Montagu, George (1737-1788) (DNB00)
MONTAGU, GEORGE, fourth Duke of Manchester (1737–1788), son of Robert, third duke, vice-chamberlain to Queen Caroline and Queen Charlotte, by Harriet, daughter and coheiress of Edmund Dunch, esq., of Little Wittenham, Berkshire, was born on 6 April 1737. As Viscount Mandeville he was granted an ensign's commission, 13 July 1757, and supported George Ill's train at his coronation. On 28 March 1761 he was elected M.P. for Huntingdonshire in the whig interest. Soon after succeeding to the dukedom, 10 May 1762, he was appointed lord-lieutenant of the county and high steward of Godmanchester, as well as collector of the subsidies of tonnage and poundage outwards in the port of London. He was colonel of the Huntingdonshire regiment of militia from 1758 (cf. Home Office Papers, 1760-5, p. 22). In 1763 he succeeded Rockingham as a lord of the bedchamber, and held the appointment till 17 Jan. 1770. After the fall of the Grafton ministry he went into opposition, acting usually with the whigs of the Rockingham section. He signed their protests, and took a prominent part in the debates of the House of Lords. On 10 Dec. 1770 he moved an address to the crown, praying for the immediate despatch of forces to protect Gibraltar, Minorca, and Jamaica, and is said to have spoken 'with an uncommon degree of eloquence,' although his speech was interrupted by a motion to 'clear the house,' and a scene of great confusion followed (Parl. Hist. xvi. 1317). The motion was rejected on the following day by 40 to 14 (ib. pp. 1319-1320). He subsequently made vain efforts; to improve the arrangements for the admission of members of the lower house and other strangers to the lords' debates. On 30 March 1771 he went with Rockingham, Portland, Burke, and other members of the opposition to the Tower to see Crosby, the lord mayor, and Alderman Oliver, who were confined there.
Throughout the struggle with America he sided with the colonies. On 20 April 1774 he wrote to Rockingham that he was 'convinced that the northern governments of America do call loudly for reformation.' On 1 Feb. 1775 he spoke in favour of Chatham's bill for a provisional settlement with America, and ' drew the attention of every side of the House' (ib. xviii. 215). In the same session, on 16 March, he vehemently condemned the bill restraining the trade of the New England colonies (ib. p. 433); and on 21 March spoke against treating the southern colonies with greater favour than the northern (ib. pp. 455-6). On 18 May he presented a memorial from the New York assembly, part of which he read (ib. pp. 666, 684). On 1 Nov. he moved 'that the bringing into any part of the dominions of the crown of Great Britain the electoral troops of his majesty or any other foreign power is dangerous and unconstitutional.' The motion was lost by 75 to 32 (ib. pp. 798 et seq.) During 1776 he was equally active. In supporting a motion by the Duke of Richmond on 5 March to suspend hostilities with the colonists, he declared that it was too late to treat them as rebels they were 'a powerful nation, a formidable enemy.' The Americans, he believed, dreaded to be forced into independency (ib. pp. 1202-6). At the opening of the next session (October) Manchester, in supporting Rockingham's amendment to the address, gave particulars of the preparations that France was making to help America (ib. pp. 1370-2). Despite his connection with the Rockingham whigs, Manchester admired Chatham, and supported him on the last two great occasions on which he spoke, viz. 30 May and 5 Dec. 1777 (ib. xix. 503). On 17 March, when moving an amendment to the address, he declared that the incapacity of ministers had brought us 'to the melancholy dilemma of not being in a state to make peace or to prosecute war' (ib. pp. 915 et seq.) On 23 March he supported the Duke of Richmond's motion for an address to the crown requesting the withdrawal of troops from America. In 1779 he foretold that Ireland was likely to assume the same attitude as America, and that the claims to independence of parliament put forward on behalf of the king might end in a civil war in England.
Manchester differed with most of his political friends in deprecating the relief of the Roman catholics. He was one of a minority of three who voted against a bill prohibiting the holding of debates and selling of provisions on Sunday (ib. xxiii. 284). In January 1781 he wrote to Rockingham that it was hopeless for the opposition to make any further attacks upon ministers until his party could show l at least a little unanimity.' When in April 1782 Rockingham became once more premier, Manchester was appointed lord chamberlain, and also becamo a privy councillor (ib. p. 65). On 9 April. 1783 he was named ambassador to France, to treat for peace, and his action was generally approved; but he resisted Pitt's commercial treaty of 1786.
He caught a chill after attending the trial of Warren Hastings, and some days later took cold at a cricket match. He died at Brighton on 2 Sept. 1788, and was buried at Kimbolton, Huntingdonshire, on 14 Sept. A portrait by Peters, engraved by Leney, represents him in his robes as grand master of masons, holding a compass. Another portrait, depicting him as lord chamberlain, with his wand of office, was painted by C. G. Stuart and engraved by John Jones. Wraxall thus characterises him: 'His figure, which was noble, his manners affable and corresponding with his high rank, prepossessed in his favour, but his fortune bore no proportion to his dignity. Though a man of very dissipated habits, and unaccustomed to diplomatic business, he did not want talents.' Manchester married, on 22 Oct. 1762, Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Sir Francis Dashwood, bart. She died on 26 June 1832, having had four sons and two daughters. The second son, William, fifth duke of Manchester, is separately noticed.
[Burke's Peerage; Lodge's Genealogy of the Peerage; Doyle's Baronage; Playfair's British Families of Antiquity; Brayley's Beauties of England, vii. 563; Gent. Mag. 1788, p. 839; European Mag. p. 231; Walpole's Mem. George III (Le Marchant), i. 205, iv. 216–19, 226, and Last Journals (Doran), ii. 237, 517, ii. 594, 616; Rockingham Memoirs, i. passim; Thackeray's Chatham, ii. 235, 317, 351, 388; Trevelyan's Early Hist. of Charles J. Fox, p. 322; Wraxall's Hist. Memoirs, iii. 388; Haydn's Book of Dignities; Evans's and Bromley's Cat. of Engraved Portraits; Rogers's Protests of the Lords, vol. ii. passim; Parl. Hist. vols. xvi–xxvi. passim.]