MONTAGU, William (1652-91), of Woodcote, Epsom and Baynards, Ewhurst, Surr.
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Family and Education
b. 13 Oct. 1652, 1st s. of Hon. William Montagu* by his 2nd w. educ. ?Westminster 1666; M. Temple 1666. m. 29 June 1670 (with £500 p.a.), Anne (d. 1688), da. and h. of Richard Evelyn of Woodcote, Surr., 1s. 1da. d.v.p.1
Montagu sat for Stockbridge for three weeks in the Convention Parliament before being expelled for bribery. Earlier he had eloped with the wife of John Lewknor*, in response to which Lewknor obtained a divorce and brought an action in January 1690 for damages against Montagu, of which John Evelyn the diarist wrote:
the famous infamous trial of my unworthy nephew Montagu at the King’s bench, which indeed I heard with much regret that so vile and scandalous a cause should have been [published], the damages £6,500 [£5,073 in fact]. The immense wrong this profligate wretch did my niece, drawing justly on him this disgrace: so vile a cause had never been brought to so public an example.
As Montagu could not pay the sum awarded against him, he was imprisoned in the King’s Bench prison. While incarcerated, he was again returned for Stockbridge in the 1690 general election, and was classed as a Whig by Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†). On 25 Mar. Montagu petitioned the House on the grounds that despite being in prison for debt, he had been legally elected to Parliament and desired that ‘his privilege of Parliament may be allowed as long as it continues; and he be enlarged to attend the service of the House’. The case was referred to a committee to search for precedents. Its chairman, his kinsman Charles Montagu*, reported on 5 May that it appeared that ‘all persons are eligible, except aliens, minors, and persons attainted of treason, or felony’, and gave examples of people who ‘did serve as Members of the last Parliament, though they were charged in execution before the dates of the letters of summons’. However, Lewknor made legal objections to Montagu’s release, and the House took no further action. Montagu died in prison on 2 Apr. 1691, in which month Robert Harley* listed him as a Country supporter.2