+THAT profound ignorance of their own history which dis-
tinguishes the English above every Continental people has given the Montagus a position which, with many other merits, they do not deserve. Their name, like that of the Howards, has become almost a synonym for aristocratic descent, the popular belief making them heirs by blood of the great Earls of Salisbury —a pretension to which they themselves have always steadily ad- hered, choosing, as they rose, the titles borne by the great Yorkist. The popular belief is as ill-founded as their own claim, unless, indeed, bastardy be descent, and the Montagus must be content to remain one of the most singularly active, accomplished, and sue- cmsful of the Houses founded upon the grand Sequestration. Lawyers, soldiers, statesmen, and all of the first class, the specialty of the race has been power of brain, tinged in some of the family with strong religious ideas, but, in the majority, with unscru- pulousness of the kind seldom found except among the able. They themselves deduce their descent from a Simon Montagu, stated to have been a younger brother to John, third Earl of Salisbury, and uncle to Thomas, fourth and last Earl of Salisbury of that name, who died November 3rd, 1428. "Unfortunately," says Sir Egerton Brydges, "there is no proof of the existence of this Simon, or of any of the intermediate generations," before we come to the undoubted ancestor of the modern family. "The late Mr. Thorpe (and it seems Mr. Austin concurred in this opinion) suspected this family to have been descended from James Montagu, a natural son of Thomas, the last Earl of Salisbury, who lies
buried in the church of Lansdowne, in Kent, of which place he derived the manor from his father. The bordure round the arms of the present family favours this idea."
The true founder of the present family of Montagu was Sir Edward Montagu, the younger son of Thomas Montagu, who lies buried in the church of Hemington, Northamptonshire. "Of your charite," says the brass tablet on his tomb, "pray for the smiles of Thomas Montagu, gentleman, and Agnes, his wyff. Which Thomas deceased the 5 day of September, the year of our Lord 1517: on whose soules Jests have mercy." Beyond this Thomas Montagu we cannot go. His elder son, John, who suc- ceeded to the property, such as it may have been, died without issue. Edward, the younger son, born at Brigstock, near Heming- ton, in Northamptonshire, chose the law for his profession, entered at the Middle Temple, and became Autumn Reader to that society in the 16th Henry VIII., Double Reader in the year 1524, and a few years afterwards his legal reputation, by this time con- siderable, secured him a seat in the House of Commons. There is a story that be was chosen Speaker, in which capacity he found himself in a serious predicament between the reluctance of the Commons to pass a subsidy and the King's displeased impatience for it. Henry called Montagu to his presence, and said to him,—" Ho! will they not let my bill pass ? " and laying his hand on the head of Montagu, who knelt before him, he added, "Get my bill to pass by such a time to-morrow, or else by such a time this heal of yours shall be off!" and, accordingly, Montagu did procure the passing of the bill and retained his head. Un- fortunately Montagu never was Speaker at all, and if there was any such scene, it must have related to his conduct as a private member. But the whole story sounds very incredible. In 1531 Montagu was made a serjeant-at-law, and with his fellow- serjeants kept high feast at Ely House for five days, honoured with the presence of the King and Queen and the whole Court. Six years afterwards, October 16, 1537, he was appointed the King's Serjeant-at-Law, and January 21, 1539, made Chief Justice of the King's Bench and knighted. In the 31st Henry VIII. he had a grant of lands in Hemington, in Northamptonshire, belonging to Ramsay Abbey, and on November 6, 1545, he exchanged the Chief Justiceship of the King's Bench for that of the Common Pleas—" a descent in honour," says Fuller, "but an ascent in profit." The reason he himself assigned for desiring this change is, "I am now an old man, and love the kitchen before the hall, the warmest place best suiting with my age." Probably he had had enough of the legal dirty work which he had been compelled in the higher office to perform at the King's bidding. Besides having to com- mit both Catholics and Protestants under the statute of the Six Articles, he had to give legal opinions in conformity with the King's wishes in the cases of Anne of Cleves' divorce, Cromwell's alleged treason, and Catherine Howard's adultery. Once more, before the death of Henry, Montagu was called upon to exercise the unenvi- able office of keeper of the royal common-law conscience. When the Duke of Norfolk was called to account, nominally for quartering the royal arms without licence, the two Chief Justices were sum- moned to attend at his hearing before the Council, but Norfolk was persuaded to sign a declaration that he had committed an act of treason, and the justices were only called upon to attest his con- fession, which but for Henry's own death would have consigned the Duke to the scaffold. On the accession of Edward, Montagu attached himself at first to the fortunes of Somerset, and we find him, in the fourth year of this reign, obtaining a licence to give liveries and badges to forty persons over and above his own menial ser- vants. However, at the crisis with Dudley, Montagu deserted the Duke, and assisted his rival to ascend to the headship of the State. He paid for his desertion, however, for Northumberland fixed on him as the best person to give a legal sanction to the Jane Grey scheme of succession. He was summoned to the royal chamber, along with some other judges and law officers, and desired to draw up the required disposition of the Crown. They pointed out the illegality, and begged for time to consider the matter. The next day they repeated their objections, and stated that it would be high treason in those who drew such a document and those who acted under it. Northumberland, informed of what was passing, then burst into the Council Chamber, and called the Chief Justice a traitor, using threats of violence to him and his legal associates. Two days afterwards this scene was repeated, and Montagu being completely brow-beaten, and the King commanding him on his allegiance to make quick despatch, he, as he himself says, "being a weak old man, and without comfort," consented to draw the disposition, on receiving in writing a commission under the Great Seal so to do, and a general pardon for obeying the injunction. On the proclamation of Queen Jane, Montagu had, of course, to
THE EXTINCT DUCAL BRANCH.
The Dukedom of Montagu is extinct, but this branch played such a part in history that we must give it a few words. It sprung, as we said, from Edward Montagu of Boughton, the eldest son of the House, who on 29th June, 1621, was created Lord Montagu of Boughton.
Two panegyrical accounts of him exist, which, though bearing evident traces of fulsome adulation, give us one or two distinct points of character which are worth preserving. One of them, after speaking of his piety, says, "He was a patron of men of letters mid merit, bestowing the livings in his gift to learned men and such as he knew deserved them. But from his detestation to pluralities and non-residence (though he exacted no other covenant), he ever required, if they took any other living they should return his again." He is further spoken of as a tender father and good land- lord, "easy of access, courteous to all, yet keeping the secrets of his heart to himself." And we are told that "the death of his second wife (Frances, sister of the famous Sir Robert Cotton, the antiquary) touched him the most sensibly of any. His " housekeeping " is described as "liberal and bountiful ; that it is appear with Northumberland at her side ; but as soon as it became evident that Mary would prevail, the Chief Justice in great trepi-
dation, as the Jane Grey disposition was in his own handwriting, I made haste to join the winning side. This did not save him from I being committed by Mary to the Tower, and placed on the list for I trial. He drew up a narrative in his defence, in which he denied having acted with the Council after the act to -which he had been forced against his will, and claimed the credit of having, at great cost, sent his son to join the Buckinghamshire men in Mary's interest. As he really had been an unwilling agent of Dudley's, after sin weeks' imprisonment he was discharged, and pardoned on payment of a fine of 1,000/., and the surrenderof King Edward's grant to him of lands called Eltington of the yearly value of 50/. He was at the same time deprived of his Chief Justiceship, and retired to shelter himself at his house at Boughton, near Kettering, in Northamptonshire, where he passed the rest of his life in more congenial quiet and hospitality, dying February 10th, 1557. He had been, indeed, a large recipient of Church lands, and, notwith- standing the vicissitudes in his fortunes, had managed to retain his hold on most of them. In the 33rd of Henry VUL, for instance, he had a grant from the Crown of the manor of Warkton, in Northamptonshire, belonging to the dissolved monastery of Bury St. Edmund's, and the advowson of that church, with lands and messuages in Boughton, Scaldwell, Hanging-Houghton, Lampert, Maiclwell, Olipston, Ardingworth, Farndon, and Hoothorpe, belong- ing to the same monastery, to be held by the service of the twentieth part of one knight's fee, and the yearly rent of sixty shillings. In the second of Edward VI. he purchased from the Kirkham family the manor of Barnwell-all-Saints, in Northamp- tonshire, which became one of the principal seats of his family.
By his will, made a few months before his death, he devises to his eldest son, Edward, manors and lands in no less than thirty- two places, in four counties, besides his leases, lands, and tene- ments in the parish of St. Dunstan-in-the-West, London. These manors, &c., are Warkton, Brigstock, Houghton, Lamport or Langeport, Mellesley, Holwell, Gillesborough, Brington-magna, Brington-parva, Grafton, and the parsonage of Wekely ; the manors, &c., of Wekely, Demford,Benyfield, Sprotton, Luffick, and Eltington, in Northamptonshire ; Colworth, Shirenbrook, Soul- drop, Felmersham, Luton Hoo, Pertenhall, Mechelborne, Swine- shed, and Woodend, in Bedfordshire ; Knighton, in Leicestershire ; and Folkesworth, Stilton, Little Styveclay, March Styveclay, and .Alconbury, in Huntingdonshire. His third wife, and the mother of his surviving sons, was Helen, daughter of John Roper, of Eltham, in Kent, Attorney-General to Henry VIII.
Edward, his eldest surviving son and heir, was twenty-four years old at the death of his father, was one of the knights of the shire for Northampton in the first Parliament of Elizabeth, sheriff of that county in the twelfth year of her reign, and knighted by her in 1567. He bears the character of having been a man of great piety and private worth, but he has left no mark in history. He died at Boughton, January 26, 1602. Before his death he had settled all his manors on his six sons respectively, reserving only the manor of Colworth to herself, which, by his will, he leaves to his eldest son, Edward. He had married Elizabeth, daughter of SirJames Harrington, of Exton, in Rutland,and from this marriage spring the different branches of the House of Montagu, which obtained severally the extinct Dukedom of Montagu and Earldom of Halifax, the Dukedom of Manchester and the Earldom of Sandwich.
scarce credible what numbers (1,200) were fed, cheered, comforted, I and refreshed by his beneficence." In the other account he is described as a person of "a plain, downright Roglish spirit, a steady courage, a devout heart, and though no Puritan, severe and regular in his life and manners ; that he lived among his neigh- bours with great hospitality, was very knowing in country affairs, and exceedingly beloved in the town and county of Nprthampton ; but he was no friend to changes, either in Church or State." He could not make up his mind to comply with the militia ordinance of the Parliament, and in 1642, though an old man, accepting the post of Commissioner of Array to the King, he was seized by a party of horse and carried up prisoner to London, where he.was committed to the Tower, and remained in restraint will his death in 1644. He had three sons, the eldest of whom, Christopher, died before him ; while the third, William, became Chief Baron of the Exchequer in 1676, and in 1686 was dismissed by James H. for giving it as his opinion that "the Test and Penal laws could not be taken off without the consent of Parliament." He from this time lived in retirement, much respected for his integrity. The second, and eldest surviving son, Edward, second Lord Montagu of Boughton, sat in the House of Commons for the town of Huntingdon, but took sides against his father, adhering to the Parliament until the death of Cromwell, when, with most of the Presbyterian Peers, he assisted in paving the way for the Restoration. He married Anne, daughter and ultimately heiress of Sir Ralph Winvood, of Ditton Park, principal Secretary of State to James I. Their eldest son, Edward, died at the siege of Bergen, in 1665, and the second, Ralph, was the most successful and the most unprincipled of the entire House. He was employed as Minister in France, and, as appears from Barillon'a papers, received 50,000 French crowns from Louis to ruin Danby, who was dreaded and detested by France. This ruin he accom- plished by reading in the House letters from Denby to the French Court asking for money in consideration of a treaty. Out of such disgraceful gains as these rose the pile of Montagu House, till lately occupied by the British Museum, which Lord Montagu built for his town house, intending to make of Boughton a miniature Versailles. Completely alienated from James IL, Montagu supported the Revolution, and was made successively Viscount Monthermer (a title borne by the Montagu of Edward 'V.'s time, with whom he claimed connection), Marquis of Monthermer, and Duke of Montagu. He died March 9, 1709, leaving a son, John, who was Lord High Constable of England, and received in the reign of George II. a patent creating him Lord Proprietor and Captain-General of St. Lucia and St. Vincent. He died without sons, but one of his daughters having mar- ried George Brudenel, Earl of Cardigan, her husband was elevated in 1766 to the dignities of his father-in-law. He survived, however, his only son, and a son of his daughter, to whom he had tried to secure the barony of Montagu of Boughton,. and at his death, therefore, all the dignities of this branch became extinct in the female as well as the male line.
THE EXTINCT HALIFAX BRANCH.
The founder of this branch, Henry Montagu, third son of Sir Edward, was educated at Christ College, Cambridge, and entered the Middle Temple. He soon distinguished himself, like his grandfathers in the profession of the law. Entering Parliament at the close of the reign of Elizabeth for the borough of Higham Feners, he has left an honourable memento of himself on the records of its proceedings, by boldly asserting that there were no such precedents as one of the serjeants had stoutly quoted for the assertion that all the subjects' goods were the Sovereign's. He told the House to examine all the preambles to subsidies, where they would see that they were free gifts. Unfortunately, Henry Montagu did not support, in his after career, these fair beginnings of public spirit. He was Recorder of London at the accession of James, and had been knighted before the coronation. As Recorder, he was present. at the opening of the New River in 1613. In the first. Parliament of that reign he was elected for the City, and took an active part in the discussions, particularly those relat- ing to tenures. As King's serjeant, it fell to him to try -the. poisoners of Sir Thomas Overbury, and he had an action brought, against him for libel as counsel in a private case, which led to the rule of the immunity of counsel for words spoken in the name of their clients. On November 16, 1616, he succeeded Sir Edward Coke as Chief Justice of the King's Bench, having bought this place by consenting to give the Duke of Buckingham's nominee the clerkship of the Court of King's Bench, worth 4,000/. a year, which Sir Edward Coke had refused to part with. His judgments as Chief Justice are said to have been respectable, though ful- some in their tone of adulation of the King. He had the mils-
fortune in this capacity to have to award execution against Sir Walter Raleigh, upon the sentence of death pronounced against him fifteen years before, but he did it in a decent and sympathiz- ing manner. He next offered the Duke of Buckingham 10,0001. for the place of Lord Treasurer; but this offer was refused, and on December 14, 1620, he consented to pay 20,000/. for it, and on the 19th of the same month was created Baron Montagu of Kimbolton, Huntingdonshire, and Viscount Mandeville. He had purchased Kimbolton Castle of the Wingfield family, it having previously belonged to the Staffords, the Bohuns, and the Magna. villas. The bargain for the treasurership having been concluded at Newmarket, one of the courtiers was audacious enough to ask him whether wood, in allusion to the white staff, was not very dear at that place. When Montagu was asked what the treasurership might be worth a year, he replied, "Some thousands of pounds to him who after death would go instantly to heaven, twice as much to him who would go to purgatory, and a nemo scit to him who would venture to a worse place." As Treasurer he was one of the Commissioners of the Great Seal after Bacon's fall and before Williams' appointment. But Buckingham only allowed him to hold the Treasurer's staff till October in the year after his appoint- ment, when he compelled him to resign it to Lionel Cranfield, Earl of Middlesex, and take in exchange the poor office of Presi- dent of the Council. The sale of the treasurership to Montagu afterwards formed one of the counts of the impeachment brought against the Duke, but he alleged it was only a loan to the King, and that he himself had not touched a penny of it. Mr. Foss seems to think this defence, such as it is, supported by facts.
After the first three years of Charles's reign, Montagu ex- changed his new office for that of Lord Privy Seal, in which he remained for the rest of his life, giving, it is said, great satisfaction in the "Court of Requests," over which he presided. On the 5th of February, 1626, he had been raised to the title of Earl of Manchester, and he continued to do the King's pleasure in the most pliant manner to the close of his life. He died November 7, 1642, just in time to escape from the necessity of making up his mind between the King and Parliament in the Civil War. He wrote shortly before his death a little treatise of religious meditations ; but his household at Kimbolton had the reputation of great licentious- ness. He left five sons, the second of whom, Walter, became a Catholic priest, was made Abbot of St. Martin's Abbey, near Pontoise, and was a busy intriguer, and in much trouble during the whole of his life, chiefly in connection with Queen Henrietta, till his death, in 1670.• James Montagu, the third son, was a Puri- tan member for Huntingdon, and is the ancestor of the Montagus of Wiltshire. Henry, the fourth son, was master of St. Catherine's Hospital, and died without issue. George Montagu, the fifth son, was also a Puritan, and member for Huntingdon in the Long Parliament, and an Independent, who had some reputation in the House, and though not an extreme man, sat on in the "Rump." He was M.P. for Dover in 1661, and died in 1681. His fourth son, Charles, rose to be Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1604; and on December 13, 1700, was created Baron Halifax, with reversion to his nephew, George Montagu. Charles Montagu, the first Lord Halifay, first attracted notice by a satirical effusion, in combination with his college friend Prior, in answer to Dryden's "Hind and Panther." He soon distinguished himself among the younger Whigs, and entered the Convention Parliament to commence a brilliant career, in Macaulay's words, "as a statesman, an orator, and a munificent patron of learning and literature." He had been intended for the Church, but had been tempted at the Revolution by Dorset into the paths of politics. "At thirty," says Macaulay, "he would have gladly given all his chances in life for a comfortable vicarage and a chaplain's scarf ; at thirty-seven he was First Lord of the Treasury, Chancellor of the Exchequer, and a Regent of the Kingdom, and this elevation he owed not at all to favour, but solely to the unquestionable superiority of his talents for administration and debate." He was at college a diligent pupil of Newton's as well as a votary of the muses ; the latter pursuit he gave up after entering on politics. His great talents were subject to. the drawback of arrogance and coldness to old friends as he rose above them, ostentation in the display of his new riches, and an inordinate desire for praise. These defects are not to be wondered at when we remember that he rose from a straggling younger son of a younger son, with barely 501. a year, to an income of 12,0001. and a magnificent villa on the Thames, furnished with every luxury. He was the great financier of the reign of William III.—the greatest the Whigs ever had—and was impeached along with Portland, but the accusation was dropped. The attack was renewed in Anne's reign, but the House of Lords protected him. He held no office during that reign, but
was active in debate, particularly in favour of the union with Scotland. Ho was mainly instrumental in the creation of the British Museum by the purchase of the Cotton MSS., which formed the nucleus of the library. He survived to receive the reward of Court favour under the Hanoverian dynasty, and on October 19, 1714, he was made Viscount Sunbury (Middlesex) and Earl of Halifax. He died May 19, 1715, and his nephew succeeding to the barony, was raised to the higher titles, and left them to his son George (who assumed the name of Durk) and was Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland in 1749, but died without male issue in 1772, when the Halifax honours became extinct. A brother of his, James.Montagu, rose to be Chief Baron in 1722.