Former city solicitor explores "the country's most unjust treason trial"

Thomas Wentworth
Thomas Wentworth

A former Chichester solicitor now living in Australia is back in the old country to launch his new novel at the Festival of Chichester.

Terry Stanton will be in Fishbourne Church Hall on Saturday, June 23 at 2pm to celebrate the publication of Deliver Me From Evil, a novelisation of the true dramatic life story of Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford (1593-1641).

The book tells the personal and political life of Charles I’s chief minister, his de facto rule as Ireland’s king, his three wives and his mistress. Admission free, but donations to church hall funds welcome.

“Thomas Wentworth was Charles I’s most important minister. He rose from obscurity in Yorkshire to become 1st Earl of Stafford. It’s the true story of his life told as his autobiography.

“It is fiction in the way it is written, not factually. It is as accurate historically as I could make it. I did a great deal of research.

“He was an MP in many Parliaments. As an MP he was opposed, like the majority of MPs to the King’s policies for war against France and Spain.Thomas also objected to the fact that Parliament would not co-operate with the King over anything, so nothing much was done.

“Then the King took him into the government. He advised the King and tried to make the King’s period of rule without parliament work until the atmosphere might make it possible for monarch and the two Houses to work together for the benefit of the country as a whole.”

Thomas opposed the King’s policies: “The King and the country couldn’t afford them. France and Spain were the richest countries in Europe then, with large armies.

“The King of England didn’t have an army. The Commander, Buckingham had no idea what he was doing, and his expeditions to France and Spain were disasters. I’ll talk in more detail about that during the launch.

“I studied 17th-century history at school and was fascinated by him. He was a man of principle and stuck to what he thought was right. In Parliament there was a group of MPs who weren’t just opposed to the King’s policies: they were against the monarchy itself and wanted the power for themselves.

“They objected to paying the King’s taxes to run the country, yet when they beheaded the King in 1649, taxes raised by Parliament were five times as much as the King did the job with, and had a standing army. No English King had had one since William the Conqueror. They hated Thomas for joining the government instead of continuing to oppose the King’s policies.

“Men of principle always make enemies. In England it was Thomas’s support of the underdog and his enforcement of the Poor Law for the benefit of the poor.

“In Ireland it was mainly recovering land stolen from King and church and poorer people by the rich and powerful. He hated injustice. Eventually his trial for treason was the most unjust in English history.

“I’m told my account of it is exciting.

“His three wives and his mistress, Countess of Carlisle, get a good deal of attention.

“The details of these relationships are the only real fiction in the novel. Historians don’t bother with that, so this has to be a novel.”

The book is self-published at £10: “I tried a few publishers and agents but you have to be very lucky. As I’m in the middle flush of old age I didn’t want to wait."

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