MONTAGU, Sir Charles (1567-1625), of Lombard Street, London and Cranbrook, Barking, Essex

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



aft. 11 Apr. 1614

Family and Education

b. 23 Jan. 1567,1 5th but 4th surv. s. of Sir Edward Montagu I† (d.1602) of Boughton, Northants. and Elizabeth, da. of Sir James Harington† of Exton, Rutland; bro. of Sir Edward*, Sir Henry*, Sidney* and Sir Walter*.2 m. (1) c.1601, Lettice (d.1611), da. of Henry Clifford of Keyston, Hunts., wid. of Thomas Malby, merchant, of London, and John Rotherham of Seymours, Great Marlow, Bucks., s.p.;3 (2) 1612, Mary (d.1652), da. of William Whitmore, Haberdasher, of London, 3da.4 kntd. 18 Apr. 1603.5 d. 11 Sept. 1625.6 sig. Cha[rles] Montagu.

Offices Held

Vol. [I] by 1586, capt. of ft. [I] 1595-1600;7 kpr. Rathdrum fort, co. Wicklow 1597-1600;8 quartermaster-gen. [I] 1598-1600.9

Commr. inquiry, Fotheringhay sch., Northants. 1611,10 sewers, Hants 1617, Havering and Dagenham level, Essex 1625;11 kpr. Farnham park, Surr. 1617-d.;12 constable, Farnham Castle 1618-d.;13 j.p. Hants and Surr. 1617-d.14

Commr. govt. of Virg. 1624,15 Somers Is. tobacco duty 1625.16


Unlike his elder brothers Edward and Henry, Montagu does not seem to have been academically inclined, and instead of being given a formal education pursued a military career from an early age. The recipient of an Irish pension by 1586,17 he joined the regiment of his uncle Henry Harington in Ireland, and quickly established a reputation for efficiency and courage.18 In one action his horse was shot from under him; in another his daring sortie was said to have saved 500 lives.19 In 1600 Sir George Carew I* recommended him to Sir Robert Cecil† as one who had ‘deserved as well in Her Majesty’s service as any gentleman in this kingdom’. In the same year, however, despite the objections of lord deputy Mountjoy (Charles Blount†), his post of quartermaster-general was abolished as a measure of economy, whereupon he resigned his commission and returned to England.20 He married a wealthy London widow and established himself as his brothers’ business agent and as a moneylender. In these capacities he combined considerable financial acumen with a genuine affection for his family.21 By 1612 he was permanently resident in Lombard Street, keeping his eldest brother Sir Edward regularly informed of Court and city gossip.22 He apparently took over Toby Palavicino’s palatial house in Bishopsgate in satisfaction of a debt, and let it to the Spanish ambassador, who fell behind with the rent.23 Montagu was returned for Harwich to the 1614 Parliament via the interest of his brother-in-law, Sir George Whitmore, who had bought the manor of Harwich from the Crown. Montagu’s sole committee appointment was for a Huntingdonshire estate bill (19 May).24

Montagu’s younger brother James became bishop of Winchester in 1616 and shortly afterwards appointed him keeper of Farnham park.25 Montagu may have requested a seat at Harwich ahead of the general election in 1620, but in the event he was returned for Higham Ferrers on his brother Edward’s recommendation. His name is crossed out in the Harwich corporation minute book, suggesting that he withdrew before the election, which took place more than a month after the Higham Ferrers result was known.26 His first appointment, on 15 Feb. 1621, was to a conference to prepare a joint address for the better execution of the laws against recusancy.27 His brother Henry, now lord treasurer Mandeville, was one of those who came under attack in the Parliament for his role in authorizing and enforcing odious patents of monopolies. Montagu came to Mandeville’s defence, informing the Commons on 21 Feb. that abuses in the inns and alehouses patents had already been reformed.28 This did not convince Sir Francis Seymour*, however, who urged the Commons to pursue not just the monopolists but the referees, especially Mandeville. Montagu was outraged by this, and protested that Seymour should be reprehended by the Commons.29 It may have been to direct attention away from Mandeville that Montagu, who had learned privately from (Sir) George Hastings* about the corrupt practices of the lord chancellor (Francis Bacon*), gave evidence against Bacon at a conference on 19 March.30 In the event, the House was slow to respond to the allegations against Mandeville, and no action had been taken by 11 May, when Seymour asked to be cleared. Following Seymour’s request, Montagu declared that ‘if you will [ac]quit Sir Francis Seymour, [ac]quit the lord treasurer also’.31

Montagu was on firmer ground in the debate on foreign trade on 26 Feb., when he pointed out that the influx of Spanish silver had fundamentally altered relative prices of gold and silver, as an underlying cause of inflation. The following day he maintained that England had an adverse balance of trade with the Low Countries.32 Montagu twice acted as teller, once on 22 Mar., when he supported the motion to confirm the election of Sir Edward Villiers* and William Man* for Westminster,33 and again on 29 May, when he supported a motion to read the bill to confirm the title of the earl of Holdernesse to lands forfeited for recusancy.34 Montagu’s remaining appointments included committees to inquire into the state of Ireland (26 Apr.), and to consider bills concerning drunkenness (1 Mar.), chantries (22 Mar.), and the import of Irish cattle (9 May).35 He was also named to help manage the conference with the Lords on the Sabbath observance bill on 24 May.36 Montagu played no recorded part in the winter sitting, perhaps because his brother, having resigned as treasurer, was by then no longer under threat of impeachment.

Montagu may already have been conscious of declining health when he drew up his will on his 57th birthday in January 1624.37 Nevertheless he returned to Parliament a short while later, when he again sat for Higham Ferrers. On 9 Mar. 1624 he was teller against the second reading of the bill to reform abuses in actions of supersedeas and certiorari.38 Almost all of his committee appointments were to consider private measures, including one for the lands of the Catholic Viscount Montagu (5 Apr. 1624), and another to ratify an exchange of lands between his kinsman Sir Lewis Watson* and Prince Charles (9 April).39 The rest included bill committees on bankruptcy (22 Mar.), coal duties (29 Apr.), foreign bribes (12 May), apothecaries (14 May), and new buildings in London (25 May).40 On 19 May he was appointed to the committee for a bill to enable Palavicino to sell land for payment of his debts.41 As soon as this measure received the Royal Assent, Montagu bought Palavicino’s Essex estate, named Cranbrook in the parish of Barking.42

On 28 Feb. 1625 Montagu was named with Sir Nathaniel Rich* to a commission to inquire into an imposition on tobacco in the Somers Islands, intended to pay for the maintenance of a minister there; but he did not live to complete his report.43 Re-elected for Higham Ferrers to the first Caroline Parliament, he acted as teller in favour of petitioning jointly with the Lords for a fast (22 June).44 His only committee appointment, on 28 June, was for a drainage bill promoted by his family’s chief local rival, the 1st earl of Westmorland (Sir Francis Fane*).45 Montagu died without male heir ‘of an ague’ at Cranbrook on 11 Sept. 1625 and was buried at Barking.46 He left £100 to the poor of various parishes. His eldest daughter received a portion of £2,400, the other two £1,800 each; and all three were made joint executrices of their legacies. His wife, who had lived ‘most peaceably and lovingly’ with him, was made executrix of the rest of the estate, and given a life interest in the Essex property.47 His daughters all married Members who sat during this period: (Sir) Christopher Hatton, Sir Dudley North and (Sir) Edward Baeshe.48

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Virginia C.D. Moseley / Rosemary Sgroi


  • 1. PROB 11/148, f. 148v.
  • 2. Vis. Northants. ed. Metcalfe, 115.
  • 3. VCH Hunts. ii. 62; Vis. Northants. (Harl. Soc. lxxxvii), 137.
  • 4. Vis. Salop (Harl. Soc. xxix), 499.
  • 5. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 101.
  • 6. C142/418/82.
  • 7. SP63/207 pt. 4, f. 203; CSP Ire. 1592-6, p. 405; 1600, p. 126.
  • 8. CSP Ire. 1598-9, p. 5.
  • 9. CSP Carew, 1589-1600, p. 280; CSP Ire. 1600, p. 126.
  • 10. CSP Dom. 1611-18, pp. 56, 58.
  • 11. C181/2, f. 296v; 181/3, f. 158v.
  • 12. HMC Montagu, 93; G.H. Glanville, ‘Aspects Hist. Surr. 1580-1620’ (London Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1972), p. 88.
  • 13. Add. 39978, f. 510.
  • 14. C231/4, ff. 31, 32; T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 2, pp. 15, 16.
  • 15. Rymer, vii. pt. 4, p. 144.
  • 16. APC, 1623-5, pp. 478, 490.
  • 17. CSP Ire. 1586-8, p. 41.
  • 18. CSP Ire. 1588-92, p. 439.
  • 19. Ibid. 1598-9, pp. 103, 278-9; 1599-1600, p. 59.
  • 20. Ibid. 1600, pp. 76, 126.
  • 21. HMC Montagu, 82, 86, 90
  • 22. HMC Buccleuch, i. 239-44, 247-50, 252; HMC Ancaster, 389-90.
  • 23. L. Stone, Sir Horatio Palavicino, an Elizabethan, 268-9, 313.
  • 24. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 289.
  • 25. PROB 11/132, f. 37; HMC Buccleuch, i. 253-8; iii. 214, 220.
  • 26. Harwich bor. recs. ms 98/3, f. 37.
  • 27. CJ, i. 522b.
  • 28. CD 1621, vi. 261.
  • 29. Ibid. 7.
  • 30. Ibid. v. 306, 310; CJ, i. 560a; LJ, iii. 53b.
  • 31. CD 1621, iii. 227.
  • 32. CJ, i. 528a; CD 1621, v. 518, 263.
  • 33. CJ, i. 569a.
  • 34. Ibid. 631a.
  • 35. Ibid. 532b, 568b, 593a, 615b.
  • 36. Ibid. 626a.
  • 37. PROB 11/148, f. 148v.
  • 38. CJ, i. 680b.
  • 39. Ibid. 755a, 758b.
  • 40. Ibid. 703a, 704a, 711a, 745a, 778b.
  • 41. Ibid. 705a.
  • 42. Stone, 268-9, 313.
  • 43. APC, 1623-5, pp. 478, 490.
  • 44. Procs. 1625, pp. 217, 218.
  • 45. Ibid. 257.
  • 46. C142/418/82; Cott. Julius C.III, no. 360; Bridges, Northants. ii. 350.
  • 47. PROB 11/148, f. 148v.
  • 48. VCH Essex, v. 198, 227.