Montagu, William (1619?-1706) (DNB00)

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MONTAGU, Sir WILLIAM (1619?–1706), judge, second son of Edward, first baron Montagu [q. v.], of Boughton, Northamptonshire, by his second wife, Frances, daughter of Thomas Cotton of Connington, Huntingdonshire, and half-sister of Sir Robert Bruce Cotton [q. v.], born about 1619, entered Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, in 1632, but left without a degree, and was admitted in 1635 a member of the Middle Temple, where he was called to the bar in 1641. He represented Huntingdon in the Short parliament of 1640, but did not again sit in parliament until the Restoration. He was then returned for the university of Cambridge, 22 June 1660; and he afterwards sat for Stamford in the Pensionary parliament. He was appointed attorney-general to the queen, 10 June 1662, and was the same year elected a bencher of his inn, of which he was treasurer in 1663, and autumn reader in 1664. He was called to the degree of serjeant-at-law and created lord chief baron of the exchequer, 12 April 1676. He sat with Sir William Scroggs at the Old Bailey to try William Ireland [q. v.], Pickering, and others of the supposed popish plotters, on 17 Dec. 1678, but took little part in the proceedings, and he subsequently, when called as a witness to Oates's character on his trial in 1685, avowed that he 'had never any great faith in him.' He also sat as assessor to the House of Lords on the occasion of the impeachment of William Howard, viscount Stafford, November 1680, and was a member of the court which tried Lord William Russell, 13 July. On the western circuit in March 1684 he sentenced to death Alicia Welland, almost the last person executed for witchcraft in England. Consulted by James II as to the validity of a grant of the excise made by the late king shortly before his death, he gave offence by advising that it determined by that event, and it was expected that his ' quietus ' would immediately follow. It was deferred, however, until after the bloody assizes,' in which he was one of Jeffreys's colleagues, and was occasioned by his refusal in April 1686 to give an unqualified opinion in favour of the prerogative of dispensation, upon which he was removed (21 April) to make way for a more subservient judge. He returned to the bar, practised as a serjeant, and on the second flight of the king was nominated, 22 Jan. 1688-9, assessor to the Convention, but took little part in its proceedings. He died on 26 Aug. 1706.

Montagu married (1) Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Ralph Freeman of Aspeden, Hertfordshire, by whom he had a son, Christopher; (2) Mary, daughter of Sir John Aubrey, bart. His second wife was much admired by Pepys (Diary, 2 Jan. 1661-2, and 30 Dec. 1667). She bore him a son and a daughter, and died on 10 March 1699-1700. The son, William, married, 29 May 1670, Mary Anne, daughter of Richard Evelyn of Woodcote, Surrey, brother of the diarist (Evelyn, Diary, 29 May 1670), and died without issue in 1690; the daughter, Elizabeth, married Sir William Drake of Shardeloes, Buckinghamshire. Montagu has also been credited with a son Charles, apparently in error (cf. Hist. Reg. 1730, p. 65).

[Bridges's Northamptonshire, ii. 348, 352; Visitation of Huntingdonshire (Camden Soc.), p. 28; Dugdale's Orig. pp. 220, 222, Chron. Ser. p. 118; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1661–2, p. 404; Hist. MSS. Comm. 7th Rep. App. p. 493; Wynne's Miscellany, p. 303; Cobbett's State Trials, vii. 120, 1168, 1527, ix. 591; Parl. Hist. p. 693; Lists of Members of Parl. (Official); Bramston's Autobiog. (Camden Soc.), pp. 193, 207, 223; Reresby's Mem., ed. Cartwright, p. 361; Clarendon and Rochester Corresp. ii. 252; Hatton Corresp. (Camden. Soc.), ii. 131; Luttrell's Relation of State Affairs, i. 375, 547, vi. 81; North's Life of Lord-Keeper Guilford, i. 96; Lord Russell's Life of Lord John Russell, ii. 39; Le Neve's Pedigrees of Knights (Harl. Soc.), p. 219; Chauncy's Antiq. Hertfordshire, p. 125; Dugdale's Baronage, ii. 444; Wotton's Baronetage, vol. iii. pt. i. p. 112; Burke's Extinct Peerage; Misc. Gen. et Herald. 2nd ser. iii. 270; Duke of Manchester's Court and Society from Elizabeth to Anne, i. 272; Inderwick's Side Lights on the Stuarts; Addit. MSS. 5520 art. 64b, 27447 ff. 374, 419, 29551 ff. 481–90, 29558 f. 28b; Macaulay's Hist. of England, ii. 83; Foss's Lives of the Judges; Haydn's Book of Dignities, ed. Ockerby.]

J. M. R.