The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Wentworth, William

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WENTWORTH. I. William, an early colonist of New Hampshire, born at Alford, Lincolnshire, England, in 1615, died in Dover, N. H., March 16, 1697. He was a follower of the Rev. John Wheelwright, with whom and 33 others he signed, Aug. 4, 1639, “A Combination for a Government at Exeter, N. H.” He removed to Wells, Me., with Wheelwright; and when the latter went to England on the accession of Oliver Cromwell to power, Wentworth removed to Dover, where he was a ruling elder and often preached. He left a widow, nine sons, and one daughter, and was the progenitor of all the Wentworths of the United States whose origin is known. II. John, lieutenant governor of New Hampshire, grandson of the preceding, born in Portsmouth, N. H., Jan. 16, 1671, died there, Dec. 12, 1730. He was bred a sea captain. In 1711 he was appointed by Queen Anne a councillor for New Hampshire; in 1713 he became a justice of the common pleas, and in 1717 lieutenant governor of the province, which was then dependent on Massachusetts. He left a widow and 14 children. III. Benning, governor of New Hampshire, eldest child of the preceding, born in Portsmouth, July 24, 1696, died there, Oct. 14, 1770. He graduated at Harvard college in 1715, became a merchant at Portsmouth, which town he frequently represented in the provincial assembly, was appointed a king's councillor, Oct. 12, 1734, and when in 1741 New Hampshire was made a distinct province he became its governor (Dec. 13), and so continued until 1767. He was authorized by the crown to grant patents of unoccupied land, and in 1749 began making grants in what is now southern Vermont. These grants were considered by the colonial government of New York as within its domain, and the collision so famous in the history of Vermont respecting the “New Hampshire grants” ensued. (See Vermont.) Gov. Wentworth exacted heavy fees for his grants of land, and thus accumulated a large property. In each of them he stipulated for the reservation of a lot for an Episcopal church. After his resignation as governor he gave to Dartmouth college 500 acres of land, on which the college buildings were erected. He had by his first wife three children who lived to maturity, but died before him unmarried. He married, first, Abigail, daughter of John Ruck, of Boston, who died Nov. 8, 1755; and second, March 15, 1760, Martha Hilton, who had been brought up in his family, and was his housekeeper after his wife's death, upon which event Longfellow based his poem “Lady Wentworth.” He made her sole heir of his large property. She afterward married Col. Michael Wentworth of the British army, and her only child, Martha, became the wife of Gov. John Wentworth's nephew, John Wentworth, author of “System of Pleading.” IV. Sir John, governor of New Hampshire and afterward of Nova Scotia, nephew of the preceding, born in Portsmouth in 1736, died in Halifax, April 8, 1820. He graduated at Harvard college in 1755, was associated with his father Mark Hunking Wentworth as a merchant, and in 1765 was the agent of New Hampshire to present petitions in England. While there he gained the friendship of the marquis of Rockingham, through whose influence he was appointed to succeed Benning Wentworth as governor of New Hampshire, Aug. 11, 1766, and was at the same time appointed surveyor general of the king's woods in North America, with a salary of £700 and perquisites. He landed at Charleston, S. C., in March, 1768, and travelling northward by land registered his commission as surveyor in each of the colonies through which he passed. He entered on his duties as governor in June, 1768, and on Nov. 11, 1769, married his cousin, Frances Wentworth, widow of his and her cousin, the Hon. Theodore Atkinson, jr., and daughter of Samuel Wentworth of Boston. He had a house in Portsmouth, and a country seat at Wolfeborough. He gave Dartmouth college its charter, and endowed it with 44,000 acres of land, and also gave a piece of land to each member of the first graduating class. When in 1774 Gen. Gage found it impossible to procure carpenters to construct barracks for the royal troops in Boston, and Wentworth endeavored to procure them for him privately from Wolfeborough, the indignation of the people compelled him to take refuge first in Fort William and Mary, and then on board a British ship. After some vain efforts to stay the storm, he went to England, where he remained until peace was declared. He then removed to Nova Scotia and resumed his functions as surveyor of the king's woods, and on May 14, 1792, was appointed lieutenant governor of that province, which office he resigned in 1808. He was created a baronet in 1795, and was a doctor of laws of Oxford and Dartmouth. The baronetcy became extinct, April 10, 1844, on the death of his only child, Charles May, a graduate of Oxford, long private secretary to the earl of Fitzwilliam, who died unmarried at Kingsand, Devon, leaving the bulk of his property to his maternal cousin, Mrs. Catharine Frances Gore, the novelist. V. John, an American patriot, great-grandson of Elder William Wentworth, born in Dover, N. H., March 30, 1719, died in Somersworth, May 17, 1781. He was usually called “Col. John” or “Judge John,” to distinguish him from others of the name. He was for many years a member of the provincial assemblies, was elected speaker in 1771, in 1773 became chief justice of the court of common pleas, and on Jan. 17, 1776, was chosen one of the superior judges, though he had never studied nor practised law. He was president of the first revolutionary convention held at Exeter, N. H., July 21, 1774. He survived his third wife, and left nine out of fourteen children. VI. John, jr., an American patriot, son of the preceding, born in Somersworth, N. H., July 17, 1745, died in Dover, Jan. 10, 1787. He graduated at Harvard college in 1768, studied law, served for many years in the state legislature, and was a member of the continental congress in 1778-'81. He was also a member of the New Hampshire committee of safety, which administered the government during the recess of the legislature. He left a wife and seven children. VII. John, an English lawyer, nephew of Gov. John Wentworth, born in Portsmouth, N. H., in 1768, died in Paris in 1816. He was taken to England about 1775, and educated as a lawyer. He wrote “System of Pleading” (10 vols., London, 1797), was appointed attorney general of Prince Edward's Island, removed to Portsmouth, N. H., where he married Martha, daughter of Gov. Benning Wentworth's widow by her second husband, Col. Michael Wentworth, and remained till 1816, when he returned to London and soon after died. VIII. John, an American journalist, grandson of John Wentworth, jr., born in Sandwich, N. H., March 5, 1815. He graduated at Dartmouth college in 1836, and was editor of the Chicago “Democrat” from 1836 to 1861. He was elected to congress from Chicago in 1843, and was re-elected five times, acting at first with the democratic and afterward with the republican party. He was elected mayor of Chicago in 1857, and again in 1860, and was a member of the convention of 1861 to revise the constitution of Illinois. He is the author of “Wentworth Genealogy” (2 vols. 8vo, 1870).