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War is hell, but It's
big business too

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By Charles W. Brewster

Editors Note: C.W. Brewster was a Portsmouth columnist in the mid-1800's. This article includes his opinions and may not reflect current research or current values.

Col. Joshua Wentworth - His offices - incidents of his history - His descendants - George Jaffrey.

AMONG the home residents of Portsmouth during the Revolutionary war scarcely any one performed more business for the government, as Commissary, Navy Agent, etc., than Col. Joshua Wentworth. We have before us a large package of business letters addressed to him, as the Agent of the Board of War at Portsmouth, by Gen. Stark, Col. Joseph Gilman, Capt. Joseph Leigh, Maj. Bass, Gen. Sullivan, and many others -- showing that through him came nearly all the supplies which were furnished to the New Hampshire soldiers. His letters show him to have been a business man; and no doubt his experience tended to promote the interest of the country, at a time when poverty held up its visage on every side.

Col. Wentworth built and for many years resided in that house in Hanover street afterwards owned by Capt. Thomas Brown, and then by Joshua Johnson. The house was of excellent workmanship,--a beautiful garden was laid out in front, and the position of the occupant brought many distinguished visitors to his domicil. It was at a time when Gov. John Hancock with his lady and family were spending a week in Portsmouth, quartering at the boarding house standing on the spot where Richard Jenness now lives, that a grand entertainment was prepared at Col. Wentworth's to His Excellency. At this entertainment all the elite of the town were present, and a son of Gov. Hancock, of five or six years of age, richly attired, gave an attractive feature, by dancing a minuet. The impression left of that circumstance was made lasting, by the fact that this was the last display of his skill in this branch of education. Only a week or two after the child returned to Boston, he suddenly expired.

Among the sons of the first Lieut. Gov. John Wentworth, was Daniel, who had two sons, Col. Joshua and Capt. George,--the latter was the father of Ebenezer, [who died in 1860.] Col. Joshua Wentworth is the individual who is the subject of our present sketch. He was born in 1742, and married Sarah Peirce in 1774. They had fifteen children, of whom only four arrived to mature age; Ann Jaffrey, lately deceased, widow of Samuel Larkin; Joshua, whose daughter was the first wife of Capt. Wm. Parker; Elizabeth, first wife of William Bodge; and Adeline.

Col. Joshua Wentworth received his title from his commission in the first New Hampshire regiment in 1776. He was a Representative, Councillor in 1786, Senator four years, and appointed Delegate in Congress in 1779, but did not attend. In 1790, he received next to the highest vote for President of the State. In 1791, he was commissioned by Washington "Supervisor for the United States in the District of New Hampshire."

Col. Wentworth's place of business was on the northeast corner of Hanover (then Cross) aud Vaughan streets -- on the spot where Dr. Kittredge afterwards resided. Here some of our first merchants received their business education, -- among them, the late William Gardner and John Haven. Business at that time was more diffused over the town than at present. The house owned and occupied by Benj. Carter, on School street, was the Portsmouth Sugar House, where sugar was for some years refined. And when Dr. John Goddard was burnt out in Market street in 1802, he removed his goods to the Sugar House, and there carried on his extensive business until Market street was rebuilt.

Col. Wentworth was the bosom friend and associate of Hon. George Jaffrey, and was the heir expectant to his great estate. Mr. J. however becoming his bondsman to Government, and Col. Wentworth being unable to meet the claims Government had upon him, Mr. J. met his liabilities, but became so embittered that he cut off Col. W. from his expectations, -- at once willing his whole property to the late George Jaffrey, a youth of Boston, bearing the name of Jeffries, on condition of his assuming his name, becoming a permanent resident of Portsmouth, and following no other occupation than that of being a gentleman. These requisitions were strictly complied with.

Col. Wentworth spent the latter days of his life in the house which till 1813 occupied the site of the present residence of Mrs. Henry Ladd, on Middle street. He died in 1809, at the age of sixty-seven. His wife died two years previous, at the age of fifty.

Text scanned courtesy of The Brewster Family Network
Copy of Rambles courtesy Peter E. Randall
History Hypertext project by
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