Elderly NH Guv Weds Puddle Dock Hottie
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Written by SeacoastNH Archive
Romanticized image of Lady Wentworth  / SeacoastNH.comSeacoastNH.com Presents
Historic Portsmouth #268

Modern wayward politicians can’t hold a candle to the scandals of old colonial Portsmouth. Most popular is the tale of Gov. Benning Wentworth whose mansion still stands at Little Harbor. (Continued below)


According to historian Charles Brewster, the sixty-something widower married his twenty-something housekeeper in a secret ceremony attended by local dignitaries. Brewster got many of the details wrong as did Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, whose poem "Lady Wentworth" further fictionalized the marriage in his famous poetry collection "Tales of a Wayside Inn". Copies of the poem in the 19th century depicted the grizzled gouty old governor with a bare-footed sexy milkmaid, as in this illustration. While details of Martha Hilton are sketchy, the arrangement apparently turned out in her favor as well. She married a younger more handsome Wentworth after the royal governor’s demise. She was so well known that, rumor has it, President George Washington sought her out during his tour of Portsmouth Harbor. (Courtesy SeacoastNH.com)

Illustration to Longfellow's poem about Lady Wentworth of Portsmouth, NH / Courtesy SeacoastNH.com

READ the poem Lady Wentworth by Longfellow