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The National Archives Civil War
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Why did people go to war in 1642?

Case study 2: 1640-42 - Source 4


Images from the trial of Thomas Wentworth, the Earl of Strafford

(4a: John Rushworth, The Trial of Thomas Earl of Strafford. Published in London, 1680. 4b: SP 16/479/28, 4c: Wenceslaus Hollar D1317, 1641 National Portrait Gallery)

Source 4a

Sir Thomas Wentworth, knight, Earle of Strafforde, Viscount Wentworthe, Baron Wentworth of Wentworth, Woodhowse, Newmarch, Oversley and Raby. Lieutenant Generall and Generall Governor of the Kingdome of Ireland, and Lieutenant President of ye Councill established in ye North parts of England, Lieutenant of ye county and City of York & one of his Majesty’s most honourable privy Councill, and Knight of ye most Noble order of the Garter.

Source 4b

…you your Estates your posterities lye all at the stake if such learned Gents as those whose lungs are well acquainted with such proceedings shall be started out against you if your frends, your Councell denied Accesse to you, if your professed Enemies admitted to witnesse agains you if every word intention circumstance of yours bee alledged as Treasonable, not because of a Statute but a consequence a construction of Lawe heaved up in a high Rhetorical Straine and a number of supposed probabilities. I leave it to your Lordships consideration to foresee what may be your issue of soe dangerous soe recent presidencies. These Gentlemen tell me they speake in defence of the Commonwealth against any Arbitrary Laws, give mee leave to say that I speake in defence of the Commonwealth against their Arbitary Treason, for if this latitude bee admitted what prejudice shall follow to the King to the Country if you and your posterity bee disabled by the same from the greatest affaires of the kingdoms.

Source 4c

THE TRUE MANER OF THE EXECUTION OF THOMAS EARLE OF STRAFFORD, LORD Lieutenant of Ireland upon Towerhill, the 12th of May, 1641.


  1. Doctor Usher, Lord Primate of Ireland,
  2. the Sherifs of London,
  3. the Earle of Strafford,
  4. his kindred and friends.