Dates11th Century-Present
Person NameMontagu; family; of Hinchingbrooke House; Earls of Sandwich
ActivityThe Montagu Earls of Sandwich have been prominent members of the aristocracy for almost four centuries, holding senior government offices and holding extensive estates in a number of counties. They held a tight grip on Huntingdonshire politics for centuries, with many members of the family holding the office of MP for the county. When there was not a Montagu occupying one of the seats they often had an influence over who would be selected to take the seat. Since the expansion of the electorate, their ability to control the seat has naturally ended. However, the family has continued to hold its seat in the House of Lords (with the exception of the period 1964-1995) where, for the majority of the last two centuries, the Montagus have been staunch Conservatives. Another way in which they had control over the politics of Huntingdonshire was their long occupation of the office of Lord Lieutenant of Huntingdonshire which the family often held until 1946. Outside of politics, the family have had the duty to manage their vast estates and maintain their positions as courtiers. They were successful in the latter endeavour, with particular favour being shown to the family by King Charles II and Edward VII. Even when the sitting earl was not close to the monarch they still often became Privy Councillors or held offices such as Master of the Buckhounds. The family has a long tradition of military service, with most heirs to the title spending some years as an officer in the army and many younger sons spending a whole career in the military. There is a tradition of naval service in the family line, dating back as far as the 1st Earl (1625-1672) who was an admiral and died in a naval engagement. Other successful naval officers in the family include Sir William Augustus Montagu (1785-1852), an illegitimate son of the 5th Earl (1744-1814), who served in the Napoleonic Wars and rose to the rank of Vice-Admiral in the Navy. The 4th Earl (1718-1792) served as High Lord of the Admiralty on three occasions and patronised Captain Cook's voyages, which resulted in the naming of the Sandwich Islands among others.
RelationshipsThe family seat of Hinchingbrooke House was purchased from Sir Oliver Cromwell, uncle to the Lord Protector of the same name.
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