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Edward Mountagu, 1625-1672


First Earl of Sandwich. Famous Admiral, friend of Cromwell, friend of Charles II [1] , important role in end of English Civil war and the start of the Restoration .

His father was expelled from the Long Parliament as a Royalist; 1642. Edward joined his cousin and father-in-law as a Parliamentarian; raised a regiment , 1643, which he commanded at Lincoln and Marston Moor [1] [2] (a famous battle - the bloodiest battle ever fought on English soil), 1644; made Governor of Henley, 1645; commanded a regiment in the New Model Army , 1645 (he was still under 20!); at Nasby (a famous battle) and Bristol, 1645;

Played no role in the `2nd Civil War' (1648-); took no part in the king's trial and execution; bound to Cromwell by close personal friendship, made a member of council of state, 1653; commissioner of the treasury, 1654; conjoint-general-at-sea, 1656;

Cromwell apparently desired to have his own `insider' in control of the fleet, also, Montagu appears to have been deeply in debt and in need of reversing his financial fortunes via hoped-for Spanish war booty. He had never seen the sea. The English captured the annual Spanish treasure fleet (over 600,000 pounds of silver), and Montagu delivered it in a triumphal procession to parliament, but he had had no part in the operations.

Urged Cromwell to crown himself king and was present with drawn sword at Cromwell's 2nd installation as `Protector', 1657; (Cromwell died in 1659);

His cousin Edward Montagu (1616-1684) appears to have `turned' him to the royalist cause, 1659-60; resigned command of the fleet, 1659; reappointed joint general (with George Monck) of the fleet with consent of king, 1660; jealousy between Montagu and Monck was a principal obstacle to the Restoration, he resolved in favor of the king, called a council of war with the officers of the fleet, read the kings letter on deck, and called out `God bless King Charles ', 1660.

`In the evening the general began to fire his guns, ... and so did all the rest of the commanders' (Pepys).

Montagu picked up the king in Holland aboard his flagship, the Naseby, changed the ship's name to the Royal Charles (the irony), and delivered the king to Dover; 1660. Very well rewarded. Knight of the Garter, made Earl of Sandwich, master of the wardrobe, admiral of the narrow seas, 1660;

Attempting to negotiate peace in Algiers using the fleet, 1661; Algeria insisted on the right to search English ships, an attempt at force failed due to bad weather, 1661; Attempted to pick up the Portuguese Princess Catherine of Braganza (by marriage treaty with the English the Portuguese possession of Tangiers had been ceded to England, but the local Portuguese refused to surrender Tangiers), 1661; in 3 months the Moors defeated the Portuguese who asked Montagu (Sandwich) for assistance, 1661; Sandwich established an English garrison in Tangiers, 1661; the Portuguese were unable to pay the Princesses dowry, Sandwich agreed to take half, 1661; this was all publicly popular, however, the king and new queen soon began to quarrel, Sandwich was blamed by the king for only getting half the money, and by the queen for painting an overly flattering picture of the king!

War with the Dutch, 1665; battle of Lowestoft, broke the Dutch line, the Royal Charles grappled with the Dutch flagship Eendracht, the Eendracht was accidentally blown-up, 1665; Commander-in-chief, 1665; attempted to seize the Dutch East Indies fleet (without their escort) in neutral port of Bergen, Norway; was "double crossed" by the Danish governor, and defeated, 1665; Sandwich somewhat made up the loss by seizing 13 Dutch ships (9 very rich Indiamen) at sea, 1665; The plundering of these ships by the fleet officers (and Sandwich) raised a great scandal which somewhat diminished his influence; treaty with Spain, 1668; president of the council on trade and plantations, 1670; 2nd in command of the English fleet at start of Dutch war of 1672; the English fleet (118 ships) was caught by the Dutch at Solebay, the battle raged all day, toward the end a Dutch fireship grappled the Royal James (Sandwich's flagship) and exploded, killing nearly all aboard the Royal James, including Sandwich, 1672; However, his obstinence is credited with snatching victory from the Dutch.

Samuel Pepys, the great diarist, was Edward Mountagu's cousin. Pepys became Edward's secretary in 1660. Pepys documented Edward's life in great detail.

Signed his name `Mountagu'.

Confusingly, cousin of Edward Montagu (1616-1684).

[Biography Link] [A modern group that reenacts his regiment]


Why did Edward abandon his extreme anti-royalist position to embrace (if not `trigger') the Restoration? This question would seem to be of considerable historical importance.

A very readable account is provided in the excellent biography of Algernon Sidney, The Porcupine: the Life of Algernon Sidney, by John Carswell (1989), John Murray, Publishers. This is a historical autobiography that reads like fiction - highly recommended. I have extracted his explication of Edward's switch in position, told from the perspective of Algernon Sidney. I think this extract is of especial interest because of the Montagu family cameo:

`The balance of power in the Northern Kingdoms had greatly changed... the Danish King had complete control of the narrow international waterway leading to... the Baltic... the Sound... they levied a toll on every cargo...

... the emerging power of Sweden... had broken Danish control... France, Britain, and the Netherlands had therefore found common ground... in May 1659 to impose peace... All three sent special missions to Denmark... and in the case of the English and Dutch, the greater part of their navies...

... the three powers... had their differences... The Dutch favoured the Danes, the English the Swedes... It was highly probably, given the immense concentration of Dutch, English, Danish, and Swedish naval and military force round the Sound, that the intervention for peace would end in a general war.

On 18 July the Langport cast anchor off Elsinore... Parliament, following its usual cautious habits, had given Algernon colleagues... The remaining commissioner was Admiral Sir Edward Montagu, commanding the English fleet in the Sound, who welcomed his colleagues on board his flagship, the Naseby. The welcome was no doubt the more splendid because Algernon and Montagu were related, though distantly. In attendance on Montagu was his youthful secretary, Samuel Pepys, and it is a pity he had not yet begun his diary.

Algernon had been warned about Montagu by Thurloe... and told that if the Admiral showed any sign of disaffection he should be put under arrest. Ever since the beginning of the Civil War Montagu had been steady in the Parliamentary cause, but now his loyalty to the republic was doubtful. As a Cavalier agent ... had secretly written to ... the exiled King's chief advisor, `When Montagu doth come home he will either lay by himself, or be laid by by the Parliament. This is the most favourable occasion that ever was to tempt him.' From this arose the journey of the Cavalier emissary Captain Whetstone...

As Pepys was gradually to discover with distress, Admiral Montagu had no religious ideals, but he had a principle, which was settled government. `I had rather the nation were settled', he said later shortly before the Restoration, `though I and my whole family should suffer by it.' The second half of this remark was cant, for Montagu fully intended he and his family should prosper, but he did not seek office for himself. His aim, which it was to take a long time to achieve, was stability. The navy which he commanded had been a major, perhaps decisive, factor in the defeat of Charles I. Less then a year after Algernon's arrival at Elsinore, it would carry Charles II back to his throne, and Admiral Montagu would bear the sword of state before the King at his coronation just as he had borne it before the Lord Protector Oliver at his installation. It would not be a gross exaggeration to say that the seeds of the Restoration first sprouted at Elsinore.

Thoughts of this kind had probably begun to cross Montagu's mind even before he sailed with his fleet from England, but his mind was made up in the Sound. His conversion to the King's cause, he later told Pepy's, `commenced from his being in the Sound, when he found what usage he was likely to have from the Commonwealth.' It is difficult to believe that Algernon's uncompromising rectitude ... did not contribute to this decision, and Montagu often afterwards referred to him as `my mortal enemy'...

... For forty days ... Algernon ... was to have total control of the Fleet assembled there. But it had already been on station for several months and was in urgent need of rest and refit...

Montagu did not fail to impress these facts on his guests... He showed them around his fleet, dwelling on the need for a refit and the longing of every man from the admiral downwards to be home again after spending so long at sea. Crews, he pointed out, had been thinned by death and sickness, and there were no replacements...

(By this time, things were also getting out of control on land, and even the Dane's German allies were beginning to show up for the fight. At this point, Algernon pulled off somewhat of a diplomatic coup, by taking decisive action, using the fleet as a threat, staring everybody involved down (including his allies), and acting like he was completely in charge, even with respect to Frederik III of Denmark and Charles X of Sweden... alas, it was not to last long... ed.)

... The Cavalier agent had arrived in Denmark only a week or so after Algernon... and immediately put himself in Montagu's way, first at a public dinner, where he professed not to recognize the admiral (who, however, recognized him), and then during a sight-seeing trip... to Copenhagen. ... Two secret meetings followed, at which the King's letter to Montagu was delivered and answered, and Whetstone left ... in a ship thoughtfully provided by the Dutch... and ... reported ... that `upon any appearance of disorders in England' the King `might expect a good account' of Montagu, who would write further when he got home.

... Montagu furiously tore the order in half.... Next day ... he went on board, held a council of war with his officers, and sailed, leaving only one frigate and a ketch behind. ... The arrival of the fleet in England was probably the decisive factor in ending the Republic, and it did not go to sea again until May 1660 when, with Montagu once more in command, it ferried the King home in triumph.

... A third Civil War seemed on the point of breaking out. ... It was just the situation Admiral Montagu had foreseen when he assured Charles II through Whetstone that he would come out for the King `upon any appearance of disorders in England'... Renewed Civil War was now too high a price to pay for the ideals of parliamentary sovereignty over the Army.

The matter was not decided by the politicians but by the soldiers themselves... In the Great Civil War Englishman had fought Englishman... but the soldiers of 1659 had served together far too long to do that....' (They had a `phony war'. Parliament had given itself direct command of the Army but was not united; it was using the Army to extend factional political conflict. The soldiers would fire their pistols into the ground and exchange jokes about the incompetence of the politicians when they encountered each other; Parliament and Army leadership were denigrated and lost legitimate 'command authority', ed.)

(John Carswell, The Porcupine)

Carsell has been able to recreate the mission and orders of the Cavalier agent, Captain Whetstone, using historical records and letters. An undersecretary in Parliament, Sir Samuel Morland, was a Cavalier agent. Whetstone was thus able to give Montagu Algernon's full orders, including those ordering his arrest if he appeared disloyal. Carsell also notes: `The intermediary between Whetstone and the Admiral was confusingly also called Edward Montagu - a cousin of the admiral and a convinced royalist.'

With all this talk of Elsinore, you almost expect to see Hamlet lurking in the shadows...


Other Resources:

http://www.hinchbk.cambs.sch.uk/diaries/mont.html
http://www.bracewel.demon.co.uk/monties/montylif.htm


Sources:
[DNB].

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