Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Montagu, John (1719-1795)

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1327308Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 38 — Montagu, John (1719-1795)1894John Knox Laughton

MONTAGU, JOHN (1719–1795), admiral, born in 1719, son of James Montagu of Lackham in Wiltshire (d. 1747), and great-grandson of James Montagu of Lackham (1602-1665), third son of Henry Montagu, first earl of Manchester [q. v.], entered the Royal Academy at Portsmouth on 14 Aug. 1733. He afterwards served in the Yarmouth, in the Dreadnought with Captain Medley, in the Shoreham, in the Dragon with Curtis Barnett, in the Dauphin with Lord Aubrey Beauclerk all on the home or Mediterranean station. He passed his examination on 5 June 1740, was promoted to be lieutenant on 22 Dec., and on 2 Feb. 1740-1 was appointed to the Buckingham. In her he was present at the battle off Toulon on 11 Feb. 1743-4, though not engaged, the Buckingham being in the rear with Vice-admiral Richard Lestock [q. v.] At the court-martial on Lestock his deposition was adverse to the prisoner, who in cross-examining suggested that Montagu's evidence was dictated by Towry, captain of the Buckingham. 'I never ask any man's opinion,' answered Montagu, 'but go by my own. I always judged Mr. Lestock's conduct on that day unlike an officer, and always said so' (Minutes of the Court-martial).

Shortly afterwards Montagu was moved into the Namur, the flagship of Admiral Mathews, and on 2 March 1744-5 he was promoted to command the Hinchinbroke. In the following January he was posted to the Ambuscade of 40 guns, which in the spring of 1747 was attached to the squadron under Anson, and was present in the action off Cape Finisterre on 3 May. After commanding for short periods various frigates, in one of which, the Kent, he was succeeded by Rodney in January 1753, he was in January 1757 appointed to the Monarque at Portsmouth, and on 14 March had the painful duty of superintending the execution of Admiral Byng, who was shot on the Monarque's quarter-deck. Two months later the Monarque went out to the Mediterranean with Admiral Henry Osborn [q. v.], and on 28 Feb. 1758 assisted in the scattering and destruction of De la Clue's squadron off Cartagena. In February 1759 he was appointed to the Raisonnable, and in her joined Commodore John Moore [q. v.] in the West Indies. He was there moved into the Panther, which he brought home, and, again in rapid succession, into the Terrible, the Newark, and the Princess Amelia, one of the fleet with Hawke in the Bay of Biscay in 1760-1. On 22 June 1762 he was moved into the Magnanime [cf. Howe, Richard, Earl], and in May 1763 to the Dragon, which he commanded as guardship at Chatham till 1766. In July 1769 he was appointed to the Bellona, and on 18 Oct. 1770 was promoted to the rank of rear-admiral. From March 1771 to 1774 he was commander-in-chief on the North American station, defined as 'from the River St. Lawrence to Cape Florida and the Bahama Islands.' On 3 Feb. 1776 he was promoted to be vice-admiral, and shortly afterwards appointed commander-in-chief at Newfoundland, where, during the next three years, he was chiefly occupied in maintaining a system of active cruising against the enemy's privateers, and, on the outbreak of the war with France, in detaching a squadron to take possession of the islands Saint Pierre and Miquelon. He returned to Portsmouth just in time to sit on the court-martial on Admiral Keppel. On 8 April 1782 he was promoted to be admiral of the blue, and from 1783 to 1786 was commander-in-chief at Portsmouth. On 24 Sept. 1787 he became admiral of the white squadron. During his later years he settled at Fareham in Hampshire, where he died in August 1795.

He married in 1748 Sophia, daughter of James Wroughton of Wilcot, Wiltshire, and by her had issue a daughter and four sons. Of these the eldest, John, D.D., fellow of All Souls, Oxford, died unmarried in 1818. The second, George (1750–1829), the third, James (1752–1794), and the youngest, Edward, lieutenant-colonel R.A., slain at the siege of Seringapatam in May 1799, are separately noticed. Until 1749 Montagu wrote his name Mountagu; he then adopted the spelling here followed for the rest of his life.

[Charnock's Biog. Nav. v. 480; commission and warrant books and official letters in the Public Record Office.]

J. K. L.