1485 – 1557
13th Great Grandfather though the Montagu (Montague), Lascalles, Rhodes (Rodes), Ball, Custer, Franklin and Hayward families
(This legend may appear far down our genetic chain, but he's still family and we can claim him with pride. His story is the 61st to be published in my blog, but has been one of the hardest to write so far - not because of a lack of information, but because there is almost too much! As a result, my challenge has been to give flesh to the person hidden among all those printed facts - even though it has been more than 400 years since his death!)
|King Edward I|
It is also believed that Sir Edward's last name originated on the female side of the family when, before his birth, a prosperous yeoman, Richard Ladde, of Norse descent, adopted his wife's maiden name of Montagu - a name much better known because of its deep roots into England's royal family,
- delivering gaols (jails) to the Castle of Northampton,
- serving as commissary commissioner to the royal forces during the outbreak of an insurrection;
- overseeing the operation of sewers in Huntingdon and neighboring counties,
That 5 day party must have really impressed the King because a short time later, Sir Edward was appointed to serve as a judge on the powerful “Courts of King's Bench and Common Pleas”. On the surface, it seemed a giant step up in his career; however, the truth was that the Bench had been steadily losing its power over the years because of earlier actions taken, as well as the changing expectations of the public. It took hard work and dedication, but finally Edward and his co-judges were able to stop that downward momentum by pushing for revolutionary reforms which resulted in less expensive, faster and more versatile types of pleadings.
|The Boughton House today|
|King Henry at age 49|
One of Sir Edward's other responsibilities as Lord Chief Justice was to lead a commission investigating serious charges brought against the Duke of Norfolk. In 1547, after the Duke finally admitted to plotting against the crown, he was sentenced to die. Ironically, on the very day that was to be the Duke's last, 56 year old King Henry VIII died - so of course all sentences were put on hold. It might seem the Duke had been incredibly lucky, but maybe not. His revised sentence took away both his title and all his property and, even worse, was imprisoned in the Tower of London for many years.
|King Edward VI|
Edward VI, the 9 year old son of Henry VIII, was crowned shortly after his father's death, and became England's first Protestant king. But, because of his youth, he had been placed under the thumb of the Council of Regency, a group of powerful men appointed by his father. Sir Edward Montagu was also a member of the Council, but soon found himself in opposition to most of their directives.
The young king never really had a chance to rule. At age 15 he contracted a terminal disease, which forced him and the Council to dig out the Constitution of the land with a view toward amending the “Devise for the Succession”. This clause had become more important than ever before because if it was allowed to stand, Edward's oldest Roman Catholic half-sister, Mary, would ascend to the throne after his death.
The young, ailing king did not have the experience, stamina or wisdom to break the spell woven over him by the majority of manipulative and powerful men on the Council of Regency. As a result of constant arm twisting and manipulation, he finally bought into their arguments and agreed to name his cousin, Protestant Lady Jane Grey, as his successor.. Sir Edward vigorously fought against this proposed change until he realized he was in the minority and it was a losing battle. After fighting the inevitable, he finally bowed to the majority decision and ordered that "... the King himself was to draw up the legal instrument necessary to devise the crown away from his half-sisters."
Montagu had obviously lost much of his influence and power in that fight and had found himself being bullied by the Duke of Northumberland, who called him a traitor and even threatened him with physical violence unless he agreed to the proposed change. Despite having eventually given in, his enemies had gained power and used that power to punish him for what they considered his betrayal of their cause. As punishment, he was fined 1,000 pounds, removed from the Court of Common Pleas, lost some of his property and was imprisoned in the Tower of London for several months. A footnote in history tells us that after King Edward died in 1553, Lady Jane ascended to the throne but only ruled for 13 days before she was deposed by the rightful heir, the Roman Catholic Mary.
No matter what had happened with Lady Jane and Queen Mary, Edward lost heart – and face – during the conflict, and retired to the Boughton Manor where he died in 1557. Papers found after his death indicate that he felt guilty the rest of his life for caving and signing the Devise for Succession. Quite a fall for a man of his stature!
|St. Mary the Virgin, Weekley|
"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 had lived in the ancient manner, a lover of peace and an unyielding guardian of virtue and scourge of vice... "