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Seeking the Frances in Francestown

 

Exiled from New Hampshire

Had the Revolutionary War not intervened, Reverend Cochrane suggests, John and Fanny Wentworth might have fared well, but there was no happily ever after in New Hampshire for them. John Wentworth, a Loyalist, became the last Royal Governor of NH. He and his lady lived the rest of their lives in exile from the colonies in which they were born.

The dust jacket of The Governor’s Lady , describes the book like this: "A biographical novel of Frances Wentworth, whose husband governed Nova Scotia, but could not govern her…Set in the turbulent years around the American Revolution, this novel tells of an ambitious and ruthless woman who yearned for power and money and the prestige a title could bring her!"

Raddall sets the tone for the main character as greedy, manipulative and power hungry, but the facts paint a very different picture. Indeed, it was John who borrowed funds and went into debt to build a grand mansion in the wilderness of New Hampshire even before his involvement with Frances. She apparently did not approve of a home, no matter how grand, in such a remote location. Frances was a social butterfly who loved the city and all that cities have to offer. John loved the woods and surveying the forests for the timber needed for the masts of her majesty’s fleet.

It was John’s loyalty to Britain and his fascination with the Crown and the aristocracy that spelled his demise and led to his exile from his beloved birthplace. Driven out of Portsmouth, John fled to Boston, then to Halifax.

He sent Frances and their surviving infant son to England during the Revolution. They later joined him in Nova Scotia.

According to both Raddall’s novel and history texts, Fanny was supported by John’s kinsman, Paul Wentworth in London. She also stayed with Lord and Lady Rockingham on their country estate while John was still in the Colonies, hoping to defeat the rebels so he could resume his post as governor of New Hampshire. It is during this period that Fanny developed a taste for the British aristocracy, as her husband had during his formative years in England. Here she also developed relationships with other men, as was the custom of the London crowd.

John later joined his wife in England after the Battle of Yorktown when it became apparent that returning to New Hampshire was not an option.

Through Lord Rockingham he was able to obtain the post of surveyor general of the King’s woods in 1783, the position he had previously held in New Hampshire. Living beyond their means, the aristocratic couple accepted the lucrative position in Nova Scotia and were forced to leave England behind. Reluctantly Fanny joined her husband within the year.

CONTINUE

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