Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Montagu, Richard
MONTAGU or MOUNTAGUE, RICHARD (1577–1641), controversialist and bishop, was born during Christmastide 1577 (cf. MS. Reg. King's College, Cambridge) at Dorney, Buckinghamshire, of which parish his father, Laurence Mountague, was vicar (Lipscomb, Buckinghamshire, iii. 275; Harwood, Alumni Etonenses, pp. 63-4). He was elected from Eton to a scholarship at King's College, Cambridge, and admitted on 24 Aug. 1594. His name occurs in the list of junior fellows for the quarter Midsummer to Michaelmas 1597. He graduated B.A. before Lady Day 1598, M.A. 1602, B.D. 1609. He assisted Sir Henry Savile [q. v.] in the literary work which he carried on at Eton, and the second book issued from the Eton press was his edition of 'The two Invectives of Gregory Nazianzen against Julian,' 1610. He was also to have edited St. Basil the Great, but the work was never completed. In 1610 he received the living of Wootton Courtney, Somerset; on 29 April 1613 he was admitted fellow of Eton, and in the same year received the rectory of Stanford Rivers, Essex. On 9 Dec. 1616 he was installed dean of Hereford, a post which he exchanged with Dr. Oliver Lloyd for a canonry of Windsor, in which he was installed on 6 Sept. 1617. He was admitted archdeacon of Hereford on 15 Sept. 1617. He held also the rectory of Petworth, Sussex, where he rebuilt the parsonage, and was chaplain to the king. He held these preferments with his fellowship at Eton by dispensation from James I (Cal. of State Papers, 1619-28, p. 546).
On the death, in 1614, of Isaac Casaubon [q. v.], with whom he had previously corresponded (Epp. Casaubon, ed. 1709, ep. 698, not 693, as in Pattison's 'Casaubon') about the 'Exercitationes ad Baronii Annales,' Montagu was directed by the king to publish that work. It appeared the same year, and in 1615 James requested him to prepare an answer to Baronius on similar lines. This work was at first apparently suppressed at Archbishop Abbot's command (Mark Pattison, Casaubon, p. 375), but it was issued in 1622 under the title of 'Analecta Ecclesiasticarum Exercitationum.' In the epistle dedicatory addressed to the king the author pays tribute to the memory of the great scholar, 'magnum illud Galliae et literarum monumentum' (see Introduction to vol. ii. of The Critical History of England, pp. 23, 24, for charge of plagiarism), and states his object to be to trace the origines of Christian faith and doctrine, and show that the Anglican position was derived from the 'ancient founts.' The work displays great knowledge of classical and patristic antiquity.
Through life Montagu's aim was to support the church of England against its enemies on both sides 'to stand in the gapp against puritanisme and popery, the Scilla and Charybdis of Ancient Piety' (Montagu to Cosin, Cosin Correspondence, i. 21). He would not recognise the foreign reformed bodies as lawful branches of the church, 'non est sacerdotium nisi in ecclesia, non est ecclesia sine sacerdotio' (Orig. Eccl. p. 464). His theses in fact were similar to those of the Caroline and tractarian divines; but he never completed the task which he had set himself: he only 'began his ecclesiastical history,' says Fuller, 'which had he finished might be balanced with that of Baronius, and which could have swayed with it for learning and weighed it down for truth.'
So far Montagu's work was almost entirely scholastic. In his 'Diatribæ upon the first part of the late History of Tithes,' 1621, 4to, he entered directly into one of the most popular controversies of the day. This work, dedicated to the king, was an attempt to beat Selden with his own weapons of philological and classical learning. 'Tithes are due by divine right' (p. 210), and he traces their history through the Jewish records from patriarchal to rabbinical times. He finds them in secular as well as sacred writers, and finally declares that no nation or country can be discovered that did not pay tithes to their deities, and that the custom is thus universal, as well as divinely originated. This book attracted considerable attention, but by his next work he sprang at once into popular fame. About 1619 he found that certain 'Romish rangers' had visited his parish and endeavoured to convert his flock. He invited them to meet him and discuss, but they did not come. He then drew up three propositions, promising to become a Roman catholic if any of them were successfully oppugned: 1. That the present Roman church is neither the catholic church nor a sound branch of the catholic church; 2. That the present English church is a sound member of the catholic church; and 3. That none of the points which the former maintains against the latter was the perpetual doctrine of the catholic church. He was answered in a pamphlet called 'A Gag for the New Gospel,' by Matthew Kellison [q. v.] To this he immediately replied by a trenchant rejoinder, 'A Gagg for the New Gospell? No. A New Gagg for an old Goose,' 1624. The 'Gagg' had contained forty-seven propositions which it attributed to the church of England. Of these Montagu only allows eight to be her true doctrine. The work, considered as a whole, was 'a temperate exposition of the reasons which were leading an increasing body of scholars to reject the doctrines of Rome and of Geneva alike' (Gardiner, History of England, v. 352).
Almost simultaneously with the publication of the 'New Gagg' Montagu issued his 'Immediate Addresse unto God alone, first delivered in a Sermon before his Majestie at Windsore, since revised and inlarged to a just treatise of Invocation of Saints,' 1624, 4to. Three years ago, he explained, he had preached before the king on Psalm 1, verse 15. There was present Marco Antonio de Dominis [q. v.], archbishop of Spalatro, who charged Montagu with supporting 'that ridiculous Roman doctrine and practice of praying unto saints and angels in time of need.' To meet the accusation Montagu now published the brief original draft of the sermon. The puritans were irritated by Montagu's attitude. Answer after answer poured forth from the press, and the House of Commons, on the complaint of two Ipswich ministers, Yates and Ward, referred the book to Abbot. Abbot applied for authority to the king, and remonstrated with Montagu. But James himself saw the pamphleteer, and approved of his work. 'If that is to be a Papist,' he said, 'so am I a Papist.' The matter did not rest with the king's death. The bishops of Rochester (Buckeridge), Oxford (Howson), and St. David's (Laud) wrote to Buckingham (Laud, Works, vi. 244-6) in support of Montagu, and he published his most famous work, 'Appello Caesarem: a just Appeale from two unjust Informers,' early in 1625. With an imprimatur from Dr. White, dean of Carlisle, in spite of Abbot's refusal to license it, it was issued from the press. It was a vindication of his teaching from the charge of Arminianism and popery. 'I am none of that fraternity—no Calvinist, no Lutheran, but a Christian' (p. 45). The House of Commons took up the matter at once, and accused the author of 'dishonouring the late king, of disturbing Church and State, and of treating the rights and privileges of Parliament with contempt.' A hot debate on the matter (see Gardiner, History of England, v. 362) was followed by Montagu's committal to the custody of the serjeant-at-arms. He was, however, allowed to return to Stanford Rivers on giving a bond of 2,000l. to the Serjeant to return on the reassembling of parliament (see Montagu's Letter to Buckingham, Cabala, ed. 1663, p. 116, and Joseph Mead [q. v.] to Sir M. Stuteville, Court and Times of Charles I, i. 96). Charles thereupon made Montagu one of his chaplains, and intimated to the commons on 9 July that 'what had been spoken in the House and informed against Mr. Mountague was displeasing to him. He hoped one of his chaplains might have as much protection as the servant of an ordinary burgess' (Rushworth, i. 174; cf. Laud, Diary, 9 July 1625; and Gardiner, History of England, v. 372-3). On the 11th parliament was prorogued. On 2 Aug., when the parliament was sitting at Oxford, Montagu was too ill to attend (cf. Cosin, Correspondence, i. 76 sqq.), and after a hot discussion, in which Coke and Heath took part, the matter was allowed to drop. But the question was far too serious to rest for long. On 16 and 17 Jan. 1625-6 a conference was held by Charles's command, as the result of which the bishops of London (Montaigne), Durham (Neile), Winchester (Andrewes), Rochester (Buckeridge), and St. David's (Laud) reported to Buckingham that Montagu 'hath not affirmed anything to be the doctrine of the Church of England, but that which in our opinions is the doctrine of the Church of England, or agreeable thereunto' (Laud, Works, vi. 249). This was followed on 11 Feb. by a conference, held 'at the desire of the Earl of Warwick' in Buckingham's house, between the Bishop of Lichfield (Morton) and the master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge (Dr. Preston), representing the opposition to Montagu and Dr. White, dean of Carlisle, as his defender. It lasted for two days, 'many of the nobility being present' (Laud, Works, iii. 178-9).' The result of the conference can hardly be expressed better than in the words of the Earl of Pembroke, 'that none returned Arminians thence save such as repaired thither with the same opinions' (Fuller, Church History, xi. i. 35). The committee of religion renewed their censure of the 'Appeal,' and the House of Commons voted a petition to the king that the author might be fitly punished and his book burned (Rushworth, i. 212). The king issued a proclamation (14 June 1626) commanding silence on points of controversy. In March 1628 the House of Commons again appointed a committee of religion to inquire into the cases of Montague, Mainwaring, and Cosin.
It was only in appearance that the king had ceased to protect Montagu, for Montagu had the strongest supporters at court in Laud and Buckingham himself (cf. Laud, Works, iv. 273); and on the death of Carleton, bishop of Chichester, who had not long before hotly controverted the tenets of the 'Appeal,' he was appointed to the vacant see. He was elected on 14 July 1628 (Le Neve, Dignitaries, ed. 1716, p. 114), received dispensation to hold Petworth with his bishopric (Cal. State Papers, 18 July 1628), did homage (ib. 24 July?), and on 22 Aug. was confirmed in Bow Church. During the ceremony one Jones, a stationer, made objection to the confirmation (full details in Fuller, Church History, xi. 67-9; and cf. Sir Francis Nethersole to Elizabeth, queen of Bohemia, Cal. State Papers, 14 Feb. 1629, &c.), but the objection was overruled as informal; and on 24 Aug. (St. Bartholomew's Day) he was consecrated at Croydon, on the same day that news came of Buckingham's assassination (Laud, Diary in Works, iii. 208). He was installed on 22 Sept. (Cal. State Papers). The appointment was a rash one; more magnanimous, as Heylyn says, than safe (Cyprianus Anglicus, p. 185). A bitter pamphlet, called 'Anti-Montacutum, an Appeale or Remonstrance of the Orthodox Ministers of the Church of England against Richard Mountague,' was published in 1629 (at Edinburgh, thus throwing light upon its presbyterian origin) and addressed to parliament. To this was added 'the character of an Arminian or mere Montaguist,' in which the bishop is thus described: 'He is an animal scarce rational, whose study is to read and applaud Peter Lambard and John Duns before Peter Martyr and John Calvin, and for more modern polemics he prefers Bellarmine before Chamierus.' The House of Commons at once took np the matter, and great alarm was felt among the king's advisers (cf. Letter of Heath to Montagu, quoted in Gardiner, vii. 19-20). Attempts were made at conciliation, by the issue of the declaration prefixed to the Thirty-nine Articles and still printed in the Book of Common Prayer, by a letter from Montagu to Abbot disclaiming Arminianism, by the grant of a special pardon to Montagu, and by the issue of a proclamation suppressing the 'Appello Caesarem ' (Cal. State Papers, 17 Jan. 1629). But the commons were in no mood to surrender their position. A vain attempt was made to show that Jones's objection to his confirmation was illegally disallowed.
Montagu set himself at once, and diligently, to the work of his diocese. He lived chiefly, 'without state or retinue,' at Aldingbourne, the summer residence of the bishops of Chichester, which he repaired (cf. Letter to Windebanke, Cal. State Papers, 26 June 1632), but we still find letters from him dated Petworth. His first endeavour was to recover the alienated estates of the see (ib. 1629-34, passim; and his own case in manuscript, Harleian MS. No. 7381). He was not wholly successful : his process to recover the estate and manor of Selsey, Sussex, for instance, being decided against him by Heath, chief justice, in the common pleas, in 1635. His primary visitation was held in 1635, and the articles which he then issued were afterwards reprinted (Prynne, Canterburie's Doome, p. 94). He was diligent in procuring obedience to church discipline in his diocese (e.g. Letter to Laud, 16 Jan. 1632). He pressed on the general collections for St. Paul's Cathedral (Cal. State Papers, 18 June 1635, 12 Feb. 1636, 2 May 1637, &c.) He was also engaged in his researches into ecclesiastical history, and published several learned treatises. In 1638 he was at work on a book on the Eucharistic Sacrifice, which he submitted to the approval of Laud (ib. 29 March 1638; Prynne, Canterburie's Doome , p. 351). He was also apparently at this time much mixed up in the tortuous negotiations with the papacy which were conducted through Panzani. Panzani recorded that in an interview on 3 Nov. 1635 Montagu spoke slightingly of the obstacles to reunion, admitted the authority of the pope, suggested a conference in France,' said freely that he believed all that I believed except transubstantiation,' adding that Laud was 'pauroso e circonspetto.' At a later interview he seemed, according to Panzani, to think reunion quite easy (see Memoirs of Gregorio Panzani, by Joseph Berington, 1793, pp. 237, 241, 246; and Mr. S. R. Gardiner's transcripts from the Record Office quoted in his History, viii. 138-9, 143). These statements must be received with considerable distrust (cf. a Roman catholic writer, C. Plowden [q. v.], Remarks on Panzani's Memoirs, Liège, 1794), as Panzani was notoriously ignorant of English opinion, and Montagu's writings maintain throughout an unflinchingly Anglican and anti-Roman position. But at the same time Montagu was asking license for his son to visit Rome (see letter to Windebanke, Cal. State Papers, 26 Jan. 1634-5), and the matter became in the hands of Prynne a plausible accusation of romanising (see Hidden Workes of Darkenesse brought to Publike Light, 1645, pp. 146-7).
On the translation of Wren, bishop of Norwich, to Ely, Montagu was appointed to the vacant see. He was elected on 4 May 1638, and the election received the royal assent on 9 May (Le Neve, Dignitaries, p. 212, and Cal. State Papers}. The temporalities were restored to him on 19 May (ib.) In Laud's annual accounts of his province to the king we find that in 1638 the bishop complained much of the impoverishing of the see by his predecessors' long leases and exchanges of land (Laud, Works, v. 359. His report for 1638 is Lambeth MS. No. 943). The next year he declared his diocese 'as quiet, uniform, and comformable as any in the kingdom if not more' (Laud, Works, v. 364). He had long been suffering from a quartan ague, as well as gout and stone (ib. p. 353, and Cosin Correspondence, vol. i. passim). But he was not to die without further public criticism. He was again attacked in the House of Commons on 23 Feb. 1641 on account of a petition from the inhabitants of St. Peter Mancroft, Norwich, against an inhibition directed by the bishop against Mr. Carter, parson of that parish, and a commission was appointed to consider his offences. Before any further steps were taken he died on 13 April 1641, and was buried in his cathedral, with a simple monument and epitaph written by himself 'Depositum Montacutii Episcopi.'
Selden and Savile both bore testimony to his great learning, and Laud described him as 'a very good scholar and a right honest man.' His works show him to have been a man of erudition, with a considerable gift of sarcasm, which he expressed in somewhat cumbrous Latin, but in clear and trenchant English. Both in Latin and in English he shows himself a writer of great power. Fuller says of him that 'his great parts were attended with a tartness of writing, very sharp the nip of his pen, and much gall mingled in his ink against such as opposed him. However such the equability of the sharpness of his style, he was impartial therein; be he ancient or modern writer, papist or protestant, that stood in his way, theyall equally taste thereof' (Church History, bk. xi. c. 7). His humorous, familiar letters to his intimate friend, Cosin (Cosin Correspondence, vol. i., Surtees Soc., 1869, No. 52), afford interesting details as to the composition of his different books. A scholar and theologian rather than a politician or man of the world, he was an enthusiast for his leading idea, the catholicity of the English church. In theological literature he was probably at least as powerful an influence as Andrewes or Jeremy Taylor. The 'Appello Cæsarem' was certainly one of the most famous pamphlets in an age of controversial activity.
Besides the works already mentioned, Montagu wrote: 1. 'Antidiatribæ ad priorern partem diatribes J. Cæsaris Bulengeri,' Cambridge, 1625. 2. 'Eusebii de Demonstratione Evangelicâ libri decem . . . omnia studio R. M. Latine facta, notis illustrata,' 1628. 3. 'Apparatus ad Origines Ecclesiasticas,' Oxford, 1635. 4. 'De Originibus Ecclesiasticis,' first part, London, 1636; second part, London, 1640. 5. 'Articles of Inquiry put forth at his Primary Visitation as Bishop of Norwich' (unauthorised), Cambridge, 1638; (corrected by the bishop), London, 1638; new edition, Cambridge, 1841. 6. 'Acts and Monuments of the Church,' London, 1642. 7. 'Versio et Notæ in Photii Epistolas,' London, 1651.