MONTAGU (MOUNTAGUE), Sir Edward (c.1562-1644), of Boughton, Weekley, Northants. and Little Britain, London

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



1621 - 29 June 1621

Family and Education

b. c.1562, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Sir Edward Montagu† of Boughton, and Elizabeth, da. of Sir James Harington† of Exton, Rutland; bro. of Charles*, Sir Henry*, Sidney* and Sir Walter*.1 educ. Christ Church, Oxf. 1574, BA 1579; M. Temple 1581-5.2 m. (1) 21 Sept. 1585,3 Elizabeth (d. 6 Dec. 1611),4 da. and h. of Sir John Jeffrey†, c. bar. Exch. 1577-8, of Chiddingly, Suss., 1da.;5 (2) 24 Feb. 1612,6 Frances (bur. 16 May 1620),7 da. of Thomas Cotton of Conington, Hunts., 4s. (1 d.v.p.) 1da.;8 (3) 16 Feb. 1625,9 Anne (d. 11 July 1648),10 da. of John Crouch, Clothworker, of London and Corneybury, Herts., wid. of Robert Wynchell, painter-stainer, of London, Richard Chamberlaine, and Sir Ralph Hare† of Stow Bardolph, Norf., s.p.11 suc. fa. 1602;12 cr. KB 25 July 1603,13 Bar. Montagu of Boughton 29 June 1621.14 d. 15 June 1644.15 sig. Edward Mountagu.

Offices Held

Capt. militia ft., Northants. 1587-1602;16 dep. lt. Rockingham forest, Northants. by 1593, master forester 1628-d.;17 sheriff, Northants. 1595-6, 1600-1;18 collector, Privy Seal loans, Northants. 1597-8;19 j.p. Northants. 1598-Feb. 1605, June 1605-d.;20 commr. musters Northants. 1602-at least 1619,21 sewers, Gt. Fens 1604,22 river Welland, Lincs. 1605, 1618, 1634, river Gleane, Lincs. 1609-18, Lincs. and Notts. 1610, Northants. 1634,23 oyer and terminer, Northants. 1607, Midland circ. 1607-1642,24 inquiry into enclosure riots. Northants. 1607;25 dep. lt. Northants. 1607-42;26 commr. subsidy, Northants. 1608, 1622, 1624,27 aid 1609, 1612-3,28 Forced Loan, Hunts. and Northants. 1626-7,29 knighthood fines, Hunts. 1630, Northants. 1630-2;30 trustee, Thingdon sch., Northants. 1631;31 commr. array, Northants. 1642.32


Montagu’s grandfather, a lawyer, acquired Boughton in 1528, and enlarged the estate with purchases of monastic lands, before rising to become lord chief justice under Henry VIII.33 In 1602 Montagu’s inheritance included the manor of Culworth in Bedfordshire, which was assigned to cover over £5,000 of his father’s debts.34 Created a knight of the Bath at the coronation of James I, Montagu was already an experienced Parliament-man on standing for Northamptonshire in 1604, when Lord Spencer (Sir Robert†) advised him to ‘raise as small numbers as may be for your election, perceiving none to oppose you’.35 Montagu was joined in the Commons by his younger brother, Sir Henry, who sat for London, having recently been appointed the city’s recorder.

Montagu kept a journal of the Parliament, which shows him to have been conscientious in attendance. The surviving portions, covering the first and third sessions, appear to have been written up from notes or from memory, and were primarily intended as a record of the passage of bills, rather than of debates; he took particular note of legislation relevant to his public duties and local offices.36 By his own account Montagu disliked making speeches, and usually confined himself to brief interventions, often concerning points of procedure. Nevertheless, on the opening day of business, 23 Mar. 1604, he overcame this diffidence to inform the House of the grievances of Northamptonshire, first excusing his ‘weakness in judgement, and ... infirmity of speech, both which, as you may well perceive, make me in fear to speak before this grave, wise and honourable presence’. His three most pressing complaints centred on commissaries’ courts, the suspension of puritan ministers, and depopulation by enclosure. The speech is the longest on record ascribed to him, and he concluded by confessing that ‘I hold myself well eased and unburdened of a great charge in that I have uttered them unto you, leaving the consideration of them to your wisdoms’.37

Montagu’s speech followed immediately after the exposition by Sir Robert Wroth I of a semi-official programme of reform devised by James I’s chief minister, Lord (Sir Robert) Cecil†; and Montagu was immediately named to two committees to consider his own proposals and those enumerated by Wroth.38 The discovery among the state papers of a list of bills ‘to be considered of against next Parliament’, clearly dating from 1603-4 and originating from within government circles - it is headed by proposals for bill to recognize the king’s title and another for the plantation of Ireland - raises the possibility that Montagu, like Wroth, was speaking with higher sanction, since his first grievance, the abuse of commissary courts, corresponds closely with a measure in the list, ‘against extortion in commissaries and officials’, that presumably had royal or Court sponsorship.39 Montagu, whose brother James had recently been promoted to be dean of the Chapel Royal, would have been a natural and well trusted choice of Member to introduce such an agenda. However, if Montagu was speaking at the behest of Cecil, he was clearly more than merely a Crown spokesman. His own notes on commissary courts suggest that the reform of these bodies was a matter on which he himself had strong convictions. In a draft of his speech in his own papers he went so far as to recommend the revival of legislation dating back to 1552, implicitly rejecting the arrangements recently agreed upon at the Hampton Court conference.40 The Commons Journal’s bald summary of his contribution does not reveal whether Montagu included this suggestion in the speech that he actually delivered, but if he did so then he presumably acted in the belief that the new king, by contrast with his predecessor, was willing to allow open religious debate. However, it soon became clear that no such latitude would be forthcoming, to the great disappointment of Montagu and his many fellow puritans.41

Montagu was one of those ordered to attend the king over the disputed Buckinghamshire election (28 Mar.), to produce a written report of the Commons’ resolution (30 Mar.), and to confer with the judges (5 April).42 Given special responsibility for a bill to restrict the use of precious metals in apparel (5 Apr.), he reported it with amendments on 18 Apr., whereupon it was engrossed.43 He was among those named to the first conference with the Lords on the proposed Union with Scotland (14 Apr.), and was one of the messengers sent five days later to inform the upper House that the Commons was still discussing the matter.44 The Union was one of James’s most pressing concerns, but the lower House was also asked to give special regard to certain bills, such as one for the preservation of game, debated on 10 and 19 May, ‘because the king desires it’; nevertheless, the latter was rejected on its third reading, having been disputed, among others, by Montagu.45 After privately informing Nicholas Fuller* that the odious monopolist William Tipper had accepted a gratuity of £100 to procure the passage of a bill for felts and hats, Montagu was appointed to a committee to examine the miscreant (11 May).46

On 14 May Montagu was granted privilege in connection with a lawsuit against Serjeants’ Inn, where he claimed certain property.47 He introduced two bills arising from the grievances committee on 31 May, one to amend a statute concerning pluralities, and the other to provide for a godly and learned ministry, and he was given charge of both; the first was ordered to be engrossed on 9 June.48 As a member of the committee for the continuance and repeal of expiring laws, on 5 June he proposed a proviso to the bill, although its precise nature went unrecorded.49 The following day he supported the committal of a bill to prohibit the printing or import of Catholic books.50 His report on 7 June recommending that a bill to prevent depopulating enclosures was ‘fit to sleep till the next session’ was accepted by the House, which was unfortunate, as events in Montagu’s own county were later to prove.51 It is perhaps worthy of note that Montagu played no recorded part in the attempt to secure a subsidy for the king on 19 June. This undertaking was led by his distant relation Sir Francis Hastings, a puritan who probably hoped that a grateful James would halt the passage of the Canons then going through Convocation requiring ministers to conform to certain ceremonies that the ‘godly’ found objectionable. Shortly before the end of the first session, Montagu was appointed to the committee for bills concerning the estates of his neighbour Sir Christopher Hatton* (29 June), and annexations to the Crown (4 July).52 Among his notes there remains the draft of a speech he intended to make against the latter measure’s second reading on 4 July, but in the event the bill was deferred until the next session.53

In August 1604 the king visited Boughton and ‘seemed to be very merry’.54 However, Montagu fell sharply out of favour in February 1605 when, together with his colleague Sir Valentine Knightley*, he presented a petition drafted by Hastings on behalf of deprived and suspended ministers, to which was appended 36 signatures from Northamptonshire.55 The Privy Council demanded a signed acknowledgment of their fault from the petitioners; but when Montagu refused to submit to the proposed formula, he was stripped of all his offices and sent home in disgrace.56 For a man so acutely conscious of his local position this was a heavy penalty, and he appealed to his brother James for help.57 In June he obtained a royal audience, which he followed up with a letter begging the king ‘to remove from his royal thought the memory of his unwilling error, being not drawn thereto out of factions humour or desire of novelty but out of pity of the estate of many poor men’.58 Montagu nevertheless maintained that the ceremonies for which many ministers had been deprived had become a source of scandal in corrupt times. As James pointed out, this fell short of an unambiguous renunciation of his actions, but it was nevertheless acceptable, and Montagu was restored to his offices and royal favour.59

At the opening of the second session Montagu was named to the privileges committee (5 Nov. 1605), and once proceedings resumed after the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot, he was appointed to consider how best to prevent future Catholic conspiracies (21 Jan. 1606), and to attaint the plotters (30 April).60 On 23 Jan. he brought in a bill to establish an annual service of thanksgiving to commemorate 5 Nov., citing scriptural precedents in a ‘learned and religious speech ... well penned but not affected’.61 The Commons took only two days to pass the bill and Montagu was one of those ordered to carry it to the Lords; it was quickly approved, and became one of Montagu’s most lasting political achievements.62 In a further demonstration of his loyalty to the king, Montagu moved ‘in a plain, familiar manner’ during the supply debate of 10 Feb. that a grant should be agreed immediately, without reference to a committee. His contribution, which appears to have been part of a carefully orchestrated action by various government spokesmen, reinforces the suspicion that in 1604 Montagu had been acting on Cecil’s instructions with regard to the grievances he had introduced. Declaring that the sum demanded - three subsidies and six fifteenths - was more than the country could afford, Montagu moved that the Commons should instead grant two subsidies and four fifteenths, to be paid within eighteen months. Although this motion was not acted upon, Montagu was named to the committee.63

On the fraught topic of purveyance, Montagu came out on 5 Mar. in support of composition, once more following the course most likely to please the king.64 On 22 Mar. rumours reached the House that James had been assassinated, and Montagu was sent to the Lords to ascertain the truth.65 He was named to a conference of both Houses on 11 Apr. on ecclesiastical grievances, and to help frame the petition that was presented to James on 14 May.66 On 30 Apr. he objected to the naturalization of the London brewer James Desmaistres on the grounds he was Catholic.67 He chaired the committee for a bill to legalize bowling, an activity prohibited by the Statute for the Maintenance of Artillery (26 Apr.), which he reported on 8 May and it passed after a division.68 On the last day of the session he was put in charge of collecting contributions for the poor.69

Montagu was less prominent in the third session. Reappointed to the privileges committee (19 Nov. 1606), he was subsequently named to a deputation to hear the Lords’ proposals on the Union (24 Nov.), although he was unimpressed with the manner in which the Commons accepted the peers’ invitation, which he afterwards told the diarist Robert Bowyer* was procedurally incorrect.70 On 11 Dec. he was named to a committee to prepare for a further Union conference.71 Although Montagu had kept particular notes of the Union debates in 1604, his only notable contribution on the subject during this session came on 16 Feb. 1607, when he proposed that (Sir) Christopher Pigott* be expelled for his vitriolic tirade against the Scots.72 In response to the king’s message of 27 Feb. 1607 expressing concern at poor attendance, Montagu proposed a call of the House.73 Perhaps as a favour to his brother Sir Henry, Montagu received several committee appointments for bills concerning London, and on 15 May was teller against a bill to prohibit large buildings from being divided into tenements.74 Religious measures remained high among his own priorities; he was named to committees for bills to regulate Church courts (29 Nov.); to restrain the execution of ecclesiastical Canons not confirmed by Parliament (11 Dec.); and he chaired the committee for the revived pluralities bill (4 March).75 Later in the session he was the first named to another bill committee concerning ecclesiastical courts (16 May), and was one of those ordered to draft an address on religion (18 May).76

On the outbreak of enclosure riots in the Midlands in late May, Montagu was recalled from Westminster to Northamptonshire to help suppress the uprising. He had little sympathy with the protesters, for despite his recognition of the general hostility towards depopulation, as a landlord he was strongly impressed with the inconveniences of the open-field system.77 The rioters were reported to have visited Boughton, but seem to have inflicted little damage; they were ill armed, and the only major confrontation (at which Montagu was himself present) turned into a rout in which 40 or 50 insurgents were killed.78 He had resumed his seat by 19 June, when he was one of those ordered to examine the Journal for the last three sessions for entries relating to privilege.79 He was named to committees for bills to regulate High Commission (26 June) and to extend the statute against unlawful assemblies (1 July).80 At the end of the session, he again helped to supervise the distribution of the money collected for the poor.81

After the third session Montagu returned to Northamptonshire and received the submissions of the rioters. He was appointed to a commission of inquiry, to which he was himself presented for making illegal enclosures.82 As soon as the fourth session of Parliament opened, on 14 Feb. 1610, he brought in his pluralities bill ‘which in several sessions before had passed the Commons house’, and he subsequently chaired its committee (19 February).83 He was named to the conference with the Lords on 15 Feb. at which Cecil, now 1st earl of Salisbury and lord treasurer, outlined the need to reform the king’s revenue; but only a fortnight later, Montagu was one of a committee ordered to draft a message to the Lords, declaring that the Commons ‘cannot conceive [of] any other ordinary means, than by way of subsidy’.84 In debate on 5 Mar. he seems to have expressed reservations about bargaining over the royal prerogative.85 He moved unsuccessfully on 14 Mar. for a joint address of thanks for James’s decision to give the House permission to discuss feudal tenures as part of the Great Contract negotiations.86 Instead, it was agreed that the Commons would convey its gratitude through the Speaker, and Montagu helped to draft a message to the Lords accordingly.87 On 23 Mar. he opened the debate on tenures, moving for the replacement of feudal aids by some other levy.88 After a further conference of both Houses on 26 Apr., Montagu was named to a committee to assign a reporter and consider the report.89

When the Speaker commanded the Commons in the king’s name not to touch on the prerogative in the debate on impositions, Montagu was among those who observed on 11 May that since James was out of town the message could not have come from him directly; and he therefore successfully moved that ‘twas not fit for us to receive it; but [to] proceed as we should if no message had been sent at all’.90 As usual several religious measures occupied Montagu’s attention. He was again named to committees for bills to prevent clerical non-residence (16 Apr.) and to regulate ecclesiastical leases (25 April).91 During the debate on proselytising by Catholic priests (25 May), he deprecated sanguinary measures, proposing instead a conference to discuss the king’s safety, and he was among those who attended the king on 28 May with a petition against recusancy.92 He took the chair in committee for a bill against swearing (30 May), and reported it six days later.93

In response to the Lords’ request on 11 June to meet representatives of the Commons so that they might impart to them various matters on the orders of the king, Montagu was the first to take exception, pointing out that it was ‘unusual and derogatory from the ancient liberties of the House to receive a message from His Majesty by the higher House, as though they were interposed between the king and his subjects’.94 However, the committee to which he was then named concluded that a protest would be unseasonable.95 When the Commons at length took cognizance of the royal message urging support and supply, Montagu proposed, on 14 June, a grant of one subsidy and two fifteenths, with a new session at Candlemas; this represented a compromise, since many Members wished to withhold supply altogether until their grievances had been redressed.96 Two days later he brought in a further message from the king and was appointed to a sub-committee to respond to the Lords’ request to confer again about supply.97 He acted as teller for the bill to administer the Oath of Allegiance to recusant women (4 July), and against the bill to regulate ecclesiastical leases (14 July).98 His last activity in this session was, as previously, to supervise the collection.99 In the fifth session he made two recorded speeches, the first on 2 Nov. 1610 urging that the king’s speech should be read to the whole House, and on 8 Nov. seconding Fuller’s motion for a short answer about the Contract, without giving all the reasons for their proceedings. He privately lamented that in the abortive Contract negotiations many things were done ‘against the order and privilege of the House’, and hoped that no precedent had thereby been set.100

In his own county Montagu came into conflict with Sir Anthony Mildmay† and the recusant Sir Thomas Brudenell, who was appointed keeper of two walks in Rockingham forest by the 1st earl of Exeter (Sir Thomas Cecil†) in 1612. Montagu, who had expected these offices to fall to himself, took great offence, but was unable to change the earl’s mind.101 With the cooperation of Sir Edward Coke* as judge of assize he therefore humiliated Brudenell by enforcing the Privy Council’s orders for disarmament of Catholics to the letter.102 Montagu and four of his brothers were returned to Parliament in 1614; he himself was re-elected for Northamptonshire, Sir Henry for London, Sir Walter represented Monmouthshire, Sir Charles was the Member for Harwich, and Sidney sat for Wells. Although Montagu was perhaps closest with James, by now bishop of Bath and Wells, he also relied from time to time on the services and court connections of each of his siblings, for example in his recent quarrel with Exeter. If Montagu kept a journal during the Addled Parliament it has not survived. However, he did acquire a copy of a widely circulated procedural tract on speechmaking by William Hakewill*, compiled some time after the dissolution of the previous Parliament.103

Montagu’s first appointment was to a committee to examine precedents for allowing the attorney-general to sit in the Commons following the return of Sir Francis Bacon (8 Apr. 1614), and later the same day, although he seems not to have been present at the time, Montagu was named to the privileges committee.104 On 12 Apr. he moved the deferment of the inquiry into ‘undertaking’, the accusation that the lower House had been packed with, and so could be controlled by, Members likely to favour royal policies. It was decided the following day to send a message to the king, and Montagu was accordingly named to the drafting committee.105 He was among those ordered to attend major conferences with the Lords on the Palatinate marriage (14 April), and impositions (5 May).106 He complained on 6 May of poor draftsmanship in some of the bills before the House, which he attributed to noise during the readings and the premature termination of debate by committal ‘without suffering men to speak’.107 He intervened in debate on a bill for Sunday observance (7 May), and subsequently chaired the committee.108 On 10 May he moved that the House should decide whether to invite the chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, Sir Thomas Parry*, to testify at the bar concerning his interference in the disputed Stockbridge election.109 In response to Sir Edwin Sandys’s report concerning impositions, Montagu spoke in debate on 12 May, and a week later was ordered to help search for precedents in the library of his brother-in-law, Sir Robert Cotton*.110

When Richard Martin*, speaking as counsel for the Virginia Company on 17 May, strayed from his topic to chide the Commons for its unco-operative attitude towards the king, Montagu voiced the disgust of many Members, condemning Martin’s speech as the ‘most unfitting ... most offensive and injurious’ he had ever heard, and moved that some action be taken on it.111 On 20 May Montagu expressed his regret that various ecclesiastical grievances had been omitted from the agenda, and reminded the House of measures presented in the previous Parliament, which he felt should have been revived, concerning Catholic priests, pluralists and non-residents, deprived ministers, and the abuse of ecclesiastical courts.112 On 23 May he acted as teller against a bill to enable Herbert Pelham* to sell lands to settle his debts.113 Martin’s scatalogical criticism of the Commons was followed only eight days later by graver and more specific charges from the bishop of Lincoln, Richard Neile, who attacked the House for daring to debate impositions; Montagu was again quick to help marshal the Commons’ outraged response. On 26 May he defended the resolution to forbear all other business, despite the Speaker’s misgivings, and was sent, with his brother Sir Henry and six others, with a message to the Lords. Montagu was named to a committee to draft a further message after the Lords had offered to investigate Neile’s offence (30 May).114 He moved that a proportion of the fine proposed in the bill against alehouse keepers should go to the informer and not to the poor, and was named to the committee (31 May); but he was against allowing a bill to suppress drunkenness to extend outside London, presumably because it contained a proviso about the use of corn.115 In the closing days of the Parliament he strove to delay the dissolution by making some progress with supply, and moved on 7 June for a grant of one subsidy and two fifteenth; but the session was ended the same day.116

An obscure quarrel with Sir Anthony Mildmay in 1615 seems to have left a legacy of bitterness between Montagu and Mildmay’s heir, Sir Francis Fane*.117 In August 1616 the king met Montagu while hunting near Boughton and treated him very graciously; ‘next to the king’ Montagu later informed his brother, ‘I applied myself to the great favourite’ [Sir George Villiers], to whom he presented a ‘very fine horse’.118 He seems to have considered acquiring a peerage at around this time, and was informed by his brother James that the going rate for a barony was £10,000, but he may have had qualms of conscience about purchasing the honour.119

Montagu was returned for Northamptonshire for the third and last time in November 1620. When his younger brother Sir Henry was ennobled in the following month, the king praised the whole family, and promised Montagu himself a title, though he ‘smelt a little of puritanism’.120 Montagu was named to the privileges committee (5 Feb. 1621), and the following day moved to refer the dearth of specie to the grievances committee.121 He remained a stickler for correct procedure: after a heated argument between Sir Edward Coke and (Sir) George Calvert* at the sub-committee on recusants (7 Feb.) he insisted that they ‘observe order ... since this was a sub-committee, none ought to be present but the sub-committees’.122 In response to the controversial election of the recently ennobled Lord Falkland (Sir Henry Carey I*), he argued on 13 Feb. that some safeguard was needed to prevent naturalized Scottish lords from swamping the Commons, although he had no personal objection to Falkland, an Englishman.123 On 8 Feb. he spoke on behalf of his ‘cousin-german’ (Sir) George Hastings*, whose return for Leicestershire was also disputed.124

Montagu was among those ordered to draft a petition for free speech (12 Feb.), and was named to a select committee to make a weekly inspection of the draft Journal (13 February).125 He was alarmed by the projected export of ordnance to Spain, and moved on 13 Feb. for an immediate message to the king.126 On 16 Feb. he suggested that the two subsidies granted might be paid within a year, as ‘speedy as the gifts [are] cheerful’, and next day he proposed to enter the king’s speech of thanks in the Journal and to distribute copies throughout the country.127 He chaired the committee for the Sabbath bill (15 Feb.), and described the anti-puritan rant against it by Thomas Sheppard* as the most ‘profane, seditious and arrogant’ speech ever heard in the House.128 On 22 Feb. he mentioned as a grievance the Proclamation forbidding victuallers to dress meat in Lent, pointing out that its strict enforcement would push up the price of herring and dairy products beyond the reach of the poor, while the prosecution of those who infringed the statute had been arbitrarily removed from Common Law courts to Star Chamber.129 He was appointed to a committee on 27 Feb. to decide what action to take against the notorious monopolist, (Sir) Giles Mompesson*; but the following day he urged that there was no need to force Mompesson to kneel before the House.130 On 5 Mar. he maintained that it was unfitting to give the king any direction in the pardon to be granted in return for the subsidy: all the House could do was to indicate its wishes.131 The next day he reminded the Commons of the correct procedure for delivering messages to the Lords.132 More gravely, on 10 Mar. he upbraided the Commons for being ‘not attentive enough to bills, too hasty in committing bills, nor enduring debate which is more proper and profitable in the House than in a committee’. He therefore promised to bring in a bill ‘drawn to this purpose heretofore’.133 He also spoke on the bill against swearing, and was named to the committee (10 March).134 On 12 Mar. he unsuccessfully attempted to prevent discussion of the alehouse patent which had been declared legal by his brother, Sir Henry, now lord treasurer Mandeville, and was named to confer with the Lords on monopolies the following day.135 He urged careful consideration of the Lords’ request, debated on 16 Mar., for sworn testimony from Members about the patent for inns, presumably because he feared that it undermined the dignity of the Commons.136 He was named to committees for a number of private bills before the Easter recess, which he described on 27 Mar. as ‘a kind parting’.137

When Parliament reassembled, Montagu maintained on 20 Apr. that Sir John Bennet*, judge of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, who was accused of taking bribes, was not entitled to a summary of the charges against him; but three days later he conceded that the proposal to freeze Bennet’s assets was against the law.138 He had to admit, during the monopolies debate on 24 Apr., that there had been great abuses in the execution of the alehouse patent, but he was nevertheless anxious that his brother the lord treasurer, who had been one of the patent’s referees, should be exonerated. Mandeville’s greatest accuser, Sir Francis Seymour*, was prevented by the Speaker from replying to Montagu’s statement, ‘to avoid heat’.139 Montagu was named to a committee to consider a petition against unsuitable appointments to the commission of the peace (25 Apr.), and moved for a bill to remedy the matter, ‘else it will break out again’.140 On 26 Apr. he was among those instructed to put matters before the House into order.141 From the outset he had reservations about the Commons’ jurisdiction in the case of Edward Floyd, a Catholic lawyer who had publicly slandered the king’s daughter, Elizabeth of Bohemia. On 1 May he voiced his doubts about removing Floyd, the king’s prisoner, from the Fleet to the Tower.142 On the following day he moved that concurrence with the Commons’ judgment should be obtained from all absent Members ‘for it is the honour of the House to maintain our act’, but he suggested that the impasse might be resolved by a royal pardon or by the Commons themselves respiting Floyd’s punishment. He was named to a committee to examine the precedents and welcomed a message from the Lords suggesting a further conference.143 Nevertheless, when (Sir) Walter Earle* called on him to produce evidence of the exercise of judicial powers by the Commons in the past, he was unable to do so, though he remembered that they had once punished a pursuivant.144 He consulted Cotton; but the antiquary’s Brief Discourse was so unconvincing that Montagu advised the House on 11 May that it would be ‘better to conceal than look further into it’.145

The Floyd case was not Montagu’s only concern at this time. On 2 May he moved that the London poor relief bill should extend to the whole kingdom; otherwise it would drive paupers into the country.146 He opposed a bill to limit the interest rate to eight per cent on the grounds that it tolerated usury, which he said ‘had never been allowed by the Church and was against the honour of England’; and was named to the committee.147 When complaints of corruption against Dr. John Lambe, chancellor of the diocese of Peterborough, were reported on 15 May, Montagu reminded the House that ‘I was the first in the kingdom that spoke of this abuse in the king’s time’. Although he thought Lambe’s offence ‘the greatest of our grievances’, he preferred to send for him rather than petition for his punishment, on the precedent that ‘we did so for one Dr. Parker for preaching somewhat against this House’.148 This was a reference to a chanter of Lincoln Cathedral who had preached an invective sermon against the Commons in May 1606, but Montagu seems to have forgotten that the king intervened before the House was able to examine Parker.149

Montagu was appointed to draft a petition of grievances (16 May), and his name headed the list of the committee for a bill to provide for catechizing children (16 May).150 He moved on 24 May that measures against bankruptcy should be extended to cover the whole country rather than just London, ‘for that there are some two or three farmers near him who broke as bankrupts this year for three or four thousand pounds, and there is no remedy to be had against them’.151 On 28 May Montagu moved for a joint address requesting the king to postpone the adjournment, and was appointed to a sub-committee to prepare the message, yet he urged the House ‘not to be carried away with any passion, but apply ourselves to our business’.152 The following day he moved for a bill to continue all those statutes that were in force in 1610 that had not since been repealed. The only exception, he declared, should be the Act forbidding the conversion of tillage into pasture, because a patent had since been granted for the sale of licences to enforce it; by repealing this legislation he hoped to render the patent a dead letter. He also moved for the repeal of a clause in the Bigamy Act allowing benefit of clergy, ‘for he knoweth a minister who had two wives, and being convicted of it, saved himself by his clergy, which indeed should not be allowed any man for so foul an offence’.153

Although the king, in calling for an early end to the session, offered to pass any bills that were ready, Montagu advised the House against it. He gave as his reason that ‘it will better content the country, when as they shall understand that this is but a cessation, and that Parliament doth continue’. Any other course might prove dangerous, and he added that until the session was prorogued, rather than merely adjourned, ‘we still enjoy our privileges from arrest and the like, as if we did still sit in Parliament’.154 He moved on 31 May to inform James that there was not enough time to prepare the grievances for presentation.155 The following day he notified the House that in the opinion of his brother, Viscount Mandeville, all business should cease when Parliament was adjourned, and no committees should meet during the recess.156 Faced with a choice between immediate adjournment or prorogation in a fortnight’s time, Montagu moved for the former, ‘for otherwise we should lay a great charge on all those who have preferred private bills, and we should also cast away many good public bills, and cast back many good grievances’. He therefore proposed on 2 June ‘to go with all humbleness, thankfulness and cheerfulness to His Majesty, to give him thanks for this gracious favour, and to meddle with no business after the adjournment, till our next access’.157 His final appointment was to a committee to draft a message to the king pledging the Commons’ support if he declared war in defence of the Palatine (4 June).158

Montagu’s career in the Commons ended with the adjournment. On 29 June he was created Baron Montagu of Boughton, and when the autumn sitting commenced he was summoned to the Lords. His journals of proceedings in the upper House survive for the autumn sitting of 1621, and for the Parliaments of 1624, 1625, 1626, 1628, and 1640-1, together with various copies of notable speeches in the Commons.159 His elevation in status perhaps led him to attempt to secure the election of his kinsman, Sir Lewis Watson*, for Northamptonshire in 1624, but this was humiliatingly rebuffed by Lord Spencer. Amid continuing hostilities with Fane, who became 1st earl of Westmorland in 1625, county politics came to a head at the general election to Charles’s second Parliament; Montagu again pressed Watson’s candidacy, but the result was a heated contest which served only to underline the limits of Montagu’s influence, as Watson once more lost out to the Spencers.160

The Forced Loan was fiercely opposed in Northamptonshire, even by a majority of the gentry, but Montagu committed himself to enforcing the Loan commission.161 Despite finding himself increasingly out of step with the court and the Laudian church during the 1630s, he likewise faithfully executed the king’s commission of array in 1642. Imprisoned by the Long Parliament for a while, he was subsequently allowed to reside in his London house until his death on 15 June 1644, at the age of 82.162 In his will, drafted some three years earlier, he left £3 6s. 8d. a year to the poor of Weekley and neighbouring villages, to be distributed on 5 Nov. in thanksgiving for deliverance from the Gunpowder Plot. Various clergymen also received legacies amounting to £24. All his servants were generously provided for, as was his third wife, who had been ‘as a natural mother to my children’. According to his final wishes he was buried at Weekley next to his ‘second sweet faithful companion’, having set aside £100 for a family monument.163 His eldest son Edward represented Huntingdon until he succeeded to the peerage, and a younger son William, who maintained the family tradition of longevity, first entered the Commons in 1640, and sat, with intervals, until 1695. Three variously dated original portraits of Montagu remain at Boughton.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Virginia C.D. Moseley / Rosemary Sgroi


  • 1. Vis. Northants. ed. Metcalfe, 115; E.S. Cope, Edward Montagu (Amer. Phil. Soc. cxlii), 7-13.
  • 2. Al. Ox.; M. Temple Admiss.
  • 3. Cope, 17.
  • 4. CP, ix. 104.
  • 5. Vis. Northants. (Harl. Soc. lxxxvii), 137.
  • 6. CP, ix. 104.
  • 7. Cope, 217.
  • 8. Vis. Northants. (Harl. Soc. lxxxvii), 137-8.
  • 9. Cope, 104.
  • 10. CP, ix. 105.
  • 11. Vis. Northants. (Harl. Soc. lxxxvii), 137.
  • 12. C142/269/91.
  • 13. Shaw, Knights of Eng. i. 155.
  • 14. CP, ix. 104-5.
  • 15. Ibid. 105.
  • 16. Northants. Musters ed. J. Wake (Northants. Rec. Soc. iii), 9; HMC Hatfield, xi. 224.
  • 17. HMC Buccleuch, i. 228; CSP Dom. 1627-8, p. 532; Cal. of Docquets of Ld. Kpr. Coventry, 1625-40 ed. J. Broadway, R. Cust and S.K. Roberts (L. and I. Soc. spec. ser. xxxiv), 248, 264; Cope, 19, 58-62.
  • 18. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 94.
  • 19. E401/2583, f. 3.
  • 20. C231/1, f. 46v; Cope, 39-40, 43; C66/2858.
  • 21. Add. 25079, f. 51; HMC Buccleuch, iii. 70, 175, 218.
  • 22. C181/1, f. 74v.
  • 23. Ibid. f. 119; 181/2, ff. 83, 119, 326v, 330; 181/4, ff. 161, 180.
  • 24. C181/2, ff. 34v, 41v, 332v; 181/5, ff. 5, 258v; 181/4, ff. 10v, 195v; 181/5, ff. 4v, 220.
  • 25. HMC Buccleuch, iii. 119; Cope, 50-3.
  • 26. HMC Buccleuch, iii. 121, 305.
  • 27. SP14/31/1; C212/22/21, 23.
  • 28. HMC Buccleuch, iii. 138-40, 146-8; E403/2732, f. 153.
  • 29. C193/12/2; T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 2, pp. 144, 145.
  • 30. E178/7155, ff. 39, 85, 107, 134.
  • 31. C78/411/4.
  • 32. Northants. RO, FH133; HMC Buccleuch, i. 307.
  • 33. T. Fuller, Worthies, 287; Bridges, Northants. ii. 348-50; C. Wise, Montagus of Boughton, 15-24.
  • 34. PROB 11/99, ff. 1-2; C142/269/91.
  • 35. HMC Buccleuch, i. 237; iii. 74-5.
  • 36. Ibid. iii. 78-94, 107-117, HMC Montagu, 50; Cope, 213-16; CD 1604-7, pp. 18-19, 52-103, 122-47.
  • 37. HMC Buccleuch, iii. 91; Cope, 34-5.
  • 38. N. Tyacke, ‘Wroth, Cecil and the Parl. Session of 1604’, BIHR, l, 120-5; CJ, i. 151a, b.
  • 39. SP14/6/99.
  • 40. CD 1604-7, pp. 55, 93-5.
  • 41. R.C. Munden, ‘Jas. I and the "growth of mutual distrust"’, in Faction and Parl. ed. K. Sharpe, 57, 66; N. Tyacke, ‘Puritan Politicians and King Jas. VI and I’, in Pols., Religion and Popularity in Early Stuart Brit. ed. T. Cogswell et al. 43. For a detailed discussion of this point, see the SURVEY.
  • 42. CJ, i. 157a, 160a, 166b.
  • 43. Ibid. 167a, 176a, 948b.
  • 44. Ibid. 172a, 951b.
  • 45. Ibid. 205b, 214b, 975b.
  • 46. Ibid. 199b, 206b.
  • 47. Ibid. 209a; Cope, 37, 49, 67.
  • 48. CJ, i. 229b, 235b, 985b.
  • 49. Ibid. 232b.
  • 50. Ibid. 986b.
  • 51. Ibid. 233b.
  • 52. Ibid. 249a, 252a.
  • 53. CD 1604-7, pp. 102-3.
  • 54. HMC Hatfield, xvi. 220.
  • 55. SP14/12/69.
  • 56. B.W. Quintrell, ‘Royal Hunt and the Puritans’, JEH, xxxi, 53-6; Cope, 37-40.
  • 57. HMC Buccleuch, i. 237-8.
  • 58. HMC Hatfield, xvii. 258.
  • 59. Cope, 41-3.
  • 60. CJ, i. 256a, 257b, 303a.
  • 61. Ibid. 258b; Bowyer Diary, 4.
  • 62. CJ, i. 260a; Bowyer Diary, 8; Cope, 45-6.
  • 63. CJ, i. 266a, b; Bowyer Diary, 31; Letters and Life of Francis Bacon ed. J. Spedding, iii. 273-4.
  • 64. CJ, i. 261b, 273a, 276b, 278a; Cope, 47-8.
  • 65. Bowyer Diary, 90.
  • 66. CJ, i. 296b, 300b, 309a.
  • 67. Ibid. 302b.
  • 68. Ibid. 301a, 306b.
  • 69. Ibid. 313b.
  • 70. Ibid. 316a, 324b; Bowyer Diary, 191.
  • 71. CJ, i. 329a.
  • 72. Ibid. 1014b; CD 1604-7, pp. 96-102.
  • 73. CJ, i. 1022a.
  • 74. Ibid. 374a.
  • 75. Ibid. 326b, 329b, 347b, 348b.
  • 76. Ibid. 374b, 375a.
  • 77. Cope, 50-52.
  • 78. E.F. Gay, ‘The Midland Revolt and the Inq. of Depopulation 1607’, TRHS n.s. xviii. 212; N. Tyacke, Anti-Calvinism, 28.
  • 79. CJ, i. 385b.
  • 80. Ibid. 387b, 389a.
  • 81. Ibid. 390b; Bowyer Diary, 368.
  • 82. Cope, 53.
  • 83. CJ, i. 393a, 396b; ‘Paulet 1610’, f. 1; Procs. 1610 ed. E.R. Foster, ii. 353; Cope, 56-7.
  • 84. CJ, i. 393b, 403b.
  • 85. Ibid. 406a.
  • 86. Ibid. 411a.
  • 87. Ibid. 411b.
  • 88. Procs. 1610, ii. 64.
  • 89. CJ, i. 421b.
  • 90. ‘Paulet 1610’, f. 10; Procs. 1610, ii. 84; CJ, i. 427b.
  • 91. CJ, i. 418b, 421a.
  • 92. Ibid. 433a, b.
  • 93. Ibid. 434a, 435a.
  • 94. Parl. Debates, 1610 ed. S.R. Gardiner, 51.
  • 95. CJ, i. 436a, b.
  • 96. Ibid. 439a.
  • 97. Ibid. 440b; ‘Paulet 1610’, f. 16v; Cope, 56.
  • 98. CJ, i. 445b, 450a.
  • 99. Ibid. 451b.
  • 100. Procs. 1610, ii. 321, 326, 392.
  • 101. HMC Buccleuch, i. 238-46.
  • 102. Cope, 58-62.
  • 103. E.R. Foster, ‘Speaking in the Commons’, BIHR, xliii. 35-55.
  • 104. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 33, 34.
  • 105. Ibid. 69, 76.
  • 106. Ibid. 82, 151.
  • 107. Ibid. 164, 168.
  • 108. Ibid. 172, 228.
  • 109. Ibid. 193, 198.
  • 110. Ibid. 215, 297.
  • 111. Ibid. 271, 276.
  • 112. Ibid. 296, 303; Cope, 64-5.
  • 113. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 319.
  • 114. Ibid. 360, 372, 375, 381.
  • 115. Ibid. 392, 395.
  • 116. Ibid. 417, 424, 428, 440.
  • 117. Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, i. 576-7; Cope, 69, 78-9.
  • 118. HMC Buccleuch, i. 249.
  • 119. Northants RO, Montagu 3/139.
  • 120. HMC Buccleuch, i. 256-7; Cope, 82, 89.
  • 121. CJ, i. 507b, 511a; CD 1621, ii. 31.
  • 122. CD 1621, ii. 39.
  • 123. CJ, i. 513a.
  • 124. Ibid. 513b.
  • 125. Ibid. 518a, 520a.
  • 126. Ibid. 519b.
  • 127. Ibid. 523b, 525a; CD 1621, iv. 66-67, v. 498.
  • 128. CJ, i. 523a, 524b, 533a; CD 1621, v. 502.
  • 129. CD 1621, ii. 119; iv. 90.
  • 130. CJ, i. 530b, 532b; CD 1621, ii. 149.
  • 131. CD 1621, v. 24.
  • 132. CJ, i. 540a; CD 1621, ii. 170; iv. 125; v. 29.
  • 133. CD 1621, iv. 141.
  • 134. CJ, i. 548b.
  • 135. Ibid. 550a, 551a.
  • 136. Ibid. 557a.
  • 137. Ibid. 577a.
  • 138. Ibid. 584a, 588a; CD 1621, v. 91-92.
  • 139. Nicholas Procs. 1621, i. 311; ii. 55, 56; CD 1621, iii. 70, 71; vi. 96; CJ, i. 589b; Cope, 84.
  • 140. CD 1621, v. 96, CJ, i. 590b.
  • 141. CJ, i. 592b.
  • 142. Ibid. 602a; Nicholas, i. 374; R. Zaller, Parl. of 1621, p. 106.
  • 143. CD 1621, iii. 140, 174; vi. 128; CJ, i. 604b.
  • 144. CJ, i. 604a, 606b, 610a, 612b.
  • 145. Ibid. 619a; Lansd. 209, ff. 165-175; K. Sharpe, Sir Robert Cotton, 168.
  • 146. Nicholas, ii. 2.
  • 147. CD 1621, ii. 350; iii. 184, v. 148; CJ, i. 611a.
  • 148. CD 1621, iii. 263.
  • 149. Bowyer Diary, 179-82; CJ, i. 312b, 313b.
  • 150. CJ, i. 622a.
  • 151. CD 1621, iii. 296; Nicholas, ii. 95.
  • 152. CD 1621, iii. 333, 345; CJ, i. 630a.
  • 153. CD 1621, iii. 341; Nicholas, ii. 118.
  • 154. Nicholas, ii. 138, 158; CD 1621, iii. 359, 370.
  • 155. CD 1621, v. 188; CJ, i. 633a, b.
  • 156. Nicholas, ii. 147.
  • 157. CJ, i. 636b.
  • 158. Ibid. 639a.
  • 159. HMC Buccleuch, iii. 222-3, 228-46, 247-53, 265-304, 330-42, 386-413; Cope, 214-16.
  • 160. HMC Buccleuch, i. 257-63; HMC Montagu, 105-6; J.K. Gruenfelder, ‘Northants. election 1626’, Northants. P and P, iv. 159-65; Cope, 80, 99-100, 111-12.
  • 161. Cope, 119-22.
  • 162. Ibid. 191-2, 194-7, 201.
  • 163. PROB 11/196, f. 365.