Montague Surname Meaning, History & Origin
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.
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.
William de Montagu and the Knights of the Garter. William de Montagu helped Edward
III throw off the tutelage of his mother Queen Isabella and her lover Roger Mortimer.
For this he was richly rewarded by the King, made the Earl of
and appointed Earl Marshal of England for life.
William had married Catherine, daughter of Lord
Grandison. She was a lady of great
history records that she was as good as she was beautiful.
Upon one occasion
while attending a feast at Windsor Castle she was dancing with Edward III and lost
her garter which the King took up from the floor. Some of the nobles that stood around were
seen to smile, whereupon the King remarked:
“The time should shortly come when the
honor imaginable should be paid to that garter.”
Thus originated the Royal Order of the Knights of the Garter, with
its motto in French “Honi soit que mal y pense.”
Hinchingbrooke House and the Montagues. Sir Sidney Montague purchased Hinchingbrooke House
in Huntingdon from Sir Oliver Cromwell in 1627.
He had married
Paulina, daughter of John Pepys of Cottenham, great aunt to Samuel
Pepys. Their eldest son had drowned in the
their home at Barnwell, which partly explained their move to
Sir Sidney died in 1644 ownership of the house passed to his son Edward. At this time the Civil War was raging and he
walked a fine line between the two competing forces.
He served Cromwell loyally in the
1650’s, but went on to play a considerable part in the Restoration of
II and was rewarded with several Court offices and the title of the
Montague was second cousin and patron to Samuel Pepys the diarist, who
as a secretary for a time at Hinchingbrooke House.
Both the house and estate figured largely in
his diaries. Edward was an Admiral of the Fleet during the
Anglo-Dutch Wars, but
died at the Battle of Solebray in 1672.
1627 until 1962 Hinchingbrooke House was a Montague family home. Although the family made structural
over the centuries the house would not return to being the centre of
entertainment which had ruined the earlier Cromwell owner.
There was a final
irony. In order to pursue a political
career Victor Montague relinquished any claim to his family titles. He consequently sold Hinchingbrooke House to
Cambridgeshire County Council in 1962 .
John Sandwich, Earl of Sandwich, and the Sandwich. The following was one early account of the history of the sandwich:
minister of state passed four and twenty hours at a public
absorbed in play that during the whole time he had no subsistence but a
beef between two slices of toasted bread, which he ate without ever
the game. This new dish grew highly in vogue during my residence in
London. It was called by the name of the
minister who invented it.”
report does not
seem to have any foundation. There is no
doubt, however, that Lord Sandwich was the real author of the sandwich,
original form using salt beef of which he was very fond.
explanation is that he invented it to sustain himself at his desk. This seems plausible since we have ample
evidence of the long hours he worked from an early start, in an age
was the only substantial meal of the day and the fashionable hour to
Francis Montague, A Catholic Priest Who Got Married. Francis Montague came from a priestly family in county Tyrone. He himself was ordained in 1842 and became curate, first at Kilmore, then at
Magherafelt, and finally at Drogheda.
There he fell in love with Rosa McCabe the daughter of Felix
merchant in Drogheda.
The two ran away together to England and got married in
Brighton in 1858. The next year Francis
returned to Ireland and accepted the appointment as parish priest at
in Tyrone. There he officiated for two
years until, inevitably, the cat got out of the bag and the fact that
broken his vow of celibacy and concealed that fact for the best part of
years became known to the parish.
He left under a cloud. Rumor
had it that the parishioners collected
a fund to help him to live after he left.
But the facts were that he was expelled from the church and from
family. He left Ireland, never to
return, dying in London in 1893.
Still, he and Rosa did raise four sons in
London and launched them into successful careers. Francis
became a Professor of History at
University College, London; Frederick a successful London solicitor;
noted journalist and writer; and Alfred a doctor of medicine, the Chief
Officer in Fiji.
The Life and Times of Edward Montagu, Third Baron Montagu. Edward Montagu’s birth in 1926 came as a great relief
to his father, who at the age of 61 was desperate for a male heir to
and Beaulieu estate. After finally
fathering the son he had longed for, it was a sad irony that John
three years later – leaving Beaulieu to be managed by his widow and
until Edward reached the age of 25.
Although his background was unremittingly
conventional for a man of his aristocratic standing – Eton, then Oxford
spell in the Grenadier Guards – Edward became a self-confessed bohemian
enjoyed affairs with both men and women.
However, at that time the political atmosphere was virulently
anti-homosexual. And Montagu – together
with Peter Wildeblood, the diplomatic correspondent of the Daily
Mail, and Michael Pitt-Rivers, a Dorset landowner – were
charged in 1954 with the offenses of “consensual homosexual practices.”
three men were convicted. But the
prosecution provoked a wave of sympathy from the Press and the public
many of whom felt it amounted to little more than an unedifying
witch-hunt. Montagu was met with cheers
when he left the courtroom.
Undeterred by his conviction, Montagu returned to
Beaulieu and threw himself into new ventures there.
His passion for vintage motor cars turned
into the Montagu Motor Museum in 1959.
He had also started the first of his Beaulieu Jazz Festivals. By the mid-1960s, Beaulieu was attracting
more than half a million visitors a year.
Over the course of the next
five decades, he would speak out on motoring, tourism, museums,
buildings, conservation and the New Forest.
And he played as hard as he worked. He was a keen shot,
loved foreign travel,
went wind-surfing off his own foreshore and regularly competed in
motorsport events. He also had a passion
for the theatre, opera, gourmet restaurants and parties, for which he
lost enthusiasm despite mobility difficulties in later life.
He also regularly
attended the House of Lords. When the
1999 reforms were implemented he was one of the Conservative hereditary
elected to remain. He died in 2015.
Captains Moses and Gordon Montague. Descendants of Richard Montague of
Hadley, Massachusetts, these captains – father and son – led
Moses was captain of a sailing ship that was captured by the
French and taken to France. He too
disappeared there for a very long time.
In the end he lost both his vessel and its cargo.
He submitted a claim at the Court of Claims
in 1800. He died four years later at the
age of 41.
His son Gordon had more success against the British in the War of
1812. He was on-board the privateer Joel
Barlow that had captured a British vessel.
He became its Prize Master and successfully brought the ship to
London, Connecticut with its valuable salt cargo. Later
he embarked by ship for California at
the time of the Gold Rush. But he didn’t
stay there long and returned to Connecticut.
Alice Montague and Her Daughter Wallis Simpson. Alice Montague, daughter of a Baltimore insurance
salesman William Latané (Wallis) Montague,
was the mother of Wallis Simpson who married a King and afterwards
Duchess of Windsor.
Alice was a well-born beauty
from a prominent old Virginia family. But these Montagues had
fallen on hard
times and only a good pedigree, refined speech, proper etiquette and a
pieces of family silver survived by the time Alice married Teackle
However, Warfield died the following year
following the birth of their daughter Wallis, leaving Alice
impoverished. She ran a boarding house in
Wallis grew up craving a life of high society.
Fortunately, a wealthy uncle assumed the burden of looking after
provided her with a proper upbringing and education in the finest finishing school
in Baltimore. Her adventure in life had
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 Montague Numbers 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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