A Blupete Biography Page

Early Family Life, Part 2 to the Life & Works of
Sir John Wentworth

Wentworth was born at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on August 9th, 1737. His home was "Wentworth Hall," which his father had built in competition, seemingly, with his brother the Governor. It was "one of the most costly homes in New England."3 In 1751, at the age of 14, John was sent to Harvard College.4 After obtaining a degree in 1755, he continued with his studies so to receive a masters degree in 1758. In the following five years, John followed along in his father's footsteps as a merchant at Portsmouth.

In 1763, as much as to advance his education as it was to establish valuable family contacts, it was arranged for John to go to England, it being a standard for a young Colonial gentlemen to go to England as it was for the sons of the English aristocracy to be sent to Europe on the "grand tour." England was at this time at the height of her international power and bathing in glory at having just won the war and the prize of North America. While in England, John was to meet Charles Watson Wentworth5, the Marquis of Rockingham. Indeed, he became a frequent visitor at Wentworth-Wood house, Rockingham's country estate in Yorkshire.

At this time, Benning Wentworth, John's uncle, was the Governor of New Hampshire. Benning was then 67 years of age and there were growing difficulties with his governorship which he had held since his appointment in 1741. Benning Wentworth "was instrumental in separating New Hampshire from Massachusetts, then granted lands west of the Connecticut in what was to become Vermont."6 Benning's style, however, was objectionable. According to Francis Parkman he was a "pompous and self-important personage."7 I am not aware of the details, but, it would appear, that while the young John Wentworth was in England suitable arrangements were made for Benning Wentworth's retirement and in his place John was to receive the appointment. A mix of factors had come into play, most of which we cannot now recount. It might have been that Benning saw the writing on the wall and was in on the plan to send his nephew to London so that a deal might be made out which would include a contribution to a "retirement package" that the family was putting together for Benning. Further, no appointment of a colonial governor would take place without the approval of those at the highest level. Rockingham, a Whig, was called in 1763 to form a government and was in place as Britain's prime minister until 1766, during which time he befriended our young hero. In any event, in 1766, John Wentworth was appointed Governor of New Hampshire and Surveyor General of the king's woods in North America. After spending the winter in England, in 1767 Wentworth left England for America. By June, having paid visits to the governors of the more southern colonies, Wentworth arrived at New Hampshire to take on his duties as its governor.



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