Encyclopedia > Charles Montagu, 1st Earl of Halifax

  Article Content

Charles Montagu, 1st Earl of Halifax

Charles Montague (April 16, 1661 - May 19, 1715) was Chancellor of the Exchequer, poet, statesman, Earl of Halifax.

Charles was born at Horton, in Northamptonshire, the son of Mr. George Montague, a younger son of the Earl of Manchester. He was educated first in the country, and then removed to Westminster, where, in 1677, he was chosen as a King's Scholar[?].

It was at this time he contracted a very intimate friendship with Mr. Stepney; and in 1682, when Stepney was elected at Cambridge, the election of Montague being not to proceed till the year following, he was afraid lest by being placed at Oxford he might be separated from his companion, and therefore solicited to be removed to Cambridge, without waiting for the advantages of another year.

His relation, Dr. Montague, was then Master of the college in which he was placed a Fellow-Commoner, and took him under his particular care. Here he commenced an acquaintance with Isaac Newton, which continued through his life, and was at last attested by a legacy.

In 1685 his verses on the death of King Charles made such an impression on the Earl of Dorset that he was invited to town, and introduced by that to other entertainments. In 1687 he joined with Prior in "The City Mouse and the Country Mouse," a burlesque of Dryden's "Hind and Panther." He signed the invitation to the Prince of Orange, and sat in the Convention. At about the same time he married the Countess Dowager of Manchester, and intended to have taken Orders; but, afterwards altering his purpose, he purchased for 1,500 pounds the place of one of the clerks of the Council.

In 1691, having become a member of the British House of Commons, he argued in favour of a law to grant the assistance of counsel in trials for high treason; and in the midst of his speech falling into some confusion, was for a while silent; but, recovering himself, observed, "how reasonable it was to allow counsel to men called as criminals before a court of justice, when it appeared how much the presence of that assembly could disconcert one of their own body."

After this he rose fast into honours and employments, being made one of the Commissioners of the Treasury, and called to the Privy Council. In 1694 he became Chancellor of the Exchequer; and the next year engaged in the great attempt of the recoinage, which was in two years happily completed. In 1698, being advanced to the first Commission of the Treasury, he was appointed one of the regency in the King's absence: the next year he was made Auditor of the Exchequer, and the year after created Baron Halifax. He was, however, impeached by the Commons; but the Articles were dismissed by the Lords.

At the accession of Queen Anne he was dismissed from the Council; and in the first Parliament of her reign was again attacked by the Commons, and again escaped by the protection of the Lords. In 1704 he wrote an answer to Bromley's speech against occasional conformity. He headed the inquiry into the danger of the Church. In 1706 he proposed and negotiated the Union with Scotland; and when the Elector of Hanover received the Garter, after the Act had passed for securing the Protestant Succession, he was appointed to carry the ensigns of the Order to the Electoral Court. He sat as one of the judges of Sacheverell, but voted for a mild sentence. Being now no longer in favour, he contrived to obtain a writ for summoning the Electoral Prince to Parliament as Duke of Cambridge.

At the Queen's death he was appointed one of the regents; and at the accession of George I, was made Earl of Halifax, Knight of the Garter, and First Commissioner of the Treasury, with a grant to his nephew of the reversion of the Auditorship of the Exchequer. More was not to be had, and this he kept but a little while; for on the 19th of May, 1715, he died of an inflammation of his lungs.



All Wikipedia text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

 
  Search Encyclopedia

Search over one million articles, find something about almost anything!
 
 
  
  Featured Article
List of neurological disorders

... Sequelae of Lyme disease Neuromyotonia Neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis[?] Neuronal migration disorders[?] Niemann-Pick disease[?] O O'Sullivan-McL ...