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His Grace

Ralph Montagu
Duke of Montagu
SuccessorJohn Montagu, 2nd Duke of Montagu
Born24 December 1638
Died9 March 1709
Noble familyMontagu
Spouse(s)Elizabeth Wriothesley
Elizabeth Monck, Duchess of Albemarle
IssueJohn Montagu, 2nd Duke of Montagu
Anne Montagu
FatherEdward Montagu, 2nd Baron Montagu of Boughton
MotherAnne Winwood

Ralph Montagu, 1st Duke of Montagu (24 December 1638 – 9 March 1709) was an English courtier, diplomat, politician and peer.[1]


Ralph Montagu was the second son of Edward Montagu, 2nd Baron Montagu of Boughton (1616–1684), and Anne Winwood, daughter of the Secretary of State Ralph Winwood.[1] The peerage of his father was one of several granted in the seventeenth century to different members of the Montagu family.

Sir Edward Montagu, Chief Justice of the King's Bench in the time of Henry VIII, was grandfather of the 1st Earl of Manchester, and of the 1st Baron Montagu of Boughton (1562–1644), who was imprisoned in the Tower by the Parliament on account of his loyalty to Charles I. The eldest son of the latter, Edward, who succeeded him as the 2nd Baron, took the side of the Parliament in the Civil War, and was one of the lords who conducted the king from Newark-on-Trent to Holmby House in January 1647, after he was handed over by the Scots, to whom he had initially surrendered, to the custody of Parliament. Sir Edward had two sons, Edward and Ralph.


Boughton House – seat of the Dukes of Montagu

The elder son, Edward, was Master of the Horse to Queen Catherine, wife of Charles II, a post from which he is said to have been dismissed by the king for 'showing attention to the queen of too ardent a nature'. Catherine immediately appointed (in 1665) the younger brother, Ralph, to the vacant situation, and the latter soon acquired a reputation for gallantry at the court of Charles II. He took an active part in the negotiations in which Louis XIV purchased the neutrality or support of England in the war between France and the Netherlands. He was also appointed Master of the Great Wardrobe from 1671 to 1678 and from 1689 to his death.

Having quarrelled with Danby and the Duchess of Cleveland, who denounced him to the king, Montagu was elected member of Parliament for Northampton in 1678, with the intention of bringing about the fall of Danby; but, having produced letters seriously compromising the minister, the dissolution of Parliament placed him in such danger of arrest that he attempted to fly to France. Foiled in this design, he continued to intrigue against the government, supporting the movement for excluding the Duke of York from the succession and for recognizing the Duke of Monmouth as heir to the crown. After securing re-election to Parliament for Huntingdonshire in 1679 and again for Northampton in 1679 and 1681 his safety was then ensured by Parliamentary immunity. His elder brother having predeceased his father, Ralph became Baron Montagu of Boughton on the death of the latter in 1684.

Notwithstanding his former intrigues, Montagu gained the favour of King James II of England, on his accession to the throne; but this did not deter him from welcoming William of Orange, who created him Viscount Monthermer and Earl of Montagu later in 1689, on his accession to the English throne. Montagu was no less avaricious than unscrupulous. In 1673, he married Lady Elizabeth Wriothesley, the wealthy widow of Joceline Percy, 11th Earl of Northumberland and daughter of Thomas Wriothesley, 4th Earl of Southampton, who brought him a large fortune; and after her death in 1690, he remarried the still more wealthy Lady Elizabeth Cavendish, daughter of Henry Cavendish, 2nd Duke of Newcastle, and the widow of Christopher Monck, 2nd Duke of Albemarle.

Ralph Montagu's position was further strengthened in 1705 by the marriage of his son and heir to Mary, daughter of John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough and Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough. In the same year he was created Duke of Montagu and Marquess of Monthermer. His London residence, Montagu House, Bloomsbury, was bought by the government in 1753 to hold the national collection of antiquities, and on its site was built the British Museum.


Montagu and his first wife Elizabeth Wriothesley were parents to two children:

Montagu and his second wife Elizabeth Monck had no known children. However, through this marriage the 1st Duke of Montagu acquired the Lordship of Bowland, one of northern England's most powerful feudal lordships which on his death passed to John, the son of his first marriage.

Royal Navy

The pre-dreadnought battleship HMS Montagu was named after him.


  1. ^ a b "Montagu, Ralph" . Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.

Further reading


This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Montagu, Ralph". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 18 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 747–748.

6 Annotations

First Reading

vicenzo  •  Link

Ralph Montagu, 1st duke of Montagu
baptized December 24, 1638, London, England
died March 9, 1709, London

also called (1684

vicenzo  •  Link

Correct xref be to bros. edward [Ned]…
"His elder brother, Edward Montagu, had been appointed Master of the Horse to the queen consort. However, in May 1664 he was dismissed for squeezing her hand when leading her to her coach. He then enlisted on the Earl of Sandwich's ship and was killed in August 1665 in a sea battle with the Dutch near Bergen in Norway. As he was unmarried this made Ralph Montagu heir to the family's estate and the title of Baron Montagu of Boughton.
Ralph Montagu had been educated at Westminster School and he, too, became Master of the Horse to the queen consort from 1665 to 1678. "

jeannine  •  Link

Footnote from Grammont
Ralph Montagu, second son of Edward, Lord Montagu. He was master of the horse to the queen, and, in 1669, was sent ambassador extraordinary to France; on his return from whence, in January, 1672, he was sworn of the privy-council. He afterwards became master of the great wardrobe, and was sent a second time to France. He took a very decided part in the prosecution of the popish plot, in 1678; but on the sacrifice of his friend, Lord Russell, he retired to Montpelier during the rest of King Charles's reign. He was active at the Revolution, and soon after created Viscount Monthermer, and Earl of Montagu. In 1705, ne became Marquis of Monthermer, and Duke of Montagu. He died 7th March, 1 709, in his 73rd year, leaving behind him the character of a very indulgent parent, a kind and bountiful master, a very hearty friend, a noble patron of men of merit, and a true assertor of English liberty.… see note 74

Second Reading

Bill  •  Link

Ralph, second son of Edward, second Lord Montagu of Boughton. He was ambassador to France in 1666, 1669, 1676, 1677-78, and was created Earl in 1689, and Duke of Montagu in 1705; he died March 7th, 1709.
---Wheatley, 1899.

brother: Edward Mountagu (Ned)…
sister: Lady Harvey…
brother-in-law: Sir Daniel Harvey…
father: Edward Mountagu (2nd Lord Mountagu of Boughton)…
uncle: Sir William Mountagu…

Ralph's father and Sir Edward Mountagu ("my Lord," Earl of Sandwich) were first cousins.

Bill  •  Link

MONTAGU, RALPH, first Duke of Montagu (1638?-1709), son of Edward Montagu, second baron Montagu of Boughton; master of the horse to the Duchess of York; ambassador extraordinary to Louis XIV, 1669; purchased the mastership of the great wardrobe, 1671; privy councillor, 1672; again ambassador extraordinary to Louis XIV, 1676; unsuccessfully intrigued for the post of secretary of state; being denounced by the Duchess of Cleveland, returned to England without permission, to find himself struck out of the privy council (1678) and superseded as ambassador; negotiated with the French ambassador, offering to procure Danby's fall within six months; his papers seized; produced two letters, which were voted as sufficient ground for Danby's impeachment, 1678; escaped arrest after the dissolution of parliament, 1678; unsuccessfully endeavoured to get Monmouth declared Prince of Wales; retired to France, 1680; succeeded as Baron Montagu, 1684, and returned to England on the accession of James II; took up William's cause at the revolution; privy councillor and created Viscount Monthermer and Earl of Montagu, 1689; the mastership of the wardrobe restored to him; several lawsuits concerning the Albemarle property caused by his marriage with Elizabeth Cavendish, widow of Christopher Monck, second duke of Albemarle, 1692; became Marquis of Monthermer and Duke of Montagu, 1705.
---Dictionary of National Biography: Index and Epitome. S. Lee, 1906.

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