MONTAGU, Lord Charles Greville (1741-84).

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer



5 June 1762 - Dec. 1765

Family and Education

b. 29 May 1741, 2nd s. of Robert, 3rd Duke of Manchester, by Harriet, da. and coh. of Edmund Dunch of Little Wittenham, Berks.; bro. of George, Visct. Mandeville.  educ. Ch. Ch. Oxf. 1759.  m. 20 Sept. 1765, Elizabeth, da. of James Balmer of Huntingdon, 1s. 2da.

Offices Held

Gov. S. Carolina 1765-73.


Montagu succeeded his brother as Member for Huntingdonshire under a compact between their father and Lord Sandwich ‘to agree to a reciprocal nomination during the present Parliament’.1 He was listed by Fox among those favourable to the peace preliminaries, December 1762, but voted with the Opposition over general warrants, 15 and 18 Feb. 1764; adhered to the Rockingham Administration, and was appointed by them governor of South Carolina. Sandwich wrote to Bedford, 13 Nov. 1765: ‘The ministry expect an attack the first day, as Lord Charles Montagu expressly declares that he is not to vacate his seat till after the first day of the session.’2 He arrived in South Carolina 12 June 1766, ‘and was received with every mark of respect’, and indeed of joy.3 But in time he found the politics of the province as trying as its climate, and on 29 July 1769 left for England, not returning till 15 Sept. 1771. He now became engaged in a very bitter controversy with the assembly, who pressed for his recall as much as he did for a transfer.4 In the end Montagu left the province without leave, and on 1 May 1773 wrote from Bath to a friend in South Carolina: ‘You must know that by this time I am no longer your governor; upon my arrival here, I understand the ministers were displeased with my coming over without leave, as soon therefore, as I had seen Lady Charles settled at Bath, I went up to London and resigned my government.’5

Before the general election of 1774 Lord North wrote to Lord Dartmouth, on 2 Oct.:6

I have just heard that Lord Charles Montagu, upon the recommendation of the Duke of Cumberland, is going to offer himself a candidate for Southampton in opposition to Mr. Stanley and Mr. Fleming. I take it for granted that he either is not apprized that those two gentlemen have the wishes of Government, or that he has not sufficiently considered how improper it is for a person in his situation to embark in any measure of opposition.

North therefore asked Dartmouth to try to dissuade him.

As to his Royal Highness [North went on to say], it would be presumptuous in me to give, or even to form any opinion upon the part which may be the most proper for him to act with respect to Southampton, but I own I shall be much concerned to hear that he has determined to take any step, which may possibly give offence, and which can not be of any advantage either to himself or to the person whom he honours with his protection, for I am informed from good authority that Lord Charles has no chance of success.

Montagu replied from Southampton on 3 Oct.; expressed his concern that the part he was taking should be objectionable to Dartmouth; and concluded:

Thus situated, your Lordship will ... see the necessity of my persevering, nor think because I refuse to yield my pretensions to Mr. Fleming (with whom your Lordship will allow me to observe that I have at least an equal title to the favour of Government) I therefore mean to give into a wanton opposition to the King’s ministers.

Four days later, he was badly defeated, but when (wrongly) informed that Fleming had vacated his seat by accepting office, Montagu set out for Southampton to renew his canvass—‘I must add’, wrote Manchester to Dartmouth, 31 Oct. 1774, ‘that my brother, from his connexions and living a good deal at Southampton, has formed no contemptible interest of his own, which might induce him to do more than I wish.’

After this little is heard of him till, presumably in consequence of the reconciliation between the Duke of Cumberland and the King, Manchester wrote to Dartmouth, on 26 June 1780, complaining that a man of his brother’s rank, capable and willing to serve his country, should be totally refused and forced to seek refuge in another.7 The meaning of this concluding remark is obscure, for the story that Montagu ‘had declared himself attached to the American cause, and offered his services to Dr. Franklin in Paris, to take command of an army’,8 seems hardly credible. By the end of the year a scheme of his to raise a corps from among American prisoners of war for service in Jamaica was accepted; by September 1782 he was raising a second battalion for the Duke of Cumberland’s Provincial Regiment of Foot; and when the regiment was disbanded, he went with his men to Nova Scotia for the purpose of forming a colony.9 He arrived at Halifax about the middle of December 1783, and died there on 4 Feb. 1784.10

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Sir Lewis Namier


  • 1. Sandwich to Grenville, 17 Nov. 1765, Grenville mss (JM).
  • 2. Bedford mss 52, f. 202.
  • 3. Committee of Corresp. of S. Carolina to Chas. Garth, S. Carolina Hist. Gen. Mag. xxviii. 227.
  • 4. Ibid. xxxiii. 262-80; HMC Dartmouth, ii. 92, 104.
  • 5. S. Carolina Hist. Gen. Mag. xxxiii. 259-61.
  • 6. Staffs. RO, Dartmouth mss.
  • 7. HMC Dartmouth, ii. 476.
  • 8. S. Carolina Hist. Gen. Mag. xxxiii. 260.
  • 9. HMC Royal Institution, ii. 209, 245-6; iii. 108.
  • 10. HMC 8th Rep. pt. 2, p. 139a; S. Carolina Hist. Gen. Mag. xxxiii. 260.