Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Montagu, Edward (1625-1672)

1329580Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 38 — Montagu, Edward (1625-1672)1894John Knox Laughton

MONTAGU, or more properly MOUNTAGU, EDWARD, first Earl of Sandwich (1625–1672), admiral and general at sea, only surviving son of Sir Sidney Montagu or Mountagu (d. 1644) (younger brother of Edward, first lord Montagu of Boughton [q. v.], and of Sir Henry Montagu, first earl of Manchester [q. v.]), by Paulina, daughter of John Pepys of Cottenham, Cambridgeshire, was born on 27 July 1625. His father was member for Huntingdonshire in the Long parliament, and in 1642 was expelled as a royalist. Edward, on the other hand, while still a mere lad, threw in his lot with the parliament, probably influenced by his cousin, the Earl of Manchester, or by his father-in-law, John Crew, afterwards Lord Crew of Stene [q. v.], whose eldest daughter Jemimah he married in November 1642. In 1643 he raised a regiment of foot in Cambridgeshire, and joined Manchester's army in November; took part in the storming of Lincoln, 6 May, and in the battle of Marston Moor on 2 July 1644. He was on 10 Jan. 1645, although not yet twenty, appointed by Manchester governor of Henley. In the following April he was given a regiment in the New Model, fought at Naseby (14 June), and distinguished himself at the storming of Bristol on 10 Sept. About this time he was returned to parliament for Huntingdonshire, but it does not appear that he took any part in their proceedings. Neither was he serving with the army for the next three years; he had no share in the second civil war in 1648, or in the king's trial and execution. He had no scruples, however, about co-operating with the council of state, of which he was nominated a member in July 1653. Notwithstanding the difference in their age, he appears to have been bound to Cromwell by ties of personal friendship and the early connection between the families [cf. Cromwell, Oliver]. This friendship seems to have been the determining factor of his conduct during the next few years. He was appointed one of the commissioners of the treasury (3 Aug. 1654); and when Blake desired to have a colleague in the command of the fleet [cf. Blake, Robert], Mountagu was appointed as conjoint general at sea (2 Jan. 1656). He had no previous experience at sea, if indeed he had ever even seen the sea; and the statement that he was appointed at the particular request of Blake (Lediard, p.566) is quite unsupported. It is very probable that Cromwell desired to strengthen his own influence in the fleet, but if it was true, as Pepys heard (Diary, 23 June 1662), that Mountagu was deeply in debt, there was a very obvious reason for his wishing to take part in the war against Spain.

His command, however, proved uneventful. The Barbary pirates had been brought to terms by Blake the year before; active operations against Spanish territory were forbidden; and though the West India treasure fleet was engaged and captured outside Cadiz on 8 Sept. [see Stayner, Sir Richard], Mountagu, who at the time was with Blake at Alveiro, had no part in the achievement further than reporting the success to his government (Thurloe, State Papers, v. 509), and afterwards carrying the treasure to England. The bullion, to the amount, it was said, of 600,000l., was carried through London in a triumphal procession, and Mountagu received the formal thanks of the parliament for his good service (4 Nov. 1656) (Whitelocke, Memorials, p. 653). The victory was celebrated by Edmund Waller in his poem ' Of a War with Spain and Fight at Sea by General Montagu in the year 1656.'

In 1657-8 Mountagu had command of the fleet stationed in the Downs, and covering, though not directly participating in, the operations against Dunkirk [see Goodsonn, William]. During this time he was also in frequent attendance on Cromwell; is said to have been one of those who strongly urged him to take the title of 'king' (Clarendon, Hist. xvi. 153); and was present with a drawn sword at his second installation as Protector on 26 June 1657 (Whitelocke, Memorials, p. 662). In December 1657 he was nominated one of Cromwell's House of Lords, and was given the command of a regiment of horse. After Cromwell's death Mountagu loyally supported the new protector, and in March 1659 assumed command of the fleet ordered to the Sound to arrange, or, if necessary, to enforce, a peace between Sweden and Denmark [see Meadows, Sir Philip]. On the fall of Richard Cromwell [q. v.], Mountagu felt no obligation to the new and unsettled government, which showed its want of confidence in him by depriving him of the command of his regiment of horse, and by associating with him in his mission three colleagues whom he looked on rather as spies or supervisors, and who in fact had secret instructions to depose him from the command and send him home under arrest if they had reason to mistrust his intentions (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1 July 1659; Clarendon, Hist. xvi. 157). In this state of difficulty and discontent Mountagu was not unwilling to listen to overtures from the king. His young cousin, Edward Montagu, son of the first Lord Montagu of Boughton [q. v.], and an active agent of Charles, had embarked with him in,it was said, the special object of soundingthe admiral, and now succeeded in representing to him the king's wish that he should take the fleet back to England so as to be ready to co-operate with Sir George Booth (1622-1684) [q. v.], already in command of a royalist army in Cheshire. Mountagu, discontented, discouraged, possibly foreseeing the coming anarchy, and honestly considering the restoration of the monarchy the best solution of the difficulty, but certainly judging that it might be most to his own interest (cf. Pepys, 15 May 1660), assented to his cousin's proposals, and was from this time actually engaged in the king's interest (Clarendon State Papers, iii. 493, 565,580). Taking advantage of the absence of diplomatic colleagues at Copenhagen, Mountagu summoned a council of war, which resolved that, as their present stay was useless and their provisions were running short, it was expedient to sail for England at once. This resolution Mountagu carried into effect, leaving the other plenipotentiaries behind him. On his return Mountagu reported what had been done to the council of state and the parliament (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 10, 16 Sept. 1659), but as the premature attempt in favour of the king had been overthrown, and Booth was a prisoner in the Tower, he judged it prudent to resign the command of the fleet, which for the next few months was held by Lawson, though only with the rank of vice-admiral [see Lawson, Sir John]. During the autumn and winter Mountagu lived in retirement, apparently at Hinchinbroke, his country seat near Huntingdon ; but on 23 Feb. 1659-60 he was reappointed general of the fleet, jointly with George Monck, afterwards Duke of Albemarle [q. v.], and with the sanction of the king, with whom he had been in frequent correspondence (Clarendon, Hist. xvi. 152 ; Pepys, 3 May 1660). The mutual jealousies between Monck and Mountagu seem to have been at this time the principal barrier to the Restoration, while the king felt quite sure of neither. When Mountagu took command of the fleet he found that there was a practical unanimity as to the necessity of bringing in the king, although there might be some who would have wished it otherwise (cf. Pepys, 29 March, 11, 17 April 1660), and on 3 May he called a council of war, and read the king's letter of 4 April to the officers assembled. Mountagu's resolution in favour of the king was agreed to without dissent ; after which, going on deck with the others, he read the king's letter and the resolution of the council of war to the ship's ! company, who cried out 'God bless King Charles' 'with the greatest joy imaginable' (ib. 3 May; the text of the king's letter to the generals and the fleet is in Clarendon, History, xvi. 199, 200). Pepys, Mountagu's secretary, afterwards went to all the ships in the fleet, and read the king's letter and the resolution of the council of war to their several crews with like result. 'My Lord was much pleased,' he wrote, 'to hear how all the fleet took it in a transport of joy, showed me a private letter of the king's to him, and another from the Duke of York, in such familiar style as to their common friend with all kindness imaginable. ... In the evening the general began to fire his guns which he did all that he had in the ship, and so did all the rest of the commanders ? (Diary, 3 May). After this there was no disguise ; preparations for going to Holland were openly made ; official persons came on board for a passage ; young Edward Montagu was sent in advance to acquaint the king with the progress of affairs (ib. 4 May ; Clarendon, History, xvi. 227 ; Lister, Life of Clarendon, iii. 404). The general appeared, wrote Pepys, to be 'willing to do all the honour in the world to Monck, and to let him have all the honour of doing the business, though he will many times express his thoughts of him to be but a thick-sculled fool.' On 8 May the king was proclaimed, and on the 10th Mountagu received an order from the parliament 'to set sail presently for the king' (Pepys, 10 May; cf. Clarendon, History, xvi. 237) ; on the llth, likewise in obedience to the order of parliament, the state's arms were taken down and painters brought from Dover to set up the king's arms ; and on the 12th the fleet sailed from the Downs. On the 14th it anchored at Scheveling ; on the 23rd the king embarked on board Mountagu's flagship, the Naseby (Mountagu to Monck, Eg. MS. 2618, f. 77), whose name was thenceforth changed to Royal Charles, and on the 25th he landed at Dover. During the nine days' stay of the fleet at Scheveling, and the attendant festivities, Mountagu never went on shore, nor did he leave the ship till the king was on the point of embarking, when he went in the boat to the landing-place and in her received the king, who 'did, with a great deal of affection, kiss him upon his first meeting' (Pepys, 23 May).

For his services at this critical juncture Mountagu was nominated a knight of the Garter, garter king-at-arms coming on board the Royal Charles at Dover on 27 May, and investing him with the insignia of the order; on 19 June and again on 24 July he was thanked by the House of Commons' for his late service to his king and country ; 'and on 29 June a warrant was issued to create him Viscount Hinchinbroke and Earl of Portsmouth, but the last title was changed on 12 July to Earl of Sandwich. He was also appointed master of the wardrobe, admiral of the narrow seas, and lieutenant-admiral to the Duke of York. As admiral of the narrow seas he had to provide for the escort and care of all the persons of rank and distinction passing to and fro ; in September he brought the princess royal from Holland, in October the queen-dowager from France, and in the following January took them both to France. On the king's coronation, 23 April 1661, he carried the sceptre, wearing a dress, made in France, very rich with embroidery, which cost him 200l. (ib. 22 April 1661). In June he was elected master of the Trinity House, and on the 19th sailed from the Downs in command of the fleet for the Mediterranean, having also in charge to bring home the young queen, Catherine of Braganza. After being laid up for some days at Alicante, sick with a fever, he went to Algiers and tried to negotiate. The Algerines answered they would have no peace without liberty to search English ships, whereupon on 31 July Sandwich attempted to bring them to terms by force. An easterly wind and a rolling sea rendered the attempt ineffectual; and, as the weather continued bad, he left the fleet under the command of Sir John Lawson, while he himself with a few ships went to Lisbon. After some little stay there he took his squadron to Tangier, where he anchored on 10 Oct. By the marriage treaty Tangier was ceded to the English as part of the queen's dowry ; but among the Portuguese there was a great deal of popular feeling against the marriage of the infanta to a heretic, and the surrender of Tangier or any other place to the commercial rival of Portugal in the far east (Clarendon, Continuation, p. 353). At Bombay the governor refused to carry out the cession [cf. Ley, James, third Earl of Marlborough], and at Tangier the governor had a similar intention. There was thus a considerable delay, which was brought to an end after three months by the garrison sustaining a signal defeat from the Moors and being reduced to ask Sandwich for assistance (12-14 Jan. 1661-2 ; Kennett, Register and Chronicle, p. 617 ; Clarendon, Continuation, p. 354). After this there was no further reluctance on the part of the Portuguese, and Sandwich, on establishing an English garrison and leaving the Earl of Peterborough as governor, returned to Lisbon.

His official reception was all that he could wish, and the opportunity of assisting in the repulse of a Spanish attack won for him the favour of the populace (ib. p. 355). There was, however, a difficulty about the payment of the dowry. The Portuguese were not only unable to pay the whole amount, 300,000l., but when, contrary to his instructions, Sandwich consented to receive the half, it appeared that even that could not be paid in cash. Merchandise he agreed to take, but bills of exchange he refused, and some six weeks passed before the matter could be settled. The queen embarked on 13 April, and on 14 May the squadron anchored at Spithead. Sandwich's conduct of the whole business was approved, and for some time he was in high favour at court ; but afterwards, when quarrels began between king and queen, he found himself blamed by each : by the king for bringing only half the money, and by the queen for having drawn too favourable a picture of the king's 'virtue and good-nature.' According to Clarendon, 'the tempest of so much injustice and the extreme affliction of mind 'threw him into' such a fever as brought him to the brink of his grave' (ib. p. 362) ; but Pepys, in constant attendance on Sandwich, though he speaks of his serious illness (19 Jan.-6 April 1663), describes it as a feverish cold of the nature of influenza, and refers to him, a few days before he was taken ill, as in the king's intimate confidence (12 Jan. 1662-3).

In November 1664, when the fleet was got together under the command of the Duke of York, with Prince Rupert as vice-admiral and admiral of the white, Sandwich, with his flag in the Prince, was rear-admiral of the fleet and admiral of the blue squadron (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 13 Nov.) He continued in that capacity during the winter and spring of 1665; and in the action off Lowestoft on 3 June succeeded, after an obstinate struggle, in breaking through the Dutch line, separating their fleet into two parts, and throwing the whole into confusion, in the midst of which the Dutch flagship Eendracht was brought to close action by the Royal Charles and accidentally blown up [see James II]. Other terrible losses following in close succession struck panic into the Dutch, and they fled, leaving the victory with the English.

On the return of the fleet and the retirement of the Duke of York, Sandwich was appointed commander-in-chief (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 2 July 1665 ; Clarendon, Continuation, pp. 659-61), and, sailing from Solebay on 5 July, went towards Bergen, where, according to his intelligence, the Dutch East India ships had arrived and were waiting for an escort of men-of-war. At the same time he had an intimation that the king of Denmark was not unwilling that retribution should fall on the Dutch, who had drawn him into a war with Sweden for their selfish ends ; and, though he could get no writing to that effect, the assurances he received appeared to warrant him in attempting to seize the Dutch ships in the neutral port. Accordingly, on 1 Aug. Sir Thomas Teddeman [q. v.] was sent in with a squadron of some twenty-four ships ; but on the 2nd, the Danish governor making common cause with the Dutch, who had also thrown up some heavy batteries on shore, the English, in an engagement of two hours and a half, were beaten off and driven out of the harbour (Cal. State Papers, Dom., James Coleman to Pepys, 21 Aug.) The governor of Bergen and the Danish viceroy afterwards endeavoured to reopen negotiations: but Sandwich, indignant at their two-faced conduct, and fearing lest he might be caught by De Ruyter on that dangerous coast, returned south and anchored in Solebay (Clarendon, Continuation, pp. 685-9 ; Sandwich to Duke of Albemarle, 25 Aug. in Cal. State Papers, Dom.) After refitting, he put to sea again on the 30th (ib., Sandwich to Lord Arlington, 30 Aug.), and on 3 Sept. fell in with three Dutch East Indiamen under the convoy of four ships of war. They were all captured, as on the next day were six more merchant-men ; the fleet thereupon returned to the river (ib., Sandwich to the king, 5 Sept., Sandwich to Lord Arlington, 5 Sept., Coventry to Lord Arlington, 8 Sept.) The prizes, especially the Indiamen, were extremely valuable, and Sandwich, through carelessness or ignorance, or, as his enemies alleged, through greed, permitted the hatches to be taken off and a part of the cargo to be assigned to the several flag officers. It was stated that they each received to the value of 1,000l., and that Sandwich himself received to the value of 2,000l. ; but it was afterwards admitted that Sandwich had received to the value of nearly 5,000l., and we may suppose that the other shares were of proportionate magnitude. The action, illegal and ill-judged, raised a great storm. The prizes, it was alleged with some appearance of truth, had been indiscriminately plundered by the seamen (ib. 22 Nov., 2 Dec. 1665, January 1666, p. 218); the East India Company were alarmed at the idea of vast quantities of Indian wares being thrown on the market at reduced prices ; the king was angry because Sandwich, having written to him for leave to make this distribution to the flag officers, had anticipated his consent before he received the king's reply ; the Duke of York was angry because he considered that Sandwich had infringed the prerogative of the lord high admiral, and was endeavouring to curry favour with the officers of the fleet. All this indignation, it was said, was fanned and kept alive by Sir William Coventry [q. v.] and the Duke of Albemarle, both of whom were jealous of Sandwich's influence at court (Clarendon, Continuation, pp. 746-749). Albemarle sent orders to the ports to seize all goods which were attempted to be landed from the fleet, and accordingly not only Sandwich's share of the plunder, but his own furniture and plate, were stopped at Lynn, where the boats came on their way to Huntingdon (ib. pp. 751-2 ; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 14 Dec. 1665). They were soon allowed to pass ; but the ill-feeling between Albemarle and Sandwich was much embittered. Coventry, too, continued to incense the Duke of York, not only with reports of excessive plundering, but with charges of misconduct of the fleet, to which the miscarriage at Bergen was attributed. There was some talk of bringing the matter before parliament, if not of impeaching the admiral (Clarendon, Continuation, p. 758), rather, it would seem, to frighten the king and the duke into taking summary notice of the offence, so as to avoid a public inquiry. The king and the duke had both accepted Sandwich's explanations ; but the virulence of his enemies seemed to render it impossible to continue him in the command of the fleet. The matter was referred to Clarendon, who arranged that he should quit the command on appointment as ambassador extraordinary to Madrid, 'to correct and amend the mistakes and errors in the late treaty, as further to mediate the peace with Portugal' (ib. pp. 760-9).

On 3 March Sandwich accordingly sailed from Portsmouth, and arrived at Madrid on 26 May 1666. In September 1668 he returned to England, having satisfactorily accomplished the objects of his mission, and concluded a treaty with Spain which Pepys heard 'was acknowledged by the merchants to be the best peace that ever England had with them' (27 Sept. 1667). In August 1670 he was appointed president of the council of trade and plantations, and on the outbreak of the Dutch war in 1672 was second in command of the English fleet under the Duke of York. When the French contingent, under the Count d'Estrees, had joined, it formed the white squadron, and Sandwich was admiral of the blue. So organised, the fleet numbered some eighty-one capital ships besides small craft, fireships, &c., bringing the total up to about 118. On 22 May they anchored in Solebay, in line parallel to the coast, the blue squadron being to the north. The story is told on weak evidence, although in its general outlines it is not improbable, that on the 27th Sandwich pointed out to the duke that with the wind easterly, as it then was, the fleet would be in great danger if the Dutch came suddenly on them, and advised either that they should put to sea, or an absurd alternative not likely to have been suggested that they should move nearer in shore ; but that the duke slighted his advice, with some 'indecent reflection' that it was dictated by a fear for his own safety (Burnet, Hist. of own Time, i. 562 ; Columna Rostrata, p. 217 ; Campbell, ii. 234). The fleet did not move, and the danger which Sandwich is said to have anticipated actually occurred the next day, 28 May. The wind was north-easterly, and at daybreak the Dutch fleet was seen coming down before it. Fortunately, the breeze died away ; and when it had freshened again, it had shifted to the southward of east. This gave the English time to prepare hurriedly for action, and to stand out to meet the enemy, Sandwich, with the blue squadron, leading. D'Estrees, with the French squadron, not understanding, or not choosing to follow, when, as vice-admiral, it was his privilege to lead, went off" on the other tack to the southward. There he was kept in check all day by a squadron of the enemy, while between their main fleet and the English the fight raged with exceeding fury. The English were outnumbered and surprised, and nothing but their obstinate valour especially that of Sandwich and the blue squadron prevented their being overpowered. Sir Joseph Jordan [q. v.], who, as vice-admiral of the blue squadron, commanded the van, beat back his immediate assailants and was able to go to the assistance of the duke, who was hard pressed. Sandwich, in the Royal James, was at the time holding his own. He had beaten off repeated attacks and had sunk several fireships. Later on, in the heat of the action, while the captain was below in the hands of the surgeon [see Haddock, Sir, Richard], the Royal James was successfully grappled by a fireship. Almost immediately she was wrapped in flames, and presently blew up, with the loss of Sandwich and nearly all on board. It was said that Sandwich was urged to leave the ship, but refused, in consequence of the insulting remark of the duke the day before ; it is more probable that the catastrophe followed so quickly that time was not permitted him. On 10 June a man-of-war ketch found the body floating on the sea near Harwich. It was recognised by the star on his coat, and brought into Harwich. The face was slightly burnt, otherwise the body was unblemished. It was embalmed and taken to London, where, in a public funeral, it was buried in the Chapel of Henry VII in Westminster Abbey, 3 July 1672.

The accidents of fortune and the sensational manner of his death have perhaps given Sandwich a greater reputation than he deserved. His birth, his marriage, and the friendship of Cromwell had raised him, without any proof of remarkable ability, to the command of the fleet under the Commonwealth. On the resignation of Richard Cromwell, bound by no ties to the parliamentary government, he was easily persuaded that patriotism agreed with interest, and that it would be advantageous to the country and to himself to support the king. He then raised himself to a position of honour and authority. His daily gossip and behaviour, as recorded by Pepys, often in minute detail, show him as a man of easy, comfort-loving temper, with notions of morality not too strait-laced for the times, and broad views about religion which, in that age, might seem atheistical (e.g. 7 Oct. 1660, 12 Jan., 9 Sept. 1663). On the other hand, amid almost universal corruption and greed, no special charge was laid against him save that of 'breaking bulk' in the case of the prizes, which, though a grave indiscretion, was certainly not the gross abuse it was represented to be. Except off Bergen, he never commanded in chief; and though the decisive movement off" Lowestoft on 3 June 1665 was made by him, and the credit of snatching the victory from De Ruyter at Solebay was his, they speak rather to tenacious courage than to any particular brilliance of conception. His scientific studies were probably vicarious, though he claimed to have personally taken the soundings at Tangier in order to determine 'the most convenient place for making a mole' (6 Feb. 1661-2; Kennett, p. 634). He contributed to the 'Philosophical Transactions' (No. 21, p. 390) 'Observations of an Eclipse of the Sun at Madrid on 22 June 1666 and of other phenomena.' He was also credited with the translation from the Spanish of Barba's 'Art of Metals.' The first edition (2 vols. 12mo, 1670) is anonymous; the second edition, published after his death (1674), bears his name on the title-page. One portrait by Lely belongs to the Earl of Sandwich, and another is in the Painted Hall at Greenwich. A third portrait is in Hampton Court Palace.

By his wife, Jemimah Crew, whom he married at the age of seventeen, Sandwich had four daughters and six sons, of whom the eldest, Edward, the 'child' of Pepys's 'Diary,' succeeded to the title. The fourth son, John, dean of Durham, is separately noticed.

The spelling of the name Mountagu is that of his signature.

[Memoirs of Sandwich are in Campbell's Lives of the Admirals, ii. 216; Collins's Peerage (ed. of 1768, iii. 287); Charnock's Biographia Navalis, i. 29; Southey's Lives of the Admirals, v. 222. The original source of much of their information is Clarendon's History of the Rebellion and its Continuation. Other references are given by Campbell. An abstract of Sandwich's Journal during his voyage to Lisbon and the Mediterranean in 1661–2 is printed in Kennett's Register and Chronicle, p. 471, &c.; and many of his letters to Arlington during his mission in Spain in 1667 are in Hispania Illustrata, 1703, catalogued in the British Museum under ‘Spain,’ 596, e. 17. Four volumes of Sandwich's papers are in the Carte Collection in the Bodleian Library. Others are in the possession of the present Earl of Sandwich. The Calendars of State Papers, Domestic, elucidate many obscure passages in his career; but by far the most important addition to our knowledge since the days of Charnock is Pepys's Diary, of which Sandwich may be called the hero, but which Southey practically ignored. See also Lediard's Nav. Hist.; Columna Rostrata; Orig. letters … of Sir Richard Fanshaw, Earl of Sandwich, and others, Lond. 1724; C. R. Markham's Great Lord Fairfax; Doyle's Baronage; Brandt's Vie de Ruiter; Basnage's Annales des Provinces-Unies; Jal's Abraham Du Quesne, ii. 66 et seq.; Add. MS. 27990, ff. 48 et seq.; Harl. MS. 1625, ff. 1 et seq.]

J. K. L.