Thomas Wentworth, First Earl of Strafford, 1593-1641: A Revaluation

Thomas Wentworth, First Earl of Strafford, 1593-1641: A Revaluation

Thomas Wentworth, First Earl of Strafford, 1593-1641: A Revaluation

Thomas Wentworth, First Earl of Strafford, 1593-1641: A Revaluation

Excerpt

Since I wrote the life of Strafford twenty-seven years ago much detailed research has been done on the early Stuart epoch, more especially on its economic aspects. Important new material has also become available. Shortly after the war the Strafford papers which had long been preserved by his descendants at Wentworth Woodhouse were generously deposited at the Sheffield Central Library by their owner Earl Fitzwilliam. I would like to thank the present Earl Fitzwilliam and his Trustees of the Wentworth Woodhouse Settled Estates for giving permission to quote from these documents. My thanks are also due to the Librarian and staff of the Sheffield Central Library for the kindness and efficiency which make working there so easy and so pleasant.

Two of Strafford's biographers, Lady Burghclere (1931) and Lord Birkenhead (1938), had had access to these papers while they were still at Woodhouse. Both of them quoted with discrimination from this unpublished material. But the documents which comprise the great mass of Strafford's private and public correspondence fill over forty boxes and volumes. It was thus impossible for any biographer to make full use of them while they still remained at Wentworth Woodhouse, without taking more advantage of the hospitality of their owner than could reasonably be asked.

The basis of all work on Strafford therefore remained until recently the selection made and published by Dr William Knowler as early as 1739. His two folio volumes will always be useful to students of the reign of King Charles I, but we can now see that the impression which they give of Strafford is a partial one.

To understand the impact of this new material, it is necessary briefly to recall earlier interpretations of Strafford. For the last three hundred years he has been seen, first and foremost, as a dramatic figure in the great struggle between King and Parliament. For Macaulay he was the 'lost Archangel, the Satan of the . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.