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Royal Naval Biography/Montagu, Robert

Admiral of the White.

The noble house of Sandwich, of which this officer is a member, claims for its founder Admiral Montagu, who induced the fleet to declare for Charles II., and for this timely service was rewarded with an Earldom.

In 1778, Mr. Montagu accompanied Rear-Admiral Sir Edward Hughes to the East Indies, in the Superbe; and, on the death of Captain Panton, was promoted from Third Lieutenant of that ship, to the command of the Seahorse, of 20 guns; and this appointment was confirmed by a Post commission, dated March 3, 1781, at which period the late Earl of Sandwich presided at the Admiralty.

Captain Montagu commanded the Exeter, of 64 guns, in the action between Sir Edward Hughes and M. de Suffrein, off Negapatnam, July 6, 1782. This engagement, like those which had preceded it, proved indecisive[1]. On this occasion the Exeter appears to have been warmly engaged, having had 11 killed and 24 wounded.

Captain Montagu soon after returned to England, and was appointed to the Flora, of 38 guns, in which ship he proceeded to the Jamaica station. In 1789 and 1790, we find him commanding the Aquilon frigate, in the Mediterranean. At the commencement of the war with republican France, he sailed from England in the Sampson, of 64 guns, to escort the trade bound to the East Indies; and, in the autumn of the following year, returned from thence, with nineteen of the Hon. Company’s ships under his convoy, and in company with the Lion 64, having on board Lord Macartney and suite, returning from an embassy to China. Subsequent to his arrival in England, Captain Montagu had the satisfaction of receiving the thanks of the Court of Directors, together with a present of 350 guineas, for the care and protection which he had afforded to their property.

Our officer’s next appointment was to the Hector, of 74 guns, stationed for some time in the Mediterranean, but afterwards attached to the Channel Fleet. This ship formed part of the force under Admiral Hotham, in the partial action of July 13, 1795[2]. In 1797, he removed into the Cumberland, a ship of the same force, in which he continued on the Home station, until his promotion to the rank of Rear-Admiral, Feb. 14, 1799.

In the summer of 1801, he was ordered to hoist his flag in the Carnatic, of 74 guns, at Jamaica, and proceeded thither in the Garland frigate. On the 16th Sept., in the same year, he succeeded to the command on that station, vacant by the death of Lord Hugh Seymour, on which occasion he removed into the Sans Pareil, of 84 guns.

The Rear-Admiral returned to England in the course of the following year; and soon after the re-commencement of hostilities against France, was appointed to a command in the North Sea fleet, under the orders of Lord Keith. He was advanced to the rank of Vice-Admiral, Nov. 9, 1805; and became a full Admiral, July 31, 1810.

  1. The British squadron consisted of eleven ships, mounting 732 guns, and one small frigate; the enemy had twelve two-decked ships, carrying 770 guns, three frigates, and one smaller vessel. The total loss sustained by the former was 77 men killed and 233 wounded; on the side of the enemy, 178 vere slain and 661 wounded.
  2. See Admiral Sir John Sutton.