Wentworth, Paul (DNB00)

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WENTWORTH, PAUL (1533–1593), parliamentary leader, born in 1533, was the third son of Sir Nicholas Wentworth, and younger brother of Peter Wentworth [q. v.] He acquired Burnham Abbey, Buckinghamshire, by his marriage with Helen, daughter of Richard Agmondesham of Heston, Middlesex, and widow of William Tyldesley, to whom the abbey, formerly a convent of Benedictine nuns, had been granted at the dissolution. He also held property in Huntingdonshire and near Buckingham.

During the inquiry of 1564 by the bishops as to the affection or disaffection of the country gentry, Wentworth was certified as one of ‘those earnest in religion and fit to be trusted.’ He was returned for Buckingham to the parliament which met on 11 Jan. 1562–3, and in 1566 ‘those two great businesses of her majesty's marriage and declaring a successor coming into agitation,’ Paul Wentworth and others ‘used so great liberty of speech as (I conceive) was never used in any … session … before or since’ (D'Ewes). The queen on 5 Nov. had received a petition from parliament desiring her to marry and name a successor. She returned an evasive reply. On 8 Nov. the House of Commons revived the matter, and on the 9th the vice-chamberlain, Sir Francis Knollys [q. v.], declared the queen's command to proceed no further in their suit. At the next sitting of the house, on Monday, 11 Nov. 1566, Wentworth, by way of motion, desired to know whether the queen's command were not against the liberties and privileges of the house, and thereupon arose diverse arguments which continued from nine of the clock in the morning till two of the clock in the afternoon, when the debate was adjourned (ib.; cf. Froude). This is probably the first instance of an adjourned debate. Camden, in his ‘Annals,’ charges Paul Wentworth with ‘rending the queen's authority too much, and insisting that a sovereign is bound to name a successor.’

On the next day, 12 Nov., there was a second message from the queen forbidding a renewal of the discussion in the house, but suggesting that any member who was dissatisfied and had further reasons to give should go before the privy council and show them there. On 25 Nov. the speaker declared the queen's pleasure to be to revoke her two former orders (D'Ewes). The commons then agreed to stir no more in the matter that session. The compromise was, on the whole, a victory for Wentworth and the house.

From 1572 to 1583 Wentworth was member for Liskeard. On 21 Jan., the first business day of the session of 1581, he made a motion for a public fast and for daily preaching, ‘the preaching to be every morning at seven o'clock before the house did sit, that so they beginning their proceedings with the service and worship of God, He might the better bless them in all their consultations and actions.’ Sir Francis Knollys [q. v.], treasurer of the household, opposed the motion, but on a division it was carried by 115 to 100 (D'Ewes). On Monday the 23rd the speaker was sent for by the queen early in the morning, and could not reach the house till 11 A.M. He then directed that the whole house should be in attendance next day, Tuesday, at 8 A.M. On the latter occasion he declared himself sorry for the accident that had happened on Saturday in resolving to have a public fast, showing that the queen greatly misliked the proceeding. The vice-chamberlain delivered a message from the queen reproving the ‘undutiful proceeding of the house, but construing the said offence to proceed of zeal, and imputing the cause thereof partly to her own leniency towards a brother [i.e. Peter Wentworth] of that man [i.e. Paul Wentworth] which now made this motion, who in the last session was by this house for just cause reprehended and committed, but by her majesty graciously pardoned and restored again.’ After a speech from the comptroller of the household, the house submitted.

In 1589 Wentworth, in a letter to the queen praying for a further and longer lease of Burnham Abbey, states that the queen had shown her confidence in him by committing to his charge at his house at Burnham ‘the late Duke of Norfolk.’ The note of the queen's reply at the bottom of the letter says, ‘Her majesty most princely calling to mind the long and dutiful service of this suppliant, her highness's servant, his loyal care, trouble and charge, at the committing of the late Duke of Norfolk to his house, most graciously did consent’ (Cal. Hatfield MSS. iii. 457). In 1590 he was granted a thirty-one years' lease of Burnham.

Wentworth died in 1593 and was buried in Burnham church. His will, dated in the 35th Elizabeth (1592–3), is a good example of the puritan style at its best. He left to his wife all his crown leases in the property ‘of the late dissolved monastery’ of Burnham, and the rectories of Dornye (or Dorney) and Burnham, and many other things. The manor of Clewer and Clewer's Court, and his Berkshire property, he left to his son Peter. He left large sums of money to his daughters, making them come of age at twenty-five. The inquisition after death is dated 36th Elizabeth (1593–4).

Either Wentworth or his nephew Paul [see under Wentworth, Peter, (1530?–1596)] was the author of the famous devotional work, Wentworth's ‘The Miscellanie, or a Regestrie and Methodicall Directorie of Orizons,’ published in 1615 (London, 4to, 2 parts) and dedicated to King James. There are copies in the British Museum and the Bodleian Library. A third copy belonged to Mr. John Wentworth, mayor of Chicago, and was burnt in the Chicago fire of 1871.

[Cal. State Papers, Dom. passim; Cal. Hatfield MSS.; Acts of the Privy Council, ed. Dasent; D'Ewes's Journals; Rutton's Three Branches of the Wentworth Family; John Wentworth's Wentworth Genealogy, English and American, first privately printed in two volumes, and then published in three volumes, Boston, 1878, 8vo; some authorities attribute to Paul Wentworth the speech of 20 April 1571 about the chameleon [see Wentworth, Peter]. ‘Mr. Wentworth’ is often used in the ‘Parliamentary History’ when both Peter and Paul were members.]

C. W. D.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.278
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

Page Col. Line  
260 i 14 Wentworth, Paul: after Burnham Abbey insert Buckinghamshire
ii 3f.e.  after 1593. insert He was buried in Burnham Church.