BENTINCK, Henry, Visct. Woodstock (c.1682-1726), of Titchfield, Hants.
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Family and Education
b. c.1682, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Hans Willem Bentinck, 1st Earl of Portland, by Anne, da. of Sir Edward Villiers of Richmond, Surr., knight marshal of the Household, sis. of Edward Villiers, 1st Earl of Jersey. educ. travelled abroad (Italy, Germany) 1701–3. m. 9 June 1704, Lady Elizabeth (d. 1733), da. and coh. of Wriothesley Baptist Noel†, 2nd Earl of Gainsborough, 3s. 7da. Styled Visct. Woodstock 1689–1709; suc. fa. as 2nd Earl of Portland 23 Nov. 1709; cr. Duke of Portland 6 July 1716.1
Freeman, Southampton 1705.2
Capt. and brevet col. 1 Life Gds. 1710–13; ld. of bedchamber 1717–26; gov. and v.-adm. Jamaica 1721–d.3
The son of one of William III’s closest friends and favourites, Lord Woodstock was heir to a large fortune and vast estates in England, which had been lavished on his father by the King. While still a child, he was shown a mark of favour by Queen Mary when she allowed him to carry the sword of state before her at a ceremonial attendance at church, a duty never before entrusted to one so young. The family usually spent a part of each year in Holland, and in January 1698 Woodstock, with his tutor, the historian Rapin de Thoyras, accompanied his father on his embassy to Paris. Although his father surrendered most of his offices in 1700 from jealous pique at the influence with the King of his rival, Arnold Joost van Keppel, he was still highly regarded and trusted by William. When the King visited Holland in 1701 he paid Woodstock flattering attentions, promising him command of his father’s old cavalry regiment if Portland would permit him to return to England. Portland had other ideas, however, and in April 1701 Woodstock and his tutor set out on a grand tour, during which he was to pay his respects to the Electress Sophia of Hanover and her son. Sophia wrote to Portland that his son had been universally admired, while confiding to her niece that Woodstock had appeared to her to be very affected. Shortly after returning to England Woodstock married an heiress with a fortune of £60,000, who brought him the estate of Titchfield in Hampshire. At the same time, his father settled on him an income of £10,000 p.a.4
Woodstock first stood for Parliament at Southampton in 1705. Prior to the election it was reported that ‘Lord Woodstock’s friends in Hampton pretend they are sure of his election, he has already spent five hundred pounds’. This expenditure proved worthwhile, as he was returned in a contested election. His election was considered by Lord Sunderland (Charles, Lord Spencer*) as a gain for the Whigs. Woodstock was absent from the division on the Speaker on 25 Oct., though he was in the House on 8 Dec., when he was sent to desire a conference with the Lords on their resolution that anyone who suggested that the Church was ‘in danger’ was an enemy to the Queen. On 18 Feb. 1706 he was used as a messenger to the Lords once again, to desire a conference on the regency bill. However, he appears to have been inactive for the remainder of the 1705–8 Parliament. In 1708 he was noted as a Whig in two separate analyses of Parliament before and after the election of that year, at which he was returned for both Southampton and the county. He chose to sit for the county. On 30 Nov. he acted as a teller against a motion to adjourn further consideration of the merits of the double return for Dumfries Burghs, while on 5 Feb. 1709 he told against a motion that the Tory Sir Charles Blois, 1st Bt., had been duly elected for Dunwich, and on 29 Mar. he told in favour of the second reading of a bill from the Lords for improving the Union.5
A few days after the start of the next session Woodstock’s succession to his father’s earldom disabled him from sitting in the Commons. He was now in possession of the principal family seat of Bulstrode in Berkshire, and of estates in Cheshire, Cumberland, Hertfordshire, Norfolk, Sussex, Westminster and Yorkshire, worth in all some £850,150. His father also left him £10,000 p.a. in the bank of Holland. The Dutch properties went to a younger brother. In the Lords he sat as a Whig but was of little political importance. Advanced to a dukedom in 1716, he suffered losses in the South Sea Bubble, and was made governor of Jamaica, where he died on 4 July 1726, in his 45th year. His body was returned to England and was buried in Westminster Abbey, in the vault of the dukes of Ormond.6
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Authors: Paula Watson / Ivar McGrath
- 1. Boyer, Anne Annals, viii. 405; Top. and Gen. iii. 150, 377; Luttrell, Brief Relation, v. 433; F. Cundall, Govs. of Jamaica in 18th Cent. 104; M. E. Grew, Wm. Bentinck and Wm. III, 418.
- 2. Southampton RO, bor. recs. SC3/2, f. 41.
- 3. Cundall, 104, 115.
- 4. Grew, 198, 389–94, 399–402; Boyer, 399–405; Luttrell, 433.
- 5. Bath mss at Longleat House, Thynne pprs. 18, f. 50; Bull. IHR, xxxvii. 24; Nicolson Diaries ed. Jones and Holmes, 327, 404; PRO, 30/24/21/54–55.
- 6. Grew, 414–16; Top. and Gen. 377; Egerton 1708, f. 272; HMC Laing, ii. 207; Cundall, 115.