Wentworth, Peter


Wentworth, Peter

▪ English politician
born 1524–30
died Nov. 10, 1596, London

      prominent Puritan (Puritanism) member of the English Parliament in the reign of Elizabeth I, whom he challenged on questions of religion and the succession.

      The son of Sir Nicholas Wentworth (d. 1557) of Buckinghamshire, he first entered Parliament in 1571. He took a firm attitude in support of the liberties of Parliament against encroachments of the royal prerogative and on this subject delivered a memorable speech on February 8, 1576, for which, after examination by the Star Chamber, he was committed to the Tower of London. In February 1587 Sir Anthony Cope presented to the speaker a bill abrogating the existing ecclesiastical law, together with a Puritan revision of the Prayer Book, and Wentworth supported him by bringing forward certain articles on the liberties of the House of Commons; Cope and Wentworth were both committed to the Tower for interference with the Queen's ecclesiastical prerogative.

      In 1593 Wentworth again suffered imprisonment for presenting a petition on the subject of the succession to the crown; and it is probable that he did not regain his freedom, for he died in the Tower in 1596. While in the Tower he wrote A Pithie Exhortation to her Majesty for establishing her Successor to the Crown, a famous treatise preserved in the British Museum.

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