Sir Edward Montagu, of Boughton

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Sir Edward Montagne (Montagu), PC, Justice of the King's Bench

Birthplace: Royal Manor House of Brigstock, Brigstock, Boughton, Northamptonshire, England (United Kingdom)
Death: February 10, 1557 (67-76)
Brigstock, Boughton, Northamptonshire, England (United Kingdom)
Place of Burial: Church of St. Mary, Weekley, Northamptonshire, England
Immediate Family:

Son of Thomas Montagu and Agnes Montagu
Husband of Agnes Kirkham; Lady Cecily Elizabeth Montagu and Lady Elianor Montagu
Father of Ralph Montague; Thomas Montague; Robert Montague; Lady Dorothy Watson; Anne Montague and 12 others
Brother of John Montagu

Occupation: Sir/Knight, Justice of the King's Bench, Justice of the Kings Bench, Chief Justice of England and Wales
Managed by: Peter James Herbert
Last Updated:

About Sir Edward Montagu, of Boughton

  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  • Montagu, Sir Edward (1480s–1557), judge, the second son of Thomas Montagu (d. 1517), of Hemington, Northamptonshire, and Agnes, daughter of William Dudley of Clopton, near Oundle, was born in the royal manor house of Brigstock. His father, an attorney representing Northamptonshire clients in the common pleas from the 1470s until at least 1505, had prospered sufficiently to acquire the manors of Hemington and Hanging Houghton. Edward is said to have spent some time at Cambridge before 1506, when he was admitted to the Middle Temple, an inn with a strong Northamptonshire presence perhaps attributable to the benchership of Richard Empson. Little is known of his early career, save that he is mentioned as an attorney in the court of requests from 1519 and was a justice of the peace for his native county from 1523. A tradition that he was speaker of the Commons in 1523 has not been corroborated by any contemporary source, though it is possible that he was a member of parliament that year.
  • In 1524 Montagu became a bencher of the Middle Temple and delivered his first reading in the autumn. He was the second most junior serjeant at the call of November 1531, and as the junior serjeant-elect from his inn gave a second reading in that capacity. One of his principal arguments at the bar as a serjeant was made on behalf of Lord Dacre in the great case of 1535 which led to the Statute of Uses. In the same year he was counsel for Sir John Melton in another case of high importance, concerning the earl of Northumberland and the Lucy inheritance, a case that incidentally helped to establish the validity of contingent remainders. On the eve of the dissolution of the monasteries Montagu was steward for several houses, including the abbey of Peterborough, which had retained his father. He profited largely by the dissolution, receiving among other properties the numerous estates held in Northamptonshire by the abbey of Bury St Edmunds. On the outbreak of the Pilgrimage of Grace in 1536 Montagu acted as commissioner to the royal forces in Northamptonshire, and the following year Audley recommended him to the king as an honest and learned man fit to become king's serjeant, an office that he was granted on 16 October 1537 with a knighthood two days afterwards. He was assigned as an assize commissioner to the Oxford circuit, transferring to the Norfolk in 1540.
  • On 22 January 1539 Montagu received his writ of appointment as chief justice of the king's bench, and presided over the court at a time when its fortunes revived markedly and its commercial jurisdiction began to flourish. The speech that he made to the call of serjeants in 1540, on the text Diligite justiciam qui judicatis terram, is an eloquent argument that law without justice is inadequate. Just as good conscience without knowledge of the law did not equip a lawyer for practice, so much learning without good conscience could easily lead him astray. Montagu drew from the Bible and the classics to demonstrate that ‘great encreace had chaunced to empires and realmes for embracinge of justice’, and utter destruction to those that had disregarded it, such as Sodom and Gomorrah or more recent examples: ‘Who so listethe to marke contreis adjacent unto us, where is more povertie and miserye then where misrule is? An example of the wilde Yrishe and such other which livethe more like beastes then men, and all for lacke of good rule and justice’ (BL, Harley MS 361, fol. 80). On 6 November 1545 Montagu was transferred to the less onerous but more lucrative post of chief justice of the common pleas. He is credited with having tried to bring some of the king's bench innovations with him, and the court certainly enjoyed a similar boom during his presidency. Although he did not stay long enough to convert the common pleas from its conservative mood, it seems in his time to have accepted some innovations, such as the wider use of special verdicts and the awakening of the dormant action of ejectment, both of which bore fruit in later periods.
  • Montagu was a member of the council of regency appointed by Henry VIII's will to carry on the government during the minority of Edward VI. In the council he acted with the party adverse to Somerset, whose patent as protector he refused to attest, and in October 1549 he concurred in his deposition. On 12 June 1553, in the council at Greenwich, he was apprised of the duke of Northumberland's scheme for altering the succession in favour of Lady Jane Grey and asked to draft the necessary clauses for insertion in the king's will. He objected that they would be void, as contravening the act of parliament settling the succession, and obtained leave to consult his colleagues. The judges met at Ely House, and after a day in conference resolved that the project was treasonable. This resolution Montagu communicated to the council on 14 June, but was answered that the sanction of parliament would be obtained and peremptorily ordered to draft the clauses. He still hesitated, but his scruples were removed by a commission under the great seal and the promise of a general pardon. He not only drafted the clauses, but appended his signature to the will as one of its guarantors. On the accession of Mary he was committed to the Tower, on 26 July, but was discharged on 6 September with a fine of £1000 and the forfeiture of some of his estates. Although he apologized for his conduct and declared in favour of Mary, she declined to reappoint him as chief justice and he retired to the manor of Boughton, Northamptonshire, which he had bought in 1528. A supporter of the queen branded him avarus judex (‘a covetous judge’) , but conceded that he possessed a powerful reputation among commoners and nobility alike (MacCulloch, 200).
  • Montagu married three times: first Cicely (or Elizabeth), daughter of William Lane of Orlingbury, Northamptonshire; second, following Cicely's death, Agnes, daughter of George Kirkham (d. 1527) of Warmington in the same county, a chancery clerk and member of parliament for Stamford in 1515; and third, after the death of Agnes, Eleanor (or Helen), daughter of John Roper (d. 1524), chief clerk of the king's bench and attorney-general to Henry VIII, who was the widow of John Moreton. With his third wife he had at least five sons and six daughters; in his petition to Mary I of 1553, in which he disassociated himself from the attempt to place Lady Jane Grey on the throne, he said he was the father of seventeen children, six sons and eleven daughters. The eldest, Sir Edward Montagu (d. 1602), was father of Edward Montagu, first Baron Montagu (1562/3–1644), of James Montagu (1568–1618), bishop of Winchester, of Henry Montagu, first earl of Manchester (c.1564–1642), chief justice of the king's bench, and of Sidney Montagu (d. 1644), bencher of the Middle Temple and master of requests.
  • Montagu died at Boughton on 10 February 1557 and was buried on 5 March with much pomp (including a ‘hearse of wax’) in the neighbouring church of St Mary, Weekley, where there is an altar tomb with his full-length effigy in robes and collar of SS and the motto ‘Pour unge pleasoir mille dolours’ (‘For every pleasure, a thousand sorrows’) . There exists also a portrait in private dress by a follower of Eworth, formerly attributed to Holbein. His widow married Sir John Digby as her third husband and died in May 1563.
  • J. H. Baker
  • Sources TNA: PRO, CP 40/1133, m. ix · Baker, Serjeants, 168, 294–304, 527 · C. H. Hopwood, ed., Middle Temple records, 1: 1501–1603 (1904) · J. H. Baker and S. F. C. Milsom, eds., Sources of English legal history: private law to 1750 (1986), 82–3, 108–10, 244, 450 · introduction, The reports of Sir John Spelman, ed. J. H. Baker, 2, SeldS, 94 (1978) · The diary of Henry Machyn, citizen and merchant-taylor of London, from AD 1550 to AD 1563, ed. J. G. Nichols, CS, 42 (1848), 35, 128 · Report on the manuscripts of Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, HMC, 53 (1900), 4–5 · L. Abbott, ‘Public office and private profit: the legal establishment in the reign of Mary Tudor’, The mid-Tudor polity, c.1540–1560, ed. J. Loach and R. Tittler (1980), 137–58, esp. 137–40 · W. K. Jordan, Edward VI, 2: The threshold of power (1970), 516–20, 527 · J. Caley and J. Hunter, eds., Valor ecclesiasticus temp. Henrici VIII, 6 vols., RC (1810–34), vol. 4, pp. 274, 282, 283, 288, 295; vol. 5, p.13 · D. MacCulloch, ‘The Vita Mariae Angliae Reginae of Robert Wingfield of Brantham’, Camden miscellany, XXVIII, CS, 4th ser., 29 (1984), 181–301, esp. 200 · TNA: PRO, REQ 1/4, fol. 156 · N. H. Nicolas, ed., Testamenta vetusta: being illustrations from wills, 2 (1826), 743 · will, TNA: PRO, PROB 11/39, fols. 40v–43 · LP Henry VIII, 12/2, no. 805 · Sainty, Judges, 9, 48 · C. Wise, The Montagus of Boughton (1888) · HoP, Commons, 1558–1603, 3.68–71
  • Likenesses oils, 1539, Middle Temple, London · effigy on monument, c.1557, Weekley church, Northamptonshire · J. Van der Eyden, oils, 17th cent., Boughton House, Northamptonshire; [Buccleuch estates, Selkirk, Scotland] · oils, 17th cent., Boughton House, Northamptonshire · oils, 17th cent., Peterborough City Museum · oils, Boughton House, Northamptonshire _____________________
  • Sir Edward Montagu (c. 1485 – 10 February 1557) was an English lawyer and judge.
  • Life
  • He was born in Broughton, the son of Thomas Montagu of Hemington, Northamptonshire and Agnes Dudley, daughter of William Dudley of Clopton, Northamptonshire and Christiana Darrel. He was appointed Lord Chief Justice of the Court of the King's Bench in 1539, which office he resigned in 1545 when he was constituted Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas. He was a member of the Privy Council of King Henry VIII of England, who appointed him one of sixteen executors of his last will, and governor to his son Edward .During the crisis of 1553 when Edward VI was induced to alter the succession in favour of Lady Jane Grey, Montagu had sufficient courage to protest at the patent illegality of the proceedings. However he was unable to withstand the ferocious bullying of the Duke of Northumberland who called him a traitor and threatened him with physical violence, and soon withdrew his protest. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London on Mary’s Accession but bought his way out.
  • Family
  • He married three times, firstly to Agnes Kirkham, secondly to Cicely Lane. By his third wife Elenor, daughter of John Roper of Well Hall, Eltham, Kent he had eleven children, the eldest son Sir Edward Montagu was father of:
      • Edward Montagu, 1st Baron Montagu, ancestor of the Dukes of Montagu.
      • Sir Walter Montagu.
      • Sir Henry Montagu, 1st Earl of Manchester, ancestor of the Dukes of Manchester.
      • Sir Charles Montagu.
      • James Montagu, Bishop of Winchester.
      • Sir Sidney Montagu, ancestor of the Earls of Sandwich.
      • Elizabeth Montagu who married Robert Bertie
  • References
  • Foss, Edward. Biographia Juridica: A Biographical Dictionary of the Judges of the England from the Conquest to the Present Time, 1066-1870. London: J. Murray, 1870. Accessed September 16, 2007
  • Collins, Arthur. The Peerage of England: Containing a Genealogical and Historical Account of All the Peers of That Kingdom. London: Printed for H. Woodfall [and 27 others]. 1768. Accessed September 16, 2007 __________________
  • Edward MONTAGUE (Sir Lord Chief Justice)
  • Died: 1557
  • Notes: See his Biography.
  • Father: Thomas MONTAGUE of Hemington
  • Mother: Agnes DUDLEY
  • Married 1: Agnes KIRKMAN
  • Married 2: Cecily LANE BEF Oct 1512
  • Children:
    • 1. Ralph MONTAGUE (d. young)
    • 2. Thomas MONTAGUE (d. young)
    • 3. Robert MONTAGUE (d. young)
    • 4. Dorothy MONTAGUE
    • 5. Anne MONTAGUE
    • 6. Amy MONTAGUE
  • Married 3: Ellen ROPER (d. 1563) (dau. of John Roper and Jane Fineaux)
  • Children:
    • 7. Edward MONTAGUE of Boughton Castle (Sir Knight)
    • 8. Roger MONTAGUE
    • 9. Simon MONTAGUE
    • 10. Thomas MONTAGUE
    • 11. William MONTAGUE
    • 12. Elizabeth MONTAGUE
    • 13. Eleanor MONTAGUE
    • 14. Isabel MONTAGUE
    • 15. Mary MONTAGUE
    • 16. Margaret MONTAGUE
    • 17. Agnes MONTAGUE
  • In about 1450 Richard Ladde, a prosperous yeoman living at Hanging Houghton in the parish of Lamport, Northamptonshire, adopted his wife's family name of Montagu, possibly out of admiration for her or her forebears, the medieval Montagus, Earls of Salisbury.
  • It was his grandson Edward who in 1528 purchased the Monastery at Boughton from St. Edmundsbury Abbey. For almost 40 years until his death in 1556/7 he lived at Boughton, building on the South East side of the Great Hall of the Monks, and making it a worthy home for someone of his increasing stature and influence.
  • Studied at Cambridge, called to the bar at the Middle Temple. Steward of Northamptonshire from 1520, he became nationally important in politics and the law in the mid 1530s. Commissioner of the Sewers for Huntingdon, 1531; made sergeant-at-law with 5 day feast with King and Queen in attendance, 1531; Commissariat Commissioner of royal forces in Northamptonshire during Pilgrimage of Grace rebellion, 1536; king's sergeant, 1537; knighted, 1537. Profited greatly, as did many nobles, by the dissolution of religious lands. Made Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench in 1538 and Chief Justice of the Common Pleas in 1545; member of council of regency carrying on government during minority of Edward VI, as stipulated in will of Henry VIII.
  • In 1553 required' by John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland to alter the King's will to favor the succession of Lady Jane Grey, decided that the effort was treasonable, but was promised parliamentary pardon, drafted the will and appended his signature as one of the guarantors. Sir John Baker said that he and Montague were "called to the court and ordered by the King himself to draw up the legal instrument necessary to devise the crown away from his half-sisters".
  • His involvement in the power struggle over the succession landed him in the Tower when Queen Mary came to the throne; released on paying a large fine and forfeiting land.
  • It was a hard time for men of principle, and that Sir Edward was one of these is apparent from the inscription on his fine tomb in Weekley Church:
  • "Farewell, O Edward Montagu father of Justice and master of the Law, you whom sober skill has nourished and wicked knaves of men have feared have lived in the ancient manner, a lover of peace and a unyielding guardian of virtue and scourge of vice... "
  • Sir Edward married three times, and was suc. by his first son of his third marriage, Sir Edward Montague of Boughton. Edward the elder left to the Middle Temple in his will "the great gilt cup which was one of the legacies of Lady Derby, to whom I was executor, my arms with hers to be set upon it".
  • Sources:
  • DNB
  • From: MONTAGUE (Sir Lord Chief Justice) ___________________
  • Sir Edward Montague, Chief Justice of the Common Pleas1
  • M, d. 10 February 1557
  • Father Thomas Montague d. 5 Sep 1517
  • Mother Agnes Dudley b. 1454
  • Sir Edward Montague, Chief Justice of the Common Pleas married Elizabeth Lane, daughter of William Lane; His 1st marriage.2 Sir Edward Montague, Chief Justice of the Common Pleas married Helen Roper, daughter of John Roper, Esq. and Jane Fineaux, circa 1527. Sir Edward Montague, Chief Justice of the Common Pleas died on 10 February 1557 at Boughton, Northamptonshire, England.
  • Family 1 Elizabeth Lane
  • Child
    • Dowse Montagu
  • Family 2 Helen Roper b. c 1500
  • Child
    • Eleanor Montague+
  • Citations
  • 1.[S10026] Unknown author, Wallop Family, p. 556, 783.
  • 2.[S11583] The Wallop Family and Their Ancestry, by Vernon James Watney, p., 556.
  • From: __________


  • “The Manor of Lackham Vol 3 : The Montagu family” The Manor of Lackham – Volume 3. The Montagus of Lackham and their historical connections.” by Tony Pratt and Karen Repko Last update : March 23, 2019 PDF
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Sir Edward Montagu, of Boughton's Timeline

Royal Manor House of Brigstock, Brigstock, Boughton, Northamptonshire, England (United Kingdom)
Age 15
of St. Margaret,Westminester,London,England
Westminster, London, England, United Kingdom
Northamptonshire, England, United Kingdom
Boughton, Northamptonshire, England (United Kingdom)
Kettering or Weekley, Northamptonshire, England (United Kingdom)