RefNoWWM/Gov
TitlePapers of Sir John Wentworth (1737-1820) of New Hampshire, USA; Lady Frances Wentworth (his wife) (1745-1813) and Sir Charles Mary Wentworth (his son) (1775-1844)
AdminHistorySir John Wentworth, 1st Baronet (9 Aug 1737 - 8 Apr 1820) was the British colonial governor of New Hampshire at the time of the American Revolution. He was later Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia.

Born in Portsmouth in 1737, John Wentworth came from one of New Hampshire's most politically prominent and powerful families. In 1751 at the age of 14 he entered Harvard College, where he first met John Adams (one of the Founding Fathers of the United States who served as the second President). Later, Wentworth established himself in Portsmouth's mercantile aristocracy. In 1763, his father sent him to London to act on behalf of his merchant interests. Based on his father's introductions, he found himself moving in the upper levels of British society. Among the connections he made was one with Charles Watson-Wentworth, the Second Marquis of Rockingham. The two were distantly related and John Wentworth soon became a frequent visitor at Wentworth Woodhouse, Rockingham's house in Yorkshire.

In summer 1765 Rockingham became Prime Minister. Faced with an explosive situation in the American colonies precipitated by the Stamp Act, he turned for advice to John Wentworth. In a long and detailed description of the colonies, Wentworth explained to Rockingham the hardships imposed on the Colonial economy by the Stamp Act and advocated its repeal for the good of all British trade. It is difficult to say how much influence Wentworth's opinion carried, but in the spring of 1766 the controversial act was repealed. In the summer of that same year, before he went out of office, Rockingham appointed John Wentworth Governor of New Hampshire to replace his departing uncle.

In 1769 John Wentworth married his cousin, Frances Atkinson (nee Frances Deering Wentworth). They later had a child (in 1775), Charles Mary Wentworth who died in 1844 without issue.

The years of John Wentworth's Governorship coincided with the period of rising conflict between England and her American colonies over colonial rights within the British Empire. He could not continue to uphold British authority and still retain the confidence of New Hampshire people. On 13 Jun 1775, after his house was surrounded by a mob of armed men seeking to arrest a Loyalist militia officer, Wentworth and his family fled to Fort William and Mary, which was under the guns of the Scarborough. Conditions continued to deteriorate, and Wentworth boarded the Scarborough and sailed for Boston on 23 Aug 1775. After sending his family to England, he remained in the city until it was evacuated to Halifax in March 1776. He remained with the fleet until New York City was captured in Sep 1776, and finally sailed to England in early 1778.

On 1 Dec 1776 John Wentworth wrote from Long Island to the Marchioness of Rockingham expressing his effusive thanks for the care she had given his wife and son, the Rockinghams’ godson, Charles-Mary and hoping she would honour him by accepting his ‘present' of two Black boys named Romulus and Remus - supposed to be about 16 years old, who had been with John Wentworth 'since their childhood'. They were proficient at the French Horn, with Remus being described by his masters as having 'remarkably good taste in music'; and both, Wentworth assured Lady Rockingham, were 'faithful, honest and free from vice' (Letter to Lady Rockingham, 1 Dec 1776, ref. DD/RA/F/2a/52/1-c, West Yorkshire Archive Service, Kirklees branch). Romulus Wimbledon (d. 1792) and Remus Stan[d]field (d.1828) remained in Lady Rockingham's employ as footmen and are detailed in her correspondence and the household accounts/lists of servants at Wentworth Woodhouse, 4 Grosvenor Square, London and later at the Rockingham's house in Hillingdon (WWM/A; WWM/StwP).

John Wentworth never returned to his native province; in 1783 he returned to North America as surveyor general of the woods in Canada, and in 1792 received appointment as Governor of Nova Scotia. He retired in 1808 (aged 71). He died in 1820.
DescriptionWith one dated 1850 and a few undated items.

Most of the items in this series are letters from the Marchioness of Rockingham, the 4th Earl and Countess Fitzwilliam, and the 5th Earl Fitzwilliam and his family. They were returned to Earl Fitzwilliam after Sir Charles' death.

There is an account in one of Lady Rockingham's letters, 28th September 1784 (WWM Gov 13) of the election of Charles James Fox for the City of Westminster. There are also letters about the Governorship of Nova Scotia, in 1792.
Date1768 - 1833
Extent256 items
AccessStatusOpen
LevelSection
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