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Benning Wentworth

In office
1741 – 1766
Preceded by John Wentworth
Succeeded by Sir John Wentworth

Born July 24, 1696
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Died October 14, 1770
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Spouse(s) Abigail Ruck
Martha Hilton

Benning Wentworth (July 24, 1696 – October 14, 1770) was the colonial governor of New Hampshire from 1741 to 1766. The son of the John Wentworth who had been Lieutenant Governor, he was born and died in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. His nephew John Wentworth succeeded him. Wentworth graduated from Harvard College 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 Vermont to developers, in spite of jurisdictional claims for this region by the Colony of New York. He often named the new townships after famous contemporaries in order to gain support for his enterprises (e.g. Rutland after John Manners, 3rd Duke of Rutland; Bennington 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 Wentworth built in 1755 at Northumberland, New Hampshire was built by his order and named after him.

He died in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.


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

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