MONTAGU, Edward Richard, Visct. Hinchingbrooke (1692-1722), of Hinchingbrooke, Hunts.
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Family and Education
b. 7 July 1692, o. s. of Edward Montagu, 3rd Earl of Sandwich, by Elizabeth, da. of John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester, sis. and coh. of Charles, 3rd Earl of Rochester. educ. Trinity Coll. Camb. 1706; travelled abroad (Italy and Germany) 1707–8; Padua Univ. 1708. m. 12 Apr. 1707, (with £12,000), Elizabeth, da. and h. of Alexander Popham*, 3s. 2da.1
Capt.-lt. 4 Drag. 1709, capt. 1712; capt. and lt.-col. Coldstream Gds. 1715; a.d.c. to George I 1715; lt.-col. 12 Ft. 1716–17; col. Richard Lucas’s Ft. Sept.–Dec. 1717; col. 37 Ft. 1717–d.
Ld. lt. Hunts. Feb. 1722–d.
Hinchingbrooke’s minority was dominated by his father’s mental incapacity, which allowed his uncle, Hon. Sidney Wortley Montagu*, to keep him under some restraint at Wortley in Yorkshire, and to control the family estates which had been mortgaged to him. Hinchingbrooke’s mother struggled to assert the Sandwich interest on her own behalf, but was usually baulked by the Wortley Montagus. By 1706, the infirmities of the Earl of Sandwich were apparent to all and he was in danger of losing his post as master of the horse to Prince George. Lady Sandwich went to see Lord Godolphin (Sidney†) in an attempt to forestall her husband’s dismissal, and when Godolphin described his condition as likely to ‘promise long life attended with almost an impossibility of serving’, she took it as a cue to ask for the post for her son. Godolphin reported afterwards:
she answered that (if service were the thing in question) she hoped my Lord Hinchingbrooke might be accepted of, and though he was not a man, he soon would be one, and could ride on horseback now very well, and that the Duke of Richmond had been master of horse to King Charles much younger. To all this, I did not think it necessary to give any other answer than a smile.
In another family twist, Hinchingbrooke married the next year, aged 14, and without his father’s consent. The bride was a considerable heiress, but a minor like himself, and, moreover the granddaughter of the Duke of Montagu (Ralph†). Lady Sandwich seems to have arranged the match with the Duke in order ‘to get the estate out of Wortley’s management’. However, in (Sir) James Montagu I’s opinion ‘the Duke has taken a thorn out of [Sidney] Wortley’s foot and put it in his own’ since Hinchingbrooke lacked any means of maintaining his bride. Hinchingbrooke then embarked on a grand tour, arriving in Venice early in March 1708, where his kinsman the Duke of Manchester found him a man of ‘good sense and agreeable company’. He next went to Rome and Naples, giving himself entirely over to a life of pleasure. Following his return to England, he was reported in March 1709 to be travelling to Wortley to visit his father and then making preparations for the campaign in Flanders.2
Hinchingbrooke, having been given a command of a troop of horse in the regiment of Sir Richard Temple, 4th Bt.*, served during the 1709 campaign. In an attempt to solve his financial predicament, he and his wife petitioned the Commons on 25 Jan. 1710 for a bill to be brought in for the payment of his wife’s marriage portion, and for his father to make a settlement on him. The bill was ordered to be brought in by (Sir) James Montagu, the attorney-general, and Mr Wortley (either Hon. Sidney or Edward Wortley*) but was never presented. Another attempt to obtain an Act was made in the next session, following a petition on 21 Dec. 1711, but this also failed after the bill’s first reading. Meanwhile, Hinchingbrooke had approached Lord Treasurer Oxford (Robert Harley*) in October 1711 in the hope of securing a promotion. In March 1712, as Lord Mohun’s Mohocks terrorized London, it was reported that ‘Lord Hinchingbrooke is among those that goes about doing mischief’, and got himself arrested for assaulting a watchman for which he had to find a recognizance of £1,000. According to George Lockhart*, just before the duel in which Mohun killed the Duke of Hamilton (then about to set out as ambassador to France), Hinchingbrooke, ‘a notorious Whig’, was overheard to say that Hamilton would never get to France.3
Hinchingbrooke attained his majority just prior to the dissolution of 1713 and set about securing his election to the new Parliament. Most importantly, he was able to secure possession of his father and hence the family estates. According to Swift he was ‘grown a strenuous Tory’ and had his eyes set upon both the town and county of Huntingdon. Heavily defeated for the county, he was returned unopposed for the borough in a compromise with the Wortleys. However, in the Commons Hinchingbrooke proved anything but a Tory. On 18 Mar. 1714 he spoke ‘with a great deal of vivacity in favour of Mr Steele [Richard] and against the conduct of the ministry’, and according to Oley Douglas*, argued that Steele should not be ordered to withdraw while the House debated his fate, saying ‘he ought to stay to make stick what he has writ that the Hanover succession is in danger’. He then voted against Steele’s expulsion. In the debate on 15 Apr. on whether the succession was in danger under the present government he declared:
When we are afraid of being too secure there is great reason to fear we are not. When in Scotland I affirm the majority there are for him [the Pretender]. Roman Catholics now are forward to own their principles. Are we now to lull ourselves asleep that we may be incapable to resist him? Has not her Majesty been denied by the Duke of Lorraine and told he came there by knowledge and consent of all Europe? . . . We are not to be jested by laughing, as at groundless fears, out of our liberties.
On 16 Apr. he was added to the drafting committee of a road bill. Hinchingbrooke acted as teller on 3 June on a motion for an instruction in the bill to examine public accounts for an examination of the army debts, especially those of the transport service and of sick and wounded, and as teller on the 22nd against a motion to grant for 32 years additional duties on exported coals and other commodities. Not surprisingly, he was classed as a Whig on the Worsley list and on two comparative analyses of the 1713 and 1715 Parliaments. He continued to be a staunch Whig under George I, and died v.p. at the Abbey House, Bath on 3 Oct. 1722.4
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Stuart Handley
- 1. CJ, xvi. 440.
- 2. Marlborough–Godolphin Corresp. 732; 7th Duke of Manchester, Court and Soc. Eliz. to Anne, ii. 234–5, 309–10; Add. 31143, f. 126; Grosvenor mss at Eaton Hall, Andrew Forrester to Sir Richard Grosvenor, 4th Bt.†, 5 Mar. 1708–9.
- 3. HMC Portland, x. 71; Wentworth Pprs. 277; Swift Stella ed. Davis, 511; HMC Hodgkin, 347; Lockhart Pprs. i. 403.
- 4. HMC Buccleuch, i. 359–60; Boyer, Pol. State, vii. 246, 251, 400; Douglas diary (Hist. of Parl. trans.), 18 Mar., 15 Apr. 1714.