Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V25, Page 978 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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EARLS OF STRAFFORD. The first earl of Strafford was Charles I.'s friend and adviser, Thomas Wentworth (see below), When he was attainted and executed in May 1641 his honours were forfeited, but later in the year his only son, William (1626–1695), was created earl of Strafford, his father's attainder being reversed by act of parliament in 1662. William died without issue on the 16th of October 1695, when all his titles, except the barony of Raby, became extinct. His estates passed to a kinsman, Thomas Watson, afterwards Watson-Wentworth (d. 1723), a son of Anne (1629–1695), daughter of the 1st earl, and her husband Edward Watson, 2nd Baron Rockingham. In 1746 Watson-Wentworth's son, Thomas Watson-Wentworth (c. 169o-1750), was created marquess of Rockingham, and when his son Charles, the 2nd marquess, died in 1782, the estates passed to his maternal nephew, William Fitzwilliam, 2nd Earl Fitzwilliam (1748–1833). His descendant, the present Earl Fitzwilliam, is the owner of Wentworth Woodhouse, near Rotherham, and the representative of the Wentworth family. The barony of Raby passed to the 2nd earl's cousin, Thomas Wentworth (1672–1739), son and heir of Sir William Wentworth of Northgate Head, Wakefield. In early life he saw much service as a soldier in the Low Countries, and was occasionally employed on diplomatic errands. From 1711 to 1714 he was British ambassador at the Hague, and in 1711 he was created earl of Strafford. The earl was one of the British representatives at the congress of Utrecht, and in 1715 he was impeached for his share in concluding this treaty, but the charges against him were not pressed to a conclusion. He died on the 15th of November 1739. The earldom became extinct when Frederick Thomas, the 5th earl, died in August 1799. William, the 4th earl (1722–1791), had a sister Anne, who married William Connolly; and one of their daughters, Anne, married George Byng (d. 1789) of Wrotham Park, Middlesex. Their son, Sir John Byng (1772–1860), a distinguished soldier, was created earl of Strafford and Viscount Enfield in 1847. Having entered the army in 1793, Byng served in Flanders and commanded a brigade during the Peninsular War. He was present at Waterloo and became a field marshal in 1855. The earldom of Strafford is still held by his descendants.

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