Henry Wetherby Benchley

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Henry Wetherby Benchley
Henry Wetherby Benchley.png
22nd Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts
In office
GovernorHenry Gardner
Preceded bySimon Brown
Succeeded byEliphalet Trask
Personal details
BornFebruary 20, 1822
Valley Forge, Pennsylvania
DiedFebruary 24, 1867(1867-02-24) (aged 45)
Houston, Texas
Political partyKnow Nothing, Republican
Spouse(s)Julia Ann Goddard
RelationsRobert Benchley (grandson)

Nathaniel Benchley (great-grandson)

Peter Benchley (great-great-grandson)

Henry Wetherby Benchley (February 20, 1822 – February 24, 1867) was an American politician who served in the Massachusetts Senate and as the 22nd Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts. In the 1850s, he was one of the founders of the Republican Party.


Benchley's immigrant ancestor was William Benchley, who had settled in Rhode Island from Wales. By the 1840s, Benchley's line had moved from Smithfield, Rhode Island to Worcester, Massachusetts. He married Julia and they had two sons, Charles and Julian. Benchley became active in regional politics, helping found the Republican Party in the 1850s. He also served in the Massachusetts Senate from Worcester, and was elected as Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts in the mid-1850s.[1]

After Julia's death in 1854, Benchley arranged for relatives to care for his sons and went to Texas to oppose the institution of slavery. He was arrested and jailed in Houston for helping run an Underground Railroad station.[1] This was after the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 was passed, which increased penalties for anti-slavery activism. He died in Houston in 1867 after the Civil War ended.



  1. ^ a b c d Billy Altman, Laughter's Gentle Soul: The Life of Robert Benchley. (New York City: W. W. Norton, 1997. ISBN 0-393-03833-5); from excerpt in New York Times, "Lemon Drops Around Us Are Falling ", https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/books/first/a/altman-laughter.html
  • Billy Altman, Laughter's Gentle Soul: The Life of Robert Benchley. (New York City: W. W. Norton, 1997. ISBN 0-393-03833-5).
  • Norris W. Yates, Robert Benchley. (New York City, Twayne Publishers, 1968.).
  • Roger D. Joslyn, "The Benchley-Bensley Family", New England Historical and Genealogical Register. Vol. CXLII No. 565-567 (January, April 1988, July 1988).
Political offices
Preceded by
Simon Brown
Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts
1856 – 1858
Succeeded by
Eliphalet Trask
Preceded by
Charles Edward Cook
President of the Massachusetts Senate
Succeeded by
Elihu C. Baker