote to Lady Rockingham, wife to Sir John’s mentor the Marquis. In her letter, she cautions…

The Kings Troops have too mean an opinion of the Americans. They think them Fools & Cowards, but indeed, My Lady, they are neither. Undisciplin’d and to be conquer’d they no doubt are, but they are far from the despicable set thought for. Their numbers make them formidable and they take all possible pains to improve themselves in military skill.

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Other new hampshire wentworths
Other New Hampshire Wentworths

Although the royal governors were stalwart loyalists, some of their kinsmen were ardent patriots. Here are a few of these “other” Wentworths:

John1719–1781

Joshua1742–1809

Born at Dover: known as “Colonel John”; served as president for the first Revolutionary Convention in Exeter in 1774; chaired the Revolutionary Committee of Correspondence

Born at Portsmouth: Colonel of the 1st New Hampshire Regiment in 1776; elected tothe State Senate for four years

John1745–1787

Tappan1802–1875

John

1815–1888

Born at Somersworth: served as a delegate to the Continental Congress from 1778–1779; served in the State Senate from 1784–1787; was a member of the New Hampshire Committee of Safety; represented New Hampshire in signing the original Articles of Confederation

Born at Dover: served in the Massachusetts state legislature first as a Whig, then as a Republican; also served in the U.S. Congress for Massachusetts

Born at Sandwich: known as “Long John”; elected to Congress in Illinois; colorful editor and publisher who became mayor of Chicago — the first in the country to be elected as a Republican

“Long John”


The end
The End

©2005 Christopher MacLeod for the New Hampshire Historical Society

End


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