Sir Peter Wentworth (1529–1596) was a prominent Puritan leader in the Parliament of England. He was the elder brother of Paul Wentworth and entered as member for Barnstaple in 1571.He later sat for the Cornish borough of Tregony in 1578 and for the town of Northampton in the parliaments of 1586–7, 1589, and 1593. Wentworth was the chief critic of Queen Elizabeth I, and Wentworth's 1576 Parliament address has been regarded as the sign of a new era in English Parliament politicking. Recorded speeches and parliament sessions, jotted in the diaries of MPs like those of Thomas Cromwell, began to proliferate around this time, when public interest embraced political affairs and when issues such as freedom of speech took root in parliamentary politics. For these reasons, Wentworth is often regarded as the first celebrated English parliamentarian.
He was the son of Sir Nicholas Wentworth of Lillingstone Lovell, chief porter of Calais, and was trained for the law in Lincoln's Inn.
He inherited the estate at Lillingstone Lovell on the death of his father in 1557.
He entered Parliament as the MP for Barnstaple in 1571 and Tregony in 1572.
Wentworth firmly supported the liberties of Parliament against encroachments of the royal prerogative, about which he delivered a memorable speech on 8 February 1576.The speech was interrupted before its conclusion due to Wentworth's provocative claims, and officials imprisoned him in the Tower of London. Below are the words that concluded the spoken part of Wentworth's speech.
Amongst other, Mr. Speaker, two things do great hurt in this place, of the which I do mean to speak: the one is a rumour which runneth about the house and this it is, "Take heed what you do, the queen's majesty liketh not such a matter. Whosoever prefereth it, she will be offended with him". Or the contrary, "Her majesty liketh of such a matter. Whosoever speaketh against it, she will be much offended with him". The other: sometimes a message is brought into the house, either of commanding or inhibiting, very injurious to the freedom of speech and consultation. I would to God, Mr. Speaker, that these two were buried in hell, I mean rumours and messages, for wicked they undoubtedly are. The reason is, the devil was the first author of them, from whom proceedeth nothing but wickedness...
It was here that Wentworth was interrupted, and the house decided "that he should be presently committed to the serjeant's ward as prisoner, and so remaining should be examined upon his said speech for the extenuating of his fault therein".The unspoken remainder of Wentworth's speech was preserved from the draft, and its rhetoric and content continue on much in the same manner until its ending. Eventually, Wentworth was released from the Tower after his incarceration there, and he was readmitted to Parliament. In 1586, 1589 and 1593 he was elected to represent Northampton.
In February 1587, Sir Anthony Cope (1548–1614) presented to the Speaker a bill abrogating the existing ecclesiastical law, together with a Puritan revision of the Book of Common Prayer, and Wentworth supported him by bringing forward certain articles touching the liberties of the House of Commons; Cope and Wentworth were both committed to the Tower for interference with Elizabeth I's ecclesiastical prerogative.
In 1593, Wentworth again suffered imprisonment for presenting a petition on the subject of the royal succession; and he did not regain his freedom, for he died in the Tower on 10 November 1596. While in the Tower he wrote A Pithie Exhortation to her Majesty for establishing her Successor to the Crown, a notable treatise preserved in the British Library.
Peter Wentworth was then twice married; his first wife, Laetitia Lune, with whom he had no children, was the daughter of Sir Ralph Lune and Maud Parr, who was a cousin of Catherine Parr, and his second was Elizabeth Walsingham, a sister of Sir Francis Walsingham, Elizabeth's secretary of state.He and Elizabeth had children, including a daughter, Frances Wentworth.
His third son, Thomas Wentworth (Recorder of Oxford) (c. 1568-1628), was an ardent and sometime violent opponent of royal prerogative in Parliament, of which he became a member in 1604: He represented the city of Oxford from that year until his death and became recorder of Oxford in 1607. Another son, Walter Wentworth, was also a Member of Parliament,representing Tavistock in 1601.
Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford was an English statesman and a major figure in the period leading up to the English Civil War. He served in Parliament and was a supporter of King Charles I. From 1632 to 1640 he was Lord Deputy of Ireland, where he established a strong authoritarian rule. Recalled to England, he became a leading advisor to the King, attempting to strengthen the royal position against Parliament. When Parliament condemned Wentworth to death, Charles reluctantly signed the death warrant and Wentworth was executed.
Walter Devereux, 1st Earl of Essex, KG, was an English nobleman and general. From 1573 until his death he fought in Ireland in connection with the Plantation of Ulster, where he ordered the Rathlin Island massacre. He was the father of Elizabeth I's favourite of her later years, Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex.
Sir Francis Throckmorton was a conspirator against Queen Elizabeth I of England in the Throckmorton Plot.
Paul Wentworth (1533–1593), a prominent English member of parliament in the reign of Elizabeth I, was a member of the Lillingstone Lovell branch of the family.
Sir Simonds d'Ewes, 1st Baronet was an English antiquary and politician. He was bred for the bar, was a member of the Long Parliament and left notes on its transactions. D'Ewes took the Puritan side in the Civil War. His Journal of all the Parliaments of Elizabeth is of value; he left an Autobiography and Correspondence.
Walter Yonge (1579–1649) of Great House in the parish of Colyton in Devon, England, was a lawyer, merchant and diarist.
Sir Thomas Heneage PC was an English politician and courtier at the court of Elizabeth I.
Thomas Wentworth was an English lawyer and politician who sat in the House of Commons between 1604 and 1626. He was a vocal if imprudent defender of the rights of the House of Commons.
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Sir Thomas Walsingham was a courtier to Queen Elizabeth I and literary patron to such poets as Thomas Watson, Thomas Nashe, George Chapman and Christopher Marlowe. He was related to Elizabeth's spymaster Francis Walsingham and the employer of Marlowe's murderer Ingram Frizer. This connection is one of the reasons offered for suggesting that Marlowe's death may have been linked with intelligence work, and not a dispute over a bill for food and accommodation, as in the coroner's verdict.
Sir John Doddridge (1555–1628) was an English lawyer, appointed Justice of the King's Bench in 1612 and served as Member of Parliament for Barnstaple in 1589 and for Horsham in 1604. He was also an antiquarian and writer. He acquired the nickname "the sleeping judge" from his habit of shutting his eyes while listening intently to a case. As a lawyer he was influenced by humanist ideas, and was familiar with the ideas of Aristotle, and the debates of the period between his followers and the Ramists. He was a believer in both the rationality of the English common law and in its connection with custom. He was one of the Worthies of Devon of the biographer John Prince (d.1723).
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Sir Henry Bromley was an English landowner and politician who sat in the House of Commons at various times between 1584 and 1604. He was twice imprisoned for his political activities, the second and most serious occasion in the aftermath of the Essex Rebellion. Restored to favour in the Jacobean period, he was vigorous in suppressing the Gunpowder Plot.
The 8th Parliament of Queen Elizabeth I was summoned by Queen Elizabeth I of England on 4 January 1593 and assembled on 19 February following. At the state opening of Parliament the Lord Keeper Sir John Puckering informed the house that the reasons for summoning the Parliament were the threat of Spanish invasion and the Queen's "extraordinarye and most excessive expenses". Edward Coke, the Solicitor-general and Member of Parliament (MP) for Norfolk, was appointed speaker of the commons.
Sir Peter Wentworth was a grandson of Peter Wentworth, being the son of Peter's eldest son Nicholas, from whom he inherited the manor of Lillingstone Lovell. He was a leading Parliamentarian during the Commonwealth.
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Sir Arthur Bassett
| Member of Parliament for Barnstaple |
With: Robert Apley
Sir Vincent Skinner