WENTWORTH, Michael (by 1512-58), of Whitley, Yorks., Mendham, Suff. and Cannon Row, Westminster, Mdx.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Apr. 1554

Family and Education

b. by 1512, 2nd s. of Thomas Wentworth of Wentworth Woodhouse, Yorks. by Beatrice, da. of Sir Richard Woodruffe of Woolley, Yorks. m. (1) by 1542, Isabella (b.1524), da. and h. of Percival Whitley of Whitley, 3s. 5da.; (2) July/Nov. 1556, Agnes, wid. of Roger More of Bicester, Oxon. and Thomas Curzon of Waterperry, Oxon., s.p.1

Offices Held

Clerk of the kitchen by 1533, chief clerk 1540; master of the Household by Aug. 1546-Jan. 1558, cofferer Jan. 1558-d.; steward, Langton in the Wold, Yorks. 1536, Catton and Pocklington, Yorks. 1540, Castle Sowerby, Penrith and Scotby, Cumb. 1542; gen. receiver and surveyor, Eye and Westhorpe, Suff. and other crown lands 1545.2


A well connected younger son, Michael Wentworth probably owed his steady rise in the royal household to his kinship with Sir Thomas Wentworth I, 1st Lord Wentworth, himself a follower of the Duke of Suffolk. First mentioned as clerk of the kitchen at the coronation of Anne Boleyn, whom he was appointed to attend at the banquet ‘to see that nothing be embezzled’ from the dressers, Wentworth was promoted to the chief clerkship in the reorganization of 1540, when Suffolk became head of the Household as lord great master. Four years later, when Suffolk commanded the army which captured Boulogne, Wentworth led the household contingent which accompanied the King and he spent most of the summer in the field. Suffolk’s death in August 1545 was followed by Wentworth’s appointment as general receiver of the lands in Suffolk and elsewhere which the duke had ceded to the King in 1536, and within a year he had become one of the three masters of the Household.3

It was in the duke’s, and Lord Wentworth’s, shire that Wentworth was to make his own main investment in land; he did not add to the lands in Yorkshire which his first wife brought to their marriage but he acquired the site and some of the lands of Mendham priory, and several manors in Essex. His second wife, who had previously married in succession two of Wentworth’s colleagues in the Household, brought him lands in Oxfordshire, a London house, and the wardship of her young children. Wentworth’s last purchase was of a large house in Cannon Row, adjoining Whitehall, for which he paid £600 in February 1558. This followed immediately upon, and may have been connected with, his final promotion, to the post of cofferer of the Household.4

Wentworth’s election to Mary’s second Parliament was clearly a by-product of his official career. The borough of Midhurst belonged to Wentworth’s distant kinsman (Sir) Anthony Browne I, to whom he could have been recommended by more than one of his associates: by Browne’s grandfather Sir John Gage, the lord chamberlain, by Gage’s son James, the second master of the Household, or by Edward Shelley, the third master, another Sussex man. (In the next Parliament, and again in 1558, one of the Members for Midhust was another household official, Thomas Harvey, whom Wentworth called ‘cousin’ and appointed to oversee his will.) Wentworth’s Membership of this brief Parliament has left no trace but his official standing and future promotion imply that he supported the government. One of his fellow-Members was Leonard West, whose dispute with William Gascoigne, a kinsman of both, he sought to compose in 1555.5

Wentworth died on 13 or 20 Oct. 1558; the inquisitions taken on his lands give different dates, but the earlier one perhaps agrees better with his burial in St. Margaret’s, Westminster, on 23 Oct., performed with much ceremonial and attended by many of the Queen’s servants. By his will of 12 Oct. Wentworth had bequeathed to his wife Agnes the greater part of his lands in Essex, Oxfordshire, Suffolk and Yorkshire, with the profits from the sale of wool and of coal from his mines in the north; to his heir Thomas, then aged 17, all the goods in his mansions in Suffolk and Cannon Row; and to his younger sons Michael and Henry the profit of the alnagership at York. His five daughters were each to receive £100 on marriage, with a further £100 going to whichever of them married his ward Richard Freeston, the son of his predecessor as cofferer. He named as executors his nephew Thomas Wentworth (whose grandson was to become 1st Earl of Strafford) and Nicholas Denham and as the second overseer his brother Thomas.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: R. J.W. Swales


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference. Vis. Yorks. (Harl. Soc. xvi), 346; PCC 9 Powell, 26 More, 2 Welles; Surtees Soc. cvi. 241; CPR, 1555-7, p. 508; Vis. Oxon. (Harl. Soc. v), 56; Misc. Gen. et Her. (ser. 3), i. 209; E150/249/12, 14, 653/6; Leeds univ. lib. Wentworth-Woolley M41-43 ex inf. Dr. C. E. Challis.
  • 2. LP Hen. VIII, vi, x, xvi, xvii, xix, xx; Yorks. Arch. Soc. rec. ser. lxiii. 129n.
  • 3. R. C. Braddock, ‘R. household, c.1540-60’ (Northwestern Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1971), 50-51, 94; LP Hen. VIII, xix, xx.
  • 4. CPR, 1550-3, p. 380; 1553-4, p. 203; 1554-5, p. 325; 1557-8, pp. 257, 425, 442; PCC 9 Powell, 26 More.
  • 5. PCC 2 Welles; Req. 1/10, f. 15v; 2/23/110, f. 20.
  • 6. E150/249/12, 653/6; Machyn’s Diary (Cam. Soc. xlii), 176-7; PCC 2 Welles.