MONTAGU, Sir Walter (1561/4-1616), of Pencoed, Llanmartin, Mon. and Hanging Houghton, Northants.
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Family and Education
b. 1561/4, 3rd but 2nd surv. s. of Sir Edward Montagu† (d.1602) of Boughton, Northants. and Elizabeth, da. of Sir James Harington† of Exton and Burley-on-the-Hill, Rutland;1 bro. of Sir Edward*, Sir Henry*, Sir Charles* and Sidney*. m. 23 Feb. 1590, Anne (d.1618/19), da. and h. of Henry Morgan of Pencoed, s.p.2 kntd. 11 May 1603.3 d. 23 Mar. 1616.4 sig. Wa[lter] Mountagu.
J.p. Northants. by 1604-15, Mon. 1604-d., Glos. 1615-d.;5 commr. oyer and terminer, Oxf. circ. 1606-d.;6 sheriff, Mon. 1607-8;7 collector aid, 1609;8 commr. aid, 1612;9 dep. constable, Forest of Dean, Glos. 1615.10
The only one of six brothers not to be educated at Cambridge or the Middle Temple, Montagu had the manor of Hanging Houghton ‘liberally bestowed on him’ by his father, Sir Edward†, who presumably also arranged his marriage with Anne Morgan, whose wardship had been purchased by Sir William Herbert† of St. Julian’s. Montagu’s wife was heiress to the Monmouthshire estate of her uncle Sir William Morgan, variously reckoned to be worth £200-£1,000 a year, which had been extended by the Crown for a debt of 2,000 marks but was leased back to the family. Sir Edward Montagu took over this lease in November 1588, but the marriage was deferred for 15 months, until the bride was nearly 14.11
Sir Walter appears to have followed the family tradition of vigorously exploiting his estates. In 1591, shortly after taking over his wife’s lands, he was prosecuted by the rector of Llanmartin, Monmouthshire over tithes payable on his demesne, and in 1605-7 he disputed ownership of the tithes of Houghton with his Northamptonshire neighbour, John Isham, who eventually leased them to him.12 At around the same time he was also involved in several other lawsuits with his Monmouthshire tenants, including one in which it emerged that he had attempted to deprive one of his wife’s relatives of a lease granted in return for saving Sir William Morgan’s life in Ireland.13 His enclosures were recorded by the depopulation commission formed after the Midlands Rising of 1607, and he obtained a pardon for his activities in the following year.14
Although Montagu managed Houghton and his wife’s lands from the time of his marriage, he only held a reversion of these estates until his father’s death in 1602, following which he began to play a significant part in local affairs. His eldest brother, Sir Edward Montagu*, could probably have obtained a burgess-ship for him at Brackley or Higham Ferrers in 1604, but he is not known to have shown any interest in a parliamentary seat until 1614, when he secured the senior knighthood for Monmouthshire in the absence of a candidate from Raglan Castle. He left little trace in the surviving records of the session, being named to committees for the expiring statutes’ continuance bill (8 Apr.) and the bill to allow Sir Robert Wroth II* to sell lands to pay his debts (25 May) - the latter’s wife was his second cousin.15 As a knight for Monmouthshire he was also entitled to attend committees for bills to revoke a clause of the Welsh Act of Union (18 Apr.), to establish a grammar school at Monmouth (16 May) and to regulate the erection of weirs (21 May).16
Montagu had clearly abandoned any hope of an heir as early as 1604, when he assigned a reversion of the manor of Houghton to his brother Sir Henry.17 In his will of 2 Dec. 1614 he made elaborate preparations for his funeral: he was to be buried at Llanmartin if he died in Wales, or the family vault at Weekley if he died in England; he gave £300 for his funeral and tomb ‘and more if ... my estate will bear it’. His servants received bequests of over £700, his wife was allowed the £1,000 in cash or kind which he had undertaken to give her at their marriage, as well as his lease of the tithes of Houghton, and rents of £115 a year were assigned to endow an almshouse and a parsonage in Chepstow.18
Montagu’s death on 23 Mar. 1616 came as a shock to his brother Sidney, who morbidly remarked that ‘he hath broken the ice to us, and we must follow after’.19 The executors of the will, Montagu’s brothers Sidney and James and his servant Robert Jones, encountered considerable trouble in proving the will, as it was challenged both by Montagu’s widow, and by his eldest brother Sir Edward, who was incensed at his brother’s decision to leave Houghton to Sir Henry rather than himself.20 Sir Edward was unable to reverse this decision, but managed to obstruct the foundation of the almshouse at Chepstow at least until 1624, when the corporation petitioned Parliament for relief.21
Montagu’s wife remarried a distant relative, Sir John Morgan of Chilworth, Surrey, but she kept control of her goods and estates by assigning them in trust to Sir Henry and Sir Charles Mountagu, Arnold Oldisworth* and Sir Edmund Morgan*.22 On her death the Pencoed estate was found to be encumbered by leases to her second husband, but it ultimately passed to her cousin Edward Morgan.23
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Author: Simon Healy
- 1. C142/269/91, 142/365/154, 142/685/51; Vis. Northants. ed. Metcalfe, 37.
- 2. Vis. Northants. ed. Metcalfe, 115; Vis. Northants. (Harl. Soc. lxxxvii), 137; PROB 11/133, ff. 454-5.
- 3. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 108.
- 4. C142/365/154.
- 5. JPs in Wales and Monm. ed. Phillips, 351-3; C231/4, pp. 5-6.
- 6. C181/1, f. 116.
- 7. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 83.
- 8. SP14/43/107.
- 9. E179/148/79.
- 10. APC, 1615-16, pp. 98-9; CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 296.
- 11. WARD 9/157, ff. 217v-18; E112/29/34; 112/107/56, 80; C2/Jas.I/M21/46; HLRO, main pprs., 14 May 1624; C142/204/125/2.
- 12. E112/29/27; M.E. Finch, Five Northants. Fams. (Northants. Rec. Soc. xix), 21-2.
- 13. E112/29/34, 112/107/56, 71, 80; STAC 5/M21/8, 5/M22/32, 5/M24/37, 5/M37/10, 5/M43/28.
- 14. C66/1770/3.
- 15. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 35, 338, 347.
- 16. Ibid. 98, 257, 309.
- 17. C142/365/154.
- 18. PROB 11/128, ff. 276-7.
- 19. HMC Buccleuch, i. 247.
- 20. PROB 11/128, f. 277; 11/196, f. 365; HMC Buccleuch, iii. 193.
- 21. HLRO, main pprs., 14 May 1624.
- 22. PROB 11/133, ff. 454-5.
- 23. C2/Jas.I/M21/46.