William Wentworth, 2nd Earl of Strafford

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For the later Earl of Strafford of the same name, see William Wentworth, 2nd Earl of Strafford (1722–1791).
For other people named William Wentworth, see William Wentworth (disambiguation).
Memorial to William Wentworth, 2nd Earl of Strafford (d. 1695) & Lady Honoria (d. 1685) in the Lady Chapel in the South Aisle of York Minster.

William Wentworth, 2nd Earl of Strafford (8 June 1626 – 16 October 1695) was a member of England's House of Lords.

He was born in Wentworth Woodhouse, Yorkshire, the only surviving son of Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford and his second wife Arabella Holles, the daughter of John Holles, 1st Earl of Clare.[1] His mother died in childbirth when he was five years old; his father later remarried Elizabeth Rhodes, who was a kindly stepmother to William and his sisters. He studied at Trinity College Dublin. When his father was executed for treason in 1641, William left the England for several years, mainly for fear of reprisals (although most of his father's enemies bore no ill-will to his widow or children), and lived for a time in France. In 1652 he was allowed to return on taking an oath of abjuration. In 1662, the bill of attainder against his father was reversed by Parliament, and he regained the title of Earl of Strafford and was invested a Knight of the Garter in 1661. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1668 but was expelled in 1685.[2]

According to his father's biographer, he led a rather "obscure, undistinguished and uninteresting life".[3] She does however praise his speech in the House of Lords in 1667 protesting against the banishment of Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon, on the grounds that no crime had been proved against him; his attitude is the more creditable since Clarendon had been one of his father's bitterest enemies.[4] He became a member of the Privy Council in 1674, and attended the crucial meeting in 1678 when Titus Oates first revealed his fabricated Popish Plot.[5] During the Exclusion Crisis, he supported James II, and made a point of calling on him when James travelled through Yorkshire on his way to Scotland in 1679.

Wedgwood sums him up as "rather indolent and lacking in character";[6] but he was much loved by his family, especially his father, whose last letter was to "dearest Will" from " a father that tenderly loves you".[7]

On 27 February 1654, Strafford married Lady Henrietta Mary Stanley, daughter of James Stanley, 7th Earl of Derby and Charlotte de la Tremoüille, Countess of Derby.[8] The marriage was childless and Henrietta predeceased him on 27 December 1685 (see [1] for details of the riots associated wither her funeral). He buried her in York Minster, with an impressive monument to her memory.[9]

Strafford subsequently married Henrietta, daughter of Frederic Charles de Roye de la Rochefoucauld, Count de Roye.[2] He died in Yorkshire on 16 October 1695 and was buried in York Minster. Having no children, the earldom became extinct, but his title, Baron Raby was inherited by Thomas Wentworth, the grandson of a younger brother of the first earl, who became Earl of Strafford in a new creation. Strafford's estates passed to his nephew Thomas Watson .

Strafford County, New Hampshire in the United States is named in his honour.


  1. ^ Burke Extinct Peerages Reprinted 1978 p.576
  2. ^ a b "Library and Archive catalogue". Royal Society. Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  3. ^ Wegdwood C.V. Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford-1593-1641-a revaluation Phoenix Press 1961 p.395
  4. ^ C.V. Wedgwood pp.394-5
  5. ^ Kenyon, ,J.P. " The Popish Plot 2nd Edition Phoenix Press 2000 p.77
  6. ^ Wedgwood p.394
  7. ^ Wedgwood p.384
  8. ^ Burke p.577
  9. ^ Wedgwood p.395
Peerage of England
Title last held by
Thomas Wentworth
Earl of Strafford
1st creation
Re-created in 1711 for his kinsman Thomas Wentworth
Preceded by
Thomas Wentworth
Baron Raby
1st creation
Succeeded by
Thomas Wentworth