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Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford

(1593-1641), Statesman

Sitter associated with 109 portraits
A powerful statesman, Strafford initially supported Parliament but was won over by Charles I. As President of the Council of the North (1628), and Lord-Deputy of Ireland (1632), he established a reputation for vigorous and efficient administration. As chief adviser to the King, 1639-41, he urged strong measures to control Parliament and obtain funds for a war against the Scots. Seen as a threat to Parliament, a bill of attainder was passed against him and the King reluctantly agreed to his execution. It was a political and moral blunder for which Charles never forgave himself.

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Laurie Pettitt

05 June 2018, 10:16

Studying Wentworth makes a mockery of the alleged Cromwell saying 'Hell or Connaught!'. In 1635, Wentworth spent a year searching for defective titles in Connaught with a view to returning it to the Crown and possible Plantation.
Even so, his treatment of the people who had farmed the land for generations was fair. If they could prove generations of residency, they became tenants of the Crown, not the dodgy Nobles and Bishops who had grabbed the lands.
Wentworth also averted famines in Ireland by refusing to allow the export of grain, unless it was below a certain price per barrel.
He called the food and daddies in Charles' court 'Court Vermin' and administered justice in a way that powerful people walked away from his Deputy'court, bearing grudges that would eventually cost him his head and later, the King, his head.
One of the men in his Dublin administration was John Cooke, the prosecutor in the trial of Charles the first.
Just by chance, Cromwell chose him as his chief Justice of Munster.
Wentworth took his place in Ireland when the majority of the revenue was made up of recusancy fines on the Irish Catholics. He levelled that tax burden.
He introduced linen production and gained special terms on the levies on imports and exports. He even had the idea of Provisioning the Spanish Navy from Ireland. That, and the tax levelling was the reason he was accused of apostasy.

Thomas Wentworth is one of the brightest stars in the firmament of 17th Century History. If you know how Charles ignored and abused Wentworth until it was too late to remedy his mistakes, you will know Oliver Cromwell just a little bit better.

Laurie Pettitt

28 February 2017, 20:12

Wentworth used to order Portraits in Quantity. It must have been like the hole in the board in which you put your face at the seaside. He was certain of whom he wanted them sent to and even more certain to let the Artist know not to charge too much.
You need to read his Letters, in the Wentworth Papers to see the man behind the scowl. He Kept a full table in Ireland and at Home. The other papers to read vare those of George Radcliffe. The most touching was Strafford begging Gentle George NOT to visit him in the Tower because it woulld break Strafford's heart to see his old friend walk away. Wentworth also put a different 'spin' on the Killing of the Duke of Buckingham. Wentwort says that the Duke was approached the day before his death by a Sailor asking for his pay from one of Buckingham's fiascos. Buchingham kicked the man to the ground and killed him. The following day, Fenton approached Buckingham telling him that they had not been paid for their trip. Buckingham then tried the same tactics with Fenton and Fenton put Britain out of Buckingham's mysery. As a famous Corporal once said "They don't like it up them, Mr Mannering!"
Lord Capel deeply regretted allowing himself to be bullied in the Attainder of Strafford and King Charles learnt nothing from Strafford in Honesty or Honour. Charles was a King who deserved NONE of the sacrifices made for him.

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