MONTAGU, George (c.1684-1739), of Horton, Northants.
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Family and Education
b. c.1684, 1st s. of Edward Montagu† of Horton by Elizabeth, da. of Sir John Pelham, 3rd Bt.* educ. ?Eton 1698; travelled abroad (Italy, Austria, Holland, Budapest, Belgrade, Constantinople) 1701–4. m. (1) 8 Apr. 1706, Ricarda Posthuma (d. 1711), da. and h. of Richard Saltonstall of Chipping Warden, Northants., 1da.; (2) c.28 June 1712, Lady Mary (d. 1726), da. of Richard Lumley, 1st Earl of Scarbrough, 1s. 6da. (1 d.v.p.). suc. fa. 1690; uncle Charles Montagu*, 1st Earl of Halifax, as 2nd Baron Halifax 19 May 1715; cr. Earl of Halifax 14 June 1715; KB 27 May 1725.1
Warden and chief forester Salcey forest, Northants. 1690–d.; ranger, Bushey park 1715–d.
Auditor of Exchequer 1714–d.; PC 27 Nov. 1717; lord justice 1720.
Montagu’s political career was conditioned by the early death of his father and by the fact that several of his uncles were on hand to further his political career. His uncle Christopher*, one of his father’s executors, seems to have looked after the family’s Northamptonshire interest, but it was his uncle Charles*, the leading Junto politician, who was to have the greater impact. A childless widower, Charles Montagu was raised to the peerage as Lord Halifax in 1700, and was careful to see that the barony would pass to his nephew George as the son of his eldest brother. Halifax was subsequently Montagu’s political patron. After an extensive grand tour, taken in company with a tutor, Mr ‘Guagin’, Montagu returned home from The Hague in October 1704. Probably on account of his extensive experience abroad, the young man was offered a diplomatic posting to Vienna in April 1705, to assist English attempts to mediate between the Emperor and his Hungarian subjects. Lord Halifax declined on his behalf, however, possibly for fear of offending the envoy, his old friend George Stepney (with whom Montagu had stayed in 1702 and 1704).2
Montagu was returned for Northampton at the 1705 election, with the support of Christopher Montagu, who had introduced him to the borough the previous February. As the only ‘Mr Montagu’ in the Commons for most of his parliamentary career, his political actions can be followed in some detail. Not surprisingly, he followed the Junto Whigs on most issues, although one list of the new Parliament classed him as a ‘Churchman’. He voted on 25 Oct. 1705 for the Court candidate as Speaker, and was teller on 13 Dec. against leave to bring in a place bill; on 22 Jan. 1706 he voted in favour of the Whig John Pedley’s election for Huntingdon, a borough which often returned Montagu nominees; and on 13 Feb. in favour of an amendment to a recruitment bill. On 18 Feb. he supported the Court over the ‘place clause’ of the regency bill, and was teller on the 27th against adding a clause (not noted in the Journals) to a naturalization bill. Soon after the prorogation, Montagu married an heiress, an event apparently connected with the will made two days afterwards by Lord Halifax in which he left his nephew most of his estate.3
During the 1706–7 session Montagu acted as teller on three occasions: on 27 Jan. 1707 on a procedural motion, which gave sanction to the use of extraordinary service money for aiding Savoy; on 7 Feb. against going into a committee of the whole on the bill to secure the Church; and on the 10th in a question on the Colchester election petition in favour of the Whig candidate. In the 1707–8 session his activity lessened significantly, his only action of note being his nomination on 5 Feb. 1708 to draft a road bill concerning Northampton, although he was classed as a Whig in the list compiled early in 1708.
Although Montagu had been touted in the autumn of 1706 as a possible Whig candidate for Northamptonshire at the next election, he stood successfully again at Northampton in 1708. The presence in the Commons of James Montagu III makes identification of ‘Mr Montagu’ problematic in this Parliament. He may have been the ‘Mr Montagu’ who took part in the Whig attack on Robert Harley*, moving on 26 Jan. 1709 for an address to the Queen ‘that she will be pleased to order the production of the papers relating to Gregg, from his first apprehension to his death’. He voted for naturalizing the Palatines. In the following session, on 13 Dec. 1709, he was one of the Whigs who supported John Dolben’s initial attack on Dr Sacheverell. It would seem probable that he was the ‘Mr Montagu’ who acted as a teller on 4 Feb. 1710 against a motion that the House would attend the trial of Sacheverell as a committee of the whole. Not surprisingly he voted for Sacheverell’s impeachment, and in April he added his name to a particularly assertive Whig address from his county. His only other minuted activity during the session was his involvement in the drafting and presentation of a local road bill in January 1710.4
Montagu was returned at the general election of 1710. Again the only ‘Mr Montagu’ in the Commons, he acted as a teller on 27 Jan. 1711 in favour of the Whig candidate at the Hythe election. In the following session he voted for the ‘No Peace without Spain’ motion on 7 Dec. 1711, and was a teller on 10 June 1712 against a motion to condemn as malicious and factious the preface to a recent edition of the bishop of St. Asaph’s sermons. His importance to the Whig cause can be noted by his membership of the Hanover Club founded in that year. In the 1713 session he told on 2 June in favour of a motion condemning the monopoly of the Royal African Company, and voted on 18 June 1713 against the French commerce bill, being classed as a Whig on the published division list. Unopposed in 1713, Montagu was classed as a Whig in the Worsley list, and voted on 18 Mar. 1714 against the expulsion of Richard Steele. He was also concerned in local issues, being named on 10 Mar. to draft the Nene navigation bill and was first-named on 5 June to an inquiry committee on leather manufacture. He told on 12 June for the recommittal of a supply resolution imposing an additional duty on soap, which led to all supply resolutions being recommitted. Not surprisingly, he was listed as a Whig on two comparative analyses of the 1713 and 1715 Parliaments.5
Lord Halifax resigned his auditorship of the Exchequer to Montagu upon his own return to office in 1714, and Montagu duly succeeded to his uncle’s barony in the following year. Shortly afterwards he was promoted in the peerage, taking the title of Earl of Halifax. He maintained an active interest in Northampton elections until his death on 9 May 1739.6
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Stuart Handley
- 1. Epistolary Curiosities ed. Warner, ii. 151–4, 160–1, 174; Boston Pub. Lib. ms K.5.5., Sir Lambert Blackwell* to Duke of Somerset, 29 Apr. 1704; HMC Portland, iv. 140; BL, Verney mss mic. 636/54, Ld. Fermanagh (John Verney*)?to Ralph Verney, 28 June 1712; Verney Letters 18th Cent. i. 312.
- 2. PCC 46 Dyke; CSP Dom. 1700–2, p. 155; HMC Portland, iv. 140; Marlborough–Godolphin Corresp. 415, 421, 425; HMC Bath, i. 68; S. Spens, George Stepney, 213, 232, 255.
- 3. Northants. RO, Isham mss IC 4987, Edward Morpott to Sir Justinian Isham, 4th Bt.*, 24 Feb. 1704–5; Life of Halifax, 259, app. p. iii.
- 4. Add. 28932, f. 378; HMC Portland, iv. 518; G. Holmes, Trial of Sacheverell, 89; Add. ch. 76112, Northants. address, 1710.
- 5. J. Oldmixon, Hist. Eng. (1735), 509.
- 6. Doddridge Corresp. ed. Nuttall (Northants. Rec. Soc. xxix), 68–69; Boyer, Pol. State, lvii. 458.