Wednesday, January 7, 2009

William Charles Wentworth

I got Wentworth's name from a history book I was reading. I added him to the list. Now I'm worried he's not going to be interesting enough for me. The book wasn't even that interesting to me. I'm not sure if that's the books fault though. I spend so many hours a day reading nonfiction online that by the time I pick up a book I'm tired of it all.

Anyway, maybe Wentworth will surprise me.

Maybe I'll become a huge Wentworth fan.

Wentworth was born on August 13 1790. I'm not sure if the birthday website goes back that far. Let me check.

No, it doesn't.

But I can do my own math. No worries.

He's a 2 in numerology. I think he might be the first 2 I've researched. 2's are about cooperation. They're harmonious. They make good friends because they're caring and considerate.

And Wentworth would be a Leo.

I think the 2 and Leo would contradict each other a bit. I picture a Leo as being someone who likes to be in the spotlight. I picture a 2 as someone who prefers to be helping in the background.

I wonder if Wentworth was conflicted.

Wentworth was born at sea. Now that's pretty damn exciting. And his parents were convicts. His dad was arrested for highway robbery. Although Lord Wiki says he wasn't technically a convict because he accepted transportation as an alternative to being convicted. I wonder how that made him different from the convicts? Did he have more rights and privileges?

Wentworth's mommy was a convict teenager. Her crime? Stealing clothes.

Lord Wiki says Wentworth was five weeks premature. I wonder if there were any health complications. One of my nieces was born four weeks early without complications. She was at a good weight and everything. This led some people to believe the due date might have just been off. Maybe this was the case with Wentworth.

Wentworth and his family went to the frightening Norfolk Island first. Then when Wentworth was six his family moved to Sydney. They lived in Parramatta. His father did well for himself with land. It seems the family became wealthy; or at least financially comfortable.

When Wentworth was thirteen, his parents sent him back to England for school.

He was twenty when he returned to Australia. He was given the job of Provost-Marshall and a land grant of 1750 acres. That's a big property, although I know huge properties are not unusual in Australia.

What is a Provost-Marshall? I need to look that up.

Okay....Lord Wiki says it's the person who's in charge of the military police. I'm not sure I fully understand that.  Maybe a little.

Lord Wiki says that Wentworth's property was near Nepean River. I'm going to look at that on Google Maps now....try to get myself orientated. It seems to be near Penrith which isn't too far from Parramatta.

I wonder if Wentworth had a good relationship with mom and dad. Were they still alive at this point?

Lord Wiki says the Nepean had disastrous floods in 1810 and 1817. I wonder if Wentworth's property was affected.

At the age of twenty-three, Wentworth played the explorer game. He and his buddies found a route across the Blue Mountains. This opened up new grazing land opportunities. Wentworth was rewarded for his explorations. He got a thousand more acres of land. I wonder if this was connected to his old acres, or did he get a second property?

He also had a town named after him. Wentworth Falls. I'm trying to remember if we went there during our Blue Mountains tour. I'll try to find our tour online. That should give me a clue.

Never mind. I can't find it. All these tours look alike. I think most of them go to the same places. None of them mention Wentworth Falls. I'm guessing it wasn't one of the stops. Maybe we drove past it though. It MIGHT have been the place we stopped for lunch?

Wentworth had a lot of land, but it seems he didn't spend much time playing on it. Instead he traveled. He got involved with trade on islands in the South Pacific. On one expedition, the captain of the ship died. Wentworth managed to take over and bring the ship safely back to Sydney. You go, Wentworth!

At the age of 26, Wentworth returned to the UK. He studied at Cambridge. It seems he did the law thing.

Oh! Wentworth is the first Australian to have a book published. I think it's the longest book title I've ever seen.....

A Statistical, Historical, and Political Description of the Colony of New South Wales and Its Dependent Settlements in Van Diemen's Land, With a Particular Enumeration of the Advantages Which These Colonies Offer for Emigration and Their Superiority in Many Respects Over Those Possessed by the United States of America


By the age of 32, Wentworth was a lawyer.  He did the whole bar thing. A couple years later he returned to Sydney. I'm guessing he went to the UK in the first place because there weren't good universities yet in Sydney.

Yes. According to the University of Sydney's Website, they were the first university, and they opened up in 1850.   If you wanted a formal education, you had to leave Australia.

Wentworth brought a British friend back with him. Robert Wardell. He was a newspaper guy.

Wentworth's daddy died and young William inherited his property. What happened to his mom? Had she already died? Did they ever have any more children together?

Lord Wiki says Wentworth became one of the richest men in the Sydney colony.

This gets pretty least to me.

Wentworth built a mansion in Eastern Sydney. He named it Vaucluse House. And this is what the Vaucluse suburb is named after. This website has a photo of it. My question is how did he come up with the name Vaucluse in the first place?

Okay. Wait. Wentworth didn't build the mansion. He bought it from a guy named Sir Henry Brown Hayes. Or maybe he bought the property from Hayes and built his own new mansion.

Anyway, Hayes is the one who came up with the name Vaucluse. He named it after a famous spring in France.

You know....I'm enjoying this research much more than I expected.

And I think it keeps getting better.

Wentworth's parents never got married. Did this mean they didn't stay together? Was it just sex and an accidental baby between them? Did they live together, but couldn't get married?

Anyway, because his parents were not married and his mommy was convict, Wentworth was rejected from the exclusives. This was Sydney's respectable class.

Wentworth did not like being rejected. He was quite bitter about the whole thing. To deal with his feelings, he joined the emancipation class. He fought for equal rights for convict descendants.

He got married in 1825 to Sarah Cox. They had ten kids. Oh my goodness!

It seems Wentworth had a wandering eye. He had another child with Edward Eager's wife. It seems Eager abandoned her and went to London. Wentworth took over. I wonder if Sarah knew about it.

In the 1820's and 1830's, Wentworth was quite famous in Sydney. He fought for the end of transportation, freedom of the press, and trial by jury. He did not like Governor Darling. I remember reading that in the book. He started Australia's first private newspaper.

Some political stuff happened later that I don't quite understand. Maybe another website will be easier for me to understand. Anyway, what eventually happened is Wentworth became a conservative.

Later, Wentworth died. That happened in England, but he had requested his body be returned to Sydney. His descendants are still prominent in Sydney. His great grandson was in the Liberal Party in the late 1960's and early 1970's. I'm adding him to my list.

I'm done with Lord Wiki. I shall look at other sites now.

The Australian Dictionary of Biography says that Wentworth's mom died in 1800. William would have been ten. It was a few years after that when he was sent to England. His brother went with him.

It seems Wentworth tried and failed to get into a military school. It's another story of rejection in his life. Poor guy. He did some horse racing for awhile, and then soon after did the Provost-Marshall thing.

The dictionary says he was sarcastic and made a lot of allusions. I have a feeling he was a bit snarky.

You know that boat ride where the captain died? Well, while on the island Wentworth had almost been killed by the natives. This guy lived an adventurous life.

He wanted to marry Elizabeth Macarthur. Wow. What a soap opera here. I'm guessing this is the daughter Elizabeth and not the mother. I'm confused. Anyway, the dictionary says that the wedding never happened because Wentworth and Elizabeth's daddy had a disagreement about money.

I like this quote from him regarding being part of government. As a mere private person I might lead the colony, but as a servant of the Governor I could only conform to his whims, which would neither suit my tastes nor principles. It makes me think of what someone recently said in their blog, about a certain rock star turning politician. Can we do more in government, or is it better to stay outside and do our thing there?

There was a lot of bad blood between Wentworth and Governor Darling. This worsened when Darling ordered two prisoners to be tortured. One of the prisoners died. I remember reading about this in the book. Good! I retained some little piece of information.

Anyway, Wentworth wrote about it in his newspaper. Darling worked towards the censorship thing by trying to regulate newspapers and imposing a stamp tax. The chief justice of the Supreme Court wouldn't allow that. Darling then tried to sue for libel instead.

I'm not sure who won.

Wentworth tried to get Darling impeached, but failed. Darling was able to finish out his term. When he left Sydney, Wentworth had a big party at his estate. There were about 4000 people there. Big bonfires, food, speeches..... It sounds like quite the occasion.

In the 1830's, Wentworth became the vice-president of The Australian Patriotic Association. This group wanted to amend the constitution.

Oh! Wentworth played a big part in bringing education to New South Wales. Around 1849, he was involved with starting the first state primary education schools. He was also part of the movement that started the University of Sydney.

This website helps me understand better what the other websites were trying to tell me. I sort of understood it when reading those websites, but not fully. In his younger years, Wentworth was a radical. He seemed to fight for the average person. It seems he fought against snobbery and exploitation of power. But at the same time, he was personally wealthy. He owned a lot of property. As he got older, he became more conservative. He thought one needed to own property in order to have political power. It looks to me that he became a bit of a snob himself. Maybe he was one of those people who are against wealth and social class hierarchy until they reach the top themselves. I don't know.

Wentworth was a poet. This guy was a man of all trades, wasn't he? I bet HE'S the one who truly invented the Internet.

I'm not really good with poetry. But I'm going to read his stuff anyway. I do like this line.

She loves me! From her own bliss-breathing lips
The live confession came, like rich perfume
From crimson petals bursting into bloom!

That's easy. I can understand it. I like poetry that doesn't make me have to think too hard. I like those lines. It's romantic. It talks about one of the most wonderful human experiences....finding out that the one we love returns our affections.

This line is not as good to me, And still my heart at the remembrance skips
Like a young lion, and my tongue, too, trips.

I don't get the lion part. A skipping lion? That analogy just doesn't work for me.

Michael Kirby might enjoy this one:

May all thy glories in another sphere
Relume, and shine more brightly still than here;
May this, thy last-born infant, then arise,
To glad thy heart and greet thy parent eyes;
And Australasia float, with flag unfurl'd,
A new Britannia in another world.

Well, maybe.... Am I reading it right? It seems to be talking about Australia as the baby and Britain as the mommy and daddy.

Oh! Now I have found the really GOOD stuff. It concerns Wentworth's wife, Sarah Cox. Not long before they were married, Wentworth was the barrister in her family's case against Sarah's ex-boyfriend. They were trying to get him for Breach of Promise of Marriage. Poor Sarah had been romanced by Captain Payne. They wrote romantic letters to each other. He told his family about his intentions to marry her. And then the asshole dropped her for a wealthy widower.

Did Cox fall in love with her barrister? Did she find him sexy in the courtroom? Or was she just settling because she couldn't have the man she truly wanted? Was she trying to mend a broken heart and bruised ego?

Well, I guess I'll end on that note.

Wentworth seems pretty damn important when it comes to the history of Australia. I'm glad I chose to write about him. It was all much less boring than I expected it to be.


  1. Wenthworth did a pretty good poem!

  2. Jack,

    I'm glad you liked it!! I love you.

  3. I recently reviewed a book about Thomas Wentworth Wills, an early Victorian cricket captain.

    His middle name was in honor of William Charles Wentworth, who defended Tom's father in a legal case.

  4. Michael,

    That's really cool. I remember seeing that post.

    I wonder what Tom's father was on trial for. Do you know?

  5. Horatio (aged 16) was apprenticed to work for his stepbrother Robert Howe on the Sydney Gazette, but ran away. They brawled and a warrant was issued for Horatio's arrest.

    Wentworth defended him, but lost the case. Horatio was ordered to return to work.

    His stepbrother died the following year. Horatio became the editor and printer of the Gazette.