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Thomas Wentworth

Thomas Wentworth

THE EARL OF STRAFFORD.
Sir Thomas Wentworth, afterwards Earl of Strafford, shared with Archbishop Laud the Counsels of Charles I. He inherited or purchased considerable property at St. John's, Wakefield, and also visited Hatfield Hall, Stanley, where members of his family resided. His Wakefield estate was surveyed in 1728 by Mr John Dickenson, and his controversies with Sir John Savile are fully explained in the correspondence which has been recently published in connection with the Camden's Society. He succeeded to the Custos Rotutorum on the resignation of Sir John Savile, and the two were fiercely at loggerheads. In one letter to the Earl of Buckingham he says: "If it please your Lordship to be satisfied of the truth you shall find Sir John brought into the Star Chamber for his passionate carriage upon the Bench towards one of his fellow commissioners upon a motion in that court for his contemps committed to the Fleet. "Sir Thomas was the son and heir of Sir William Wentworth, of Wentworth Woodhouse, near Rotherham, and his mother was the daughter of Robert Atkinson, lawyer. Strafford married, when nineteen, Lady Margaret Clifford, of a Cumberland family, and resided, after travelling abroad, at Wentworth and Gawthorpe. He contested Yorkshire with Savile. His life is interwoven very deeply in the history of the West Riding of that period. He was appointed Deputy and Governor of Ireland on the 12th January, 1632, and he was also President of the Council of the North.
He married three times, his third wife being Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Godfrey Rhodes, of Great Houghton, and some of his love-letters are in the possession of Lord Houghton.
The letters he wrote to his wife from the Tower (February 4, 1640) are affecting. On the 12th May, 1641, he was executed, and the day before he charged his son "be sure you give great respect to my wife that hath ever borne great love unto me, and therefore will be becoming you."
He was executed on a charge of treason against the liberties of the people. In Wakefield Parish Church is a grand organ case of black oak that once contained an instrument which Lord Stafford gave to the church. The beautiful front design of the organ is the original one enlarged, and is therefore a memorial of the unfortunate Earl.


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