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Wentworth, Benning (Governor)

Male 1696 - 1770  (74 years)


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  • Name Wentworth, Benning  [1, 2
    • Benning Wentworth (1696-1770) was the first Royal Governor of the colony of New Hampshire, and he was Governor for 26 years (1741-1767). He was born (and died) at Portsmouth (NH), one of 14 children sired by Massachusetts LieutenantGovernor John Wentworth (1671-1730) and his wife. John Wentworth had responsibility for the Province of New Hampshire (his portrait hangs in Room 207); his son Benning attended Harvard College (Class of 1715) and on his return toPortsmouth he entered the merchant aristocracy, shipping timber, livestock, and provisions to the plantation economies in the Caribbean. Europe was at peace during the years 1713-1739, and the British Navigation Acts (which restricted thecolonies' imports and exports to British-owned and operated ships) were routinely violated. Benning Wentworth had many Spanish customers, as did other British North American merchants.
      In 1739 France declared that all shipping to and from Spanish possessions in the Caribbean would henceforth be in French-owned and French-operated ships. The weakened Spanish Empire had requested protection from France, and France wasresponding.
      The British merchants who controlled Parliament were not about to allow France to freeze them out of Spanish markets. The War of Jenkins' Ear began. Proclamations of war against Spain were read throughout British North America. AndBenning Wentworth was left with unpaid Spanish Caribbean bills and unhonored contracts. He faced financial ruin.
      If Benning Wentworth failed in business his English creditors would also. They began a campaign to get Wentworth on the Royal payroll, as Surveyor of the King's Woods in North America and as Governor of New Hampshire. They succeeded.
      In this 19th century copy of Wentworth's 1760 portrait, the Governor stands before white pines, the source of his wealth as Surveyor of the King's Woods in North America. His girth is supplemented by heavy cotton padding, to help show hiswealth (fat = wealth). He sports a fashionable Malacca cane, and stands on a "marbleized" canvas floorcloth.
    Suffix (Governor) 
    Born 1696  Portsmouth, none, New Hampshire Province, British Empire Find all individuals with events at this location  [3
    • which is in the area formed as Rockingham County in 1769
    Gender Male 
    Occupation a land developer and merchant. "Wentworth enriched himself by a clever scheme of selling land now in the state of Vermont to developers, in spite of jurisdictional claims for this region by the Colony of New York. He often named the newtownships after famous contemporaries in order to gain support for his enterprises (e.g. Rutland after John Manners, 3rd Duke of Rutland; Bennington he named after himself). Ultimately this scheme led to a great deal of contentionbetween New York, New England, and the settlers in Vermont. It created friction between the northeast colonies, and the dispute was hardly settled by the fromation of Vermont as a state. Wentworth also gave important government positionsto relatives and gave them extensive grants of land. He was allowed to retire from office in 1766. (Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benning_Wentworth)

    Benning was the first Royal Governor of the colony of New Hampshire and was governor for 26 years (1741 to 1767). He was born and died in Portsmouth, NH. He was one of 14 children sired by Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor JohnWentworth. His father "had responsibility for the Province of New Hampshire." Benning attended Harvard College (Class of 1715) and on his return to Portsmouth he entered the merchant aristocracy, shipping timber, livestock, andprovisions to the plantation economies in the Caribbean. Europe was at peace during the years 1713 to 1739, and the British Navigation Acts (which restricted the colonies' imports and exports to British-owned and operated ships) wereroutinely violated. Benning Wentworth had many Spanish customers, as did other British North Americans mechants.

    "In 1739 France declared that all shipping to and from Spanish possessions in the Caribbean would henceforth be in French-owned and French-operated ships. The weakened Spanish Empire had requested protection from France, and France wasresponding.

    "The British merchants who controlled Parliament were not about to allow France to freeze them out of Spanish markets. The War of Jenkins' Ear began. Proclamations of war against Spain were read throughout British North America. AndBenning Wentworth was left with unpaid Spanish Caribbean bills and unhonored contracts. He faced financila ruin

    "If Benning Wentworth failed in business, his English creditors would also. They began a campaign to get Wentworth on the Royal payroll, as Surveyor of the King's Woods in North America and as Governor of New Hampshire. They succeeded.

    "In a 19th century copy of Wentworth's 1760 portrait, the Governor stands before white pines, the source of his wealth as Surveyor of the King's Woods in North America. His girth is supplemented by heavy cotton padding, to help show hiswealth (fat = wealth). He sports a fashionable Malacca cane, and stands on "marbelized" canvas floorcloth.  [3
    Reference Number 7488 
    Died 1770  Portsmouth, Rockingham County, New Hampshire Province, British Empire Find all individuals with events at this location  [3
    Person ID I7488  Goodwin
    Last Modified 14 Aug 2014 

    Mother Unknown,   b. Abt 1684 
    Family ID F3180  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Photos
    7488s001
    7488s001
    1760 Governor Benning Wentworth portrait by Joseph Blackburn

  • Sources 
    1. [S83] (Reliability: 2).

    2. [S2447] (Reliability: 3).

    3. [S2447] .