Monday, 29 November 2010

Sir Edward Montagu, Baron Boughton

Sir Edward is my 11th x paternal Great Grandfather.

Born ABT 1562, first surviving son of  Sir Edward Montague of Boughton, and brother of Sir Charles and Sir Henry, Earl of Manchester, both of whom are also direct line ancestors. Educated Christ Church, Oxford, c.1574, BA March 1579; Middle Temple 1581. Married first, 21 Sep 1585, Elizabeth, daughter and heir of Sir John Jeffrey of Chiddingly, Sussex; second, 24 Feb 1612, Frances, daughter of Thomas Cotton of Conington, Hunts; and third, 16 Feb 1625, Anne, daughter of John Crouch of Corneybury, Herts, widow of Robert Wynchell, painter-stainer, of Richard Chamberlain and of Sir Ralph Hare of Stow Bardolph, Norfolk, s.p. Succeeded family 1602; KB 1603; created Baron Montagu 1621/2, J.P. Northants from c.1595, sheriff 1595-6, commissioner of musters 1596, deputy lieutenant from 1602, lord lieutenant from 1642; deputy keeper, Rockingham forest by 1593.

As the heir to one of the principal estates in Northamptonshire, Montague, once his formal education was over, divided his time between London and Boughton. As deputy keeper of Rockingham forest Montagu left a musters book that has survived containing letters directed to him and copies of those he despatched. After his marriage Montagu abandoned attempts to find a suitable residence in the county on the grounds that his wife's health necessitated her staying in London. In a letter to his mother announcing his intention of residing at Boughton when in Northamptonshire, he wrote:

'...And I may be set so to work that I may at my father's hands earn my victuals, for which I may keep him company at chess, and if need be I may take his part at double-handed Irish, and if there be occasion of weightier matters, as punishing rogues and such like, if it please him to employ me, [it] may ease him. And to do you some service I may in summer time gather apricots and peaches, or some such like work ... And if [none of] all these pains do deserve my meat and drink, yet truly they would be well bestowed of me, because they will be well seen by me especially if I may have fromenty and cheesecakes...'

Boughton House  

In 1584 a seat was found for Montagu at the new parliamentary borough of Bere Alston. The patron was presumably Lord Mountjoy, perhaps acting through his relative Edward Lane, who was Montagu's cousin. In 1597 he represented Tavistock, where his fellow member was Valentine Knightley. Knightley had earlier represented the borough under Russell patronage and may, by 1597, have had enough influence to secure Montagu's return. During this Parliament he sat on a committee considering a bill for the town of Northampton, 16 Nov, and another concerning a bill for tellers and receivers, 12 Dec His return for Brackley in 1601 was probably procured by his friend Robert Spencer. On 3 Dec 1601 Montagu made a charitable motion which tend to a charitable end, and briefly it is this:

'... that no private bill may pass this House but the procurers to give something to the poor ... Because I offered to the consideration of this House this motion first, I will presume also more particularly to deliver my opinion. I think for every private bill for sale of lands, ten pounds a reasonable benevolence; and for every estate for life or for jointure, five pounds...'

The bills against drunkenness and for the proper observing of the Sabbath day were committed to him on 4 Nov and he spoke in the subsidy debate on 7 Nov. His name appears in a list of Members served with subpoenas in the course of the 1601 Parliament.

In James I reign Montague successfully claimed a county seat in all the elections before his elevation to the peerage. He was severe, not a courtier, and apparently an able administrator. He established a Hospital for Aged Men in 1613. It is just possible that his reference, in a letter to Robert Spencer, Lord Spencer, during 1625 'I have not a son fit to join with yours, as your lordship and I once did, for the service of the country' implies that they unsuccessfully contested the county seat in Elizabeth's reign, but it is more probable that it is concerned with their preparations to fight the county seat against Anthony Mildmay, at the election they expected early in 1603, before Spencer's elevation to the peerage.

James I thought Montague 'smelt a little of puritanism', and he certainly supported the 1605 petition in favour of puritan ministers. In 1642 he was arrested by Parliament because, due to known loyalty to the King, they feared his influence on the county, where he was popular as a hospitable neighbour and a good landlord and was ordered by parliament to be brought to London as a prisoner 1642. Responding to the parliamentary summons, his coach encountered a Parliamentary army. The commander, the Earl of Essex, offered to allow him to reside in the house of his daughter but the aged Montague refused. Committed to the Tower in 1642 he died in captivity in 1644 and was buried in Weekley church 26 June.

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