Montague Surname Genealogy
brought to England by the Normans, the first name-bearer said to have
of William the Conqueror who was granted lands in England.
There was a place-name in Normandy called
Montagu, so called from the Old French mont
meaning “hill” and agu, “pointed” –
hence a pointed hill. Montecute and
were the early surname spellings in England and Montagu has continued
of the main lines today. But Montague is
mostly used now.
and Juliet the Montagues and Capulets were the two feuding families
Verona. Montague was in fact his version
of the actual Italian Montecchi family.
Montague Resources on
This family first
became prominent in the 14th century when William
de Montagu helped King Edward III throw off the tutelage of his
Queen Isabella. He was created the Earl
of Salisbury in 1337. The family base
was Shepton Montague in Somerset.
The male line died out in 1428, leaving just a
daughter Alice. She married Richard
Neville and was the mother of Richard, Earl of Warwick, called “the
for his role in the Wars of the Roses.
Then there were the Montagues of Buckinghamshire
and Northamptonshire. Whether they were
related to the earlier Somerset Montagues is unclear in the former
dubious in the latter.
A Montague family lived at Boveney Court near Burnham from the
15th century to the early 18th century and were substantial landowners
Boveney and Dorney. The Rev. Lawrence
Montague was the vicar of Dorney in 1572.
His son Richard was a bishop, first at Chichester and then at
Norwich. This line produced the early
Montague emigrants to America.
Northamptonshire. These Montagues
were descended from a family of Northamptonshire yeomen by the
name of Ladde who can be traced back to 1355 as householders in Hanging
Houghton. They changed their name to Montagu about the middle of the
century and achieved gentry status with Sir Edward Montagu, appointed
Chief Justice in 1539. He it was who
bought the manor of Boughton near Kettering and built the family seat
Boughton House on the site.
From Sir Edward’s son Sir Edward came:
Montagu of Boughton, ancestor of the Dukes of Montagu
- Henry Montagu, ancestor of
the Dukes of Manchester
- James Montagu, Bishop of Winchester
- and Sir Sidney
Montagu of Hinchingbrooke House.
senior Montagu line devolved to the younger son Ralph who became the
Catherine, wife of Charles II, but was dismissed from the post ‘for
attention to the Queen in too ardent a nature.’ The
post was therefore given to the younger son Ralph who soon acquired
a reputation for gallantry in court.”
But Ralph turned out to be a scheming
politician and a womanizer. He had a
famous simultaneous affair with both a duchess and her daughter. His London residence – Montagu House in
Bloomsbury – was later bought by the Government to hold a national
of antiquities. On its site was built
the British Museum.
Henry Montagu, ancestor of the Dukes of Manchester, acquired Kimbolton
castle in Huntingdonshire in 1615. The castle was said to have
been haunted by Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s first wife, who died
there after several years of imprisonment. The Montagus
remained at Kimbolton castle until 1950. The author Marcus
Scriven had this to say about these Montagus:
futile litigation, profligate spending and disposing of property and
heirlooms at a fraction of their value.”
Meanwhile a Montagu
daughter had married the Duke of Buccleuch.
One descendant line became the Barons Montagu of Beaulieu in
Hampshire. Edward, the third Baron Montagu who died in 2015, had
a long and
line from Sir Sidney Montagu produced the Earls of Sandwich. John Montagu, the fourth Earl, was the First
Lord of the Admiralty and the man who rebuilt the British Navy in the
mid 1700’s. The modern sandwich was named after him; as was the
The line from John Montagu
and his murdered mistress Martha Ray led to Basil Montagu, a bankruptcy
and his sons Algernon and Alfred who made their way as lawyers to
the 1830’s. The former was described as
judge’ at the ends of the earth.”
The line from Sir Sidney also produced Sir
Edward Wortley Montagu, British Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire in the
early 1700’s. He was the husband of the
writer Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and the father of the writer and
Edward Wortley Montagu.
There were also Irish and
Jewish Montagues in England.
Montague, an Irish Catholic priest from county Tyrone, left the
to marry and he and his wife moved to England in the 1860’s. Their son Charles was recruited to the Manchester Guardian and became a noted
writer on the paper (and married the daughter of the editor). Despite being over-age, he fought on the
Western Front during World War One and this experience made him very
anti-war. His son Evelyn was an athlete in
Paris Olympics depicted in the film Chariots
or Montague could also be a Jewish first or last name adopted in
- Montague Burton, born Meshe
Osinsky, fled the
pogroms in Lithuania for England where he built up Burtons to be one of
biggest clothing chains in Europe.
- while Montagu Samuel, the son of a
Liverpool watchmaker, changed his
Samuel Montagu and founded the bank of Samuel Montagu & Co. in
London. He was later a philanthropist and
politician raised to the peerage in 1907. His
son Edwin sat in the British Cabinet.
Israel Ehrenberg, born in the
East End of London in 1905, adopted the aristocratic name of Ashley
maybe to distance himself from his immigrant roots.
He became a well-known anthropologist and
Ireland. Montague in Ireland may have
anglicized version of the Irish MacTadhg or MacTague.
And some may have been English Montagues
granted lands in Ulster in the 1600’s.
The name crops up mainly in county Tyrone.
There were reports of Catholic
Montagues fighting against William of Orange at the Battle of the Boyne
in 1690. The Montague family of which
(who fled to England) was a member has been traced back to James and
Montague, two brothers who were born in Tyrone in the 1720’s.
Many of these Montagues had Catholic church
A number of Montagues in the area left for America, starting in the
early 1800’s. Most stayed.
A few returned.
America. Richard and Peter Montague
were two brothers
from Buckinghamshire who arrived in America around the year 1634. Their lineage in America was covered in
George Montague’s 1886 book History and
Genealogy of the Montague Family in America:
- Richard Montague settled in
- and Peter Montague in Lancaster county, Virginia.
Richard Montague had settled in Hadley, Massachusetts. His descendants have been traced through his
- from Richard came the Connecticut sea captains Moses and Gordon Montague
- from Samuel
came S.S. Montague who headed west to California and was appointed
Engineer of the Central Pacific Railroad in 1863. He
appeared in the famous Golden Spike
celebration photograph of 1869 at Promontory, Utah when the two
railroads were finally
- while from Peter came some more adventurous settlers –
Daniel who fought
in the Mexican War and settled in Texas (Montague county there was
him) and Rodney who made his way as far as Los Angeles in 1856.
One line led to Henry
Montague, an antebellum tobacco plantation owner in North Carolina. Another line led to Robert Latané Montague
Irish. Montagues of Irish origin may have been almost as
Montagues of English origin in America.
Most of them seem to have come from county Tyrone.
Among their number were:
- Charles and Patrick
Montague who came to North Carolina in the early 1800’s and operated
plantations at a place that came to be known as Montague, North
Carolina. Patrick remained in North
Carolina. But Charles later migrated to
- and Paul Montague who came on
the Margaret Balfour to Baltimore in 1836, marrying
there twelve years later. Prudence and
her sons departed Baltimore for Canada in 1855.
Canada. William Montague was a
blacksmith from Somerset who immigrated with his wife Maria first to
Boston in 1811 and then (because of the anger resulting from the War of
1812) to Canada.
teams to move his family to Canada. They were four weeks on the road
between Albany and Buffalo. There was only one house standing in
Buffalo, all the rest having been burned by the British. He then went
to Long Point in Canada and, after a year, to the city of London,
They settled in Adelaide township, London where they had been granted
land. Their son Joseph had two sons, William and Walter, who
both became doctors. William entered politics and became a
federal Cabinet minister. Other Montagues of this line were to be
found in the Canadian West and in Michigan.
If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:
William de Montagu helped King Edward
III throw off the tutelage of his mother Queen Isabella and was made
the Earl of
Salisbury in 1337.
Sir Edward Montagu,
appointed Lord Chief Justice of England in 1539, was the progenitor of
distinguished Montagu line initially based in Northamptonshire.
Mary Wortley Montagu was a lady of letters based in Turkey in the
1700’s. She was also known for introducing
and advocating smallpox inoculation in Britain after her return from
John Montagu, Earl of Sandwich, was the
First Lord of the Admiralty in the mid 1700’s.
The modern sandwich was named after him; as was the Sandwich
S.S. Montague was the Chief Engineer of the Central Pacific
Railroad in the 1860’s and was instrumental in the inter-continental
joining of the two railroads in 1869.
Samuel Montagu was a Jewish
banker and politician raised
to the British peerage in 1907.
Select Montagues Today
- 5,000 in the UK (most numerous
- 4,000 in America (most numerous in California)
- 2,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)
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