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  Edward Montagu (1562/3–1644), by unknown artist, 1630s Edward Montagu (1562/3–1644), by unknown artist, 1630s
Montagu, Edward, first Baron Montagu of Boughton (1562/3–1644), politician and local administrator, was the second son of Sir Edward Montagu (c.1532–1602) of Boughton Castle, in the parish of Weekley, Northamptonshire, and his wife, Elizabeth (c.1542–1618), daughter of Sir James Harington of Exton, Rutland. He matriculated at Christ Church, Oxford about 1574, supplicated for the degree of BA on 14 March 1579, and was a student of the Middle Temple in 1580. On 21 September 1585 he married Elizabeth (c.1568–1611), daughter and heir of Sir John Jeffrey of Chiddingly, Sussex, chief baron of the exchequer; this was the first of three marriages. She died on 6 December 1611 and within three months, on 24 February 1612, Montagu married Frances, daughter of Thomas Cotton of Conington, Huntingdonshire. She was buried at Weekley on 16 May 1620. On 16 February 1625 Montagu married Anne (1572/3–1648), daughter of John Crouch of Corneybury, in Layston, Hertfordshire, and widow in turn of Robert Wyncoll, Richard Chamberlain, and Sir Ralph Hare. He represented Bere Alston in the parliament of 1584, Tavistock in 1597, Brackley in 1601, and then Northamptonshire in the parliaments of 1604, 1614, and 1621. He was made a knight of the Bath on 24 July 1603 and was raised to the peerage as Baron Montagu of Boughton on 29 June 1621.

Northamptonshire magnate

Montagu was an influential figure in Northamptonshire from the time he succeeded his father in 1602 until his death. His family had been settled in the county since the fifteenth century, but its principal estates had been acquired by Edward's grandfather , who became lord chief justice in 1539 and purchased a cluster of manors centred on the family's principal seat at Boughton. Edward's father consolidated the family's local position, establishing himself as one of the wealthiest landowners in the shire and earning a considerable reputation for wisdom and piety for his service as JP and deputy lieutenant under Elizabeth. In spite of his regular attendance in parliament, Edward's own priorities remained essentially local and dynastic—to maintain the unity and prosperity of his family and establish them as the leaders of the gentry in the eastern half of the shire. He himself acted as JP (from 1595), deputy lieutenant (from 1602), sheriff (1595–6), and deputy keeper of Rockingham Forest (from 1593), and again became renowned for his conscientious service. When the midland revolt broke out in May 1607 he took a leading role in its suppression, commanding the contingent of trained bands which dispersed the rebels at the battle of Newton Field and then presiding over the hanging of the ringleaders at Kettering. He was also much involved in schemes for poor relief and in 1630 provided his brother and lord privy seal, with information on local procedures which helped in the formulation of the Book of Orders.

For much of James's reign Montagu's position as leading magnate in the eastern half of the shire was unchallenged. He and his friend Robert Spencer, Lord Spencer, from Althorp in the western half, presided over the shire's affairs, dominating the county bench, settling local quarrels, and determining who should represent the shire in parliament. This changed, however, when Sir Francis Fane (later earl of Westmorland) arrived in the shire in 1617 having married the heiress of Sir Anthony Mildmay of Apethorpe. He set about challenging Montagu's primacy in a series of disputes which arose out of the enforcement of James I's declaration of sports and jurisdiction in Rockingham Forest. Montagu tried, unsuccessfully, to have him punished in Star Chamber. These quarrels had repercussions for the county elections when, in 1624 and again in 1626, Spencer and the western gentry took offence at Fane's contentiousness and abandoned the long-standing arrangement whereby one candidate was returned from each half of the county. Montagu was caught in the middle, apparently powerless to uphold the claims of the eastern half, and he felt snubbed and humiliated. Westmorland's death in 1628, however, allowed tensions to subside and after this Montagu re-established his dominance of the east.

Puritan patron

Much of Montagu's status in Northamptonshire rested on his reputation as a patron of godly ministers. He used his patronage in the area around Kettering to promote a string of puritan preachers to local livings, including Joseph Bentham, Nicholas Estwick, William Spencer, and the renowned Robert Bolton. He was also the patron of the puritan lecture at Kettering, making great show of regular attendance at the sermons and trying, unsuccessfully, to defend it against the bishop of Peterborough's efforts at suppression. Montagu can best be described as a moderate puritan. The ministers he sponsored all conformed to the ceremonies of the Church of England and, like Montagu, tended to direct most of their energies into combating various forms of sinfulness—notably sabbath-breaking, swearing, simony and usury (which were particular preoccupations of Montagu), and, above all, popery. James I got the measure of Montagu when he told him he ‘smelt a little of puritanism’ (HoP, Commons, 1558–1603, 3.70). In 1605, however, Sir Edward got caught up in a more radical puritan initiative when he, with Sir Richard Knightley and his son, presented James I with a petition, signed by forty-five gentlemen, requesting the reinstatement of ministers who had recently been deprived of their livings. The king regarded the petition as tantamount to rebellion and immediately had Montagu removed from the commission of the peace. He was only restored after making a personal submission, arranged by his brother who was dean of the Chapel Royal.

Religion was also the principal theme of Montagu's interventions in parliament. As an MP he spoke sparingly but regularly, and he was a diligent attender of Commons' committees. He looked after the interests of his constituents, at the opening of the 1604 parliament reporting ‘the cry of the country’ against abuses such as ‘depopulation’ and ‘conversion of tillage’. But it was religious matters which concerned him most. He sponsored a bill against pluralities and was a mainstay of committees to deal with issues such as sabbath observance and drunkenness; however, he perhaps made his greatest mark in January 1606 when he initiated the bill for a public thanksgiving every 5 November for the king's deliverance from the Gunpowder Plot. This summed up the basis of his political beliefs—loyalty to the monarch combined with an absolute abhorrence of popery.

The crown's servant

Montagu never displayed any ambition for high office; however, his personal affection and gratitude towards James I, his dependence on the support of his brothers Henry and James, and his need for backing from the duke of Buckingham in his local quarrels ensured that he forged strong links with the royal court. On several occasions during James's parliaments he proposed the grant of royal subsidies. He also backed the king's project for union with Scotland in 1606 and in 1614 attempted to defuse the row over undertaking. His support for the crown became particularly apparent during the forced loan of 1626–7 when he joined with Henry in launching the collection in Northamptonshire. As a result he was castigated by his neighbours, who contrasted his apparent subservience to the wishes of Buckingham with the resistance of local ‘patriots’, like Richard Knightley and Lord Spencer. This episode destroyed Montagu's earlier reputation as a spokesman for ‘the country’; but, undeterred, he continued to serve the crown loyally, taking a leading role in the levying of knighthood fines in 1630–31 and supporting the collection of ship money, after initially complaining about the unfairness of the assessment imposed on the eastern division. In early 1639 he was even prepared to travel to York to serve the king in person against the covenanters, until he was talked out of it on account of his age. As civil war approached in 1642 Montagu found himself torn between conflicting loyalties. He attended the Short Parliament and joined the opposition peers' protest against its dissolution. He also strongly supported the measures taken by the Long Parliament to dismantle Laudianism. However, when he was summoned to execute the king's commission of array in June 1642 he responded positively. He thought long and hard about it and desperately hoped for accommodation between king and parliament. But, eventually, he decided that his personal duty to serve his king outweighed all other obligations.

Montagu's support for the king led to his arrest in August 1642 and imprisonment in the Tower of London. He was eventually allowed to move to more comfortable quarters in the Savoy, but he remained in London, where he died on 15 June 1644, aged eighty-one. He was buried at Weekley eleven days later. He was succeeded by his eldest son, Edward.

Edward Montagu, second Baron Montagu of Boughton (1616–1684), nobleman, was born on 11 July 1616 and baptized on 25 July at Weekley, the son of Sir Edward Montagu (later first Baron Montagu of Boughton) and his second wife, Frances Cotton. He was educated at Oundle School and at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, where he matriculated in 1631 and was created MA the following year. He married in 1633 Anne, the daughter of the Jacobean secretary of state Sir Ralph Winwood of Ditton, Buckinghamshire.

Montagu sat as MP for Huntingdon from the start of the Long Parliament until his elevation to the House of Lords on his father's death in 1644. He was not a very active MP and he appears to have had misgivings about subscribing to the solemn league and covenant, but he was a staunch supporter of parliament. As a commissioner from the House of Lords, he took charge of the king's person after he was surrendered by the Scots in January 1647 and attended on him until his escape later in the year. He took no part in Charles's trial and strongly disapproved of his execution; this resulted in his virtual exclusion from politics during the 1650s. He welcomed the restoration of Charles II, but did not return to public life. He died on 10 January 1684 and was buried at Weekley. His eldest son, Edward, predeceased him and he was succeeded by his second son .

Edward Montagu (1635/6–1665), naval officer, was the eldest son of Edward, second Baron Montagu of Boughton and his wife, Anne Winwood. He was educated at Westminster School, and matriculated in June 1651 at Christ Church, Oxford, aged fifteen, and the following year at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge. In 1656 he attended the University of Padua. He was created MA at Oxford in 1661. In 1659 Montagu joined the navy in the service of his cousin, , and he was instrumental in bringing the admiral over to the royalist cause. He sat as MP for Sandwich in the Cavalier Parliament, but devoted most of his energies to the pursuit of influence at court. In 1662 he was sent to Lisbon with the fleet commanded by his cousin, now earl of Sandwich, to bring the king's bride, Catherine of Braganza, to England. On her arrival he was made master of the queen's horse; however, his clumsy efforts to gain control of her household and his amorous advances towards her, which were reported to Charles, led to his dismissal from court in 1664. He rejoined Sandwich's fleet during the Second Anglo-Dutch War and was killed in the attack on Bergen on 2 August 1665. He was buried at Weekley on 13 October 1665.

Richard Cust


E. Cope, The life of a public man: Edward first Baron Montagu of Boughton, 1562–1644 (1981) · HoP, Commons, 1558–1603, 3.69–70 · ‘Montague, Sir Edward (1562–1644)’, HoP, Commons [draft] · Barclay, ‘Edward Montagu (1616–1684)’, HoP, Commons [draft] · B. D. Henning, ‘Montagu, Edward’, HoP, Commons · Keeler, Long Parliament, 275 · Report on the manuscripts of his grace the duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry … preserved at Montagu House, 3 vols. in 4, HMC, 45 (1899–1926), vols. 1, 3 · Report on the manuscripts of Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, HMC, 53 (1900) · J. Wake, ed., The Montagu musters book, 1602–1623, Northamptonshire RS, 7 (1935) · papers of the dukes of Buccleuch and Queensberry, Northants. RO, vol. 186 [incl. a life of Lord Montagu by Joseph Bentham] · A. J. Fielding, ‘Conformists, puritans and the church courts: the diocese of Peterborough, 1603–1642’, PhD diss., U. Birm., 1989 · P. G. Lake, ‘“A charitable christian hatred”: the godly and their enemies in the 1630s’, The culture of English puritanism, 1560–1700, ed. C. Durston and J. Eales (1996), 145–83 · R. P. Cust, The forced loan and English politics, 1626–1628 (1987) · W. C. Metcalfe, ed., The visitations of Northamptonshire, 1564 and 1618–19 · Foster, Alum. Oxon. · GEC, Baronetage


Northants. RO, dukes of Buccleuch and Queensberry MSS, corresp. and papers · Northants. RO, corresp. · Beaulieu, Beaulieu archives, corresp. and papers |  Bodl. Oxf., Carte MS 74


portrait, c.1620, Boughton House, Northamptonshire; repro. in Wake, ed., Montagu musters book, frontispiece · portrait, 1630–39, Boughton House, Northamptonshire [see illus.]