RefNoWWM/R
TitlePapers of Charles Watson-Wentworth, 2nd Marquess of Rockingham (1730-1782)
AdminHistoryPapers of Charles Watson-Wentworth, 2nd Marquess of Rockingham, KG, PC, FRS (13 May 1730 - 1 July 1782). Second son of Thomas Watson-Wentworth, 1st Marquess of Rockingham and Lady Mary Finch. British Whig statesman; Prime Minister, 1765-1766; 1782 (two terms). He led the Rockingham Whigs, which opposed Britain’s war (1775-1883) against its colonists in North America.

Charles Watson-Wentworth was born on 13 May 1730 at Wentworth Woodhouse, Rotherham, Yorkshire. He enrolled in Westminster School in 1738, then St John's College, Cambridge. He was Colonel of a volunteer regiment during the Jacobite rebellion of 1745-1746. On 26 Feb 1752, Charles married Mary Bright, the daughter of Thomas Bright, formerly Liddell of Badsworth, Yorkshire. They had no surviving children as Charles' heir was his nephew, William Wentworth Fitzwilliam.

He succeeded to his father’s title of Marquess in 1750 and served from 1751 - 1762 as gentleman of the bedchamber for George II (reigned 1727-1760) and George III (reigned 1760-1820). In Jul 1765, George III dismissed George Grenville as head of the ministry and appointed Rockingham as Prime Minister. During his short Ministry, he repealed the Stamp Act, which had imposed an unpopular tax on the American colonists, but he agreed to the passage of a Declaratory Act reaffirming Parliament’s power to tax the colonies and to make statutes binding on them in all areas. He tried to lighten the tax burden on Americans by reducing the duty on non-British imported molasses. Despite solid legislative achievements in other areas, Rockingham’s ministry collapsed through internal dissension, and in Jul 1766 the King replaced Rockingham with William Pitt (later earl of Chatham).

Over the next 16 years, Rockingham led a strong parliamentary opposition to the ministries in power. He lacked the necessary oratorical skills so his colleague, Edmund Burke presented the group’s case against Britain’s efforts to suppress the American rebellion. During his brief second ministry (in 1782) Rockingham initiated peace negotiations with the American colonists and pushed through Parliament Burke’s programme for limiting the King’s patronage power. In addition, his ministry obtained legislative independence for the Irish Parliament.

He died on 1 Jul 1782 at Wimbledon [London].

Summary of titles:
The Hon. Charles Watson-Wentworth (before 1733);
Viscount Higham (1733 - 1746);
Earl of Malton (1746 - 1750) ;
The Marquess of Rockingham (from 1750).
Mary Watson-Wentworth, Marchioness of Rockingham (Lady Rockingham) (née Liddell, later Bright; 1735 - 19 December 1804) was the wife of Charles Watson-Wentworth, 2nd Marquess of Rockingham. Born c.1735 in Pontefract, West Yorkshire, England, she was the only child and heiress of Thomas Liddell, Lord of the Manor of Ecclesall, South Yorkshire, and Margaret Norton. She was baptised at Ackworth, West Yorkshire on 27 Aug 1735. She and her father were both born with the surname Liddell, but her father took the surname Bright when he inherited Badsworth Hall from his father John Bright.

She was acknowledged as a skilled politician by contemporaries, with opposition party members sometimes directing their letters straight to her. She was described by herself and others as Rockingham’s 'secretary', but Rockingham called her 'My Minerva at my elbow' (letters to the Marchioness from Rockingham, WWM/R/156). After Rockingham’s sudden death in 1782, her correspondent Edmund Burke wrote to her, 'Your Names indeed ought to go down together; for it is no mean part you have had in the great services which that great and good man has done to his Country' (T.W. Copeland et al [eds.], The Correspondence of Edmund Burke, 10 vols. (1958-1978), 5.46).

The widowed Lady Rockingham settled at Hillingdon House, Middlesex in 1785, where she died in 1804. She was buried with her husband, Charles, at York Minster.
DescriptionThe major part of these papers was in a large chest and a smaller wooden box, both of which had been worked over by the Earl of Albermarle when he was compiling his 'Memoirs of the Marquis of Rockingham' (by George Keppel, 6th Earl of Albemarle, 1852). While some appear to be in their original bundles as they were (apparently) removed from a chest of drawers, most of them had been removed from covers and partially rearranged and left in disorder. The smaller box appears to have contained those papers (or most of them) which the Earl took away from Wentworth and subsequently returned.

WWM/R/1 (1750-1782 and undated)
Political correspondence

WWM/R/2 (1765-1766)
WWM/R/2/21-48 Letters and drafts of correspondence between the King, the Duke of Cumberland and Rockingham during the latter's first ministry

WWM/R/2A
Miscellaneous notes

WWM/R/3-12
Miscellaneous political correspondence

WWM/R/13-18
Official papers mainly connected with Rockingham's ministry of 1765-1766, but some of a later date

WWM/R/19-R/32 (1765-1766)
Matters connected with Stamp Duties in America

WWM/R/33-50 (1765-1766)
Various matters concerning colonial trade

WWM/R/51-55 (1765-1766)
Papers concerning the Repeal of the Stamp Act

WWM/R/56-60
Petitions, addresses from English merchants trading to America

WWM/R/61c. (1750-1773)
Statistical tables

WWM/R/62-65
Miscellaneous American matters

WWM/R/66-67
Papers on Indian affairs

WWM/R/68-72
Miscellaneous foreign matters

WWM/R/81
Miscellaneous notes for speeches, etc

WWM/R/82-101
Miscellaneous political oddments

WWM/R/102-107
Miscellaneous MSS pamphlets etc

WWM/R/108-125Mar to Jul 1782
Letters and papers connected with Rockingham's administration

WWM/R/127-135mainly later 18th century
A few small bundles of papers from a chest of very miscellaneous material, of various dates

WWM/R/136-159
Letters and papers

WWM/R/160-165
Letters and papers labelled 'Papers from Hillingdon the key in my drawer', probably by Lady Charlotte Wentworth, who wrote notes on some of them...

WWM/R/168
Letters from the Marchioness to the Marquis

WWM/R/169
Letters to the Marquis from his parents and sisters

WWM/R/170c. (1749-1950)
Notes and notebooks of Lord Malton (afterwards Marquis of Rockingham) during his European tours

WWM/R/171-185
Miscellaneous letters and papers on estate matters

WWM/R/186-192
Estate business: Letters and accounts from William Martin, steward of the Wentworth estates

WWM/R/193-200
Miscellaneous matters connected with the Wentworth stud and racing

WWM/R/201-204
Miscellaneous items of a private nature

WWM/R/205-210
Miscellaneous Indian and colonial papers omitted from earlier sections

WWM/R/211-2191782-1783
Books about the public revenue of William and Mary's reign, apparently used in connection with economical reform

WWM/R/220
Further odd material
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