MONTAGU, John (1719-95), of Lackham, Wilts.
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Family and Education
b. 1719, 4th s. of James Montagu of Lackham by Elizabeth, da. of Sir John Eyles of Southbroom, in Bishop’s Cannings, Wilts. educ. R. Acad. Portsmouth 1733. m. 2 Dec. 1748, Sophia, da. of James Wroughton of Wilcot, Wilts., 4s. 1da.
Lt. R.N. 1740, capt. 1746, r.-adm. 1770, v.-adm. 1776, adm. 1782, c.-in-c. N. American station 1771-4; gov. and c.-in-c. Newfoundland 1776-9; c.-in-c. Portsmouth 1783-6.
John Montagu was the great-great-grandson of Henry, 1st Earl of Manchester, whose third son James acquired Lackham by marriage in 1636.1 A distinguished naval officer, he was present at the actions off Toulon, 11 Feb. 1744, and Cape Finisterre, 3 May 1747, having obtained his first command in 1745. In June 1747 he deputized for Kelland Courtenay, Lord Sandwich’s brother-in-law, at his election for Huntingdon.2 Some months later he wrote to Lord Anson, asking to be removed from his ship because it was under orders for the West Indies:
My patron, Lord Sandwich, would not have objected to my going to the East [sic] Indies, if he did not desire something better for me by being near home. Your Lordship is not unacquainted with the view I have of being in Parliament. Mr. Courtenay, the present Member, is now very ill and it’s thought can’t live long and to be absent at such a time may be of great detriment to me.3
On Courtenay’s death early in March 1748 Montagu was at once brought in by Lord Sandwich as a government supporter. However, in 1753 Sandwich, again in opposition and wishing to be rid of his kinsman, drafted a letter to Montagu:
I cannot say that I see things there in such a situation as would make it an advisable thing either for your sake or for mine that you should offer yourself a candidate at this time. In the first place the coming in for Huntingdon would be attended with much more expense now I am out of employment than it formerly was, and the recommending two persons of my own family [the other was Edward Montagu] would give a handle to those who are desirous of acting against me, to urge how unreasonable I am to the people of the town, in never letting them have the least share in the choice of their representatives or even of one of them and this language supported by many, and backed with the weight of Administration who would certainly exert themselves against me [might create considerable expense. Further, it might be disadvantageous to Montagu now to have to be in opposition; on the other hand] it would discredit me among people I may hereafter choose to connect myself with, dare I to recommend the Members of Parliament that could not act in general as I should myself.4
Montagu was accordingly dropped for the 1754 election and did not stand again. In 1757, when captain of the Monarque, he had the unpleasing task of arranging for Admiral Byng’s confinement and execution in his own ship. After holding several important appointments he died in September 1795, ‘a man possessing the strictest integrity and a most benevolent heart, unhappily alloyed by some intemperance’.5