Do you like discovering new facts? We thought so… because we do too. So how’s this for your fact for today… Did you know that in 1682 the person who was Baroness Wentworth was also the Lord of Younges? Yup… that’s right. The grand-daughter of the 1st Earl of Cleveland, Henrietta Maria, held both titles. But what you might like to know too is that she was, moreover, the mistress of the Duke of Monmouth. Well… there’s nothing like a bit of tittle-tattle over a cuppa, eh?
We dip our heads in shame, though, because just throwing that in doesn’t really do the information justice. Records do suggest it was actually a passionate and meaningful liaison. Monmouth, though already married at the time, did propose to his love. And despite the fact that Henrietta’s mother then whisked her back to the family home to keep her safe, he followed her and ‘moved in’. It would appear, therefore, that he was more than just a man in love… he was a determined man in love.
Progeny and plots
But who was this Duke of Monmouth anyway? And what makes his link to the Lordship of Younges of interest? Try this for size… Being the illegitimate son of Charles II, and thus not recognised to be in line for the throne, history suggests that he had serious misgivings about his disconnected family; and records show that that’s definitely not tittle-tattle. In 1683 he was implicated in a plot that later came to be known as ‘The Rye House Plot’ to kill both his father and his uncle, James, Duke of York. The plot, failed, mind you, but you get the gist. He wasn’t a happy bunny. And it meant that he and his lover had to flee to Holland to rethink their plans under the protection of the Prince of Orange. The Lord of Younges and her paramour simmered there for a couple of years until James II came to the throne, and then at that point they decided it was time to demand a recount.
The lordly woman of substance
Baroness Wentworth, although still only in her early twenties, was a woman of worth. From the safety of Holland, she sold her jewellery and raised considerable funds to support her lover’s coup. However, sadly for the couple, it would seem that love was not enough. This rebellion also failed and Monmouth found himself first housed in the Tower of London, and then swiftly climbing the platform to the executioner’s chopping block. Touchingly, as a testament to his love for Henrietta and as a last show of defiance, when he was executed on Tower Hill he refused to acknowledge that his relationship with her had been sinful, and as a result he was in turn refused the final Eucharist. Broken hearted, Henrietta returned to England and died a year later, just twenty-five.
From revolutionaries to shipbuilders
The Lordship of Younges thus passed to Henrietta’s great-aunt, Lady Anne, Baroness Lovelace… who was also the last surviving sister of the Earl of Cleveland. From there, for a brief while, it found itself gracing the shoulders of a gentleman… John, Baron Wentworth of Hurley, son of Lady Anne. However, when he died before Anne, it reverted back to her, and found itself passed to Martha, John’s daughter, in 1697.
Martha married a rich shipbuilder, Sir Henry Johnson, who was also MP for Blackwall. And though as the Baroness Wentworth she retained her title, they both held Younges together. The high life did Sir Henry a disfavour, however, and in 1717 he died of gout, leaving Younges solely with Martha again. When Martha died some years later in 1745, she left Younges to Henry’s daughter from his first marriage, Anne, who was by then also widowed to Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Stafford.
In 1754, Younges then came to rest on Anne’s youngest son, William of Wentworth, 2nd Earl of Stafford. However, when he sadly died childless in 1791, it once again fell upon female shoulders, only this time three sets; William’s sisters – Lady Anne Conolly, Lady Lucy Howard, and Lady Harriet Vernon. For the sake of expediency, Younges formed part of Lady Anne’s share… and since then records have fallen silent.
So who’s next?
Could this lordship find a new lease of life in your world? As you will have seen… it’s flexible, feisty, and definitely endeared to female affection. It’s worth a thought, eh? You could have some real fun with it!