Richard Montagu

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Richard Montagu (or Mountague) (1577 – 13 April 1641) was an English cleric and prelate.

Prelate high-ranking member of the clergy

A prelate is a high-ranking member of the clergy who is an ordinary or who ranks in precedence with ordinaries. The word derives from the Latin prælatus, the past participle of præferre, which means 'carry before', 'be set above or over' or 'prefer'; hence, a prelate is one set over others.


Early life

Montagu was born during Christmastide 1577 at Dorney, Buckinghamshire, where his father Laurence Mountague was vicar, and was educated at Eton. He was elected from Eton to a scholarship at King's College, Cambridge, and admitted on 24 August 1594. His name occurs in the list of junior fellows for the quarter Midsummer to Michaelmas 1597. He graduated BA before Lady Day 1598, MA 1602, BD 1609. [1] He assisted Sir Henry Savile in the literary work he carried on at Eton, and the second book issued from the Eton press was his edition of The two Invectives of Gregory Nazianzen against Julian, 1610. He was also to have edited Basil the Great, but the work was never completed. [2]

Christmastide Christian lithurgical period during Christmas

Christmastide is a season of the liturgical year in most Christian churches. In some Christian denominations, Christmastide is identical to Twelvetide, a similar concept.

Dorney village in Buckinghamshire

Dorney is a village and civil parish in the South Bucks district of Buckinghamshire, England, bordering on the River Thames to the west and south and bisected by the Jubilee River. In 2011 it had a population of 752 and it is 2.3 miles (3.7 km) west of neighbouring Eton which is a slightly larger parish.

A vicar is a representative, deputy or substitute; anyone acting "in the person of" or agent for a superior. Linguistically, vicar is cognate with the English prefix "vice", similarly meaning "deputy". The title appears in a number of Christian ecclesiastical contexts, but also as an administrative title, or title modifier, in the Roman Empire. In addition, in the Holy Roman Empire a local representative of the emperor, perhaps an archduke, might be styled "vicar".

In 1610, he received the living of Wootton Courtney, Somerset; on 29 April 1613, he was admitted Fellow of Eton and in the same year received the rectory of Stanford Rivers, Essex. On 9 December 1616 he was installed Dean of Hereford, a post which he exchanged with Oliver Lloyd for a canonry of Windsor, in which he was installed on 6 September 1617. He was admitted Archdeacon of Hereford on 15 September 1617. He held also the rectory of Petworth, Sussex, where he rebuilt the parsonage, and was chaplain to the king. He held these preferments with his fellowship at Eton by dispensation from James I. [2]

A benefice or living is a reward received in exchange for services rendered and as a retainer for future services. The Roman Empire used the Latin term beneficium as a benefit to an individual from the Empire for services rendered. Its use was adopted by the Western Church in the Carolingian Era as a benefit bestowed by the crown or church officials. A benefice specifically from a church is called a precaria such as a stipend and one from a monarch or nobleman is usually called a fief. A benefice is distinct from an allod, in that an allod is property owned outright, not bestowed by a higher authority.

A fellow is a member of an academy, learned society or group of learned people which works together in pursuing mutual knowledge or practice. There are many different kinds of fellowships which are awarded for different reasons in academia and industry. These often indicate a different level of scholarship.

Stanford Rivers village in United Kingdom

Stanford Rivers is a village and civil parish in the Epping Forest district of Essex, England. The parish, which is approximately 11 miles (18 km) east from the county town of Chelmsford, contains the village of Toot Hill and the hamlet of Little End, both settlements larger than Stanford Rivers village, and the hamlet of Clatterford End. The village is 2.0 miles (3 km) south-east of Chipping Ongar, 3 miles (5 km) south-west of North Weald Bassett and 3 miles north-west of Kelvedon Hatch. The parish covers an area of 1,749 hectares.

Controversial writer

On the death, in 1614, of Isaac Casaubon, with whom he had previously corresponded about the Exercitationes ad Baronii Annales (against Baronius), Montagu was directed by the King to publish the work. It appeared the same year, and in 1615 James requested him to prepare an answer to Baronius on similar lines. This work, based on studies of classical and patristic antiquity, was at first apparently held back at Archbishop George Abbot's command, but it was issued in 1622 under the title of Analecta Ecclesiasticarum Exercitationum. In the epistle dedicatory addressed to the King, Montagu states his object to be to trace the origins of Christian faith and doctrine, and show that the Anglican position was derived from the "ancient founts". Montagu's aim was to support the Church of England against its enemies. He would not recognise the foreign Reformed bodies as lawful branches of the church. He never completed the task which he had set himself. [2]

Isaac Casaubon French academic

Isaac Casaubon was a classical scholar and philologist, first in France and then later in England, regarded by many of his time as the most learned man in Europe.

Church of England Anglican state church of England

The Church of England is the established church of England. The Archbishop of Canterbury is the most senior cleric, although the monarch is the supreme governor. The Church of England is also the mother church of the international Anglican Communion. It traces its history to the Christian church recorded as existing in the Roman province of Britain by the third century, and to the 6th-century Gregorian mission to Kent led by Augustine of Canterbury.

In his Diatribae upon the first part of the late History of Tithes, 1621, he entered directly into the controversy of the day, in an attempt to beat John Selden on tithes. Controversy against Catholic teachers in his parish was answered in a pamphlet called A Gag for the New Gospel, by Matthew Kellison; he replied in A Gagg for the New Gospell? No. A New Gagg for an old Goose, 1624. The 'Gagg' had contained forty-seven propositions which it attributed to the Church of England. Of these Montagu only allowed eight to be her true doctrine, again demarcating Anglican doctrine on two fronts. He also issued a defensive work, [3] rebutting Marco Antonio de Dominis who charged Montagu with supporting "praying unto saints and angels in time of need". It proved a magnet for controversy, with answer after answer coming from the presses. There was a complaint from two East Anglian ministers, John Yates and Nathaniel Ward; Ward had been overseas to 1624, and it was a few years later that he became vicar of Stondon Massey, close to Stanford Rivers in Essex, and one of Thomas Hooker's anti-Laudian group. [4] [5] The House of Commons referred the book to Abbot. Abbot applied for authority to the King, and remonstrated with Montagu. But James himself approved of his work. "If that is to be a Papist" he said, "so am I a Papist". The matter did not rest with the King's death. [2]

John Selden English jurist and scholar of Englands ancient laws and constitution, and of Jewish law

John Selden was an English jurist, a scholar of England's ancient laws and constitution and scholar of Jewish law. He was known as a polymath; John Milton hailed Selden in 1644 as "the chief of learned men reputed in this land."

Tithe religious donation

A tithe is a one-tenth part of something, paid as a contribution to a religious organization or compulsory tax to government. Today, tithes are normally voluntary and paid in cash or cheques, whereas historically tithes were required and paid in kind, such as agricultural products. Several European countries operate a formal process linked to the tax system allowing some churches to assess tithes.

Matthew Kellison was an English Roman Catholic theologian and controversialist, and a reforming president of the English College, Douai.


Controversy around Montagu's positions played an important part in the period 1625–9, both in publications and in political moves, and was one of the issues setting the tone for the reign of Charles I. Montagu had the open support of three bishops (John Buckeridge, John Howson, and William Laud). His Appello Caesarem: a just Appeale from two unjust Informers (London, 1625) came out with an imprimatur from Francis White, dean of Carlisle, after George Abbot's refusal to license it. It was partly written in self-justification, but also attacked some Calvinist tenets, including the perseverance of the saints. [6] Francis Rous defended double predestination against Montagu in Testis Veritatis (1626). [2] [7]

Charles I of England 17th-century monarch of kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland

Charles I was the monarch over the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland from 27 March 1625 until his execution in 1649.

John Buckeridge Bishop of Rochester; Bishop of Ely

John Buckeridge was an English churchman.

John Howson Bishop of Durham; English academic and Anglican bishop

John Howson was an English academic and bishop.

The House of Commons took up the matter, and accused the author of dishonouring the late King (James I). A debate on the matter was followed by Montagu's committal to the custody of the serjeant-at-arms. He was, however, allowed to return to Stanford Rivers on giving a bond. Charles then made Montagu one of his chaplains, and let the Commons know on 9 July that he was displeased. On 11 July parliament was prorogued. On 2 August, when the parliament was sitting at Oxford, Montagu was too ill to attend, and after discussion in which Edward Coke and Robert Heath took part, the matter was allowed to drop. But the question was too serious to rest for long. On 16 and 17 January 1626 a conference was held by Charles's command, as the result of which the bishops of London (George Montaigne), Durham (Richard Neile), Winchester (Lancelot Andrewes), Rochester (Buckeridge), and St. David's (Laud) reported to George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham that Montagu had not gone further than the doctrine of the Church of England, or what was compatible with it.

This first meeting was followed shortly by a watershed conference beginning 11 February, prompted by Robert Rich, 2nd Earl of Warwick in Buckingham's house, York House, Strand, and later called the York House conference. It took place with the Bishop of Lichfield (Thomas Morton) and the master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge (John Preston), representing the opposition to Montagu and Francis White. Buckeridge, supported by White and John Cosin, defended Montagu's orthodoxy. Buckeridge even denied that the Council of Trent had erred in any directly fundamental article of faith. A second conference was held a few days later, at which Montagu defended his theses in person against Morton and Preston. [8] The two days of discussion, attended by nobility, changed no minds.

The committee of religion renewed their censure of the Appeal, and the House of Commons voted a petition to the King that the author might be fitly punished and his book burned. The King issued a proclamation (14 June 1626) commanding silence on points of controversy. In March 1628 the House of Commons again appointed a committee of religion to inquire into the cases of Montagu, Roger Mainwaring, and Cosin. [2]

Montagu still had the strongest supporters at court in Laud and Buckingham himself; and on the death of George Carleton, bishop of Chichester and an opponent, he was appointed to the vacant see. He was elected on 14 July 1628 and received dispensation to hold Petworth with his bishopric. On 22 August Montagu was confirmed in Bow Church. During the ceremony one Jones, a stationer, made objection to the confirmation but the objection was over-ruled as informal; and on 24 August he was consecrated at Croydon, on the same day that news came of Buckingham's assassination. A bitter pamphlet, called Anti-Montacutum, an Appeale or Remonstrance of the Orthodox Ministers of the Church of England against Richard Mountague, was published in 1629 at Edinburgh. The House of Commons again took up the matter, and attempts were made at conciliation, by the issue of the declaration prefixed to the Thirty-nine Articles and printed in the Book of Common Prayer , by a letter from Montagu to Abbot disclaiming Arminianism, by the grant of a special pardon to Montagu, and by the issue of a proclamation suppressing the Appello Caesarem. [2]


In his diocese Montagu lived at Aldingbourne and Petworth. His process to recover the estate and manor of Selsey, Sussex was decided against him by Robert Heath, now chief justice, in the common pleas, in 1635. He was still engaged in his research into ecclesiastical history, and published several treatises. In 1638 he was at work on a book on the Eucharistic Sacrifice, which he submitted to the approval of Laud. He was also apparently at this time much mixed up in the tortuous negotiations with the papacy which were conducted through Gregorio Panzani; at the same time Montagu was asking licence for his son to visit Rome, and the matter became in the hands of William Prynne a plausible accusation of romanising. [2]

On the translation of Matthew Wren, bishop of Norwich, to Ely, Montagu was appointed to the vacant see. He was elected on 4 May 1638, and the election received the royal assent on 9 May. He had long been suffering from a quartan ague, as well as gout and kidney stones. He was again attacked in the House of Commons on 23 February 1641 on account of a petition from the inhabitants of St. Peter Mancroft, Norwich, against an inhibition directed by the bishop against Mr. Carter, parson of that parish, and a commission was appointed to consider his offences. Before any further steps were taken, he died on 13 April 1641, and was buried in Norwich Cathedral. [2]


Besides works already mentioned, Montagu wrote: [2]


  1. "Montagu, Richard (MNTG594R)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 "Montagu, Richard"  . Dictionary of National Biography . London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
  3. Immediate Addresse unto God alone, first delivered in a Sermon before his Majestie at Windsore, since reuised and inlarged to a just treatise of Invocation of Saints, 1624.
  4. Tom Webster (30 October 2003). Godly Clergy in Early Stuart England: The Caroline Puritan Movement, 1620–1643. Cambridge University Press. p. 10. ISBN   978-0-521-52140-6 . Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  5. Macauley, John S. "Mountague, Richard". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/19031.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  6. Kenneth Fincham, Nicholas Tyacke, Altars Restored: The Changing Face of English Religious Worship, 1547-c.1700 (2007), p. 130.
  7. Francis J. Bremer, Tom Webster, Puritans and Puritanism in Europe and America: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia (2006), p. 2231.
  8. "Buckeridge, John"  . Dictionary of National Biography . London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.

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Further reading

Church of England titles
Preceded by
George Carleton
Bishop of Chichester
Succeeded by
Brian Duppa
Preceded by
Matthew Wren
Bishop of Norwich
Succeeded by
Joseph Hall