1893 text

George Monk, born 1608, created Duke of Albemarle, 1660, married Ann Clarges, March, 1654, died January 3rd, 1676.

This text comes from a footnote on a diary entry in the 1893 edition edited by Henry B. Wheatley.

26 Annotations

David Gurliacci  •  Link

Historian Thomas Macaulay's description of Monk:

"George Monk, was himself the very opposite of a zealot. ... He had at the commencement of the civil war, borne arms for the King, had been made prisoner by the Roundheads, had then accepted a commission from the Parliament, and, with very slender pretensions to saintship, had raised himself to high commands by his courage and professional skill. He had been an useful servant to both Protectors, and had quietly acquiesced when the officers at Westminster had pulled down Richard [Cromwell] and restord the Long Parliament, and would perhaps have acquiesced as quietly in the second expulsion of the Long Parliament, if the provisional government had abstained from giving him cause of offence and apprehension. For his nature was cautious and somewhat sluggish; nor was he at all disposed to hazard sure and moderate advantages for the chalice of obtaining even the most splendid success. He seems to have been impelled to attack the new rulers of the Commonwealth less by the hope that, if he overthrew them, he should become great, than by the fear that, if he submitted to them, he should not even be secure. Whatever were his motives, [in 1660] he declared himself the champion of the oppressed civil power, refused to acknowledge the usurped authority of the provisional government, and, at the head of seven thousand veterans, marched into England."

--From Thomas Babington Macaulay's History of England From the Accession of James II, Vol. I, Chapter 1 (1848) (text available online at Project Gutenberg)

Monk, at least in Macaulay's description, sounds something like George Washington at the tail end of the American Revolution, when unpaid and disgruntled troops started to grumble about marching on Congress, a move that could well have resulted in a dictatorship and/or some kind of royal restoration in America. Washington strongly supported Congress and prevailed over the grumblers. It isn't hard to imagine that the 18th century general knew something of the history of 1659-60.

David Gurliacci  •  Link

A colorful, dismissive description of Monk is given by Henry B. Wheatley in his book, "Samuel Pepys and the World He Lived In" (1880):

"George Monk, Duke of Albemarle, was a singularly unheroic character. He was slow and heavy, but had a sufficient supply of good sense, and, in spite of many faults, he had the rare good fortune to be generally loved. He was so popular that ballads were continually being made in his praise. Pepys said [Diary, March 6, 1667] there were so many of them that in after times his fame would sound like that of Guy of Warwick.

"Aubrey tells us that Monk learned his trade of soldiering in the Low Countries, whence he fled after having slain a man. Although he frequently went to sea in command of the fleet, he always remained a soldier,and the seamen laughed behind his back when instead of crying 'Tack about,' he would say 'Wheel to the right or left.' [Wheatley then quotes Pepys, who had a similar, but less interesting anecdote in an April 4, 1667 diary entry.]


-- Chapter 10: Public Characters, pp. 183-5 (1889 edition; reprinted 1975 by Haskell House in New York). Except for the backhanded compliment above, Wheatley has nothing good to say of Monk.

Wheatley also quotes an Oct. 23, 1667 diary entry of Pepys':

"The blockhead Albemarle hath strange luck to be loved, though he be, and every man must know it, the heaviest man in the world, but stout and honest to his country."

David Gurliacci  •  Link

Monk's marriage gave both the Puritans and the Victorian historian Henry B. Wheatley (and me) something to wag tongues about:

"Monk was fond of low company; both he and his vulgar wife were quite unfit for high -- I cannot say refined -- society, for there was but little refinement at court. Ann Clarges had been kind to Monk when he was a prisoner in the Tower, and he married her out of gratitude. She had been previously married to Thomas Ratford, of whose death no notice was given at the time of the marriage, so that the legitimacy of Christopher, afterwards second Duke of Albemarle, was seriously questioned. Aubrey relates a story which cannot well be true, but which proves the general feeling of doubt respecting the point. He says that Thomas Clarges came on shipboard to tell Monk that his sister had had a child. Monk cried out, 'What is it?' and on hearing the answer, 'A boy,' he said, 'Why, then, she is my wife.'"

-- From Wheatley's "Samuel Pepys and the World He Lived In," (London, 1889 edition), Chapter 10: Public Characters, pp. 184-185. I have no clue who this Aubrey is that Wheatley refers to.

Wheatley notes (p. 185) that in a Nov. 4, 1666 diary entry, Pepys relates some gossip he heard that Monk, when drunk, said it was a "miracle" that his wife, "our Dirty Bess," should find herself the Duchess of Albemarle.

David Gurliacci  •  Link

Historian Antonia Fraser on Monck:

"In Scotland, where he not only held down but positively governed the Scots with his Cromwellian army, his rule was both wise and firm. He had not benefited personally from confiscated Royalist church land in England and had thus no financial stake in the continuation of the Protectorate: Monck had been loyal to Oliver Cromwell. He would have been loyal to Richard [Cromwell] too, had he considered that the younger Protector had any capacity for maintaining within England that law and order which he found so precious."

Charles II, in exile, secretly asked Monck for help in the summer of 1659, but the cautious general rejected any idea of an immediate uprising in favor of the crown.

-- "Royal Charles: Charles II and the Restoration," by Antonia Fraser, 1980, Part II, Chapter 11, pp. 164-5.

Lisa Grimm  •  Link

"Aubrey" is John Aubrey (1626-1697), the antiquarian and writer, whose "Lives of Eminent Men" chronicled both truth and hearsay of characters from the Elizabethan age up to his own time. Although it was not published until 1847, it was well-known within literary circles and often cited by other writers of the period.

Jonathan Finn  •  Link

Aubrey's "Brief Lives" (the usual name for his "Lives of Eminent Men", which Lisa Grimm mentions) is a wonderful book and surely it and Pepys' Diary rank as the two great (auto)biographies of 17th century England. Aubrey's is a series of mini-biographies of the great characters of the age, from Shakespeare to Aubrey himself to Descartes and everybody in between. It's written in the same gossippy informal style as Pepys, and readers of this weblog will surely appreciate it as much as Pepys. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1...

David Quidnunc  •  Link

Winston Churchill, wryly, on Monck:

"He was a soldier of fortune, caring more for plying his trade than for the causes at stake. [ . . . ] He had steered his way through all the hazardous channels and storms, supporting in turn and at the right moment Parliament, the Commonwealth, and the Protectorate. [ . . . ] He ranged himself from the first against the violence of the Army in London. Moving with the sentiments of the Scottish people, he gained from a Convention supplies to maintain his army without causing offence. [ . . . ]

"Monk was one of those Englishmen who understand to perfection the use of time and circumstances. It is a type which has thriven in our Island. The English are apt to admire men who do not attempt to dominate events or turn the drift of fate; who wait about doing their duty on a short view from day to day until there is no doubt whether the tide is on the ebb or the flow; and who then, with the appearance of great propriety and complete self-abnegation, with steady, sterling qualities of conduct if not of heart, move slowly, cautiously, forward towards the obvious purpose of the nation. During the autumn of 1659 General Monk [ . . . ] was the object of passionate solicitations from every quarter. They told him he had the future of England in his hands, and all appealed for his goodwill. The general received the emissaries of every interest and party in his camp. he listened patiently, as every great Englishman should, to all they had to urge, and with that simple honesty of character which we flatter ouselves as a race he kept them all guessing for a long time what he would do."

-- "A History of the English Speaking Peoples: The New World" (1956), Book Six, Chapter 21: The Restoration.

Pauline  •  Link


Pauline  •  Link

A Letter From His Excellencie Lord General Monck, And The Officiers Under His Command, To The Parliament (1660)

Provided by Ian Maxted, County Local Studies Librarian, Exeter Central Library.

"I have put a facsimile of this item on our website at:

"I hope this is of use to the website. I apologise for the quality of the facsimile but the original is very discoloured."

Pauline  •  Link

Chambers's Encyclopaedia, 1906
"...on New-year's Day 1660 he crossed the Border with 6000 men, and five weeks later entered London unopposed. So far he had kept his intentions profoundly secret. Still every one felt that the decision lay with 'Old George;' every party courted him; the Republicans even offered him the protectorate. But, while he offended nobody, he declined to connect himself with any of the sectaries, and waited patiently the course of events. From the first, his own wish, dictated by no high motive, had been to bring back the Stuarts; and before long he saw that the nation at large was with him. The freeing of the Rump parliament from the army, the readmission of the excluded members, and the election of a new parliament--these were his wary steps towards the Resoration."

Roger Miller  •  Link

This is Charles Harding Frith's biography of Monck from 1894:

Some striking illustrations are included.

(It's part of a site that is do with the publication in 2002 of a new edition of Monck's 'Observations upon Military & Political Afairs' written in 1644-46 and first published in 1671.)

michael f vincent  •  Link

Monck another point of view "his ability to pay the men vs Lambert failure to pay his troops "
[ref C Hill p99 Century of revolution]
City of London: Money is still the milk of politics: Tho history seems to look at the romantic side.

vicente  •  Link

Gen. Monk to be Captain General.
Resolved, That George Monck Esquire is nominated and appointed, by this House, to be Captain General of all the Land Forces, in England, Scotland, and Ireland; and that the Concurrence of the House of Commons be desired herein.
From: British History Online
Source: House of Lords Journal Volume 11: 25 April 1660. House of Lords Journal Volume 11, ().
URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?com...

vicenzo  •  Link

Monck did a have a brother that passed away in Dec 61 . He was the Bishop of Hereford.

Daniel Jones  •  Link

I found George Lewis Smyth's entry for Monk, Duke of Albemarle in "Biographical Illustrations of Westminster Abbey" to be facinating. The phrases "hard to credit" and "larger than life" come to mind.

Smyth states: "There have been few historical personages respecting whose public conduct a greater diversity of opinion has been expressed, than that of George Monk, Duke of Albermarle."

Finding the entry can be difficult as it seems to be contained, in some fashion within or appended to "Biographical illustrations of St. Paul's cathedral" by George Lewis Smyth, Published 1843.


cgs  •  Link

Dryden on Monck:
Among the Dutch thus Albemarle[43] did fare:
He could not conquer, and disdain'd to fly;
Past hope of safety, 'twas his latest care,
Like falling Cæsar, decently to die.
Annus Mirabilis

Bill  •  Link

George Monck, duke of Albemarle, who had a very early inclination to a military life, served in the Low Countries, under the lords Oxford and Goring. In the Civil War, he at first adhered to the king; but having suffered a tedious imprisonment for his loyalty, he took the Covenant, and entered into the service of the parliament. He signalized himself at the battle of Dunbar, where he had a principal share in that important victory. He was afterwards employed by Cromwell in reducing Scotland, which he did effectually, and had the chief management of affairs in that kingdom. It is well known that he had the greatest hand in the Restoration, and that his gallant behaviour on board the fleet, in the Dutch war, was almost without example. He is not so well known as an author, though in that character he was not without merit. He had talents both for peace and war; but his capacity was more adapted to the field than the cabinet. His conversation and address were better suited to those scenes of action to which he had been accustomed, than to the drawing-room of Charles II. Ob. 3 Jan. 1669-70.
---A Biographical History of England. J. Granger, 1779.

Log in to post an annotation.

If you don't have an account, then register here.


Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.