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Benning Wentworth (July 24, 1696 – October 14, 1770) was the colonial governor of New Hampshiremarker from 1741 to 1766. The son of the John Wentworth who had been Lieutenant Governor, he was born and died in Portsmouth, New Hampshiremarker. His nephew John Wentworth succeeded him. Wentworth graduated from Harvard Collegemarker in 1715 and married Abigail Ruck in Boston in 1719. Upon the death of his first wife in 1755, he married, in 1760 at age 64, his much younger housekeeper, Martha Hilton, the subject of considerable scandal at the time.

Wentworth enriched himself by a clever scheme of selling land in what is now the state of Vermontmarker to developers, in spite of jurisdictional claims for this region by the Colony of New Yorkmarker. He often named the new townships after famous contemporaries in order to gain support for his enterprises (e.g. Rutlandmarker after John Manners, 3rd Duke of Rutland; Benningtonmarker he named after himself). Ultimately, this scheme led to a great deal of contention between New York, New England, and the settlers in Vermont. It created friction between the northeast colonies, and the dispute was hardly settled by the formation of Vermont as a state.


Wentworth also gave important government positions to relatives and gave them extensive grants of land. Growing annoyance with his administration's corruption, and taxes, forced his resignation in 1767.

Fort Wentworthmarker built in 1755 at Northumberland, New Hampshiremarker was built by his order and named after him.

He died in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

References

  • Swift, Esther Munroe; (1977). Vermont Place Names: Footprints of History Stephen Green Press. ISBN 0-8289-0291-7.


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