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Wentworth, John, 1767-1775

 

Dates

  • Existence: 1767 - 1775

Wentworth was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on August 9, 1737. His ancestry went back to some of the earliest settlers of the Province of New Hampshire, and he was grandson of John Wentworth, who served as the province's lieutenant governor in the 1720s, a nephew to Governor Benning Wentworth, and a descendant of "Elder" William Wentworth. His father Mark was a major landowner and merchant in the province, and his mother, Elizabeth Rindge Wentworth, was also from the upper echelons of New Hampshire society. In 1751, he enrolled in Harvard College, receiving a bachelor's degree in 1755 and a master's degree in 1758. During his time at Harvard, he was a classmate and became a close friend of future Founding Father and President of the United States John Adams.

In 1759, the young Wentworth made his first significant investment, joining a partnership in the purchase and development of land in the Lake Winnipesaukee area. Wentworth sat on a committee of partners that oversaw the settlement of the community, which the investors named Wolfeboro. In 1763, his father sent him to London to act on behalf of his merchant interests. Based on his father's introductions, he was soon mingling with the upper levels of British society. Among the connections he made was one with the Marquess of Rockingham, a distant relative (although neither was apparently aware of this) and a leading Whig politician. In 1765, Wentworth, still in London, was appointed by the province as one of its agents. That same year Rockingham became Prime Minister and led the repeal of the hated Stamp Act. Whether Wentworth influenced Rockingham's decision is uncertain, but New Hampshire's other agent, Barlow Trecothick, drafted with Rockingham a position paper on the matter, and Wentworth was clearly sympathetic to colonial opposition to the Stamp Act.

Wentworth's uncle Benning had spent many years of his governorship lining his pockets by selling land grants to the west of the Connecticut River, territory to which the province held dubious claim. In 1764, the Lords of Trade ruled that New Hampshire's western border was at the Connecticut River, decisively awarding the territory (the future state of Vermont) to the Province of New York. The governor, however, refused to resign, leading the Lords of Trade to consider his recall. Wentworth interceded, and convinced them to allow his uncle the dignity of resigning in his nephew's favor.

In August 1766, he was commissioned as Governor and vice admiral of New Hampshire, and Surveyor General of the King's Woods in North America. Before he returned to North America he was awarded a Doctorate of Common Law by Oxford University. After a difficult crossing he arrived at Charleston, South Carolina in March 1767, where he proceeded to make the first major survey of the forests of Georgia and the Carolinas on behalf of the crown.[6] He then made his way north overland, and was received in Portsmouth with pomp and ceremony on June 13, 1767

Found in 4 Collections and/or Records:

Dartmouth College charter

Mss 769663
 Collection
Identifier: Mss 769663
Scope and Contents Two signed leaves containing the Dartmouth College charter dated 1769 December 13. Signed by John Wentworth.

Governor John Wentworth letter

Mss 766476.4
 Collection
Identifier: Mss 766476.4
Scope and Contents Letter from John Wentworth to Hugh Wentworth with helpful advice to kinsman on his trip to England.

New Hampshire (Colony) charter and plan

Mss 769156
 Collection
Identifier: Mss 769156
Scope and Contents New Hampshire (Colony) charter and plan, Governor, John Wentworth, Cardigan, N.H. Thomas P. Treadwell, Secretary of State, certifies that the foregoing is a true copy of the original charter and plan given on November 17, 1849.

New Hampshire (Colony) Commission

Mss 770303
 Collection
Identifier: Mss 770303
Scope and Contents Commission by New Hampshire (Colony) Governor, (John Wentworth) appointing James Gilmore as Lieutenant of the 7th company, 8th Regiment of the New Hampshire militia commanded by Col. Matthew Thornton. Original signed by John Wentworth.