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The Duke of Albemarle
George Monck 1st Duke of Albemarle Studio of Lely.jpg
George Monck, 1st Duke of Albemarle
(from Sir Peter Lely's studio Flagmen of Lowestoft series, circa 1665–66)
Born6 December 1608
Merton, England
Died3 January 1670(1670-01-03) (aged 61)
London, England
Service/branch  English Army
Years of service1626–1660, 1665–1667
AwardsKnight of the Garter;
Baron Monck, Baron Beauchamp, Baron Teyes, Earl of Torrington, Duke of Albemarle (Peerage of England, 1660)
SignatureSignatur George Monck, 1. Duke of Albemarle.PNG
Arms of Monck of Potheridge: Gules a Chevron between three Lions' Heads erased Argent[1]

George Monck, 1st Duke of Albemarle, KG (6 December 1608 – 3 January 1670) was an English soldier and politician, and a key figure on both sides of the English Civil War, as well as the Restoration of the monarchy to King Charles II in 1660.


Monck was born on 6 December 1608 at the family estate of Potheridge[2] in the parish of Merton, near Great Torrington, Devon, the second son of Sir Thomas Monck (1570–1627) one of the Members of Parliament for Camelford in 1626, a member of a landed gentry family of ancient origins but then-straitened financial circumstances.[3] Sir Thomas's wife and George's mother was Elizabeth Smith, a daughter by his first marriage of Sir George Smith (d. 1619) of Madford House, near Exeter,[4] Devon, a merchant who served as a Member for Exeter in 1604, was three times Mayor of Exeter and the City of Exeter's richest citizen, being lord of 25 surrounding manors.[5] Elizabeth's sister Grace Smith was the wife of Sir Bevil Grenville[6] (1596–1643), of Bideford in Devon and Stowe, Kilkhampton in Cornwall, the Royalist soldier killed in action during the Civil War in heroic circumstances at the Battle of Lansdowne in 1643. Sir Bevil's son and heir, and thus George Monck's first cousin, was John Grenville, 1st Earl of Bath (1628–1701), a fellow supporter of the Restoration, whose elevation to the peerage was largely due to Monck's influence.[7]

Early life and career

Having assaulted the Under Sheriff of the county in revenge for a wrong done to his father, Monck was forced to go abroad.[3] Becoming a soldier, he served as a volunteer in the 1626 expedition to Cadiz,[3] and the next year fought well at the siege of the Île de Ré (an abortive attempt to aid French Protestants in the city of La Rochelle).[3][8]

In 1629 Monck went to the Netherlands, then a theatre of warfare, and there he gained a high reputation as a leader and as a disciplinarian. He fought bravely at the 1637 Siege of Breda, always first in the breach of his men. In 1638 he surrendered his commission in consequence of a quarrel with the civil authorities of Dordrecht and returned to England.[3] He was appointed to the lieutenant-colonelcy of the Earl of Newport's regiment.[3]

Service in the Royalist cause

During the operations on the Scottish border in the Bishops' Wars (1639–1640) he showed his skill and coolness in the dispositions by which he saved the English artillery at the Battle of Newburn (1640).[3]

At the outbreak of an Irish rebellion in 1641 Monck was appointed as colonel of Robert Sidney's Regiment under the command of James Butler, 1st Duke of Ormonde. All the qualities for which he was noted through life – his talent for making himself indispensable, his imperturbable temper and his impenetrable secrecy – were fully displayed in this post. The governorship of Dublin stood vacant, and Lord Leicester recommended Monck.[3]

Charles I overruled the appointment in favour of Lord Cavan, and Monck relinquished the appointment without ado. The Duke of Ormonde viewed him with suspicion as one of two officers who refused to take the oath to support the Royalist cause in England and sent him under guard to Bristol.[3]

Monck justified himself to Charles I in person, and his astute criticisms of the conduct of the Irish rebellion impressed the King, who gave him a command in the army brought over from Ireland during the Civil War.[3] Taken prisoner by the Parliamentary Northern Association Army under Lord Fairfax at the Battle of Nantwich in January 1644, he spent the next two years in the Tower of London.[3] During his imprisonment he wrote Observations on Military and Political Affairs.[3]

Career under the Commonwealth and Protectorate

George Albemarle, General Anglois. d'Apres Barlow undated French engraving

Monck's experience in Ireland led to his release. He was made major general in the army sent by Parliament against Irish rebels.[3] Making a distinction (like other soldiers of the time) between fighting the Irish and taking arms against the king, he accepted the offer and swore loyalty to the Parliamentary cause.[3] He made little headway against the Irish led by Owen Roe O'Neill and concluded an armistice (called then a "convention") with the rebel leaders upon terms which he knew the Parliament would not ratify. The convention was a military expedient to deal with a military necessity. When in February 1649 Scotland proclaimed Charles, Prince of Wales, as Charles II, King of Scotland, the Protestant Ulster Scots settlers did the same and following Charles's lead took the Solemn League and Covenant.[9] Most of Monck's army went over to the Royalist cause, placing themselves under the command of Hugh Montgomery, 1st Earl of Mount Alexander.[10]

Although Parliament disavowed the terms of the truce, no blame was attached to Monck's recognition of military necessity.[3] He next fought at Oliver Cromwell's side in Scotland at the 1650 Battle of Dunbar, a resounding Roundhead victory.[3] Made commander-in-chief in Scotland by Cromwell, Monck completed the subjugation of the country.[3] After his forces stormed the town of Dundee, he lost control of his men who proceeded to rampage through the city, sacking and burning parts of it.[11] The streets of the town were reputed to run red with blood for days and Monck eventually was sickened by the sack of the city when he saw the corpse of a suckling mother with her baby still feeding.[12] In February 1652 Monck left Scotland to recover his broken health at Bath, and in November of the same year he became a General at Sea in the First Anglo-Dutch War.[3]

On his return to shore Monck married Anne Radford (née Clarges).[3] In 1653 he was nominated one of the representatives for Devon in Barebone's Parliament.[13] He returned to Scotland, methodically beating down a Royalist insurrection in the Highlands. At Cromwell's request, Monck remained in Scotland as governor.[3]

In 1654, the timely discovery of a plot fomented by Robert Overton, his second in command, gave Monck an excuse for purging his army of all dissident religious elements, then called "enthusiasts", deemed "dangerous" to the Cromwell regime.[8]

In 1655 Monck received a letter from the future Charles II, a copy of which he at once sent to the Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell, who is said to have written to Monck in 1657: "There be [those] that tell me that there is a certain cunning fellow in Scotland called George Monck, who is said to lye in wait there to introduce Charles Stuart; I pray you, use your diligence to apprehend him, and send him up to me." Monck's personal relations with Cromwell were those of sincere friendship on both sides.[14]

Restoration of the monarchy

Portrait of General Monck by Dutch artist Jacob Huysmans.

Soldier though Monck was, he had played the difficult game of politics in a fluid and uncertain situation. That he was victor sine sanguine, i.e., "without blood", as the preamble of his patent of nobility stated, was generally applauded as the greatest service of all, especially after the Civil Wars.[15]

Waiting in Edinburgh

During the confusion which followed Oliver Cromwell's death on 3 September 1658, Monck remained silent and watchful at Edinburgh, careful only to secure a hold on his troops. At first he contemplated armed support of Richard Cromwell, but on realising the young man's incapacity for government, he gave up this idea and renewed his waiting policy.[8]

In July 1659 direct and tempting proposals were again made to him by the future Charles II. Monck's brother Nicholas, a clergyman, brought to him the substance of Charles's letter. He bade his brother go back to his books, and refused to entertain any proposal. But when George Booth, 1st Baron Delamer, rose in insurrection in Cheshire for Charles II, so tempting did the opportunity seem that he was on the point of joining forces with him and a manifesto was prepared. His habitual caution induced him to wait until the next post from England, and the next post brought news of Booth's defeat.[8]

March on London

When Charles Fleetwood and General John Lambert declared against the Parliament, Monck not only refused to join them but on 20 October 1659 took measures to actively oppose them. Securing his hold on Scotland by a small but trusty corps of occupation, he crossed the border with the rest of his army.[3]

Holding Lambert in play without fighting until his army began to melt away for want of pay, Monck received the commission of commander-in-chief of the Parliamentary forces on 24 November 1659. The navy, some of the English garrisons and the army in Ireland declared for the Rump Parliament (against Fleetwood, Lambert and the other members of the Wallingford House party). Monck led his army south from Scotland towards London, crossing the River Tweed on 2 January 1660.

Monck's army was inferior in number, but in all other respects superior to Lambert's, and Monck slowly marched on to London, disbanding or taking over on his way the detachments of Lambert's army which he met, and entered the capital on 3 February 1660.[8] He took up residence at St James Palace.[16]

General Monck as engraved by David Loggan, 1661, National Portrait Gallery, London

Parliamentary negotiation in London

In all this his ultimate purpose remained opaque. At one moment he secretly encouraged the demands of the Royalist City of London, at another he urged submission to the existing parliament, then again he refused to swear an oath abjuring the House of Stuart and further he hinted to the Rump of the Long Parliament the urgent necessity of a dissolution.[17]

Monck allowed Presbyterian members, "secluded" in Pride's Purge of 1648, to re-enter Parliament on 21 February 1660 while at the same time breaking up, as a matter affecting discipline, the political factions that had formed in his own regiments. He was now master of the situation. The reconstituted Long Parliament dissolved itself on 16 March 1660 after preparing legislation for a new Convention Parliament to be summoned.[18]

Monck was elected Member of Parliament for both Devon and Cambridge University in the Convention Parliament of 1660.[13]

Monck himself, in communication with Charles II, accepted the latter's Declaration of Breda of 4 April 1660, which was largely based on Monck's recommendations. It offered reconciliation and forgiveness. Charles promised a general pardon for crimes committed during the English Civil War and the Interregnum for all those who recognised Charles as the lawful king (except for those who had killed his father); the retention by the current owners of property purchased during the same period; religious toleration; and the payment of pay arrears to members of the army, and that the army would be recommissioned into service under the Crown.[19]

Monck entirely concurred with the disbandment of the New Model Army, although the regiment of which he was Colonel, given the name Coldstream Guards after his death,[20] survives un-amalgamated to this day.[15]

On 1 May the newly convened Convention Parliament formally invited Charles, as King Charles II, to be the English king in what has become known as the Restoration.[3][15]


Monck's 335-mile (539 km) march from Coldstream to London was repeated by travel writer and former Coldstream Guards officer Harry Bucknall in 2015 who followed Monck's footsteps in aid of injured and homeless servicemen.[21]

Charles II's gratitude

Arms of George Monck, 1st Duke of Albemarle, KG

King Charles II rewarded Monck suitably for his services in restoring him to his throne. He was made Gentleman of the Bedchamber,[15] Knight of the Garter, and Master of the Horse in the King's household.[3] The King also raised him to the peerage in 1660 as Baron Monck of Potheridge in the County of Devon, Baron Beauchamp of Beauchamp in the County of Devon, Baron of Teyes in the County of Devon, Earl of Torrington in the County of Devon, and Duke of Albemarle.[3]

He also received an annual pension of £7,000.[15]

As a further token of Charles II's gratitude, in 1663 Albemarle was named one of eight Lords Proprietors given title to a huge tract of land in North America which became the Province of Carolina, the present-day American states of North and South Carolina. Albemarle Sound in North Carolina is named after him.[22]

The preamble of Monck's peerage patent recited his female descent from the Beauchamp family, Earls of Warwick, which family had also held the titles Baron Beauchamp, Baron Teyes and anciently the Norman comté of Aumale, traditionally Latinized to "Albemarle".[23] Although the title Earl of Warwick was unavailable to him, being then held by the Riche family[23] the title Duke of Albemarle was available and granted to Monck.[3]

In 1660 Monck obtained from the king the extraordinary warrant promising that should his issue fail in the male line his new title Duke of Albemarle be reverted to his first cousin and colleague in the success of the Restoration, John Granville, 1st Earl of Bath. Monck's son did indeed die childless in 1688, but no claim was made to the dukedom by the Granvilles of the new king, William III. And in 1697 the King conferred the title, as an earldom, on his favourite Arnold Joost van Keppel.[15]

Charles II's promise to Monck was fulfilled in France in 1721 when the Old Pretender King James III bestowed a supposed Dukedom of Albemarle onto the 1st Earl of Bath's nephew, the Jacobite George Granville, 1st Baron Lansdowne, who had fled England in 1721.[24]

End of career

In 1664 Monck had charge of the admiralty when James, Duke of York, commanded the fleet, and when in 1665 much of the populace deserted London on account of the Great Plague, Monck, with all the readiness of a man accustomed to obey without thinking of risk, remained in charge of the government of the city.[15]

At the end of 1665, he was called upon to fight again, being given a joint commission with Prince Rupert against the Dutch in the Second Anglo-Dutch War. The whole burden of the preparations fell upon him. On 23 April 1666 the admirals joined the fleet, and on 1 June 1666 began the great Four Days' Battle, in which Monck showed not only all his old coolness and skill, but also a reckless daring which had seemed hitherto foreign to his character. As this recklessness had cost the English many ships, command of the fleet was taken from him and given to Rupert, whom he would accompany in the St. James's Day Battle, the last battle at sea in which he would participate. Later in the same year he maintained order in the city of London during the Great Fire of London.[15]

His last service occurred in the Raid on the Medway of 1667, when the Dutch fleet sailed up the Thames, and Monck, though ill, hurried to Chatham to oppose their farther progress.[15] From that time he lived generally privately (although he officially served as First Lord of the Treasury).[3]

At the end of his career, Monck expressed an interest in overseas affairs. He was a signatory to The Several Declarations of The Company of Royal Adventurers of England Trading into Africa, a document published in 1667 which led to the expansion of the Royal African Company.[25]

Death, burial and succession

He died of edema on 3 January 1670, "like a Roman general with all his officers about him".[15] He is buried in the north aisle[26] at Westminster Abbey.[15] His titles were inherited by his only son, Christopher Monck, 2nd Duke of Albemarle (1653–1688),[3] upon whose death they became extinct.[15]

Monument in St Giles in the Wood

No monument of any sort exists to the Duke in the parish church of Merton, in which parish was situated his ancestral estate of Potheridge. The church was heavily restored in 1872–1875.[27][28] The road sign on entering the village does proclaim: "Merton, birthplace of General George Monck". The remaining truncated wing built by him at Potheridge survives as a former farmhouse, now used as an adventure holiday centre. Some remnants of its grandeur survive inside, including a grand wooden staircase and above on the ceiling three ornate oval plasterwork wreaths framing paintings.[29]

Heraldic escutcheon of General George Monck, 1st Duke of Albemarle (1608–1670) on external wall above the private doorway to north transept of parish church of St Giles-in-the-Wood, Devon

A heraldic stone escutcheon sculpted in relief showing his arms survives on the external wall of the parish church of St Giles in the Wood, North Devon, 3 miles north-east of Potheridge, above the private door to the north transept. The arms are as follows:Quarterly of 4: 1st: Gules, a chevron between three lion's heads erased argent (Monck); 2nd: quarterly of 4: 1:Royal Arms of England (Arms of King Edward IV); 2 & 3: Or a cross gules (de Burgh); 4th: Barry or and azure, on a chief of the first two pallets between two base esquires of the second over all an inescutcheon argent (Mortimer); over-all a baton sinister (Arms of Arthur Plantagenet, 1st Viscount Lisle (the maternal grandfather of the Duke's grandfather Anthony Monck)) 3rd: Barry of six argent and azure in chief three torteaux a label of three points for difference (Grey, Viscount Lisle); 4th: Gules, a lion rampant within a bordure engrailed or (Talbot, Viscount Lisle); the whole circumscribed by the Garter.[30]

The arms of King Edward IV when Duke of York emphasise his descent from Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence (1338–1368), third son of King Edward III (on which basis the House of York claimed the throne), who married Elizabeth de Burgh, 4th Countess of Ulster (1332–1363). Their daughter Philippa de Burgh married Edmund Mortimer, 3rd Earl of March, whose son Roger de Mortimer, 4th Earl of March, was the great-grandfather of King Edward IV, whose illegitimate son was Arthur Plantagenet, 1st Viscount Lisle, KG, (died 1542), whose daughter Frances Plantagenet was the wife of Thomas Monk of Potheridge, the Duke of Albemarle's great-grandfather.[2]

Critiques of his character

As detailed above, Monck's skilful and pragmatic political approach inter alia played a crucial role in facilitating a peaceful transition in 1660. His rise attracted its share of critics, some of whom also added criticism of the character of Monck's wife. Gilbert Burnet (1643–1715) in his The history of my own times commented unflatteringly:

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At the king's first coming over, Monck and Montague were the most considered; they both had the Garter. The one was made duke of Albemarle, and the other earl of Sandwich, and had noble estates given them. Monck was ravenous, as well as his wife, who was a mean, contemptible creature. They both asked, and sold all that was within their reach, nothing being denied them for some time, till he became so useless, that little personal regard could be paid him. But the king maintained still the appearances of it; for the appearance of the service he did him was such, that the king thought it fit to treat him with great distinction, even after he saw into him, and despised him.

— Gilbert Burnet.[31]

The editor of the 1850 edition of Bishop Burnet's history of his own time adds a footnote to Burnet's comment:

If the duke of Albemarle's character is estimated from a view of his talents and courage as a commander, either of land or sea forces, he must rank very high in the scale of merit; but if we consider his worth as a statesman or as a private individual, he sinks decidedly to mediocrity. He was at first attached to the royalist cause; then he united with Cromwell whilst in the ascendant; and, finally, when the popular feeling again vacillated to the Stuarts, he was judiciously active in securing the Restoration. It is possible that throughout he was a royalist—in that case he was base and perjured, for he took the covenant; but the most probable conclusion to be drawn from the facts of his life is, that he was willing to be any thing by profession that would best serve his interests. If the characters of him, given by his friends, as well as by his enemies, be compared, they amount to this outline, that he was courageous, cunning, and selfish. He died in 1670.

Anne, his wife, had been his mistress. Aubrey says that when Monck was confined in the Tower his sempstress, Nan Clarges, a blacksmith's daughter, was kind to him in a double capacity. It must be remembered that he was then in want, and that he was indebted to her for substance. She became pregnant by him, though it is certain that he could not be fascinated either by her beauty or cleanliness. She never could lose the manners of her early life; but when of the highest dignity in the peerage gаvе way to the most violent bursts of rage, and when under their influence poured forth a most eloquent torrent of curse-sprinkled abuse. Her husband was unquestionably afraid of her; she was always a royalist, and as he had a high opinion of her mental qualifications, she probably influenced him considerably in the course he adopted. If this is doubtful, it is not at all so that she aided with the utmost care and natural rapacity in obtaining all the rewards she could for his services. — Skinner's Life of the Duke of Albemarle — Sir P. Warwick's Memoirs, 408, &c. — Continuation of Clarendon's Life, ii. 25.

— Burnet's editor's comment.[31]

Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon disparaged Monck's part in the restoration in his book History of the Rebellion and Civil Wars in England:

The whole machine being so infinitely above his strength that it could only be moved by a divine hand; and it is glory enough to his memory that he was instrumental in bringing those things to pass which he had neither wisdom to forsee, nor courage to attempt, nor understanding to contrive.

— Clarendon.[32]


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  1. ^ Vivian, Lt.-Col. J.L., (Ed.) The Visitations of the County of Devon: Comprising the Heralds' Visitations of 1531, 1564 & 1620, Exeter, 1895, p.568, pedigree of Monk of Potheridge
  2. ^ a b Vivian, p.569
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa Hutton 2008
  4. ^ Vivian, Lt.-Col. J.L., (Ed.) The Visitations of the County of Devon: Comprising the Heralds' Visitations of 1531, 1564 & 1620, Exeter, 1895, p. 569, pedigree of Monck of Potheridge
  5. ^ .mw-parser-output cite.citation{font-style:inherit}.mw-parser-output .citation q{quotes:"\"""\"""'""'"}.mw-parser-output .id-lock-free a,.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-free a{background:linear-gradient(transparent,transparent),url("//")right 0.1em center/9px no-repeat}.mw-parser-output .id-lock-limited a,.mw-parser-output .id-lock-registration a,.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-limited a,.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-registration a{background:linear-gradient(transparent,transparent),url("//")right 0.1em center/9px no-repeat}.mw-parser-output .id-lock-subscription a,.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-subscription a{background:linear-gradient(transparent,transparent),url("//")right 0.1em center/9px no-repeat}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration{color:#555}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription span,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration span{border-bottom:1px dotted;cursor:help}.mw-parser-output .cs1-ws-icon a{background:linear-gradient(transparent,transparent),url("//")right 0.1em center/12px no-repeat}.mw-parser-output code.cs1-code{color:inherit;background:inherit;border:none;padding:inherit}.mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{display:none;font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error{font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-maint{display:none;color:#33aa33;margin-left:0.3em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-format{font-size:95%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-left,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-left{padding-left:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-right,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-right{padding-right:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .citation .mw-selflink{font-weight:inherit}"SMITH, George (-d.1619), of Madford House, Exeter, Devon – History of Parliament Online". Retrieved 30 July 2016.
  6. ^ J. Horace Round, Family Origins and Other Studies, ed. Page, William, 1930, p.164, The Granvilles and the Monks
  7. ^ J. Horace Round, Family Origins and Other Studies, ed. Page, William, 1930, p.163, The Granvilles and the Moncks: "Great as was the favour bestowed on Sir John Granville" (i.e. later cr. 1st Earl of Bath) "and his brothers under Charles II, the actual part taken by Sir John in the restoration of the King was less potent to obtain it than his lucky relationship to George Monck, the prime agent in that event". General Monk's paternal great-grandmother was Frances Plantagenet, who married Thomas Monke (c. 1515–c. 1583) as her second husband. Frances was the eldest of the three daughters of Arthur Plantagenet, Viscount Lisle, the illegitimate son of King Edward IV.
  8. ^ a b c d e Anonymous 1911, p. 723.
  9. ^ Firth, p. 244
  10. ^ Paton 1894, p. 316 cites State Papers, Dom. Ser. 1649–50, p. 140.
  11. ^ "English Historical Fiction Authors: General George Monck and the Siege of Dundee". Retrieved 30 July 2016.
  12. ^ "The Storming of Dundee – DARK DUNDEE". 4 September 2014. Retrieved 30 July 2016.
  13. ^ a b "MONCK, George (1608–70), of Potheridge, Merton, Devon. – History of Parliament Online". Retrieved 30 July 2016.
  14. ^ "Monk (or Monck), George, Encyclopædia Britannica, 11th edition 1911, p. 723. sfn error: no target: CITEREF"Monk_(or_Monck),_George,_Encyclopædia_Britannica,_11th_edition1911 (help)
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Anonymous 1911, p. 724.
  16. ^ Walford, Edward. "St James's Palace Pages 100-122 Old and New London: Volume 4. Originally published by Cassell, Petter & Galpin, London, 1878". British History Online. Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  17. ^ Anonymous 1911, pp. 723,724.
  18. ^ "Entry for 16 March 1660". Pepys' Diary. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  19. ^ Sharp, David (2000). England in Crisis, 1640–60. Heinemann. p. 175. ISBN 9780435327149.
  20. ^ Brady, A.J. "Formation of the Regiment 1650–1661". Archived from the original on 6 June 2011.
  21. ^ "Ex-army pair make it home for Christmas". The Northern Echo. Retrieved 26 April 2016.
  22. ^ "Museum of the Albemarle". Retrieved 19 April 2011.
  23. ^ a b Round, p.164
  24. ^ Round, pp.141–2, 165
  25. ^ Davies, K. G. (Kenneth Gordon) (1999). The Royal African Company. London: Routledge/Thoemmes Press. ISBN 0-415-19072-X. OCLC 42746420.
  26. ^ Stanley, A.P., Historical Memorials of Westminster Abbey (London; John Murray; 1882), p. 211.
  27. ^ Pevsner, p.568
  28. ^ "grossly over-restored" in the opinion of Hoskins, W.G., A New Survey of England: Devon, London, 1959 (first published 1954), p.434
  29. ^ Pevsner, Nikolaus & Cherry, Bridget, The Buildings of England: Devon, London, 2004, p.460
  30. ^ "St Giles in the Wood: Tour of the Church and Parish". Retrieved 16 January 2015.
  31. ^ a b Burnet 1850, pp. 66, 67
  32. ^ Hyde, Edward, 1st Earl of Clarendon (1886). The History of the Rebellion and Civil Wars in England. VI. Clarendon Press. p. 164.


  • Anonymous (18 September 2006). "Monck, George, 1st Duke Of Albemarle". Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
  • Burnet, Gilbert (1850). Bishop Burnet's history of his own time: from the restoration of King Charles the Second to the treaty of peace at Utrecht, in the reign of Queen Anne. William S. Orr & Co.
  • Hutton, Ronald (January 2008) [2004]. "Monck, George, first duke of Albemarle (1608–1670)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/18939.
  •  Paton, Henry (1894). "Montgomery, Hugh". In Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography. 38. London: Smith, Elder & Co. pp. 315, 316.


Further reading

  • Firth, C.H (1894). Life of George Monck.
  • Harris, Tim. Restoration: Charles II and his kingdoms, 1660–1685 (Penguin UK, 2006)
  • Jamison, Ted R. George Monck and the Restoration: victor without bloodshed (Texas Christian University Press, 1975)
  • Keeble, Neil H. The Restoration: England in the 1660s (2 Vol. John Wiley & Sons, 2008)

External links

Military offices
New regiment Colonel of the Duke of Albemarle's Regiment of Foot
Succeeded by
The Earl of Craven
Preceded by
office vacant
(Last held by Oliver Cromwell)
Commander-in-Chief of the Forces
Succeeded by
James Scott
Honorary titles
English Interregnum Lord Lieutenant of Devon
Succeeded by
The Earl of Bath
Custos Rotulorum of Devon
Preceded by
The Earl of Dorset
The Earl of Berkshire
Lord Lieutenant of Middlesex
Succeeded by
The Earl of Craven
Political offices
Preceded by
Edmund Ludlow
(Lord Deputy)
Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
Succeeded by
The Duke of Ormonde
Preceded by
Prince Rupert of the Rhine
Master of the Horse
Succeeded by
The Duke of Buckingham
Preceded by
The Earl of Southampton
(Lord High Treasurer)
First Lord of the Treasury
Succeeded by
The Lord Clifford of Chudleigh
(Lord High Treasurer)
Peerage of England
New creation Duke of Albemarle
2nd creation
Succeeded by
Christopher Monck

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.

30 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.…

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, ().

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.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

The included Wikipedia biography says that the first cousin, 1st Earl of Bath did not ask to be made 3rd Duke of Albemarle, so William III awarded the title elsewhere.

However, I would rather trust… which says that Sir John was a second cousin of General Monck, and:
"Sir John Grenville, 1st Earl of Bath was disappointed when William III granted the earldom of Albemarle to a favorite in 1697, a title claimed by Bath through his connection to the Monck family. Sir John Grenville, 1st Earl of Bath's final years were spent in a bitter legal dispute over the Albemarle estate, which almost bankrupted him. Two weeks after Sir John Grenville, 1st Earl of Bath's death in August 1701, his son and heir Charles Grenville shot himself, apparently overwhelmed by the debts he had inherited. Father and son were buried on 22 September 1701 in the family vault at Kilkhampton."

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Anne Clarges Monck, Duchess of Albemarle's biographies in our Encyclopedia make the Duke sound like some country bumkin who sort of accidentally became the man who saved England from a fourth Civil War.

Gen. George Monck was not a country bumkin.

He was born at the manor house of Great Potheridge near Torrington, Devonshire on 6 December 1608, the fourth child and second son of Sir Thomas Monck, an impoverished landowner, and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of John Smyth, a wealthy merchant of Exeter. Her first husband was Mayor of Exeter three times and a very wealth man.

George was related to both Robert Sidney, 2nd Earl of Leicester and Sir Richard Grenville MP, another Devonshire warrior of the early 17th century. A young George Monck fought with both of these men, so he knew them.

Gen. George Monck's first cousin on his mother's side was John Grenville, 1st Earl of Bath (1628–1701), who probably owed his elevation to Monck.

However, Monck did not come to prominence through nepotism. His uncles gave him his start in the military, but he earned every accolade he received, on land and at sea, both in wartime and during times of peace.

Second sons of poor relatives often work harder than first sons of rich relatives.

Maybe Monck never lost his Devonshire dialect -- for generations many of England's foremost seamen came from the West Country, so he could have been proud of it -- leading Latin-educated bookworms from Cambridgeshire to think him ill-informed.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


it explains the pride of Devonshire seamen for their heritage -- Sir Francis Drake, Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir John Hawkins, the Gilbert brothers, Edward Teach (better known as Blackbeard), John Nutt, Woodes Rogers, Thomas Stukeley and Henry Avery. I bet Albemarle held onto his accent to better communicate with his fellow soldiers and sailors, not the Courtiers. In a way, his dialect would have reminded the Courtiers that he was a fighting man, and to command their respect:

"Thus . . . the modern courtly dialect, now considered to be the correct English, is the descendant of what, in [KING] Alfred's time, was, by the then ‘educated classes, held as much below the recognised standard, as our West-Country talk is now reckoned by dwellers in Park Lane and Belgravia.'

"Only once since those days has the good broad Saxon dialect of Devon been held in court favor: and that was in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, whose greatest heroes spake with the tongue of their fathers, and were not ashamed; and who made its rugged sounds dear to all who valued stoutness of heart and unquenchable courage of soul, and specially to the 'Great Eliza' herself. Even then the dialect had its share of ridicule, as the vain efforts of Shakespeare and his fellow-dramatists to reproduce it on the stage show. It is amusing to note how they, thus Shakespeare and Jonson more especially, created a false rustic dialect which has continued to the present day upon the stage, but is known nowhere else."

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