Strafford, Thomas Wentworth, 1st earl of

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Strafford, Thomas Wentworth, 1st earl of (1593–1641). Wentworth made his name as a champion of constitutional rule by opposing the forced loan of 1626. However, in the 1628 Parliament he suggested the compromise which culminated in Charles I's acceptance of the petition of right. This opened the way to a career in government, and in 1633 the king sent him to rule Ireland. Strafford did so in such a despotic manner that he aroused fear and hatred in England, and when Charles, after the disastrous Bishops' wars, called Strafford to his side and made him an earl, he promised that he would not ‘suffer in his person, honour, or fortune’. Although Strafford advised Charles to summon Parliament, he planned to intimidate it by charging its leaders with treason for abetting the king's Scottish enemies. However, Pym struck first by impeaching Strafford for the greater treason of alienating the king from his subjects. At his trial, in March 1641, Strafford defended himself so ably that acquittal seemed likely. The Commons therefore changed tack, passing a bill of attainder, which simply declared Strafford's guilt and sentenced him to death. Despite the pressure from angry mobs baying for the blood of ‘black Tom the tyrant’, the king delayed his response until Strafford urged him to give his assent, ‘for prevention of evils which may happen by your refusal’. A few days later, Strafford was executed on Tower Hill. Charles subsequently realized that his consent had been a blunder, morally and politically.

Roger Lockyer

Strafford, Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of

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Strafford, Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of (1593–1641) English minister of Charles I. Strafford became the King's chief adviser after the death of the Duke of Buckingham and proved an extremely capable administrator as Lord President of the North (1628–33) and Lord Deputy of Ireland (1633–39). In 1639, Charles made him an Earl, but he failed to quell a Scottish rebellion (1640). Strafford was impeached by the Long Parliament and he was executed.

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Thomas Wentworth 1st earl of Strafford

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