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Edward Montagu, 1562-1644


First Baron Montagu of Boughton. Politician, `royalist', creator of the first Thanksgiving.

Graduated from Oxford, 1574; student of the Middle Temple, 1580; represented Brackley, Northamptonshire, in parliament, 1601; knighted at coronation of James I, 1603; ordered by parliament to be brought to London as a prisoner due to known loyalty to the king, 1642; committed to the Tower, 1642; died under house arrest, 1644.

Responding to the parliamentary summons, his coach encountered a Parliamentary army. The commander, the Earl of Essex, offered to allow him to reside in the house of his daughter, but the aged Montagu refused.

He was severe, not a courtier, and apparently an able administrator. Established a Hospital for Aged Men, 1613.

Grandson of Sir Edward Montague (?-1557), his brother Sidney was the ancestor of the Earls of Sandwich.


It is my belief that this was the Sir Edward Montague that created the first Thanksgiving as a political response to the failure of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. Someone please correct me if I am wrong. Antonio Fraser, in Faith and Treason: The Story of the Gunpowder Plot describes how the original Thanksgiving came into being (using the e spelling):

"In London, Parliament had reassembled... and the King had made his celebrated speech. In the Commons, one of the first actions was to consider measures of safety, with reference to `the Danger of Papistical Practices'. Two days later Sir Edward Montague, the member for Northamptonshire, introduced a bill, drafted by himself, for a public thanksgiving to be said annually on 5 November. Sir Edward was often thought to be numbered among the Puritans, being `a man of plain and downright English spirit'. He was eager to be reinstated in the King's favor after delivering a petition against the suspension of nonconforming clergy which had annoyed James. The Papists' disgrace provided a perfect opening. Montague now introduced the concept of a plain and downright English festival which survived in one form or another for nearly four hundred years." Fraser

The Gunpowder Plot was a key event in English history. Fraser, again:

"... the Gunpowder Plot of 1605.. is ... one of the most memorable events in English history, which is celebrated annually in that chant 'Remember, remember the Fifth of November'. But who was the Gunpowder Plot a tragedy for? For King and Royal Family, for Parliament, all threatened with extinction by terrorist explosion? Or for the reckless Catholic conspirators and the entire Catholic community, including priests, whose fate was bound up with theirs?"

Incidentally, Guy Fawkes (commonly considered ringleader of the Plot) worked for a short time as a footman for Anthony Browne, 2nd Lord Montague.


Sources:
The DNB.
Faith and Treason, Fraser.

Family Research and History Section Maintained by Bruce R. Montague:
brucem@mail.got.net
http://www.cse.ucsc.edu/~brucem
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